Thursday, 8 October 2009

Can a grown man suddenly sprout two inches ... or is there something wrong with my bike seat?

I've recently been having a little nag in the back of my head which has been telling me that my bike seat's too low. But this can't be as I haven't touched it for years. And as far as I know, I've passed the legal age of growing. But there it is again - a feeling of the old knees sticking up too much, of my weight being too damn ... low.

So, at a pit-stop to buy a new gear cable (mine keep snapping with monotonous regularity), I took the opportunity to raise the seat by a couple of inches and ... what an amazing difference! I felt preposterously high above the cars (purely psychological, of course) and ludicrously distant from the road. I worried about whether my feet would actually reach to the ground when I stopped, but mercifully I was still in contact. But good grief - the extra cycling power! I suddenly felt like I could go like the wind - admittedly not that sensible while negotiating the T-Junction which takes you into Marylebone High Street. It must be said though that it's not all joys - I also felt much more knackered more quickly.

But my suspicion is that by raising your seat a tiny bit, you could make a substantial impact on speed and efficiency.

Karma rating: ****

By the way - just found a good post on bike seat height at Bike Radar - and it confirms the idea that a too-low saddle can have a serious impact on energy efficiency. So there you go.


Paul said...

Recently had a similar experience. I lowered my saddle to keep the bike stable while using a rear-mounted child seat. I didn't grease the seatpost properly and it subsequently fused. I was stuck with a slightly too low saddle for months. I eventually freed the post a couple of weeks back and have been revelling in the extra power ever since. It's like installing a turbo.

Natalie said...

I have a Dutch city bike in my Berlin home and a rather less lovely hybrid in London. But there's no doubt, the higher saddle on my cheapo London bike makes me feel like I'm riding like the wind. Obviously any 6 or 60 year old that regularly overtakes me will tell you that's not the case but it certainly feels like I'm speeding along.

KarmaCycle said...

I think we might be developing a bit of a theme here - I like it! Paul - I know what you mean about turbo - it was actually almost scary this morning! Natalie - how cool to have two major cities to cycle in and two bikes to play with! I hope you don't ever get confused about which side of the road you're on ... (!) ;-)