How to calculate the bike saddle height: scientific theories and empirical methods

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Bike saddle height, something you should not underestimate

To reach the best performances, it is necessary for each cyclist to have a right position on the saddle. As a consequence, the bike saddle height is a factor you need to take into consideration, and it is even calculated with scientific methods to be sure to set the saddle in the most efficient way for each cyclist.

How do you calculate the bike seat height? Empirical methods

Anyone that has been on a bike knows well that the setting of the saddle is the first thing to consider, even if you only have to go for an easy ride. The most used methods to set the saddle, however, are empirical and a bit approximate. The first method that comes to your mind is sitting on the saddle trying to touch the ground with your feet: if your feet do not touch the ground at all, this means that the saddle is too high (of course); on the contrary, if the sole lays completely to the ground, it is better to raise the saddle a bit. As an alternative, you can try and find the perfect height making a bike pedal backwards and resting your heel on the pedal; when you can stretch out the leg completely, it means that the seat height is right.

Scientific methods

A said above, these empirical methods might be approximate and not completely correct. For this reason professional cyclists, as well as the most scrupulous amateur cyclists, who do not want to leave anything to chance, prefer to use scientific methods to calculate the seat height. The first method in history was proposed by American scientists Hamley and Thomas. This method, which also inspired Nordeen and Cavanagh in 1975, consists in multiplying the size of the crotch for 1,07, then subtracting the length of the crank. Other methods have been studied by Hinault and LeMond: according to them, it is necessary to multiply the size of the crotch for 0,883 and 0,885 respectively. Starting from these calculations, Andrew L. Pruitt found this method: the ideal height comes when the knee flexion with horizontal pedal reaches 150-155 degrees.
And you, what method do you use the set your bike seat?

How to calculate the bike saddle height: scientific theories and empirical methods

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