Besides wearing a helmet on every ride, your bike seat is another important thing you can’t overlook. Having the right bike seat will make your bike ride more comfortable, and you won’t have to exert as much energy from bad posture. The great news it’s easy to adjust the seat on your bike seat on any mountain bike and I’ll show you how it needs to be.
How High Should My Seat Be On My Mountain Bike?
Your bike saddle should be set at a comfortable angle, and high enough to where when you’re at the highest point of pedaling, you can just about get your heel on the pedal with a slight bend in your knee when your cranks are right at the bottom.
A general rule of thumb your handlebars should be as high or higher than the saddle. Of course, it depends on the type of riding you do.
If you’re taller than that setting, your knee will legs will lockout when you’re paddling causing your hips to rock side to side on the saddle. Which will make it painful and uncomfortable while sitting on your saddle. Be sure to read this post on how to make your mountain bike seat more comfortable.
Before I share several different methods on how to adjust your mountain bike seat, let’s take a look at why it’s important to get this measurement right.
What If Happens If My Saddle Isn’t At The Right Height?
A saddle that is too low will cause discomfort in the front of the knee which is may be the signs of tendonitis of the quadriceps or patella.
When the seat is too high, you’ll likely compensate by shifting your weight on the saddle seat causing saddle soreness.
Just by lowering the seat a few millimeters can help ease the discomfort.
A high seat can cause muscular tensions and cramps, especially, if you have short hamstrings.
Lower Back Pain
If you’re noticing lower back pain or fatigue, it’s likely because your hips are rocking side to side straining the spinal discs in the lumbar region. It’s this constant movement that causes friction between the seat and your legs that eventually causes chafing, scrapes, and other superficial wounds on your butt.
This happens when the saddle is too high, you’ll want to start lowering the saddle 2 millimeters at a time until your hips are no longer rocking. You may have to ride a few miles to help you find the best position for your saddle.
Numbness or Achy Hands
If you notice your hands going numb or aching while you’re riding, most people think it’s the handlebars. The truth is that it’s most likely your saddle is too far back or tilted too far down.
If your bike seat is too far back, it causes too much weight to bear down on your hands. Positioning your seat properly will help remove the excess strain from your hands.
How To Set The Saddle Height
Now that you know why it’s important to measure your bike seat properly. In fact, there is no shortage of “old school” methods for seat height measurement: the ‘Lemond method’, Holmes method’, and ‘109% method’.
We’ll take a look at a couple of them below.
What you’ll need:
- Your bike
- A friend to hold the bike or a wall to lean against
- Allen keys
- Measuring tape
- Your biking shoes and pedals
The Heel Method
This is the most common method used by cyclists because it’s the quickest method. That being said, it’s also the least precise method.
Have someone hold your bike in an upright position without the kickstand and stand right next to it. Raise the seat until it is even with your hip.
With someone helping you balance the bike, sit on the saddle and touch the pedal with your heel. Move the bike forward until the crank arm that is supporting your foot is pointed down and lines up directly with the seat post.
If your leg is fully extended without overextending the knee, your saddle is at the correct height.
The 109% Method
The 109% method gives you a more precise result than the heel method. When measuring, you should always use more than one method to get the most accurate measurements.
Stand straight up with your back against the wall with a book between your legs. The book should be pulled upwards far enough to replicate the bike seat.
Have someone hold the book while you step away from the book. Now mark the wall with a pen at the top of the book. The mark indicates your inseam.
With your measuring tape, measure the inseam mark to the ground in millimeters. This is your inseam.
Now grab your iPhone calculator and multiple this length by 109 percent. This is the measurement from the top of the saddle to the pedal closest to the ground that is extended all the way. (make sure the crank lines up with the seat post)
If after trying both of these methods and you’re still unsure of how high your saddle should be, use this mountain bike saddle calculator to help you get the correct settings.
It calculates your saddle height based on your height and leg length. If you’re still unsure then go to your local bike shop and ask a professional for some assistance.
How To Tell If Your Bike Saddle Is Too Low?
When you purchase a new bike, it usually has a low seating position, unless you purchase the bike a specialty shop where they will fit you to the bike. Many new cyclists will get the bike home and make the mistake of leaving it low because it’s easy to get on and off.
It also makes it easier to touch the ground, especially, if you’re shorter.
You’ll likely know your seat is too low and needs to be adjusted upwards if you’re starting to feel pain in your kneecap after riding.
How To Tell If Your Bike Saddle Is Too High?
If your seat is too high, you may start to notice pain in your lower back, or pain in the back of the knee. The best way to determine if your seat is too high is to have a friend ride behind you to see if your hips are wobbling side to side.
What About The Seat Tilt?
The tilt is just as important as the height of your seat, as the wrong tilt can cause more weight to rest on your hands and arms leading to muscle tension.
Unfortunately, the only way to know which degree of tilt is best for you is to test out different alignments.
Loosen the seat clamp and tap the nose of the saddle until it moves one or two degrees to the left or right. Tighten the clamp and hop on your bike to pedal a small distance.
If it’s uncomfortable, get off the bike and repeat the process tilting the saddle to the left or right. It can take some time to get it perfect, but you’ll definitely notice a difference in how you feel during and after your rides when you’re seat is positioned correctly.
Make sure you’re sitting on the bike correctly to get the most accurate feel. So how should you sit on a mountain bike?
How To Sit On A Mountain Bike
Sitting on a bike saddle is totally different from sitting on your couch. You want to roll your hips back so your sit bones are on the widest part of the saddle. This will allow your weight to be distributed evenly to your handlebars, pedals, and saddle so your whole weight isn’t on the saddle and will help relieve some of the pressure points.
One of the biggest mistakes new bikers make is ignoring their seat measurements until it’s too late. Don’t make that mistake, make sure your seat is properly adjusted before you go on your next bike ride.