Simplifying mountain bikes seat angle height and seat above or below handlebar illustrated guide, unlike road bikes mountain bike seats height and angle are constantly changing according to the trail, As a beginner myself the online guides and seat angle calculations fried my brain so I decided to write a simplified illustrated guide that is easy to understand and maybe help you out more than exact calculated numbers.
Mountain bikes seat height is usually kept higher than the handlebars, It gets easier to pedal when the seat is higher but since trails are constantly changing so is the height.
Seat height According to Handlebar :
Unlike road bikes, mountain bikes seat height is constantly changing according to the trail but as a general rule of thumb seat height is kept higher than the handlebar height that’s the reason that the higher the seat wider your knee angle gets and you are not exerting that much of a force that you would be exerting on a lower seat
Here’s how it works, The higher the seat gets the wider your knee angle gets, and that in terms supports and controls your back angle, and the force you are exerting on the pedals.
If Your seat height is lower your knee angle decreases and without knowing you are exerting much more force than you realize that leads to faster energy burning out, but it doesn’t mean your seat height should always be higher than the handlebar, different trails require different positions and here’s how to adjust the seat height.
|knee angle||seat height|
|downhill||155°||varies according to height|
This is the method that I used to measure my seat height it was as close to my comfort level as it can get here’s how it works.
Seat height calculation formula according to height = your height(in feet) × 1.45 = round the number in mm(add two zeros in the end)
My height is 5.5 × 1.45 =7.975 = 800mm now this is the height I am comfortable at as I said it worked for me but maybe it won’t work for you but this is not the only way to do it.
|your Height in feet||Seat height(mm)|
|4 ft||580 mm|
|4.5 ft||650 mm|
|5 ft||725 mm|
|5.5 ft||800 mm|
|5.7 ft||826 mm|
|5.8 ft||841 mm|
Now, these numbers are not fixed and they might vary depending on your leg’s length but it may help you round your number easier.
As I said there are other methods as well traditional methods that are more common on trails than just numbers, numbers can be varied because of the length differences.
An easier way to nail down exact seat height :
If numbers are not your thing then here are some general rules you could apply to calculate which would work where and how to nail that number constantly and keep it that way.
The 3-way formula :
If you are going downhill slightly lower the seat than your comfort level and increase the seat angle so the nose of seat height is a bit higher easy downhill flying here’s a picture reference to better understand it.
now what this will do is if you had like to speed up unintentionally or intentionally you will leave the seat and stand up, lowering the seat will give you enough room to move, increasing the nose angle on steep downhills will give you traction and support to be seated and not constantly slip down from the seat and adjust yourself again.
When you are going uphill you need the seat high, Now what I try to accomplish is exerting lesser force and getting maximum efficiency, if the seat height is high it will not allow you to exert that much force on the pedals forcing you to the maximum your gears usage.
On the other hand, if you are racing or trying to speed up uphill then you can always lower the seat lowering the seat will allow you to exert more force on the pedals but in turn, provide you the speed.
Here’s a visual.
lowering the angle might not seem ideal but then again it will help you not slip on the seat.
now technical trails with rocks roots uphill downhill are where things get complex, on technical trails you need speed, more force, traction, and stability so the best height to go with would be on lower seat height it will give you enough room to move constantly and give you enough power stability and grounding to move better.
Now All said and done numbers and methods are useless if they don’t work out for you, But numbers can get you close from there on you can adjust the seat height and angle and mark your perfect number on the tube with a white marker or paint so you don’t always have to do the math all the time.
Moving the seat forward or backward :
If adjusting the angle and height of the seat end up causing a problem for you like a shorter reach try to move the seat a bit forward or backward in this way that might compensate for you still not recommended.
You may see people doing it in videos and everywhere but the seat is good where it is the seat position eventually sync with your body and changing that might cause problems for you but still if you are having shorter reach problems then you should look into it and definitely try as they often say
If something works it works dont disturb it
it might not be something ideal but if it’s working for you why to try changing it and end up messing it. That’s something to think about as well.
How Far Should the Seat be From the handlebar :
The distance of the seat from the handlebar decides you reach if you are not facing any problems like arm pumps/sore arms then it’s okay but if you are you need to adjust the seat.
moving it forward might get you into your comfortable reach now there are many tables and charts to look for those but the best way to go about it would be manually troubleshooting whats your reach and stick to it don’t copy someone else number its probably not going to work for you and if someone says try this it will be your reach dont believe it your reach is unique to you and doesn’t add/count for someone else.
Long/short legs or shorthands Causing Reach problems :
If you have higher height but your legs are short or your hands are shorter and you are getting stiff arms/legs and it’s not working out for you and you are really irritated by all of it then again numbers are not absolute leave them if you are not enjoying it then it has no meaning what so ever for you, Here’s what to do in that case.
The problem here doesn’t lie with your body or someone’s suggestion it lies with your bike frame/tires the best way to go about it would be getting smaller tires, yes it may feel a little weird at first but you will get used to it in no time, similarly, if it’s causing reach problems for you there’s no need to tough it out just change the frame with a shorter length.
Here’s how to go about the parts, If you are a consistent rider look for people who might be looking to swap tires or buy new tires/frame if there are not any than look for used bike frames/tires if they are in good condition go for it you don’t need new parts right away anyways.
Do Seat height and angle Even Matter :
Surely some of you might be thinking that does seat height and angle even matter the simplest answer would be.
Yes it does adjust the seat height might seem like a little thing to you but these little things play a major role in comfort and over all just a better experience and control.
Above all they play a major role in your comfort if you are coming home with sore arms/legs from a hobby that you picked as an interest and now it’s burning you up than you might as well quit it, but still knowing that there are solutions you should follow that if you love that hobby/ sport, so yeah seat height and angldo matter only if you are uncomfortable or looking to improve yourself.
Tools to Adjust Seat height and angle :
There’s not a long list of tools to carry if you had like to adjust you seat in most cases if your bike is fairly new model and was developed in recent years you might just need ALLEN WRENCH
Its a little tool that you could carry with you in a bag even on trails in your tool bag.
If something is working out for you and you see numbers/tables on this site or any site there’s no need to follow them or think this might be better if you are comfortable with your settings that’s all you need there’s no need to follow any guides or coaches, If you are confused than might as well give things a try and use your own creativity as well to nail that perfect number that’s unique to you.
These guides are here to help make your experience better and for your benefit so read the article if you have any lingering questions shoot them right away in the comment section below if you have any suggestion that’s welcome as well, we will try our best to add them up or answer your questions to the best of our abilities