Are you one of those people who don’t really know what the best seat height for mountain biking is? We agree, it can be difficult to figure that out. Some people say that your feet should touch the ground while others tell you that your knees should be at a specific angle. There’s plenty of misinformation out there when it comes to finding the best mountain bike seat height.
We here at The Adventure Junkies would like to clear things up once and for all. In this article, we guide you through the process of determining the best seat height for you. We’ll also talk about why it’s so important to ensure that your seat is the correct height.
HOW TO SET THE MOUNTAIN BIKE SEAT HEIGHT
4 METHODS TO FIND YOUR IDEAL MOUNTAIN BIKE SEAT HEIGHT
First of all, as LiveStrong makes clear, it’s vital that your mountain bike’s size is based on your body’s proportions. If you’re serious about mountain biking, you should definitely have yourself measured up and have a mountain bike built according to your physical features.
Besides buying a well-sized mountain bike, figuring out the ideal mountain bike seat height for you is one of the most important things you can do. There are a few widely accepted methods to determine the ideal height of your mountain bike seat. They’re all equally as effective, although some might be easier to execute than other.
Note that although all of the following four methods give you a decent starting point, you should still ride your bike to see if it’s a right fit. You might have to put your seat up or down a bit until it’s perfect. Again, use one of the following methods to find the best starting point.
METHOD 1: THE 109% METHOD
BikeRadar says that the 109% Method was developed in 1967, after some experiments done by Hamley and Thomas. It was concluded that the ideal seat position was a distance of 109% of the length of your inseam from the top of the seat to the lower paddle axle. Of course, this needs some further explanation.
Let’s start with your inseam length. To find this, stand up facing a wall and put a thick book between your legs. Pretend it’s a mountain bike seat. Make sure your heels are firmly on the floor and your legs straight. Then, draw a line where the top of the book touches the wall. The distance from that line to the floor is the length of your inseam.
Now, your ideal mountain bike seat height is 109% of that length. Measure that distance from the top of your seat to the lower pedal axle. Make sure that the crank aligns with the seat tube and your seat post when doing this.
METHOD 2: THE LEMOND METHOD
The LeMond method, named after the American cyclist who won the Tour de France three times and invented it, is also based on your inseam length.
The difference is, though, that it measures your ideal mountain bike seat height based on 88.3% of your inseam length. The seat height is measured from the top of the seat to the bottom bracket.
While those two methods may seem very similar, they do sometimes seem to result in seat heights that aren’t equally as comfortable. This is because the LeMond method doesn’t take into account the length of your cranks. It’s a good way to find a starting position, though.
METHOD 3: THE HOLMES METHOD
This third method is completely different from the other method described in this article. To find your ideal seat height using this method you’ll need to get yourself a goniometer. With this device, you can measure the angle of your knee joint at the bottom of a pedal rotation. The recommended angle is somewhere between 25 and 35 degrees.
If this sounds too technical and you don’t want to spend money on a goniometer just to find your seat height, you can use one of the other methods. It’s good to know, however, that research has shown that placing your seat based on this method has better results than the others.
METHOD 4: THE HEEL METHOD
The heel method is the most basic of them all. It’s the one that every bicycle shop owner and trainer knows about.
Begin by placing your seat parallel to the ground. Get on your mountain bike, getting someone to support you or supporting yourself by holding onto a wall or object. Place one foot on a pedal, making sure your heel is on the pedal axle.
In this position, with your pedal at its lowest point, your leg should be totally straight. When you then place your foot on the pedal, like you would when actually biking, your leg will be a bit bent. This is the easiest and arguably most used method to find your ideal mountain bike seat height.
Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/mihtiander
WHY IS YOUR MOUNTAIN BIKE SEAT HEIGHT SO IMPORTANT?
Setting your seat at an improper height is not only uncomfortable but will eventually also cause injuries. The two most common problems that result from bad seat height are knee pain and saddle sores. You really want to avoid both of them.
Knee pain is caused by either a seat that’s too high or one that’s too low. Seats that are too result in overextension of your knee. Seats that are too low require you to put more pressure on your knees when pedaling.
Another issue that may present itself if your seat is too high is saddle sores. This will result in legs that are fully extended at the lowest point in the pedal rotation. When pedaling, this will lock out your legs and make your hips rock from side to side. It’s this hip movement that eventually causes scrapes, chafing and other superficial wounds on your butt—the so-called saddle sores.
VIDEO: HOW TO SET YOUR SADDLE HEIGHT – MTB PRO TIPS
This video explains how you can use the heel method to figure out your ideal mountain bike seat height. It also talks about the major problems that can result from a bad seat position.