Over the past few years, I have had several motion-capture bike fits through a major brand (initial & follow-up due to new bike purchase). All of them (from 2 different fitters) set me at about the same saddle height --771 mm. They also landed around the same saddle setback – 100 mm, with a stubby-nosed Specialized Power Saddle. After delving pretty deep into bike fitting sites/videos from sources like Steve Hogg, BikeFitJames (Bike Fit Tuesday video series on Frances Cade’s YouTube channel), and Neill Standbury (through Cam Nichols’ YouTube channel), I have pretty much determined that the system simply set my saddle too high. All the resources mentioned above are excellent if anyone wants to take a deep dive. However, I’m curious if anyone else has had this experience?
By way of background, here is my basic info: Height – 179.5 cm (5’10"); Inseam — Somewhere around 850-865 mm, or 32-33", depending on how you measure; Physical Characteristics – I’m around 85-87 kg (190-95 lbs), and have always been a broader-shoulder/arms build, certainly not a “climber” type. I’m also pretty tight through the glutes/hamstrings/hips, due to sitting at a desk all day.
Through all my experimentation, I find myself much more comfortable around the 745-755 mm saddle height, depending on cleat/pedal choice and setup. This is true even with shorter cranks (165mm versus 172.5mm) recently installed, which typically allow you to raise your saddle. I don’t feel like I have to reach through the bottom of the stroke, I do not get any numbness-related issues with the saddle, and for the most part, I feel much less weight on my hands when riding. The only potential downside I’m sensing is potentially getting a little tight in the hip angle through the top of the stroke. However, I do not appear to have lost any power due to the lower seat height.
I find it crazy that the motion-capture system would set me up almost 3cm higher than I ultimately find myself comfortable. I even scoured CGN and other outlets’ “Pro Bike” videos and compared my motion-capture prescribed measurements to World Tour riders in a similar height range. Riders even a little taller than me still ended up with lower seat heights than the initially-prescribed 771 mm. Nibali, Sagan, and other riders in the 5’10" to 6’+ range had saddle heights ranging from 745 mm to 760mm. Presumably, these guys are much fitter/more flexible than me, but their saddle heights are lower than my initial settings through my last few professional fits.
I’m just baffled and wanted to vent/get others’ input on whether they fought this critical bike fit metric for years, only to significantly drop their saddles?