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How to Set the Saddle Height On Your Indoor Bike

A bicycle seat, often called a saddle, is one of the main contact points on your indoor bike. If your saddle isn’t set to the proper height, you’re likely to be pretty uncomfortable while you ride, and keeping up with your cycling routine won’t be very enjoyable.

Fortunately, adjusting your seat to the correct height is an easy fix you can do at home! If you’re unsure how to set the saddle height on your indoor bike, these tips will help.

Why does saddle height matter?

Close up on a woman riding an indoor bike with a emphasis on the center of the bike and its handles/saddle.

Adjusting the height of your bike’s seat may not seem all that important, but it’s essential for a good bike fit. Finding the right height for your seat can take some time (and tinkering), but ultimately, it’s worth the effort.

Your saddle’s height measurement is the distance between the bottom bracket’s center and the saddle’s middle. Before you get on an indoor bike to cycle, you should always take the time to adjust the saddle to ensure a comfortable and safe fit.

When you adjust your bicycle seat to the correct height, it will be more comfortable, improve your performance, and help prevent injuries.1

Although you can always opt to have your indoor bike professionally fitted to your body, it’s not necessary if you prefer not to cough up the money. Instead, you can find a correct and comfortable fit at home with the right guidance.

How high should your seat be on an indoor bike?

Woman ridng her indoor bike in the dark.

The correct saddle height will vary from person to person, so what’s suitable for a biking buddy may not be right for you. Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to experiment to figure out the correct height for your bike, but it shouldn’t take too much time.

If you recently purchased a new indoor bike, you’ll need to adjust the saddle before you ride it for the first time. Similarly, if you ever replace your bike seat, you’ll likely need to re-adjust it to find the proper height and fit before you start cycling again.

Adjusting a bike seat at a gym can be a bit more of a pain because you’re probably going to be unfamiliar with how to change the seat height, but it’s still worth the time to find the right fit. That way, you don’t walk away with soreness or knee pain after your workout.

How do I set the saddle height on my indoor bike?

An older couple smiling while riding an indoor bike.

Getting the right saddle height may take a little time and patience, but here’s how you can determine what’s best for you and your bike:

  1. Stand directly next to the saddle and lift your inner leg (the one closest to the saddle) up to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Adjust the saddle so that the top of it lines up with the top of your thigh.
  3. Hop on the bike and test it out. At the proper saddle height, you should have a slight bend in your knee (25 to 35-degree) at the bottom of each pedal stroke.2
  4. Position your handlebar at about the same height as your saddle. If this is uncomfortable for your back, lift the handlebars a bit higher until it’s more comfortable. A proper fit will result in a slight bend at your elbows when you sit on the saddle and reach forward to grab the handlebars.
  5. Make sure your saddle isn’t too far forward. The space between the front of your saddle and the handlebars should be the same as the length from your elbow to the front of a loose fist.

There are other mathematical equations and methods you can also use to find the correct saddle height for your bike. However, they don’t consider individual body differences, so they won’t always produce the most accurate results.

How do I know if my saddle height is too low? 

Man riding a bike indoors facing his computer.

If your saddle height is too low, you’ll likely experience pain in the front of your knees or kneecaps. This pain is typically a result of tendonitis of the patella (a round bone in your knee that shields and protects the joint) or quadriceps (the muscles on the front and sides of your thighs). It can also result from a saddle that’s too far forward.

How do I know if my saddle height is too high? 

Woman riding a bike indoors look at the wall.

If your hips rock back and forth while riding, your bike saddle is probably too high. This back and forth wobbling movement of the hips often causes pain in the lower back. A saddle that’s too can also cause pain in the back of the knees.

Of course, if you sit on the saddle and can’t reach your bike pedal, it’s definitely too high!

Need more help finding the right saddle height?

A couple indoor biking high-fiving!

Most beginner cyclists should be able to use the above method to determine the right saddle height for them. However, if you’re an advanced cyclist struggling to find the right fit for your bike saddle, it may be worth having your indoor bike professionally fitted to your body

Cycling shouldn’t be uncomfortable or cause injuries, but if your saddle height isn’t correct, you’re much more likely to experience these things.

Key Takeaways:

Proper saddle height is the basic foundation of a good bike fit. If your bike saddle is too low or too high, your rides are likely to be uncomfortable, it will negatively affect your performance, and you may also be more likely to develop injuries. Getting the right saddle fit is something you can easily do at home, but if you need additional help, you can also have your bike professionally fitted to your body at a bike shop.

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References:

  1. Peveler, W. W. (2008). Effects of Saddle Height on Economy in Cycling. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(4), 1355–1359. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e318173dac6 
  2. Bini, R., Hume, P. A., & Croft, J. L. (2011). Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Knee Injury Risk and Cycling Performance. Sports Medicine, 41(6), 463–476. https://doi.org/10.2165/11588740-000000000-00000 

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