After my post on saddle position, fore and aft, the other day I decided on my 75 mile Sunday ride to run a little experiment because, while the setup on my Venge, as I’ve had it since day one, is quite comfortable – arguably excellent, I still feel like I have to arch my back just a little bit to get into the drops. I wanted to see if I couldn’t stretch myself out just a little bit to remove that tendency to arch my back while still maintaining a comfortable ride…
I’m going to show you two photos that I took.. One at the start and the other at the finish. First, from the morning:
Now from the Afternoon:
I added the black line to show the fact that in addition to moving the saddle back about a 8mm, I nosed it up a little bit. Now, the general rule is that you start from dead level and work from there, which is where my saddle was. Guys nose the saddle up slightly while women nose the saddle down, if level is somehow unacceptable. I rode about 40 miles in the normal position – one that I’ve checked and re-checked to make sure was right as far as my leg position over the pedals, and 35 miles with the saddle moved back, closer to where the shop had it set up originally when I brought the bike home.
Now, you may wonder why I would do something like this when I already had it set up just right (or my approximation of just right). First of all, it just made sense after my post on the subject, and second was just to shake things up to see if I could do any better – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So here are a few things that I noticed along the way – besides the fact that I should have moved it back 4mm instead of 8:
1. Moving the saddle back and nosing it up just a little bit opened my hips up a ton. This, at least to me, seemed just a bit counterintuitive because I figured raising the nose would close my hip angle – in fact, it made moving the saddle back much more bearable.
2. Muscle group use completely changed. I used my quads a whole lot more than normal and was really feeling that yesterday, so in that sense, the change is a very good thing. The thinking here is that I want to use the bigger muscles and moving the saddle back absolutely accomplished that.
3. Stretching out made breathing much easier and therefore I was able to push a little harder and maintain a much more rigorous pace.
4. On the down side, with my natural line of sight, hands on the hoods and looking down at the hub, I could see the front hub behind the back edge (closest to me) of the bar top – from what I’ve read, you shouldn’t be able to see the hub at all or if you can, it should be in front of the bar top… In other words, if you’re riding on the hoods, the bar top should obscure your view of the front wheel hub or you should be able to see it slightly in front of the bar). This translated into having to reach just a little bit too far for the drops and not being able to get as low, comfortably. Also, though I had little problem riding on the hoods, the bar top felt a little more natural than it should have in comparison, and riding in the drops was a little less comfortable on my upper back and shoulders but much more comfortable on my lower back (this is important and I hope to write something up on this later if noteworthy).
So the final takeaway is this: The change was a neat idea that had a lot of really good side effects and one bad one. I’m going to try to keep the good and work the bad one out, by moving the saddle up 4 mm, leave the nose slightly up as it is now, and see how I like that after tomorrow’s club ride.
Generally speaking you wouldn’t want to make any major changes before (or during) a long ride – but in my case, I was comfortable enough in my abilities as an amateur wrench that I could get it back to where it was if it had caused any problems – and I made sure the change wasn’t so drastic that I’d end up hurt. The ability to do this only comes with experience, so tread lightly.
PS. I started writing this post on Sunday. Last night was clean and lube night, so while I was working on the road bikes I moved the saddle up a few millimeters… I’ll post an update after the ride this evening.