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How to Calculate the Correct Bicycle Seat Height?

Riding a bicycle can be an enjoyable means of transportation but only if you're riding a bicycle that fits you. A seat that is too high will cause you to rock from side to side and may cause chafing in the inner thighs, as well as a loss of power. A seat that is too low can cramp your legs and subject you to excessive impact. Finding the correct height for your bicycle seat can be achieved by the calculated method.

  1. Measure your inseam. Stand on a firm surface with your back against a wall. You can wear socks but you shouldn't wear shoes. Press a book between your legs so its spine is snug against your crotch. Hold the book firmly against the wall.

  2. Continue to hold the book against the wall as you measure the distance from the floor to the spine of the book where it is pressed against your crotch. If necessary, have a friend take this measurement.

  3. Take this measurement, which is your inseam, and plug it into one of the following formulas depending on the style of bicycle you will be riding. For a bicycle with clip in pedals, multiply your inseam by 1.07. For a bicycle with clipless pedals, multiply your inseam by 1.09 to get your seat height.

  4. Adjust your seat so the distance between the top of the saddle and your pedal axle corresponds to the number you obtained from your calculations.

    Tip

    Some bicycles are sized according to inseam measurements in metric. Multiply your measurements by 2.54 to convert inches to centimeters. When sizing for a mountain bike, subtract 4 inches or 10 cm from your inseam measurement to determine your frame size.

    Warning

    Riding a bike that doesn't accurately fit your frame can lead to injury. If you're unsure of your seat height, have your bike checked at a bicycle or sporting goods store.

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About the Author

Tricia Ross is a full-time journalist who studied English at the University of California-Los Angeles. She has run a marathon and three half-marathons and has training in sports massage therapy.

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