Road Bike Maintenance

Beginners: Bicycle saddle angle adjustment

Your bicycle saddle angle is vital. Incorrectly setup or badly adjusted and it can cause injury. Diagnose your problem and sort your saddle height and angle.

Your bicycle saddle angle is vital for comfort and to stay injury free. Whether you’re on a road bike or mountain bike, the saddle height and angle need to be correctly setup. Do you have niggling knee pain or discomfort in your lower back when you cycle? The chances are, your saddle is at the heart of your problems..

A saddle set at the wrong angle can cause a lot of discomfort. Easy to remedy, we explain how to get it right.

It may not seem possible, but having your bicycle saddle set at the wrong angle can cause these problems.

Unless your saddle is at an extreme angle making it almost impossible for you to ride without slipping and sliding either forward or back, you may not realise that your saddle angle is out.

Discomfort: Suffer from aching wrists, arms and hands or have a slight niggle in your knees?

Problem: Saddle nose tilted downwards.

A saddle angled downwards can cause knee pain and sore wrists and forearms.

When the nose of your saddle is lower than the back, the tilt can cause of all these problems. With the nose slanted forwards, your pelvis tilts meaning your hips will slide to the front of the saddle.

Being forced to the nose of the saddle while pedalling can cause knee pain. The forward position means you exert more pressure on the pedals to compensate for not having the correct weight on the saddle.

Sliding forward also means you’re sat on the narrowest section, with so little support; pressure builds, causing numbness around your delicate parts.

If you have pain in your hands and forearms, you are applying too much pressure on your handlebars. This is most likely a result from being pushed forward on your saddle. You’re compensating for the discomfort of sitting on the narrow section by taking the weight through your arms and hands.

Discomfort: Suffer from pain in your lower back or a pain in the neck?

Problem: Saddle nose tilted upwards.

A saddle angled upwards can cause problems for your lower back and from reaching to the handlebars, aching shoulders.

If sliding off the front of your saddle was bad enough, having the nose pointing skywards can cause just as many problems.

The rear of the saddle is where your bottom will rest if the nose is in the air, the sloping will have pushed you backwards. The tilt means your pelvis is angled backwards, so all of the pressure of sitting on the saddle will be focused on your lower back, causing great discomfort.

As you’re perched on the back, clinging on for dear life, you may also be overreaching to grab the handlebars. This stretched position can lead to some cricked necks and shoulder pain, so take care.

Saddle adjusted correctly?

Your saddle should be at a neutral angle, so you’re sitting on the middle portion, not sliding forwards on the nose or backwards off the rear of the saddle. The best way to achieve this is to use a spirit level. If you don’t have one lying around, find a broom and use the length of the handle to exaggerate the slant of your saddle.

Handy hint: It’s worth noting that some women do feel more comfortable if the nose is ever so slightly slanted down. Use the spirit level/broom technique as a starting point and go from there.

Go take a look at your saddle; adjusting the angle is such a minor change but will make a huge difference.

Remember that changing the angle of the saddle could affect the height. Refresh yourself on how to set saddle height with our guide.

Saddle adjustment tools

A 5mm allen key is the tool of choice.

For this task, you will need an allen key, usually a 5mm, found on most multi-tools. There are a number of variations on the type of clamps used to hold the saddle in place. It can be a fiddly task to negotiate round the saddle rails, so take your time and don’t let it beat you.

Your saddle will move forward and backwards as you are working on the angle, don’t panic, we will be covering how to set the fore/aft position next week. For the mean time, check the measurement markings on the side of the saddle rails and note this down, so when you have the angle right, you know where to have the rails.

Headline image by Cyclotourist.

Like this? You’ll find these useful too: 

How to Choose the Perfect Saddle

Buyers Guide: Women’s Saddles

Beginners: How to Set Your Saddle Height


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