Some may know that we’re strong advocates that saddle position is the foundation of every good bike fit. So rather than take our word for it, we thought we’d put together a few of our favorite Youtube videos on how to set your saddle height.
While this certainly isn’t the be-all end-all of information on saddle height, we think these videos do a great job of covering the key things you should consider when setting your saddle height.
Spoiler: finding the right saddle position can be a bit complicated and subjective, so you won’t find a silver bullet in any of these videos.
If you’d like to read more of our thoughts on the topic, you can check out our post The Saddle Height Myth to get your started.
If you’re new to the Bike Fit Tuesdays series that Francis Cade does on his channel (Cade Media ) it is a great resource for all kinds of bike fit related info, tips, and ticks. Cade and professional bike fitter James Thomas of Bicycle Richmond explore all manner of fit related topics, but this time it’s saddle height.
“You’re almost always better too low than too high” – James Thomas
In just over 10 minutes of video James gives a great overview of what you’re trying to achieve when setting your saddle height. He highlights the need for smooth controlled movement through the bottom of the stroke without impinging the hip over the top, which sets your high and low boundaries
Perhaps most importantly he emphasizes the myriad of issues that can be caused by getting it wrong (specifically too high), including :
Neck & Shoulder Issues
While the video doesn’t provide a tangible method of setting your saddle height, context is everything and this video does an excellent job of explaining the why when chasing your perfect saddle height.
Our Free AI Bike Fit Check will help you avoid some of these common issues by helping you find a saddle position based on your individual needs.
This video from the Road Cycling Academy channel is one of the few that actually provides a useful, actionable method to setting your saddle height. Expert bike fitter Neill Stanbury provides a simple (though a bit subjective) method for dialling in the right saddle height. He also discusses some of the things you should be thinking about as you go through the process of finding the right saddle height.
The method Neill provides starts with the simple heel on the pedal rule you may have heard of before. However, he adds some important steps to take off where the standard previous method falls short of providing useful results for many riders.
Sit on your bike
Place one pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke
Place your heel on the pedal and raise/lower your saddle until your knee is locked out in this position.
Lower your saddle 20-30mm from this position
Go for a ride (trainer or outdoors) around FTP effort
Slowly creep your saddle height up in 3-5 mm increments until you feel one of your legs start to feel a bit “choppy” through the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Lower the saddle back down ~2 mm from this point
Should take about 20 minutes to complete the process.
Pro rider, coach and youtube extraordinaire Dylan Johnson brings his approach to the saddle height discussion by reviewing some of the scientific studies that have been done on the subject over the years. Like these videos, you’ll find the scientific literature doesn’t agree on everything but comes to a few broadly common conclusions.
Though we’ll leave it to Dylan to walk you through the individual studies, these were a few of the points we thought were most interesting and sometimes surprising:
Many of the studies on saddle height are older and done in the age of toe clips which is problematic for modern cyclists who almost exclusively use clipless pedals.
As saddle height increased efficiency decreased.
The 109% method for setting saddle height fell out of the recommended knee angle range 63%-73% of the time (depending on the study).
There was no difference in performance for subjects who fell within the recommended [knee angle] range.
Cycling content powerhouse GCN has put out a few videos on saddle height over the years, but the most recent (as of the writing of this article) is a bit of a deep dive with renowned bike fitter to the pro’s and physio therapist Phil Burt. At nearly 30 min long, this video takes GCN presenter Si through a full bike fit process and explains all the key considerations that go into finding the perfect saddle height.
Unlike the other videos in this lineup, this video takes a slightly broader approach and also discusses the role that saddle fore-aft plays in finding the right saddle position. Phil (who wrote the book Bike Fit) does a great job explaining every step of the process and what considerations he’s drawing on for each decision.
Though we recommend watching the video for yourself, here are some of our favorite takeaways:
Every bike fit should start with a mobility assessment.
How the rider feels is an important part of finding the right position.
Don’t worry about being millimeter perfect.
There is a bike fit window every rider can ride within, there isn’t one ideal position.
Crank length can impact the saddle height a rider’s body will accept.
Saddle height is intrinsically tied to the saddle fore-aft position.
The longer you ride in any one position, the harder it is to adapt to change.
Most riders are still on the journey towards their best position.
Each of these presenters sets out a slightly different approach to setting saddle height, and it can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of each approach. Luckily there are a few common themes that seem to shine through that you should remember:
Excessively high saddle height is the biggest problem to avoid. When in doubt, lower is better.
The quality of a rider’s movement through the pedal stroke is the most important measure of success.
Saddle height and saddle fore-aft are intrinsically tied together.
Chasing millimeter precision is a waste of time.
Every rider is different, there is not one size fits all calculation to finding the correct saddle height. The heel on pedal method, Lemond method (0.883*inseam), and 109% rule can all be good starting points, but they require further adjustment for the majorityof riders.
Foot size, cleat position, and pedaling style all have an impact on ideal saddle height.
Maximum knee extension angle is the most important measurement when setting saddle height.
Justin is a lifelong cyclist that has spent the past 15 years in the bike industry across a variety of roles. His diverse work in sales, procurement, fitting, instructing, and planning cycling infrastructure is all driven by a desire to help more people experience the wonder of cycling. He brings this breadth of experience to building MyVeloFit into a company and service that not only provides bike fits, but one that enables more people to get the most out of cycling.