Bike Shorts: How To Make Sure Your Bike Saddle Stays in the Right Spot
If you’re putting a lot of miles on your bike, you’ve probably made sure your saddle is positioned just right. You may have even gotten a bike fit to ensure it’s precisely placed for perfect comfort on your ride.
After all that effort, it’s frustrating to bring your bike back from the mechanic and discover that your saddle has moved. Our friend and cycling mentor, Coach Darryl MacKenzie, has strong words for the mechanic who does this.
“There should be a hotter place in hell reserved for the bike mechanic who moves your saddle,” he says.
Overkill? Let’s look at just how important that saddle position is and how to make sure your bike saddle stays in the right spot. You might agree with Darryl, after all.
Saddle Placement Is an Exact Science
When it comes to your saddle placement, precision is paramount. A saddle that’s too high can cause pain in the back of your knee. On a long enough ride, you may even have issues with saddle sores. A saddle that’s too low, on the other hand, will limit your pedaling power since you’re unable to fully extend your legs.
A difference of just a few centimeters in your saddle height is all it takes to start causing problems, especially if your next ride is a long one.
“The more miles you pedal, the more important it is to have that saddle locked in,” says Darryl.
And, because precision is so important, you can’t simply eyeball it to reposition your saddle before you ride that century. Read on to learn how to determine saddle position.
How To Keep Your Saddle in the Right Spot
So, now that we’ve gone over the importance of your bike’s seat position, that leads us to the ultimate question of how to make sure your bike saddle stays in the right spot. Rather than trying to guess where your saddle should be, Darryl recommends a few strategies to make sure it’s always in the right place.
It starts, of course, with a professional bike fit to ensure you have the saddle positioned correctly from the start. Once you have that right, there are three things to do to keep it there.
You need to know the exact height of your saddle. Record this sacred number and keep it safe and accessible — Darryl stores his in his phone so it’s always just a tap away.
To get an accurate saddle height, do as follows:
- Align your pedal crank with your seat tube, forming a straight line from your seat post down to the bottom pedal.
- Place a colored piece of tape at the top of your saddle, directly above the center of the seat tube.
- Use a measuring tape to measure from the center of your pedal (not where the pedal meets the crank — this is very important) to the piece of tape on your seat.
- Repeat this a few times to triple-check, then record your measurement.
Make sure you have every bike set to this measurement. In other words, once you have the proper measurement from your bike fit, ensure the pedal-to-saddle distance described above is the same for every bike you own.
The next thing you can do is mark your saddle’s height to create a sort of “canary in the coal mine” to alert you that the saddle has been moved.
To do this, wrap a piece of colored tape around your seat post right at the spot where it meets the collar of your seat tube. It should be flush with that collar so that any movement up or down is obvious. That way, you’ll see either a gap between the tape and collar (if the saddle went up) or the tape will be disheveled (if the saddle when down).
Find the Right Mechanic
There aren’t many lazy mechanics out there who will simply move your saddle rather than find a different spot to mount the bike for repairs, but some will. If you bring it home from the shop and the saddle’s been moved, it’s time to look for a new mechanic.
It may not always be laziness, though. Many mechanics think about bike measurements in terms of the bike, not the cyclist. So they measure from the bottom bracket to the saddle, rather than the more precise pedal-to-saddle measurement described above. The latter is how a coach thinks.
The bottom line on how to make sure your bike saddle stays in the right spot? Find a mechanic to get the job done, and get the job done right. Make sure your bike mechanic thinks like a coach.
Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.