Knowing how to adjust your saddle height properly is just part of getting your bike to fit you well and depends entirely on the type of riding you’re planning on doing.
A road rider will have an entirely different saddle height on his race bike to a mountain biker with the same inside leg measurement and overall height. In order to answer this question properly and accommodate as many different types of rider as possible we’ve broke this question down by discipline and riding type.
Remember to consider the overall size of the bicycle you’re trying to adjust. If the bicycle is far too large or small for the rider initially then no amount of saddle adjustment will make the sizing work for the rider
Saddle height can usually be adjusted by using the clamp located at the intersection of the seat tube and seat post. This clamp will utilize either a quick release lever or a bolted mechanism. Special care should be taken when adjusting any seat post with a bolted mechanism. Adhering to the manufacturers guidelines for torque settings in order to avoid
How To Adjust A Mountain Bike Saddle
Correct mountain bike saddle adjustment can vary depending on the type of riding you’re doing. A cross-country rider for example will have an entirely different saddle height to an Enduro rider.
If your Saturday’s and Sunday comprise of leaving the house and riding too and from the trail, up hill, downhill and every where in between you’ll benefit from a saddle height that suits your leg extension. To achieve this saddle height, simply adjust your seat post until you can comfortably sit on the saddle with the balls of your feet touching the floor. This should give you the optimum saddle height and still allow you to stabilize yourself over rougher terrain.
More gravity orientated trail and enduro bikes have much lower saddle heights. Rougher terrain calls for more time out of the saddle and requires increased maneuverability. The rider will often have to lean back of the bike to maintain an equal center of gravity. This becomes much more difficult with a tall saddle and post in the way.
For riders that want the benefits of maneuverability downhill and optimum efficiency up-hill there are a few solutions;
Your first option is to mark your seat post with a tip-ex at the height you feel comfortable with or use an existing seat post graphic as a mental marker to quickly adjust the height depending on the geography.
The second and more technical solution is a dropper seat post. This is a seat post with hydraulic or cable actuated adjustment. That can be activated from the handlebars or underneath the saddle. Making on the move adjustments much easier.
Mountain Bike Sizing Overview
Identify style of mountain biking.
Identify typical terrain geography.
Set upper saddle height and make a visual reference if applicable.
Make a secondary mark for lower saddle position.
For varied terrain consider using a dropper post.
How To Adjust A Road Bike Saddle
Adjusting a road bike saddle is all about optimum extension and requires a little more finesse than adjusting a general seat post. The perfect road bike seat post adjustment provides maximum amount leg extension whilst preventing hip rotation.
Most bike fitters will ask you to bring your shoes and bib shorts to a fitting session to ensure that the measurements made by the fitter are as accurate as possible so it’s good practice to adopt this principle when fitting yourself to your bike. Your inside leg measurement is vital to getting this fit just right. For best results get this measurement in your bib shorts with bare feet.
Once you have your inside leg measurement in mm work out 88.3% of the total figure. For a 813mm inside leg this would be 717.87mm this figure gives you the optimum distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the very top of the saddle when following the line of the seat tube.
Once you have this measurement mirrored on the bike you will need to test it out. If your saddle is too high your hips will have some vertical movement as they try to compensate for the extra leg extension. This hip movement is most visible from the rear when cycling on a turbo trainer in a seated position. Once you think you’ve got the fit right get a friend to give you a second opinion on hip rotation.
Road Bike Sizing Overview
Find Inside leg measurement
Find 88.3% of this total measurement
Mirror this measurement from the top of the saddle to the centre of the bottom bracket on your bike.
Check there is no vertical hip movement when pedaling seated.
How To Adjust A Hybrid Bike Saddle
Finding the right saddle height on a hybrid bike is often difficult due to the mixed nature of what we define to fit this description. A hybrid is often considered to have a 700c wheel, slightly wider tyre, and flat handlebars.
Finding the correct saddle height on a hybrid bike has to start with one question; what am I going to use this bike for? If you’re the proud owner of a slick city hybrid, it probably won’t see much action on the gravel and dirt paths. In contrast to this a front suspension hybrid with grippy tyres will be more at home on a gravel path than in a train station.
The next consideration should be your surroundings. If you’re going to be riding in busy conditions you will need to put your foot down much more frequently. As such you may benefit from a more upright position, which gives you better spatial awareness.
When adjusting saddle height for a gravel path hybrid consider that the terrain may require a lower saddle height than usual and that you might benefit from the ability to shift your weight backwards and forwards freely over undulating terrain.
Hybrid Bike Sizing Overview
Identify style of hybrid bike.
Identify type of riding environment.
Estimate volume of traffic and potential hazards on journey.
Set saddle so that the balls of your feet touch the floor comfortably.
Set a slightly lower saddle for busy situations over rough terrain with lots of potential hazards in order to maintain bike control.
Set a higher saddle height for quiet situations over smoother terrain with less potential hazards in order to increase efficiency.