Is Inseam Length a Good Way to Set Seat Height?

There are several fit methods that exist where either inseam length or leg length is used to determine seat height based off an equation.  While inseam could help you determine a reasonable seat height we do not feel it is an optimal or even a viable option for finding your seat height.

When initially hearing the thought behind these methods, they make sense.  Your leg extension is the primary factor in the equation of saddle height and based on a fraction of this you could feasibly create an accurate saddle height.

Though, upon greater inspection and comparison with motion capture of how individuals interact with a bicycle, it has become evident that there are many factors not able to be considered when solely using inseam length/leg length.  These factors include the three key angles (ankle, knee & hip) that vary from one cyclist to the next. Plus, you must consider where you sit on the saddle as well as pelvic rotation.

For these reasons, we find it very difficult to believe that one simple measurement could take all of these factors into consideration.

5 Reasons You Need A Bicycle Fit

Too often, we hear stories of athletes who have been dealing with debilitating pain, recurring injuries, or other symptoms that sound more like they are riding a medieval torture device than a bicycle.

Our goal at Bike Fit Box is to provide athletes with the fit they need to enjoy a lifetime of cycling.  Here are five signs that it’s time to see how a bike fit can be beneficial to your cycling longevity:

Joint Pain

Cycling is a minimal weight-bearing form of exercise and any joint pain should be immediately assessed. If you’re feeling discomfort in your joints during and after your ride, it’s time to schedule a fit.

Saddle Pain

Saddle sores, excessive soft tissue pressure, and numbness are all factors that are indicative of an improper fitting.  These symptoms quite often immediately lead to the assumption that the incorrect saddle has been picked. This however is not always correct and saddle comfort can be improved by bicycle fit!

Numbness 

When you hear the two words “cycling” and “numbness” in the same sentence, what comes to mind? More than likely, you thought of groin numbness.  That can be a terrible sensation, and it is a concerning one. Numbness can arise is the hands and feet as well. No matter where you may experience numbness, it is indicative of nerve trauma and should be resolved as quickly as possible. A bike fit can help you avoid irreparable damage.

Tendonitis

Cycling is a repetitive sport that occurs predominantly in one plane of motion.  At 90 RPM, you are asking your body to repeat the same motion 5,400 times in an hour of cycling.  That repetitive movement is asking a lot of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If your bicycle fit is not correct, you are placing the tendons, which connect your muscles to your bones and provide the needed leverage to pedal, under greater strain than necessary.

Cycling Economy

The body is a series of levers and hinges. In order to make them function effectively and efficiently, each of those hinges needs to perform in optimal ranges.  A fit is the optimization of these movements to improve your efficiency. It is an amazing sensation when your bike fit is perfected. You can’t beat the feel of the wind in your face and the smoothness in your pedal stroke as you glide with less effort!

Ready to schedule your bike fit? If you desire an at-home fitting anywhere in the US, try Bike Fit Box!

Take A Seat

One of the most frequent questions our expert bike fitters get asked is, “Where should I be sitting on the bike saddle?”

The short answer: there is no one right place for a rider to sit on their bike saddle.

Why? To achieve the best performance and comfort, you’ll find that your position on the bike seat changes throughout each and every ride. It’s all about adaptability. Your riding style, your bike’s saddle, and your own body will determine how your posterior meets the seat. Understanding how these affect placement will help you find the sweet spot.

First, consider the way that you ride. For example, when a road cyclist is riding in the hoods, their pelvis will be rotated more anteriorly or more backward. Due to this, they’re going to gravitate to a wider portion of the saddle as they’re on the ischial tuberosity (AKA the sit bones.) However, as the position becomes more aggressive (as the ride becomes more intense,) that same rider will rotate their pelvis more forward. At that point, the saddle pressure goes to a narrower spot in the ischium causing them to shift forward on the saddle.

Second, take a look at your own saddle! Is it designed to match your riding style? Is it a traditional road bike saddle designed for multiple positions, a noseless saddle geared towards a more “aggressive” riding style, or maybe you are riding a more cushioned saddle designed for fitness riding and a more upright posture?

Finally, listen to your body on the ride. Try out different positions. Get to know what feels more sensitive and what positions offer you more longevity. Do those positions that feel the best support your ability to maintain your desired posture? 

If you’re still struggling, it’s probably time for a professional bike fit. Your saddle is just one element of creating the right angles and positioning for a comfortable and efficient ride.

Is A Noseless Saddle Right For You?

In the last ten years, we have seen an increasing trend in saddle manufacturers to create a short or no nose saddle.  These saddles originated in Pro Tour TTs as athletes began cutting the nose of saddles off to make their seat fore/aft position meet UCI regulations. It later caught traction in triathlon due to the improved comfort and is now prominent in the road and off-road scenes.

Many cyclists wonder, “Will a noseless saddle work for me?” Here are some changes you might see if you switch to this saddle style.

Aggressive position

In this situation, the wider front of a noseless saddle provides greater support of the ischial rami and helps to alleviate numbness in many circumstances.

Further forward saddle position

Most riders sit further forward on a noseless saddle. This naturally moves the rider forward in relation to the saddle rails and provides an increased forward placement of the rider.

No more irritation from the saddle nose

For some cyclists the longer nose of a traditional saddle has a tendency to get in the way. By switching to a noseless saddle you can reduce chaffing in both the thigh and groin.

Curious about your bike saddle and how it affects the way you ride your bike? Learn more about our bike fitting services where we can dial in your saddle, cleats and cockpit for the ultimate riding experience.

3 Keys to TT and Triathlon Bike Fits

We recently had a question from one of our followers regarding the role of position on a TT/Triathlon bike and how you balance aerodynamics and biomechanical efficiency. This is a question that is not a simple “Do XYZ” answer but can be broken down into three key areas to come to a final position. 

The Goal: Without comparing specific goals of individuals let’s look at the goals of the event. Simply comparing the difference of a time trial specialist to a triathlete in and of itself is significant. One should finish completely gassed whereas the other still has to run off the bike.  Therefore we will have two very different positions. 

The positional goal of a sprint triathlete vs. an Ironman triathlete are incredibly different as well as you are looking at a fraction of the time riding with a different goal in run pace off the bike. 

The Body: Each individual athlete has different positional capabilities. This can be due to flexibility limitations, prior injuries or simply the skeletal structure.  All of these must be factored in to determine what position a rider can/should be in. 

The Science & Art: Once the previous goals are factored in this is where the rubber meets the road. Your position becomes a large factor of your capability to hold speed. With this, we have found that it is often necessary to sacrifice a little bit of power in order to increase speed.  There is no golden rule that we can extrapolate, for example a 5% decrease in power equals an 8% increase in speed as too many variables play into the overall equation but, we do see that when positioning an athlete on their bike that power can decrease and average speeds (on their consecutive rides and races) will increase.

In search of a great bike fit for your TT or tri bike? We have both in-person and virtual bike fit services!