Making Your Current Bike Fit You: Adjusting the Bike Seat

Do your knees, shoulders or back hurt from riding your bike? Adjusting the bike seat might begin to fix the problem.

October 2014

By Dave Glowacz

Urban Bikers Tricks and Tips Cover

Whether you are buying your first bicycle, your twentieth bicycle, or you’re getting your old bike out of storage, Dave Glowacz provides the tips for riders of all ages and levels of experience in Urban Bikers’ Tricks and Tips (Wordspace Press, 2010). This excerpt, which explains the ways to improve the comfort level on your bike by adjusting your seat, is from Chapter 1, “Choosing a Bike.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Urban Bikers’ Tricks and Tips.

Typical Fit Problems

Lots of people have bikes that don’t fit right. Usually the frame is too tall, short, or long. A bad fit can hurt your back, neck, or shoulders. Or it can just make you feel strange. So should you get a different bike? Maybe not. First decide whether moving the handlebars and/or seat will fix the problem.

• Bending head up hurts neck
• Too much stretching hurts shoulders
• Too much weight hurts arms
• Too much knee bend hurts legs (Knee pain can also result from not shifting gears)
• Leaning over hurts back

Adjusting Your Bike Seat: Tilting, Moving and Raising

Cropped Seat

Tilting the Seat

Why: Put more or less weight on your crotch or arms.

• Loosen the nut below the seat
• To take some weight off the front of your crotch and put more on your arms, tilt the seat slightly nose-down
• To move some of your weight off your arms, tilt the seat slightly nose-up.


Moving the Seat Forward

Why: Puts you closer to the handlebars for less stretch

1. Loosen the seat nut.

2. Push the seat forward

3. Tighten the nut.

Adjusting Seat Height

Raising the Seat

Why: With the correct knee bend you pedal easier.

1. Loosen the seat-post nut.

2. Pull the seat up by twisting it back and forth.

3. Put the bike next to a wall or have a friend hold it. Then sit lightly on the seat.

4. Put one pedal at the 6 o’clock position, and put your foot on it.

5. Your knee should be slightly bent. If it isn’t, change the seat height. (If you end up with less than two inches of seat post inside the frame, you might have to get a longer post. Otherwise, the bike is simply too short for you.)

6. Tighten the seat-post nut.

Want to learn more cycling tips? Check out these articles:

Making Your Current Bike Fit You: How to Adjust Bike Handlebars to Fit
Bike Maintenance: What to Check Before Riding
Finding a Comfortable Bike Seat

Reprinted with Permission from Urban Bikers’ Tricks and Tips by Dave Glowacz and published by Wordspace Press, 2010. Buy this book from our store: Urban Bikers’ Tricks and Tips.

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