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Yet another saddle position observation / question(4 posts)

Yet another saddle position observation / questionhrv
Nov 13, 2002 8:17 AM
For about the last month I haven't been feeling that strong on the bike and mostly chalked it up to starting a running/weight lifting program as well as reduced miles and losing some pedaling efficiency. Went on a 50 miler last Monday and decided to climb a particularly heinous 6 mile hill. Had to take a couple of breaks and on one of them I decided to drop the saddle slightly. Made a difference (cadence went from 55 to 62) but what really made a difference was when I scooted my butt way forward and just sat on the forward 3rd of the saddle. Climbing almost felt effortless (cadence almost to 75) and didn't need to take a break (no flat sections on the climb, about 2500' elevation gain).

Of course I couldn't go very long with the nose of the saddle up my butt! And I felt almost 'perfectly' postioned for the descent in terms of power to the pedals so I didn't want to move the saddle forward. But what happened on that hill? Did I manage to find my perfect saddle height and now I need to micro-adjust fore-aft?

Every few months I change my saddle position to what feels 'perfect' at the time. Maybe my other activities/time off the bike requires another saddle position right now? Never had a bike fit and really don't know if I ever will considering how many variables exist. How many of you haven't changed their saddle position for a long time? What things do I need to look at if I have to regularly change my position to maximize my power to the pedals?

Thanks for your input!
Had the exact same experience.Len J
Nov 13, 2002 10:17 AM
And I found that my body's "sweet spot" was slightly Ahead of KOP and seat height exactly 29 3/4 inches (up the seat tube) from the center of the BB to the top of the seat.

I inadvertantly set-up my back up bike more set back and noticed a power difference immediatly.

Now the big question is: "Is this more powerful because I have trained my body in this position or is this position more powerful?"

I read a review of a fitter in New York who makes adjestments to setup based on power measurements (get baseline power measurement, tweak this & see if power goes up or down) so there must be something to this.

fore-aft saddle placement and power..Fredrico
Nov 13, 2002 2:49 PM
So a few years ago I read that the TDF riders were pushing their saddles all the way BACK on their upright 74 degree seattubes "to get more power." They craved getting behind the crank.

On the other hand, track bikes are set up with the saddles right over the crank "for more power in the stroke."

I've reflected on these two observations and concluded that pushing downward on the crank from above it, is a more natural movement, like running or walking. Triathletes prefer this position because it matches their running action better, making the transition easier.

Every time I go from my commuter bike with a 6.5 cm. saddle set back to my racing bike with only a 5 cm. set back, I find I can spin easier, getting a smoother circle, and quite naturally get up to higher cadences.

The greater saddle set back position, on the other hand, gives a pulsing stroke, which enables the quads to flex with a bit more intensity. Seems like rear-ward saddle works better for strong pushing in big gears.

Road racers get used to more laid back saddle positioning, maybe for that reason, but it's still interesting to note that sprinters move up on the nose of the saddle naturally when push comes to shove.

It may be that sitting on the front of the saddle gives a shorter stroke, and thus more power, and sitting on the back of the saddle gives a slightly longer stroke, the extended motion of each stroke being slightly more efficient.

I experimented with saddle height when starting out and found the ideal setting for my inseam length matches exactly the formula: saddle height (distance from lowest part of the top of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket spindle)= .885 X inseam (distance from the floor standing barefoot to the crotch as if it were sitting on a saddle) Too low, and your legs don't deliver a full stroke. Too high, and your crotch hurts, your knees hurt, and you can't spin without rocking your hips.

Bernard Hinault, among others, has said if you want power, move to the front of the saddle. Its also a little lower. If you want to push a big gear, or relax, move to the back of the saddle. Its a little further away from the crank, a little "higher."

Like alot of riders, it's possible you had the saddle too high. Generally, the higher the saddle, the more bang for the buck, the more efficient the power delivery, but only to a point, above which it drops off fast. A great many riders go slightly beyond their most efficient saddle height "because it feels good."
Two of the most insightful replies I've read in a long time!hrv
Nov 13, 2002 8:43 PM
Especially the comment from Bernard Hinault. I seem to keep losing the 'sweet spot' and re-finding it. Your replies have given me some techniques to dial it in. Re-finding my power zone is one of the best feelings in cycling. I need to find out why I keep losing it!

Thanks again.