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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What would you say to someone who had serious comfort problems (numbness, etc. but no knee problems), went to a professional fitter who lowered their seat significantly (> 1cm), solving their comfort problem, and then discovered they now sucked at climbing while seated?

Is this a common tradeoff? Any suggestions for getting both comfort and performance?

Thanks.
 

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Its hard to consider a fitter a professional unless they have you fitting on a power measuring bike as well. Which almost non ever do. A few measurements don't always work for everyone especially since its a range of angles. I would slowly raise your saddle until you find a tolerable position with regards to comfort and still have a good feel of power. Honestly I get a lot of pain after a good workout or race where I push really hard sitting while climbing. You may have to find a balance of what you can handle or accept a loss of power. Riding a bike isn't always a real comfortable thing to do. Especially during really hard efforts ie climbing while seated. If your current setup feels good on the flats maybe you should try standing when you climb more. It's less efficient but if you want comfort it may be your best option.
 

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thoughts...

Numbness suggests a saddle angle problem. Not many bikes come with the best seatposts, having a 2-bolt rocker design that permits very fine angle adjustments. I would never use a single bolt post that relies on coarse serrations for angle adjustment.

You mention nothing about saddle fore/aft changes. It doesn't take much skill to set the knee over the pedal - that's all that most fitters do. I find that moving the saddle back another 1-2cm works better for climbing.

As for saddle height, a good starting point places the foot horizontal with the leg fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. During normal pedaling, a 2-3cm rise of the heel will produce the commonly recommended 30 degree bend in the leg.

If you make changes, just be sure to remember whare you started from, so if something does not work out, you can go back to a previous position.

Climbing is never easy, but to really know that a position change is working, you'd need a power meter and a road that provides 10-15 minutes of continuous climbing to compare your power output over a 10-15 minute hard effort.

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
 

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with a change that big, I'd actually expect some performance changes as you muscles were conditioned to work where they were. Once you recondition your muscles, you should be as good or better at climbing-IF you are actually in a better position now.
 

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If the saddle was just lowered, it also effectively moved it forward as well. You might slide it back a bit and see if that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's what I initially thought, and what I'm still hoping. I just wanted to make sure this wasn't a well-known problem with an obvious fix.

Thanks everyone.
 

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I spent a lot of time setting both of my bikes up for ME. I don't think your question is one anybody can really answer for you. When I set up the new Trek I took it to a parking lot, set the seat, got on and rode around a while, then got off and made small adjustments. I did this until I felt good on the bike and I felt safe when stopping. I have my seat slightly tilted forward but not enough that it's noticeable. I like my seat high enough that I have only a very slight bend in my knees when the pedal is down because if my knees bend too much it takes a lot of the strength from my legs on the down stroke, or it seems like it does. I make sure that my toes touch the ground if I stop while still on the seat. I normally slide out of the seat when I stop so both feet are on the ground but sometimes that isn't always possible so I need my toes to touch the ground while on the seat but in a slight lean to the side. I learned this the hard way because I thought I had to sit high. I had to stop suddenly once and didn't slide off the seat in time. My left food landed in a slight depression on the ground and when I couldn't touch the ground properly, bike and I both landed on our sides in the grass. When I tested the ride for the 7.3 I also noticed that I kept pushing up and back on the seat so I moved the seat as far back as it would go and it was perfect. Don't worry about how you look. Just worry about how you feel on the bike.

There is a man that rides by our house and his seat is so low that when he pedals his knees are almost in his chest. I want to tell him so badly to raise his seat but then I figure, if it's right for him I will just keep my mouth shut. :)
 

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Uhhh... I want to tell you so badly that slamming your seat all the way back is usually indicative of a geometry that isn't quite "in the middle" for your body, but I guess it may work for you.

Different bicycles have different distances from the bottom bracket (crank) to the pavement. So, setting up your seat height depending on how, when and what you can touch with your toes, can result in your body and legs forming different angles while riding. The distance to the ground past the pedals is irrelevant.

Where did you purchase the new Trek that they didn't help set you up on the bike?
 

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The place I retired from ordered it. The company they ordered it from called and asked my height and inseam length. That was it. They sent the frame size for my measurements. For some reason, I have had to ride with my seat all the way back on every bike I have ever owned. What would be wrong to cause this? I'm 5'5" with a 31" inseam. I'm more legs than body. If I raise the seat higher than it already is I don't feel balanced when I stop. The seat height is at mid-hip when I'm standing next to the bike. My knees are slightly bent and my toes barely touch the ground while I'm on the seat. Also, having the seat all the way back doesn't cause me pain anywhere (knees, hips, etc.) The seat is an inch or two below the handlebars. Do you think the handlebars need to be raised to raise me up?

We have a bike shop about 20 miles from me so maybe I should drop in there even though the way I ride doesn't bother me. When I ride with the seat forward I'm always pushing myself back and then sliding forward regardless of the tilt of the seat. Also, if the seat is forward I get numb spots in my feet. If the seat is back I don't do any of that.

My personal geometry might be what's off. I always have to spend time adjusting the seat and seat height whenever I buy a new saddle and I have several.

I am open for advice.
 

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The company they ordered it from called and asked my height and inseam length. That was it.
Inseam alone only works for frames when all the other measurements match up as well. It very well could be the right size of bike for you, but it's not how you should fit someone today.
 

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The bike is a 43cm (17") frame. I will experiment some more. The post is clamped all the way to the front of the saddle frame. That pushes the seat back. I have never tried it all the way forward so I'll try that and work my way back from there. When I first set it up (the seat) was clamped to the post in the middle. I didn't try bringing it forward because that seemed like the wrong direction since I was having to push my body back. I'll try that and see if I have to keep pushing myself back. I want to do whatever makes it easier to ride without causing pain anywhere. When the seat is positioned in the middle I have pain in my knees and numb spots.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Since I posted last I went to take a really good look at the Trek Hybrid and re-read some of the posts on this thread. The way it looks, the seat is not in position to put my body over the peddles. I think that the middle spot was so off that it seemed logical to me to move the seat back to keep from pushing myself back but I think what happens is that with the seat all the way back my legs are forward of me and when I pedal it keeps me pushed back. I'm going to move it all the way forward to start because it looks like I will be more over the pedals there and see if I stay on the seat. I should also be able to raise it some in that position. I have always had trouble fitting saddles but it might not have been the saddle.

I'll have to wait until I have to put it on the truck and go to town to the park where there are flat spots to set it up on level ground. I'm back in the hills of E. TN and there are no flat spots here. I'm in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains and this is NOT good bike riding country.
 

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The tone of my initial response was sort of dick-ish. Happens when you hang out of RBR too long.

A saddle that's slammed back will often be uncomfortable as you'll find yourself sitting too far forward on it and not really supported. Sitting too far back also has negative implications on the amount of power you can generate, and if you're too far back, it will literally tear your knees apart.

Instead of slamming it forward, why don't you set the saddle right in the middle of the rails. If you're working with the presumption that the frame fits, it should have some room to give in either direction.

There have been tens and tens of threads here on fitting. So let me give you the disclaimer: go see a fitter who knows what he's doing.

With that said, go ahead and tinker around it with.

The reason why you tipped your saddle forward might have been because it was too far back. Saddles are usually almost always dead level, with a slight tilt (1-2 degrees) for fine tuning. Set that saddle level, middle of rails.... and start there.
Notice how you're now sitting on the saddle, and not merely "pushing off of it" leaning forward? If you feel it digging into the backs of your legs on the down stroke move it ever so slightly back (1-2mms) and try again.

Also, as the saddle gets closer to the bars (and the crank) you can bump up the height a bit to keep the actual "heigh" to cranks the same.
 

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I didn't take any of what you said wrong. :) I was in a bike forum a year or so ago when I was having problems with my mountain bike setup and I know how passionate cyclists get. I just ride for pleasure and almost always alone.

I knew that having the seat placed in the middle was causing me pain and when I moved it back, no more pain BUT I thought I was more out of shape than I should have been because I was working so hard to ride. I couldn't do hills very well and when I got back my legs and knees were so weak that I had to hold to something to keep them from falling out from under me and that wasn't normal. I am very fit for a 58 year-old woman. When I posted what I did about the seat being back I was referring to how I stopped the pain but at the time it didn't occur to me that it was hindering me from riding like I used to. I wasn't even able to stand and pedal up a hill like I used to because I was so out of balance. I knew something was wrong but it never occurred to me that I had moved the seat the wrong direction. All I could think of that it didn't cause pain that way.

I loaded the bike this morning and took it to the city park to set it up on level ground. I moved the seat within a half-inch of being all the way forward. I must have hit the sweet spot because I rode and rode and never pushed myself back even once. I even practiced standing and pedaling on slight hills and the balance was perfect. With the seat back I didn't have much control on the handlebars and always felt like I was going to crash. Since all of that was perfect I tried to come up a steeper hill and I made in all the way up in middle high gear and I could never do that before. When I finished riding I got off and my legs felt strong and knees didn't give out. I was also able to slightly raise the seat and level it just as you said. It wasn't tilted much before but it is level now.

I owe you more than I can tell you because now I know I'm not in bad shape at all. I haven't been able to ride like this with so little work since I was a teenager on a three speed bike. :D

This evening, when it cools off, I will ride the mountain bike to the cemetery and ride the gravel path around it because it is flat. I hate to have to get off and push up hills the way most people that ride here do. I am forced to ride hills where I live due to the terrain and now maybe it won't be so difficult. I joined this forum because I knew something was wrong but was mixed up about how to fix it. I thought I was doing the right thing to stop the pain and it did stop it but I was working too hard to be able to ride. :rolleyes:

Thanks!!!!
 

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If anything I said was remotely helpful, you're welcome! Some time ago, when I first got started, I too rode around with my seat moved all the way back on the rails. While it cured certain things, my inefficient position resulted in me working incredibly hard to keep the bike moving.

You mention a few times about feeling good while standing and pedaling. Just wanted to note that when you're standing up the only contact your body has with the bike is the handle bar and pedals, where the saddle is irrelevant. So, that should feel the same regardless of where the saddle is. It's not until you swing your butt back on the saddle that your weight is redistributed and differences become perceptible. When your seat was slammed all the way back, most of your weight was on the back wheel, and uphill the bicycle could have felt "squirmy" and hard to control (with very little weight on that front tire). With your weight reentered over the wheels, handling improves.


Here's an article on seat height from a guy who knows what he's doing. Brew a cup of coffee and pull it up on the PC. There's a "how to set your seat heigh by yourself" section a few paragraphs into this article: https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/02/seat-height-how-hard-can-it-be/. Some terms may be much to handle, but after you're done reading you'll definitely get the gist of it. Basically you don't want to set your saddle too high to have your pelvis rocking side to side and causing aches in the muscles in the base of your spine. OTOH (on the other hand), you don't want it too low.

some other things:

-saddle tilt is extremely sensitive to bike/butt feel. 1-2 degrees makes a huge difference. Sometimes just the action of tightening the bolts down will move the angle of a saddle slightly.

-if your bicycle is not a women's specific model (WSD), you may not find your saddle as comfortable as a saddle designed to accommodate the obviously different shape of the female pelvis.

-there are so many factors to fitting on a bike, though arguably seat position being most important. since you've moved your saddle forward quite a bit, take note of two things: any discomfort in the knees, and the amount of weight "on your hands". If you find too much weight on your hands, move the saddle back slightly, you should feel some of that weight shift off to your butt. These small adjustments, if any, will leave your seat still well, well forward of where it was originally.
 

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Thanks! I thought about the seat in relation to standing up to pedal like you said and I'm sure the reason it didn't work with it back was because when I stood up it got squirrely with me and I immediately sat back down. With the seat more forward I easily went from sitting to standing with no wobble from pushing myself forward and standing at the same time like I did before. When I immediately sat back down with the seat back the wobbled doubled.

Both of my bikes are WSD but not with the curved bar. The bar is straight but just lowered on one end slightly. My arms are actually bent perfectly in the new position. The main thing I know is that adjusting the seat the way I thought it should not go helped tremendously with balance, fatigue, and peddling.

Thanks for the link too. I will definitely check it out.
 

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What you wrote about the transitioning from sitting to standing makes perfect sense now that I think about it. Pulling on the bars when you're already that far back with the weight on the back wheel IS different than standing up with weight centered to begin with.

enjoy riding. if anything else nags or hurts, let us know.
 
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