Saddle Height Calculator: Proper Bike Seat Height and Position Explained [With Video Guide]

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Setting the proper bike seat height is essential for performance, comfort, and injury prevention.

As a bike fitter, it’s one of the most important measurements we focus on and influences many other elements of the fit, such as reach.

If you have your saddle in the wrong place, it can play havoc on your knees. You’ll also be making your legs work harder than they need to with an inefficient pedal stroke.

We’re often asked here at BikeTips: “How high should a bike seat be?”

We see a lot of poor advice on the internet, so weve decided to take to the blog and answer the bike seat height question properly for you.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • What Exactly Do We Mean By “Bike Seat Height” – And How Is It Measured?
  • Why Is Bike Seat Height Important?
  • How High Should A Bike Seat Be?
  • How To Adjust Bike Seat Height: The Quick Method
  • How To Adjust Bike Seat Height: The Full Method [with Saddle Height Calculator]
  • Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Set Your Bike Seat Height Properly

Let’s dive into how to adjust bike seat height!

How To Adjust Bike Seat Height: Title Image

What Exactly Do We Mean By “Bike Seat Height” – And How Is It Measured?

Let’s go back to basics and start by explaining bike seat height (or saddle height).

Bike seat height is the measurement from the center of the bottom bracket where the crank sits, up the seat tube to the middle of the saddle – not just the length of the seat post emerging from the frame.

A tape measure is the easiest way to measure your bike seat height. Measure from the middle of the saddle to the center of the cranks, following the line of the seat tube.

Although most people measure from the center of the bottom bracket (i.e. the center of the cranks), some measure from the bottom of the pedal stroke to compensate for crank arm length

Measuring the seat height at the bottom bracket of a road bike in a stand.

Why Is Bike Seat Height Important?

Getting your bike saddle height correct is so important as it affects so much when it comes to your bike fit.

It is one of the first measurements a bike fitter will focus on and essentially is the base for many other measurements, such as reach.

Here’s why you need the saddle height correct:

#1. Injury Prevention

The most important reason it is vital to have the correct saddle height is to stop injuries.

If the saddle is too low, you will find after or during rides, you will experience pain in the front of the knee. If the saddle is too high, the pain will likely be in the rear of the knee. 

#2. Comfort

If your saddle is at the correct height, you’ll be much more comfortable while riding.

Not just on the knees, but your behind, your hands, and even your neck and back will benefit from the proper bike seat height.

Being in the correct position goes a long way to stopping saddle sores.

#3. Pedaling Efficiency

Having the correct saddle height ensures you pedal as efficiently as possible. This means your muscles become less fatigued and can produce more power.

#4. Improved Handling

Having the correct saddle height also greatly helps the handling of the bike.

The geometry of the frame is optimized to anticipate the rider’s center of gravity roughly at what the designers would expect to be the typical bike seat height for a rider using a frame of that size.

If your bike seat is much too high or too low, the handling of the bike could suffer.

A cyclist on a turbo trainer checking his knee with a green cycling shoe in the background.

How High Should A Bike Seat Be?

When it comes to how high should a bike seat be, it will differ from one person to another.

As a bike fitter, I’ve learned that there’s no perfect science to proper bike seat height, and it will take a certain amount of trial and error. Every person is built slightly differently, which shows when it comes to bike fit. 

Some of us have slightly longer legs, some have less mobility than others, and with bikes coming in all shapes and sizes getting your saddle height can feel like a guessing game.

Here’s what the experts say on how high should a bike seat be:

Pointing to the centre of a crank on a road bike in a stand.

Inseam Measurement Multiplied By 0.883

If you plan to do it yourself, experts generally recommend that a good starting point is your inseam measurement multiplied by 0.883.

This means your leg is effectively 89% of the way to being completely straight, which should give you the correct knee angle required.

This will put you roughly in the right place and is a simple process to do at home. We recommend using it as a starting point, but you will likely still need to fine-tune it further to get it absolutely perfect.

130-140° Angle At The Knee

The optimum knee angle when cycling should be between 130-140° at the lowest point of the pedal stroke.

This is where you should have enough room for a good amount of flexion without so much that it becomes aggressive. 

Generally, 0.883 of your inseam measurement will give you this angle. There are a lot of things that can change this, such as crank length. The angle does differ between bike fitters and training organizations.

We’ll cover this in more detail further on in the article, including showing how to measure your knee angle.

Whatever A Bike Fitter Says?

Without a doubt, though, your best move is to have a professional bike fit.

This is where an expert will put you on your bike and optimize everything about its fit for you. They will watch you ride on a turbo trainer and study the angles on your knees, hips, ankles, back, and much more.

You can do a decent job of setting the correct saddle height at home using the above methods, but there can be other individual factors at play that a professional bike fitter will be able to take into account.

Furthermore, they’ll be fitting you for the whole bike, not just the seat height, so you know you’re not just solving one problem to create another.

If getting a bike fit, it’s important to go to a proper, qualified bike fitter. Sometimes bike shops will offer a “bike fit service” and say it’s a professional bike fitter, but often it isn’t. We recommend a proper bike fitting studio.

Hand adjusting the seat height on a road bike against a brick wall.

How To Adjust Bike Seat Height: The Quick Method

If you just need a quick, rough estimate (if you’re borrowing or renting a bike, for example), this is the easiest way to get your bike seat height about right – though it won’t be as spot-on as if you follow the full method below.

While in a bike stand, instead of putting your forefoot on the pedal, put your heel on it. Your leg should be fully straight and extended, so that when you bring your toe to the pedal instead, you create a small bend at the knee.

Make small adjustments until your heel is in contact with the center of the pedal with your leg fully extended.

How To Adjust Bike Seat Height: The Full Method

What Equipment Will You Need?

The tools you will need to adjust your saddle properly. A turbo trainer, tape measure, ruler, plumb line, Allen key, a level, and an iPad.


  • Tape Measure
  • Allen Keys 
  • Book 

Optional (For Fine Tuning)

  • Turbo Trainer 
  • Plumb Line 
  • Level
  • Smartphone With Camera

Step #1. Preparation

Get your cycling kit on for the most exact results, so you’re in the same clothes you’ll wear while riding.

Next, find a safe place to work and get the bike either lent against a wall or in a turbo trainer. Have all your tools by your side, and we’d recommend a pencil and paper so you can make a note of any calculations.

Step #2. Measure Your Inseam

Measuring a mark on a wall where a cyclist has measured his inseam.

To measure your inseam, stand with your back next to a wall as straight as possible with your feet flat on the floor. Put a book between your legs as high as possible, and mark the wall where it sits at the highest point.

Measure from the mark to the floor, and this will be your inseam.

Now, we need to multiply this number by 0.883. This method was developed by none other than Greg LeMond, who swears by it to this day.

For simplicity, you can use the BikeTips saddle height calculator below for this step!

BikeTips Saddle Height Calculator

Bike Saddle Height Calculator

Inseam Length

Approximate Required Saddle Height

Step #3. Adjust Bike Seat Height

A cyclist tightening the seat post collar with an Allen key set.

Before you adjust the seat height, it’s worth leveling the angle of the seat.

Next, take the Allen key and loosen off the collar on the seat tube.

Take the measurement from the bike seat height calculator, apply it from the center of the cranks to the center of the saddle, and tighten up the seat tube collar. It’s a good idea to make sure the saddle points directly forward when doing this.

Now you have applied the proper bike seat height! You can either stop here, or continue to fine-tune it with us next.

Step #4. Adjust The Saddle Position (Forward/Back)

A cyclist checking the saddle position using a plumb line in a garage.

Next, we are going to set the saddle position. To do this, we’ll be using a plumb line.

If you haven’t got one, you can tie a weight to a piece of string, which will do the same job.

Sit on the bike and start pedaling. Once comfortable, put your right foot directly forward at a 3 o’clock position. Drop the plumb line from just under your knee, and it should directly go through the ball of your foot.

If not, adjust it by bringing the seat position backward or forward.

When done, re-check the bike seat height, as it might need fine-tuning again to get back to your original measurement.

Step #5. Check The Knee Angle

A cyclist on a turbo trainer. A graphic of a 133-degree angle is superimposed over the knee.

Finally, you should now check the knee angle.

We recommend downloading an application for your phone where you can record a video and check the angles. We use a program from Dartfish.

Take your pedal to around the bottom of the pedal stroke, and the angle should be between around 130 to 140 degrees.

The specific angles you’ll end up with often differ between different bike fit programs and qualifications, but they’ll be within this range.

Robbie’s Video Guide: How To Set Your Bike Seat Height Properly

Check out the BikeTips YouTube Channel here for walk-through bike maintenance guides and more!

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Robbie has traveled the globe as an endurance athlete and bikepacker, breaking world records and competing in international ultra-cycling events such as the BikingMan series and the Transcontinental Race. He's also worked as an ambassador for some of the industry's leading names, including Shimano and Ritchey. If Robbie's not on a bike, he's either fixing them or out walking with his dog!

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