Monday, August 2, 2010

Seat Height

Another tip for any and all bike commuters out there would be to check your seat height.  I recently raised my seat an inch or so and it has made a HUGE difference.  I was experiencing major thigh burning and was just a tad concerned that I was going to be able to pull off a freaky Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation from the waist down.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Govinator and all, I just don't want to have his thighs and my husband would probably agree.  On a more serious note, I was not getting the proper leg extension which progressed into major muscle fatigue and overall slowness.  I could not figure out why my thighs were constantly in pain and I never felt anything at all in my calf muscles.  Raising my seat did the trick, and I noticed an immediate change.  My speed and endurance increased dramatically so after researching it a bit I discovered that it is actually very important that your leg is able to fully extend when the peddle is as close to the ground as it can get.  Your knee should only have a slight bend.   It turns out that most people think that their feet should touch the ground flat footed while on the seat and this is actually not correct.  When standing flat footed on the ground you should clear the top bar (if you have one) by an inch or two.  The seat is another story entirely.  When on the bike seat, you are supposed to be able to get full leg extension even if that means you have to come off the bike when you come to a stop.  In my case, I raised my seat a little bit last Friday and today I raised it some more.  I am able to put the tip of my right shoe down when I come to a stop and that is about it.  I can stay on the seat if I lean the bike slightly to the right.  I never put my left foot down anyway due to a previous ankle injury but I am hoping that I will continue to gain some strength on that side as time passes. Taking into consideration that time will help with getting used to the way the bike feels when I stop and I will be a little more comfortable a few days from now, I can tell you my thigh muscles are thanking me today.  They feel great!   I am sure that the more seasoned cyclists that have seen me every week for the past several months have had to laugh at the girl peddling away with her knees in her chin, but hey, I figured it out.  Better late to the party, than to never have arrived at all, right? Besides, I am here for your amusement as well as mine.  It is the least I can do.   So give those thighs a break, raise your seat and let me know how it feels.
- Commuter Girl


  1. Flat footing is good for youngsters, the elderly, or while cruising on your Electra.

  2. I agree rapidzero. We have a couple of Electra's, the Amsterdam fat tire bikes both the make and female versions and we love them. I believe you still get good leg extension due to their crank forward design. Unfortunately they aren't the best choice for a 30 mile daily ride, but they are great for around town and a little beyond. Thanks for the reminder!