Bike saddles: how to set yours up properly

We explain how to set up your bike saddle properly for maximum comfort

Credit: The Secret Studio

Comfort while you ride is essential, but many people’s seating set-up can do a race and body damage. And while it’s a pretty simple job mechanically, there’s still a fair amount of patient experimentation involved in getting it right. Make one small change at a time and keep a note of what it was. It can take a while for your body to adapt, so again give it time to see if the new set-up works.


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Sit on your bike as though riding it.

1. Loosen the bolt(s) that clamp the seatpost into the frame. Be careful when re-tightening – it’s easy to strip an alloy thread with a steel bolt.

 2. Sit on your bike and put your heel on the pedal when it’s at its lowest point in the stroke. Your leg should be almost fully straight. Adjust the height accordingly.

3.  When the position feels right, get a tape measure and check the distance from centre of the bottom-bracket axle to top of the saddle. Make a note of the distance for the next time you set up your bike.


Aim for a position that puts your knee directly above the pedal when it’s horizontal and pointing forward.

1. Loosen the seat-clamp bolt. If it’s been tight for a while, the clamp itself may need a tap to loosen it from the rails. Don’t alter the angle now or this will confuse proceedings.

2. Moving the saddle forwards reduces reach to the bars and steepens the effective seat tube angle, making it easier to get aero. Sliding it back increases reach but makes getting aero harder.

3. Make a note of the distance between the saddle’s nose and the stem cap bolt, so if you swap bikes you can reset your position quickly.


You now need to get your saddle in the right position in relation to you.

1. On a single-bolt seatpost you need to undo the bolt and tilt the cradle on its arch. With twin-bolts you need to loosen one as you tighten the other.

2. Tilting the nose down reduces pressure on your sensitive bits, especially when in an aero tuck. But too much forward slope can cause soreness and shoulder ache.

3. The nose-up position is popular with BMXers but there’s no place for it in tri. It causes a lot more pressure exactly where you don’t want it.


4. A standard slim-padded flat saddle can render your tenders red raw, so tilt it down a little. A tri-saddle with a soft nose will let you run it level while remaining comfortable.

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