The height of your bike seat determines, to a large extent, how much you enjoy your rides. Your bike seat should be compatible with your overall physiology, height, length of your legs and arms, etc.
Your bike seat can be high or low, and each has its advantages but we’ll be focusing more on higher bike seats in this article.
We’ll be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of a higher bike seat, how high you should sit on your bike and the height of your seat in relation to your handlebars.
Is a Higher Bike Seat Better?
There’s no general rule as to the height that is appropriate for all riders. This is because riders have different builds, ride in different terrains and conditions, and ride for different reasons and different distances. This makes it impossible for a bike height to be GENERALLY prescribed.
A higher bike seat has advantages and is suitable for specific riders. In the next section of the article, we’ll be discussing what these advantages are and also some disadvantages in detail.
4 Reasons Why a Higher Bike Seat Is Better
1- Good Knee Position
A higher bike seat ensures that your legs are properly extended and your knees do not bend sharply while pedaling.
This protects your leg muscles and knee joints from aching and you have better control of your movements.
2- Better Pedaling
Because your knees are correctly positioned, you would find it easier to pedal and maintain your speed on different terrains.
You would also find it easier to maintain a high cadence with a higher bike seat. The number of revolutions per minute of your pedaling will be high and be easy to maintain while climbing or riding on rough terrains. This is why some mountain bikers use a higher bike seat.
3- Better Handling
Your center of gravity is elevated on a higher bike seat and this makes it easier for you to turn and control your bike at will.
On a lower bike seat, you would be too relaxed and settled in, so handling won’t be as smooth. Your legs will struggle to pedal because they are too bent and this will sap your energy fast.
4- More Aero
If your bike seat is too low or lower than your bike handlebars, you will spend most of your time resisting the wind and reducing drag. This will slow you down and tire you out fast. It is more applicable to road bikes.
A higher bike seat on the other hand will give you speed because your energy is spent driving you forward instead of resisting the wind. You will ride with your back flat and close to the handlebars which will make you more aerodynamic.
A Few Downsides
Just like everything in life, a higher bike seat comes with a few problems as well.
1- Lack of Control on Rough Roads
Riding with a higher bike seat is difficult on rough terrain especially when the seat is significantly higher than your handlebars.
You have a lot less control on your bike and handling than if it were lower. It is only an advantage if you are on paved roads.
2- Difficult Descents
A higher bike seat can make riding downhill difficult if your handlebars are not high enough. Riding long distances may also be uncomfortable.
3- Difficult to Get Off
A higher bike seat can be difficult for you if you are a beginner because you won’t be able to get on and off your bike easily. Your feet can’t touch the ground while sitting so you will have to bend to a side before you can get off.
Is It Easier to Bike with a Higher Seat?
It is easier to bike with a higher seat. If your seat is higher, you will ride more comfortably because your body will be properly positioned. Your knees are slightly bent to prevent pain and your hip is well seated but not too relaxed to make handling difficult.
It is also easier to bike in this seat position because pedaling is smoother and faster. This also makes it easier to adapt to different terrains.
How High Should Your Seat Be On a Bike?
Your seat should be high enough for it to be comfortable for you to get on and off from, handle and pedal your bike. You shouldn’t set your seat height to be like that of a friend or to suit a fashion trend.
How to Know the Correct Height?
1- Stand beside your bike. Your seat height should level with the top of your hip bone.
2- After setting it to this height, sit on your bike and ride to see if the position is comfortable for you.
3- If your knees are too bent and uncomfortable, raise your seat higher. If the back of your knees is hurting and you can barely put your feet flat on your pedals, lower the seat height.
A correct seat height should be comfortable and give you no injuries. To judge this, you also have to feel confident while sitting on it. There is something wrong that needs to be adjusted if you aren't confident enough.
You should be able to put your feet flat on your pedals and your tiptoes should touch the ground.
Should Bike Seat Be Higher than Handlebars?
This depends on the type of bike you ride and the terrain you ride in.
If you’re a road biker or sprinter, your bike seat should be higher than your handlebars. This position makes you aero and maximum speed is achieved. It reduces drag and you can push your bike more forward.
If you are a mountain biker, ride long-distance, or ride on rough terrains, then your seat should not be higher than your handlebars. Your handlebars should be 1 or 2 inches higher than your seat. If you are very tall, it could even be higher.
This position helps you ride aggressively. You can stand firm even on rough terrains, descend from hills easier and faster, as well as climb.
If your bike seat is higher, your weight will be on your arms and wrists and this will begin to hurt if you ride for a long time. An upright position is better for this type of riding, where your weight is more on the rear wheel and legs.
What Happens If Saddle Is Too High?
A higher bike seat that still allows you to reach your pedals easily and ride comfortably, is good and has no major drawbacks. Your handlebars can still be raised to be equal (in height) to your seat or higher than it if you wish.
You can set your bike seat too high though and this brings a lot of discomforts.
1- Knee Pain
If your bike seat is too high compared to your height and legs, you will stretch your legs more per every pedal stroke. This will make the back of your knee hurt so much and make riding difficult.
2- Hip Movement
A higher bike seat will make your hips rock on the bike if it’s too high. Your hips will rock back and forth while pedaling which can make handling and control of your bike difficult. The hip movement will make you wobbly on the bike.
What Happens If Your Bike Seat Is Too Low?
1- Knee Pain
If you continue to ride with a saddle that is too low and ignore the symptoms, your kneecap will begin to hurt and you will experience a lot of pain. This will make riding very difficult and you may have to stop riding altogether.
When the bike seat is too low, pedaling will be difficult. You will find a hard time turning every pedal stroke and this will sap your energy fast.
You will be slower than normal, get tired easily, and endanger your breathing. You will notice that you find it hard to breathe normally after a few kilometers of riding.
3- Arm Pain
If you have to stretch your arms before you can grip your handlebars and control your bike, it is an indication that your seat is too low or too far back. This will cause arms a lot of pain if you continue riding in this position.
4- Extreme Back Pain
Stretching your arms to reach your handlebars will make your back and hip bones hurt. You may also be unable to use your drops on a road bike which would be a waste.
Saddle Too Low Symptoms
Several factors indicate that your saddle is too low, and it is best you adjust it immediately before it leads to problems or injuries.
1- A Sharply Bent Knee
If your knee is too bent while pedaling and almost touching your chest, then your saddle is too low.
2- Feet on the Ground
If you can place your feet flat on the ground while sitting on your bike, then your saddle is too low. Only your tiptoes are supposed to touch the ground in this position.
3- Knee Popping
If your kneecap pops often while riding and makes sounds, then your saddle is too low and your position is wrong.
Your bike seat shouldn’t be too high or too low. It should be at a height that fits your body type, height, and bike shape. We have discussed symptoms of a saddle that is too high or too low so you can check this and adjust your seat height accordingly.
A higher bike seat is not necessarily better but it is good for several reasons and suits a lot of riding types. We have talked about the pros and cons in detail to guide you into deciding if it’s best for you or the terrain you ride.
We have also discussed the height of your seat to your handlebars; if they should be higher or lower, and what benefits each gives. This is to help you choose the best one that suits you.