The muscles in your hips and knee joints are easily strained when asked to operate at some angles. If your bike seat is too low, your hips and knees will be in a squatty position that puts the knee in a weak position, and it can be easily damaged. If your bike seat is too high, it will inhibit your bike handling and cause your toes to reach for the pedals, which may damage your Achilles tendons or knees.
So how high should your bike seat be? With your bike in a doorway, leaning against the frame with your shoulders, or with the help of a friend, put your heels on the pedals and pedal backwards. You should be able to complete a pedal stroke without rocking your hips. When you're pedaling and your leg is all the way down, your knee should be slightly bent. If your knee is locked, your seat is too high. If your knee is very bent, your seat is too low.
If the nose of your bike seat is too high, you will feel some pressure on your crotch. If the nose is too low, you'll get tired holding yourself back, and place added stress on your wrists, arms and neck. Because each bike seat is different, they all have a different shape. The best way to start is to keep your seat level, or even tilted one or two notches up for men's seats. If it is uncomfortable when it's level, it may be too high. Try lowering it.
Once the proper adjustments to your bike seat have been identified, marking that spot with a magic marker or nail polish just above the seatpost clamp will help ensure proper fit at all times.
Getting a bike whose frame size matches your body is the most important part of a bike properly fitting the owner. If the frame size is wrong, no adjustment of the seat or handlebars will compensate.
Article Written By A.C. Bauer
A.C. Bauer is a seasoned adventurist with explorations spanning four continents, including hiking Machu Picchu, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, running the Ice Age Trail and road biking out of her front door. She has written marketing materials for eight years and worked for Red Bull, Disney and Dick's Sporting Goods, and received a master's in recreation and sport science from Ohio University.