Monday, March 19, 2012

Pedal to Saddle..setting the Height

When I collected my new Mercian and rode it for the first time, the most noticeable thing was that the saddle was much higher than that to which I am accustomed. And I am not talking mm here.This was the first time that I had ever been measured and specially fitted to gain proper efficiency. It did seem strange, especially as I was also still getting used to the idea of clipless pedals.

The bike is fitted with Shimano SPD  pedals, not that that was a concious choice of mine as I had no idea that there was a choice, but it was the recommendation for a novice.
I have now ridden about 150km on this bike ( it doesn't go out when it is either wet or muddy :-) and am finding that the new position is much more efficient, even more enjoyable. Because of  this I thought I would just check out the saddle heights on my vintage Mercian and my Specialized Hybrid. Neither of these had ever been "set" as I just sat on and pedalled. As such it was not surprising that they were all at different heights, not a few mm but amazingly by up to 12cms lower!  So how do you go about deciding the correct height? And whilst I was at it I also noted that the saddle was not straight on the old bikes, a fact pointed out by Grant at Mercian Cycles.
It seems that there are a number of techniques which can be adopted
a) The Heel Method
b) The 109% Method
c) The Holmes Method

There may well be others. What I have now done is to measure the distance between my pedal axle and the top of the seat on the new Mercian and used that as the correct height; and then adjusted the other bikes to have the same dimension.

The Vincitore Special is proving to be much quicker ( in OAP units ) than I have ridden before and I suspect that setting the correct saddle height is one of the major contributions to this improved efficiency. I am obviously not competitive, but at my age I do need all the technical factors that I can control to be working in my favour. I read that one can lose up to 12% efficiency by having the saddle too low, perhaps now I will be able to ride for longer, I hope so.


  1. I used the heel method on my bike and it made a massive difference when I had the saddle at the correct height.

    But be careful not to make it too high or you will lose efficiency

  2. The heel method is what I use as well.

    What amazes me about the whole saddle height thing is how much some of the pros mess with it. Merckx was notorious for always adjusting his position, whils I understand Cav also like to mess with his.

    For me, I get it set right, and then leave well alone. Perhaps that's where I'm going wrong...