Why Do Cyclist Have Their Seat So High? (SADDLE HEIGHT)

Why does cyclist have their seat so high

Look at any cyclist that knows what they are doing and you will notice that their seats will be incredibly high.

In fact, they will be so high that their feet won’t be able to touch the floor when they are stationary.

Why do cyclist have their seat so high? There is a reason for this and at this position the cyclist will need less energy to push the pedal and therefore, less energy to propel the bicycle forwards and your bike will move faster.

On this page, we want to look at why cyclist seats are so high and, perhaps more importantly, how you can set the height to be correct for you.

Why Do Cyclists Have Their Seats So High?

While the wheels and the chain of the bike are what will propel you forwards when you are riding, they need something to make them move.

That something will be your legs. The more effort your legs put into moving the pedals, the easier it is to move the chain, and this in turn will result in the wheels moving a little bit faster.

When you are riding a bike, it is important that the entirety of your leg is used. Every single muscle in your legs needs to be driving forward towards those pedals.

If you do this, then you will be expending less energy to push that pedal. This means that you will not have to pedal as fast.

One good push with a high seat could drive you forward just as much as five or ten smaller pushes where your seat is so low that you can barely use the bottom part of your leg.

Read also: Are Touring Bikes Fast? (The TRUTH)

Having your seat be fairly high is going to be more comfortable too. When you are riding a bike with a low seat, you will be far more inclined to stand up.

This is because your body wants to drive that bike faster.

It doesn’t want the legs to be all compressed. Standing is going to be a lot more strenuous on your legs, and this means that you will tire out a lot quicker.

Remember; in most cases, the purpose of a bike ride is to help relax you. You are cycling to have a bit of fun. The exercise is a mere bonus.

Cycling with a low bike seat is not something that will be fun in the slightest. 

If your seat is too low, then several things will happen:

  • You will suffer from knee pain
  • You are more at risk of compression injuries to your legs, some of which can be incredibly serious.
  • You have to put more effort into your riding
  • You will travel at a far slower speed
  • You will not be able to ride for anywhere near as long as you should be able to

There is also such a thing as having your feet too high. If your seat is too high, then you will suffer from many of the same issues as mentioned before.

However, you will also be running the risk of overstretching.

This can cause a huge amount of pain, and you may not be able to cycle for weeks, even with the smallest of injuries.

How Do You Set The Correct Seat Height? (Saddle Height)

If your seat is too low or too high, then you will suffer from leg pain.

If the seat is too low, then cycling becomes a chore. Before you step onto a bike, you need to ensure that the seat is the correct height. Thankfully, this should be easy to do.

All you will need is access to simple tools. A bike tool kit will work wonders here.

If you buy one, it means you can bring it with you on your cycling adventures, and you will be able to change the height of your seat and carry out any other maintenance whenever you need to do so.

How To Set Your Road Bike’s Saddle Height – Tips For Getting Your Saddle Position Right >> Check out the video below:

There are several different methods you can use to adjust the height of your bike’s seat. We are going to discuss a method known as ‘heel to pedal’.

This is a simple method, and it may not give you completely accurate results, but once you have the height of your seat almost perfect, it becomes a lot easier to make small adjustments to make it even better for you.

You will need to ensure that your bike is completely stationary for this.

A bike stand will work wonders here. Alternatively, you could head to your local bike store.

How to set your saddle height
How to set your saddle height

They may have the equipment you can use to adjust the height of your seat, although do bear in mind that you will probably need to pay for this.

Start by sitting on your bike. Put a heel on each of the pedals. From this position, you will need to be cycling backward.

You will do this until the pedals are now located in a six-o-clock position i.e. they would be perfectly in line with one another if you could draw a vertical line between the two heels.

It doesn’t matter which leg is on the top and which one is at the bottom, all that matters is that you are in this position.

You will now need to look at the knee on the lower leg. There should not be a bend in this knee.

If there is a bend, then it means that your seat is too low. This will make it very hard to pedal.

Related reading: Are Trek Bikes Good Quality? (All Facts You Need to Know)

Your job is to now raise the seat until you have eliminated the bend in the knee. However, you will not want to raise it so high that the heel struggles to touch the pedal.

You may not be able to completely get rid of the bend in the knee using this method, but you should come pretty close.

Once you believe you have it ‘almost right’ then go out and cycle for a couple of hours.

Pay attention to how your legs feel throughout the ride and make the necessary adjustments when you get home.

Remember; setting the height of your seat is something that will need to be done regularly.

As you pedal and move about on the seat, the bolt that holds the seat height steady will start to become loose. This means that the seat will drop ever so slightly over time.

Even a small drop of a fraction of an inch can have a huge impact on how you cycle.

Should The Seat Be Higher Than The Handlebars?

In most cases, no. You will want to pay just as much attention to the handlebar height as you do to your seat height.

If you are raising your seat, then the handlebars will need to be slightly higher, or at least roughly level, with the seat.

If the handlebars are too low, you will have to put more pressure on your wrists and elbows. This can very quickly lead to stress-related injuries.

These injuries can put you out of cycling for an incredibly long time.


Cyclists have their seats so high in order to ensure that cycling becomes a whole lot easier. It will also help to reduce the risk of leg injuries.

If you have not taken the time to set the right height for your bike seat, then it is vital that you do it as soon as possible.

We promise you, the quicker you do it, the easier cycling will become.


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John Muranko

John is Founder and Senior Bike Editor at ProBikeCorner. John is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 17+ countries and doesn't really have any plans of stopping. He´s passionate about helping others by creating technical resources, in-depth reviews and more…

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