2. Adjusting the saddle height

The saddle is one of the most important points of contact with the bike, as it carries the majority of the body weight. This makes it the first component that has to be fitted correctly and adjusted precisely. To do this you must of course determine the appropriate saddle height and angle.

Your bike type: Dutch bike

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The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high

The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high

The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high

The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high

The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high
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The right saddle height

Get on the bike and stretch out one leg. Place the heel of your foot on the pedal at the furthest point of the crank revolution. The knee should now be fully extended. If you sit straight on the saddle in this position, it has the right height.

In preparation, you can calculate the saddle height using your inseam length, which is the starting point for the adjustment. First determine the inseam length: measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with a folding rule. Multiply the inseam length by 0.885. The result is the optimum saddle height, which you can then adjust on the bike from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top edge of the saddle.

Checking for incorrect saddle height

Even a short test ride is enough to find out whether the saddle is too high.

If the pelvis tilts to the right and left in rhythm with your pedalling, the saddle is too high. If the saddle is too low, this often only becomes noticeable after a few kilometres in the form of knee pains. But you can also tell by the fact that you can't really exert force on the pedal because your legs stay too bent.

Example: saddle too high

Continue to Step 3. Saddle position
Back to Step 1. Preparation

About the author

Dr. Achim Schmidt

Cycling expert at the German Sport University Cologne

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