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Saddle and handle height arrangement


Dec 15, 2007
Last Friday i went to Hakone with a Japanese friend. It was my first time ever doing a hill climbing (i don't get it why they call hill climbing. It was definitely mountain climbing). My friend had a few but this was his first Hakone climbing. I just loved it and want to do once a week. After biking 40 km from Camp Zama to there including 2 short hill climbings, then awesome 20 km climbing. I am not familiar with the area but we did climbing from quieter side of the mountain where only few cars passed by and we were the only people bicycling. After exactly 10 km climbing without any break i got this pain in my buttocks that i had to stop. We took about 15 minutes break but the pain in my buttocks were killing me. I could not sit on saddle again. So, we decided to walk a bit that i thought i might feel better. After 20 minutes walking i was okay again and continued climbing (i put two shirts on saddle to make it comfortable for sitting.)
I am 194 cm tall and my bicycle frame is L size - 20 cm. I put my saddle all the way up so handles are lower than saddle. My friend suggested me that probably higher saddle position was the problem for that terrible pain. So rearranged my saddle. But after climbing down i put back saddle higher position again because on flat road it was uncomfortable for me to ride while saddle and handle on same level (that was also incredible feeling climbing down so fast in one lane roads while Japanese drivers passing by- a bit scary though. We did climbing down from Odawara side where traffic was heavy also saw about dozen cyclist climbing up.)
My question do i suppose to rearrange my saddle height whenever i am doing hill climbing?
Also, i should add. I had a back pack full with extra clothes which i thought i might need it. As i said it was my first time hill climbing.
I am still a newbee after one year bicycling:(
do you think heavy back pack may be another reason for my pain?
or because i have never done hill climbing before and i pushed my body too hard?
any advice appreciated

Lots can be going on...

There can be many variables here...

On saddle height, the generally recommended the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the upper part of the saddle (measured along seatpost/seat tube) = 0.885 x inner leg length. Another rough rule of thumb is that your legs should just straighten out when your pedal is in 6 o'clock position with your heal on the pedal. I would not play with saddle height too far from these.

Height in relation to handle bars usually impacts neck/shoulder/lower back muscles - so I would think this different from back side hurting.

If the pain was with sit bones, my guess is that your saddle does not suit you, you bruised your sit bones somehow, or maybe sit bones are not used to being in the saddle for the length of time you were out. If you're not used to long rides with back pack of similar weight, this can be a contributor.

If the pain was close to surface, my guess is that you had rash or saddle sore. Could also be that your saddle and/or bike pants created a sore from friction (poor fit).

If the pain was muscular - No clue here

Hope one of these works...In any case, would recommend you change things one at a time.
Hi Trad,
My pain was with sit bones.
I should search internet more about saddle heights.
I will play around with your recommendations to change things one at a time.
Anyways, i am planing to go Hakone again next Friday (without a bag pack).
Let's see what will happen next time.
Go here and do a search for your saddle height issue ...


I am sure someone else in the cycling world has experienced the same problem. Personally, I know when I have taken a long absence from riding and return, my sit bones hurt like hell until I get them toughened up to riding in the saddle for long periods. As far as saddle height, I use a similar formula as previously mentioned as well as dropping a plumb line from my knee to the pedal axle when the pedals are parellel from the floor. I then make fine tweeks to the saddle position and saddle height. Not the most scientific method around but it works for me. Good luck.
Hi all, some feedback here from a certified bike fitter:

A really good starting point for your basic set up is www.wrenchscience.com. Use their road fit calculator to get your initial measurements. I use this website for all my road fittings and find they are close enough to get you going. Obviously, everybody's physique is different so this is where the ergonomic part of my bike fittings come into play.

As for the saddle pain, if this was your first ride in a while a bit of saddle discomfort is to be expected, but it should not be a screaming pain after only 40 or 50K. Work on your saddle height first. Dial in your reach as well and make sure your handle bars sit anywhere from 4cm (recreational) to 12 cm (pro) lower than your saddle. If you then still have saddle issues on the seat bones, change your saddle. (you may need something firm rather than soft!)

Ben Distel
FIST Certified Bike Fitter
As for the saddle pain, if this was your first ride in a while a bit of saddle discomfort is to be expected, but it should not be a screaming pain after only 40 or 50K.

Had really bad pain when I got a new saddle: after 70km I couldn't sit down on it properly. I got some shorts with better padding but don't think they made that much difference in comparison to hardening my arse up through more regular cycling, both on the road and in the gym. Haven't had any problems since.

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