Lemond Method – Understanding Greg Lemond Saddle Height Formula
Saddle height is one of the most significant aspects of bike position. Calculating saddle height correctly allows you to pedal more efficiently on the bike. Adjusting the saddle height is a simple way to boost the pedaling efficiency, improve the comfort of your ride, and avoid injuries.
You can find the optimal saddle height using several methods and formulas available. One of the most publicized methods is the Lemond Method. In this post, we try to understand what the Lemond method is, how it is calculated, and how it works.
Lemond Method – What It Is & Getting Started
Finding the right saddle height is important to be able to ride faster, longer, and without any risk of injury. Research shows that saddle height is the top factor in determining power output and pedaling efficiency.
It is important to adjust the saddle height based on the rider. A low saddle results in excessive knee flexion that leads to pain in the knee. On the other hand, a high saddle leads to an increased knee extension which again can cause knee issues. A high saddle has also been shown to cause back pain and can be easily identified as the rider slides or rocks the pelvis to reach the pedal stroke.
The saddle height for a bike can be calculated using different methods. However, one of the most prevalent methods in the United States is the Lemond Method. This was introduced by Greg Lemond and his coach in the 1980s.
This method relies on using the inseam to find the saddle height. It suggests using a flat object and placing it between the legs while applying pressure as you would do with a saddle. You then measure the inseam from the ground to the crotch without your shoes.
Greg Lemond Saddle Height Formula
Greg Lemond is one of the most successful cyclists of all time. He won multiple Tour de France in the 80s and 90s. The most common saddle height formula was popularized by Greg Lemond which is calculated based on the inseam measurement, from the ground to the crotch. When the inseam is found, it is multiplied by 0.883. This is the height of the saddle from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle. However, this formula does not consider some factors like poor flexibility or longer legs compared to the torso.
First, you should add 2 to 3 mm to the height as you measure from the outside of the bracket. Another factor is the stack height of the pedals. It was about 15mm when the formula was developed.
It is also crucial to take into consideration the thickness of the sole of the shoes. The approximate sole thickness of shoes used during those times was 12mm. This means, if you are using the Greg Lemond Saddle Height Formula today, you can subtract 5mm from the result. Thus giving you 2mm for the shoe and 3mm for the pedals.
Saddle Setback Calculator
Once you know the correct saddle height, it is important to check that the saddle is not too far back or forward. The horizontal position of the saddle is called the setback or fore-aft. You can calculate an estimate setback for the saddle with the use of a plumb line.
First, sit on the bike and keep the pedals in a horizontal alignment. Put the plumb line on the front of the knee. See that it falls right through the pedal axle. If it is extensively far forward, you can adjust it by moving the saddle back. If it falls very far backward, you should move it forward. But take into account that this is an estimated fore-aft adjustment and should be adjusted by a qualified bikefitter.
Other Saddle Height Formulas
Another effective saddle height measurement formula is a variation of the Lemond Method. It is the 109 % formula which gives a more precise result. To use this formula, you measure the inseam by keeping a thick book between the legs. Your inseam mark is the point where the top of the book touches the wall. The height from the ground to this mark is your inseam measurement.
Calculating the saddle height based on your inseam is simple. The height of the seat has to be 109% of the inseam in mm. Use the calculator to multiply the inseam by 1.09 to get the saddle height in mm. This formula does not focus on the factors like flexibility, imbalances, or biomechanics of the rider.
Another popular formula based on the 109% formula is the 1.05 to 1.07 formula which is also simple. In this formula, you multiply the inseam by 1.05 for the low end and 1.07 for the upper end of the range.
Saddle Height TT Vs Road – How They Differ?
Just like road bikes, saddle height is important for a comfortable and powerful time trial position. Saddle height is important for cyclists that struggle with small variations. This is both true both road and time trial bikes. On a TT bike, there is an additional consideration that the saddle height changes if the rider sits on the nose of the saddle rather than on the sitbones.
For a road bike, the saddle height is calculated as the distance from the center of the bottom bracket along the axis of the seattube to the point where it meets the top of the saddle. The rider should sit in a neutral position where their sit bones are supported. For a TT bike, the optimal saddle height is along the same axis from the bottom bracket to the Greater Trochanter. However, this can have a difference of about 0-30mm from the actual measurement.
The true saddle height for a TT bike is similar to or 1-2mm higher than the road bike mainly because of the forward fore-aft position. It can be lower depending on the hamstrings, as they decide the maximum rotation of the pelvis.