If you are finding you feel uncomfortable on your bike saddle whether it's a short or long ride, this checklist can help you fine tune your fit so you get the most from your cycling journey. Feeling comfortable will benefit your performance and possibly prevent injury! Of course if you ride a mountain bike and you regularly adjust your seat height according to terrain, you will want to mark the your seat post with the ideal position for most of your riding with a permanent marker or similar.
Saddle 101: Let's get started
Before plunging in and purchasing a different saddle, it's important to ensure you have the correct saddle set-up with your current saddle, as a new saddle in the wrong position will yield little benefit.
Getting your saddle height right
There are many methods of determining the correct saddle height and here are two simple methods to get you started.
Using a doorway or with your bike in a stationary trainer hop on the bike and place your heel on the pedal, in whatever shoes you normally ride in. Pedal forwards or backwards slowly. If the saddle is too high, you’ll not be able to pedal smoothly without having to rock your hips from side-to-side. Move your saddle down 1 to 2cm at a time until this back and forth stops.
Conversely, if it’s easy to pedal smoothly, try going up a few centimetres at a time until you have to start reaching for the pedals. Once you’re reaching, start edging your saddle back down until you find yourself in an ideal starting height.
You will need a tape measure. Take your inseam measurement without socks and shoes and deduct 10cm.
Now adjust your bike's saddle height so the distance from the top centre of the saddle to the centre of the bottom bracket is your calculated inseam measurement as per the diagram below:
Adjusting saddle fore & aft position
A good starting point is to adjust your fore and aft saddle position so the approximate centre of your knee is directly over your pedal axle when the crank is at the three o'clock position as illustrated below:
Adjusting saddle tilt
Usually saddle tilt varies from 0 degrees (flat) to negative 6 degrees (nose down). Ideally you are looking for a position where you feel positive pressure on your sit bones and not too much weight on your arms to brace yourself on the handlebars.
Reasons to change your saddle
If the above conditions have been met and you are experiencing saddle soreness or numbness it may be because your current saddle shape and width do not match your anatomical structure.
Selecting the correct width saddle
You sit bone width should be suited to your saddle width. Common saddle widths are between 130mm and 155mm, with the wider measurements often found in womens' saddles to accommodate their specific anatomy.
Follow this easy diagram to determine the correct saddle width at home. You'll need:
- Flat piece of corrugated cardboard wide enough to sit on
- Pencil and ruler
- Place the cardboard of a flat, firm surface and sit upright on the cardboard until two depressions are left.
- Measure from the centre of one depression to the other and ADD 20mm. This should be the saddle width you are looking to buy.
Pelvic position will often depend on your riding style. More aggressive and athletic riders may require a saddle with a generous cutout to relieve numbness, tingling and perineal pressure from being in a forward position, whilst more relaxed and upright rider positions may benefit from saddles offering more posterior padding.
If you are close to our Paddington store, drop in and have a professional saddle width assessment from our friendly staff using the patented Specialized BG Fit Ass-O-Meter (It's actual name!)
We stock a wide range of saddles from Specialized including their innovative Mimic range that utilises multi-layer materials to minimise soft issue swelling.
If you are unhappy with the fit of your new saddle, simply return it to us within 30 days of purchase and Woolys Wheels will gladly exchange it for another saddle or give you a refund. (Please see conditions).