Any disadvantages to saddle moved further back?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Joshua Zlotlow, Apr 16, 2003.

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  1. I recently had a custom bike built. On the bike that I was riding before, I had 5cm of setback from
    the nose of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket. The builder wanted to put me at 2.5cm
    behind the BB. The dealer (Steve Larsen) thought my position of around 4.5cm-5cm of setback looked
    good and the bike was built to accomodate that amount of setback with the saddle approximately
    centered in the rails.

    Relatively recently, I ended up moving the saddle back to where the nose is around 6.5cm behind
    behind the bottom bracket. I'm quite comfortable with the saddle that far back. I know LeMond was a
    big fan of having his saddle really far back for power. Just for reference, the bike is a compact
    design that measures 42.5cm c-c with 10 degrees of slope and a 72.5 seat tube angle. My regular road
    size is around a 49c-c.

    I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle this far back. It doesn't
    seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current position.

    Thanks Josh Zlotlow [email protected] Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen
    www.sacgw.com
     
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  2. [email protected] (Joshua Zlotlow) wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > I recently had a custom bike built. On the bike that I was riding before, I had 5cm of setback
    > from the nose of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket. The builder wanted to put me at
    > 2.5cm behind the BB. The dealer (Steve Larsen) thought my position of around 4.5cm-5cm of setback
    > looked good and the bike was built to accomodate that amount of setback with the saddle
    > approximately centered in the rails.
    >
    > Relatively recently, I ended up moving the saddle back to where the nose is around 6.5cm behind
    > behind the bottom bracket. I'm quite comfortable with the saddle that far back. I know LeMond was
    > a big fan of having his saddle really far back for power. Just for reference, the bike is a
    > compact design that measures 42.5cm c-c with 10 degrees of slope and a 72.5 seat tube angle. My
    > regular road size is around a 49c-c.
    >
    > I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle this far back. It doesn't
    > seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current position.
    >
    > Thanks Josh Zlotlow [email protected] Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen
    > www.sacgw.com

    I'm no expert in bike fit, but I do know there is a lot of individual variation in what is tolerable
    and what is optimal. I would adopt a pragmatic approach: give the new position a thorough trial
    (i.e., put in say 1,000 miles under a variety of conditions) and then ask:

    1. Is the new position is comfortable on longer rides?

    2. Does it seem to adversely affect your performance generally or in specific situations?

    3. Does it cause you to be always sliding forward on the saddle?

    If the answers are satisfactory, use the new position. Remember, though, one position may not be
    ideal for all situations - Eddy Merckx was an inveterate tinkerer with his saddle position and he
    didn't do so badly on the bike.

    Nigel Grinter
     
  3. Paul Kopit

    Paul Kopit Guest

    On 16 Apr 2003 08:29:20 GMT, [email protected] (Joshua Zlotlow) wrote:

    >I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle this far back. It doesn't
    >seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current position.

    If it is a usual, narrow, road saddle, then what you've done is reposition where the saddle will hit
    your sit bones. Pushing the saddle back, you are likely riding more toward the nose of the saddle
    and that may be more comfortable for you.

    I like to think of the saddle as more of a pole that you slide back and forth on depending on
    terrain than a wedge that holds you in one place.
     
  4. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    "Joshua Zlotlow" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I recently had a custom bike built. On the bike that I was riding before,
    I
    > had 5cm of setback from the nose of the saddle to the center of the bottom bracket. The builder
    > wanted to put me at 2.5cm behind the BB. The dealer (Steve Larsen) thought my position of around
    > 4.5cm-5cm of setback looked
    good
    > and the bike was built to accomodate that amount of setback with the
    saddle
    > approximately centered in the rails.
    >
    > Relatively recently, I ended up moving the saddle back to where the nose
    is
    > around 6.5cm behind behind the bottom bracket. I'm quite comfortable with
    the
    > saddle that far back. I know LeMond was a big fan of having his saddle
    really
    > far back for power. Just for reference, the bike is a compact design that measures 42.5cm c-c with
    > 10 degrees of slope and a 72.5 seat tube angle.
    My
    > regular road size is around a 49c-c.
    >
    > I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle
    this
    > far back. It doesn't seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current
    > position.
    >
    > Thanks Josh Zlotlow [email protected] Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen
    > www.sacgw.com

    Since we can't see what you look like when you're riding, its hard for us to judge whether 2.5, 5,
    or 6.5cm behind the BB is the "right" position for you. The best thing is to have the guy that did
    your fit check out the "new" position and have him tell you what he thinks.

    From memory: the farther behind the BB, the more you're going to use the glutes/quads, and the less
    you'll be able to pull back/up with the hamstrings. I could be off on this one, so correct me if
    I'm wrong.

    If you're racing crits, you may be better off going with the saddle farther forward for a
    better spin.

    Mike
     
  5. Patrick W.

    Patrick W. Guest

    "Paul Kopit" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On 16 Apr 2003 08:29:20 GMT, [email protected] (Joshua Zlotlow) wrote:
    >
    > >I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle
    this
    > >far back. It doesn't seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current
    > >position.
    >
    > If it is a usual, narrow, road saddle, then what you've done is reposition where the saddle will
    > hit your sit bones. Pushing the saddle back, you are likely riding more toward the nose of the
    > saddle and that may be more comfortable for you.
    >
    > I like to think of the saddle as more of a pole that you slide back and forth on depending on
    > terrain than a wedge that holds you in one place.
    >

    I'm with you on this one. Every time I move my saddle, my body stays in the same position relative
    to the bike. The only difference is I end up in the wrong place on the saddle, and that ain't too
    comfortable! Perhaps riders with really long legs can move around more, but my butt seems to be
    magnetically drawn to the same spot, regardless of where the saddle position.

    -Patrick
     
  6. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    > >
    > > >I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle
    > this
    > > >far back. It doesn't seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having
    the
    > > >saddle in its current position.
    > >
    > > If it is a usual, narrow, road saddle, then what you've done is reposition where the saddle will
    > > hit your sit bones. Pushing the saddle back, you are likely riding more toward the nose of the
    > > saddle and that may be more comfortable for you.
    > >
    > > I like to think of the saddle as more of a pole that you slide back and forth on depending on
    > > terrain than a wedge that holds you in one place.
    > >
    >
    > I'm with you on this one. Every time I move my saddle, my body stays in
    the
    > same position relative to the bike. The only difference is I end up in the wrong place on the
    > saddle, and that ain't too comfortable! Perhaps riders with really long legs can move around more,
    > but my butt seems to be magnetically drawn to the same spot, regardless of where the saddle
    > position.
    >

    That's because your legs don't grow when you move your saddle around. I do the same thing, so over
    the years I've learned that certain angles/sizes work best for me.

    Mike
    > -Patrick
     
  7. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >
    >I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle this far back. It doesn't
    >seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current position.

    My experience has been that my body finds KOPS no matter where the saddle is.

    For me, the purpose of moving the saddle around is to get a usable section of it under my butt after
    my body (and butt...) have already decided where they are going to be.

    Being tall and somewhate weirdly proportined, I went for a long time thinking that a certain saddle
    was too narrow. What was really going on was that my butt was so far back that my ichial
    tuberosities were riding on the saddle's rear edge and rivets. Moving it back via a
    seriously-set-back seatpost put them on a softer part of the saddle and made a world of difference.
    -----------------------
    PeteCresswell
     
  8. Van Bagnol

    Van Bagnol Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, "Mike S." <[email protected]> wrote:

    > From memory: the farther behind the BB, the more you're going to use the glutes/quads, and the
    > less you'll be able to pull back/up with the hamstrings. I could be off on this one, so correct me
    > if I'm wrong.

    I can vouch for this. When my bike had toe clips, I preferred the saddle to be farther back for more
    power when I climb. When I switched to clip-in pedals and learned to pull on the upstroke, I found
    that moving forward gave me a better overall combination of pushing/pulling power.

    Van

    --
    Van Bagnol / v a n at wco dot com / c r l at bagnol dot com ...enjoys - Theatre / Windsurfing /
    Skydiving / Mountain Biking ...feels - "Parang lumalakad ako sa loob ng paniginip" ...thinks - "An
    Error is Not a Mistake ... Unless You Refuse to Correct It"
     
  9. J999w

    J999w Guest

    Perhaps you can try the old Italian mechanic trick of dropping a plum bob (string with weight on
    the end) from the bottom of your knee cap down through the pedal spindle, while the crank is
    forward, and flat. By doing this, you can alway adjust you're fore/aft saddle position fairly close
    from bike to bike.

    jw milwaukee
     
  10. [email protected] (Joshua Zlotlow) wrote:

    >The builder wanted to put me at 2.5cm behind the BB. The dealer (Steve Larsen) thought my position
    >of around 4.5cm-5cm of setback looked good and the bike was built to accomodate that amount of
    >setback with the saddle approximately centered in the rails.

    Yikes! Don't broadcast such information on the internet. You realise these kinds of setbacks are
    illegal don't you?

    > I am wondering if there is any disadvantage at all in having the saddle this far back. It doesn't
    > seem to affect my ability to spin quickly having the saddle in its current position.
    >

    If you are comfortable on all terrain and can get a flat back, there's no disadvantge whatsoever
    (you are factoring in saddle-height with your fore-aft, I hope).

    Anyone wanting to up their spin (a daft thing to do BTW) should either lower their saddle or slide
    forward on it (which will lower effective saddle height).

    I like a forward position myself.

    Andrew Bradley
     
  11. "Mike S wrote:

    > From memory: the farther behind the BB, the more you're going to use the glutes/quads, and the
    > less you'll be able to pull back/up with the hamstrings. I could be off on this one, so correct me
    > if I'm wrong.

    I think the Lemond rule is "sit further back to use more glutes". I'm still looking for the
    explanation as to why this should be the case and a reference where experimental methods can be
    examined would also be nice.

    Andrew Bradley
     
  12. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >Perhaps you can try the old Italian mechanic trick of dropping a plum bob (string with weight on
    >the end) from the bottom of your knee cap down through the pedal spindle, while the crank is
    >forward, and flat. By doing this, you can alway adjust you're fore/aft saddle position fairly close
    >from bike to bike.

    Only if one's body size/proportions are somewhere in the middle of the bell curve...
    -----------------------
    PeteCresswell
     
  13. Van Bagnol :
    >
    > > From memory: the farther behind the BB, the more you're going to use the glutes/quads, and the
    > > less you'll be able to pull back/up with the hamstrings. I could be off on this one, so correct
    > > me if I'm wrong.
    >
    > I can vouch for this. When my bike had toe clips, I preferred the saddle to be farther back for
    > more power when I climb. When I switched to clip-in pedals and learned to pull on the upstroke, I
    > found that moving forward gave me a better overall combination of pushing/pulling power.
    >

    Don't forget that when you hit a reasonable climb your saddle goes a good inch back anyway.

    I think the rule is: sit back for low power comfort, sit forward for high power situations. Practice
    seems to bear this out since trackies tend to use steeper frames than tourists. You could argue that
    trackies also sit forward to make aerodynamic tuck easier (you are less scrunched up) but
    Lemond/Guillmard claim aerodynamic advantages for the sat-back position too.

    All rather confusing.

    Andrew Bradley
     
  14. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, "(Pete Cresswell)" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > RE/
    > >Perhaps you can try the old Italian mechanic trick of dropping a plum bob (string with weight on
    > >the end) from the bottom of your knee cap down through the pedal spindle, while the crank is
    > >forward, and flat. By doing this, you can alway adjust you're fore/aft saddle position fairly
    > >close from bike to bike.
    >
    > Only if one's body size/proportions are somewhere in the middle of the bell curve...

    Which of course is true for the vast majority of people, that being how the standard distribution
    works in statistics.

    IIRC 66% of people fall within one standard deviation from the mean. The usual adjustability of a
    bike could accomodate, what, maybe two standard deviations? That would leave about 4% of the
    population unable to be accomodated to a "standard" road bike. Maybe less.
     
  15. Raptor

    Raptor Guest

    (Pete Cresswell) wrote:
    > RE/
    >
    >>Perhaps you can try the old Italian mechanic trick of dropping a plum bob (string with weight on
    >>the end) from the bottom of your knee cap down through the pedal spindle, while the crank is
    >>forward, and flat. By doing this, you can alway adjust you're fore/aft saddle position fairly
    >>close from bike to bike.
    >
    >
    > Only if one's body size/proportions are somewhere in the middle of the bell curve...
    > -----------------------
    > PeteCresswell

    I'm currently taking group exercise certification courses. We have to fit people to various
    exercises and machines. ALL people, so we've got standards to use.

    The spin class training is coming up shortly, but what I know now says that one's knees should stay
    above or behind the toes with pedals horizontal. This reflects practice for all weightlifting and
    exercising: keep your knees behind your toes to avoid straining your ligaments and tendons.

    Is there an expert here who can make me aware of shortcomings or exceptions to this rule?

    --
    --
    Lynn Wallace http://www.xmission.com/~lawall "Let me tell you what else I'm worried about. I'm
    worried about an opponent who uses nation building and the military in the same sentence. See, our
    view of the military is for the military to be properly prepared to fight and win war and therefore,
    prevent war from happening in the first place." George Bush, Nov. 6, 2000
     
  16. Raptor wrote:

    >
    > I'm currently taking group exercise certification courses. We have to fit people to various
    > exercises and machines. ALL people, so we've got standards to use.
    >
    > The spin class training is coming up shortly, but what I know now says that one's knees should
    > stay above or behind the toes with pedals horizontal. This reflects practice for all weightlifting
    > and exercising: keep your knees behind your toes to avoid straining your ligaments and tendons.

    This is like the "damaging forces" theory of KOPS that people try to hammer into your head.

    Keeping knees behind toes in weightlifting does two things it cant do on a bike. First, it limits
    the amount of bend at the knee and second it helps ensure the weight is not forward over the toes.
    This reduces strain on knee.

    The two situations are not the same. In weight lifting the resultant force must be vertical
    regardless of body position, on bikes, the direction you push in moves round as your position does.

    I've done loads of hard miles forward of KOPS and never had any knee problems (after doing loads at
    or behind KOPS). I was going to add that I have a tendency to use big gears and remain seated on
    hills, but I may well be back in KOPS on the hills.

    Andrew Bradley
     
  17. >Subject: Re: Any disadvantages to saddle moved further back? From: [email protected] (Nigel
    >Grinter) Date: 4/16/03 7:40 AM Pacific Daylight Time Message-id:
    ><[email protected]>

    >1. Is the new position is comfortable on longer rides?
    >
    >2. Does it seem to adversely affect your performance generally or in specific situations?
    >
    >3. Does it cause you to be always sliding forward on the saddle?

    The longest ride I've done with the seat in this position has been a little over 50 miles, so it
    wasn't a really long ride, but it was perfectly comfortable.

    It doesn't seem to affect the handling of the bike or my inability to ride fast.

    It does not cause me to slide forward on the saddle at all. Josh Zlotlow [email protected]
    Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen www.sacgw.com
     
  18. >Subject: Re: Any disadvantages to saddle moved further back? From: "Mike S." [email protected]
    >Date: 4/16/03 9:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time Message-id: <[email protected]>

    >Since we can't see what you look like when you're riding, its hard for us to judge whether 2.5, 5,
    >or 6.5cm behind the BB is the "right" position for you. The best thing is to have the guy that did
    >your fit check out the "new" position and have him tell you what he thinks.
    >
    >From memory: the farther behind the BB, the more you're going to use the glutes/quads, and the less
    >you'll be able to pull back/up with the hamstrings. I could be off on this one, so correct me if
    >I'm wrong.
    >
    >If you're racing crits, you may be better off going with the saddle farther forward for a
    >better spin.
    >
    >Mike

    I know 2.5 is way too far forward, except for maybe on a time trial bike. I know 5 is good, but
    since I found myself comfortable even further back, I was wondering if there was any reason not to
    stay there. I think you're right about the various muscle groups. I don't think the position has
    affected my ability to spin, but I'm not going to use this bike in crits, so that's not a big
    concern. The one I use for crits has the saddle around 4.5cm behind the bb. Josh Zlotlow
    [email protected] Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen www.sacgw.com
     
  19. >Perhaps you can try the old Italian mechanic trick of dropping a plum bob (string with weight on
    >the end) from the bottom of your knee cap down through the pedal spindle, while the crank is
    >forward, and flat. By doing this, you can alway adjust you're fore/aft saddle position fairly close
    >from bike to bike.
    >
    >
    >jw milwaukee

    I've already used that method and eventually ended up with the 4.5 to 5cm of setback that had the
    plumb line behind the pedal axle.

    My understanding is that the plumb line method is a guideline, to get you in the right neighborhood.
    The rest of it is all trying to find the right house in that neighborhood.

    I may end up going to a sports lab to get a definitive answer. Josh Zlotlow [email protected]
    Sacramento, California Sacramento Golden Wheelmen www.sacgw.com
     
  20. Richard

    Richard Guest

    Sorry, I missed the beginning of the thread...

    If, after a long ride with lots of hills, or a long haul into a head wind, your lower back gets
    (really) sore, then it's too far back. If you notice nothing but improvement...

    Remember, the plumb bob is only a starting guide line. Deviations from this can make things better
    in individual cases.

    >>1. Is the new position is comfortable on longer rides?
    >>
    >>2. Does it seem to adversely affect your performance generally or in specific situations?
    >>
    >>3. Does it cause you to be always sliding forward on the saddle?
    >
    > The longest ride I've done with the seat in this position has been a little over 50 miles, so it
    > wasn't a really long ride, but it was perfectly comfortable.
    >
    > It doesn't seem to affect the handling of the bike or my inability to ride fast.
    >
    > It does not cause me to slide forward on the saddle at all.
     
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