High saddle vs. low saddle: Which is better?

How does saddle height affect performance going up and down

Saddles Video
Saddle up or saddle down.

Saddle up or saddle down? (click to enlarge).

Having your saddle height adjusted properly is essential to ensure you’ll be riding for years to come. Most people set their saddle height to where they have a slight bend in their knees, and utilize a dropper or QR to adjust their saddle as they ride. On tricky technical climbs or descents, it’s not unusual to drop the saddle a few inches to gain some additional maneuverability, but how much power do you lose in that middle setting?

To find out, the Global Mountain Bike Network headed into the lab to conduct two tests. One was designed to emulate a long gradual climb. The other mimicked a short sprint. Each test was conducted with the saddle at full height, then a second run was performed with the saddle dropped roughly 1.5 inches. At the end of each run, they collected data on heart rate, power output, blood lactate, and V02 max.

So how important is saddle height to overall efficiency? Not that important. After crunching the numbers, GMBN found that subjects heart rate and lactate were very similar throughout. Of course, this isn’t an 100% conclusive test. To glean real insight, the test would need to be conducted with more subjects, with longer runs, and different seat heights. Regardless, the results are interesting.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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  • chris says:

    I don’t have my saddle up high for VO2? It’s for leverage. It says you measured power output, but I don’t see that info in the graph?

    Hard to believe that power is the same between a low seat and a high seat. Or that a person could keep the power the same over time from a low seat height?

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