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Home » Cycling » The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: How to Find YOUR Proper “Level” for Your Saddle (Or More Aptly Stated, How I Found Mine)

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling: How to Find YOUR Proper “Level” for Your Saddle (Or More Aptly Stated, How I Found Mine)


Or conversely, How we ride on those hard freaking saddles all day long!

If you listen to enough sources about how to properly level a saddle, you can come up with so many different answers your head will spin.  You’ll be left dazed, confused and babbling, wondering just what the hell to do!

Fear not, my friends!  There is a simple solution.  Well, kind of simple.  And kind of not.  Really.  Err….

The owner of our local shop is a “level it front to back and call it good” guy.  That works for the Selle Italia saddle on my Trek:

That method does not work for the Specialized Romin saddle on my Venge though.  Not by a long shot:

That’s not level, bubba.

The flat saddle on the Trek is different from the one on the Venge.  You can see the dip in the middle/back of the saddle:

That little dip is the sweet spot on the saddle.  Now, another common way to level that saddle is to level the nose, or the front half of the saddle with a spirit level, but that’s not exactly right either – unless you’re a pro with a ridiculous drop from the saddle to the handlebar.

I only have 4″ (10.2 cm) of drop from the saddle to the handlebar.  I say “only” because 4″ by pro standards isn’t much.  By amateur standards, it’s a lot.  If I were to level the front of the saddle, I would have to lower the nose another 3-4 mm.  Did it, tried it, felt like I was being pushed to the front of the saddle and every couple of minutes I’d have to scoot my butt back to the sweet spot.

Once I had the front half of the saddle level, I brought the nose up a millimeter or two, rode it like that for two days, then raised the nose again and rode it for two more days…  That’s the last time the saddle was touched.  My saddle, that style of saddle, is meant to cradle the cyclist, whether on the hoods or in the drops.  The front and back of the saddle support me just enough so I’m neither sliding forward nor does the nose feel like it’s jamming into my…. um… err…. gorunias.

What’s a gorunia you ask?  (Go-roon-ya)

Well, you get kicked in ’em, it’s gorunia (gonna ruin ya)…

Anywho, with the contoured saddles, the idea is not to level the saddle but to set it so the saddle cradles you while you ride.  It takes a little figuring out to get right but once you do, my God is it sweet.

The process of setting it is very simple.  Level it (either back to front or just level the front half).  Ride the bike.  If it feels like the saddle is pushing you forward, tilt the nose up a little bit and ride some more.  If the nose feels like its digging into your nether region, especially when you’re in the drops, lower the nose a little bit and ride.  Rinse and repeat until your saddle cradles you. ..  At that point, don’t touch it!


  1. unironedman says:

    Not only do you not touch it, but you make sure to take a picture of it, including the height of the seat post…

  2. saoirsek says:

    I use the ” if you can reach the ground with your tip toes” method🙂

    • unironedman says:

      I’m going to get my coat…

    • bgddyjim says:

      Oh no, say it ain’t so!!! If you can touch with the toes of both feet your saddle is likely too low. I can only BARELY touch one, and that’s if I lean the bike.

      • saoirsek says:

        I am a total novice. Next time I go out w get UM to go through it! Thanks Jim😊

      • bgddyjim says:

        Fear not, you’ve visited the right blog…. and your husband sent me a beautiful homemade wooden spoon! I can help. Have UM take a hardcover book and you hold that between your legs. You don’t have to be aggressive with it, but you want it tight. Stand up straight. Have the UM level the book and measure from the floor to the top of the spine. Multiply that measurement by 109%.

        With your outside (the one facing you) crank arm down, FOLLOWING THE LINE OF THE SEAT POST, measure from the top of the pedal axle where it screws into the crank arm to the top of your saddle, following the line of the seat post with the tape measure. Raise the saddle till you get to that 109% number. Voila! Now, if you have short femurs, this could be a little high. To check, put your heels on the pedals while the UM is holding the bike upright, and pedal backwards. Your legs should JUST straighten out at the bottom, without rocking your hips… UM can help by watching (he gets a lot of really good jobs – i love working with my wife). If your hips rock, lower the saddle a bit a mm or two and try again. That’s all there is to it.

  3. There is a dip in the saddle all right…..

  4. getwifed says:

    That’s great and simple advise! I used to really push people to up their saddle height but it’s not always the best choice. Most people look at my bike and wonder how I ride it, It makes it easier, you faster and that rocks but…. A girlfriend of mine was always being pushed by her super serious cycling dad to. up her saddle hight on her commuter bike. Anyway in the parking lot she went over a big pebble and fell. She spent three days in the hospital while they reduced the swelling on her brain. She really felt that she was unsteady and uncomfortable due to her seat being too high and that caused her parking lot accident. When I helped get my mom and step dad into cycling I remind them about the seat thing a whole lot but tried not to push too hard, It turns out he’s happy to raise it she’s happy to work harder. Take away it can be best to only go as high as your comfortable.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Too true. My biggest problem/mistake is not clarifying that I’m talking about big-time road cycling where power is most important. You’re right for any form of leisure cycling or some commuting… Comfort is king.

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