By Rick Schultz
This question has come up several times while bike fitting clients. “Do you use the LeMond Formula to determine saddle height?”
RBR has covered the subject in the past here: Which Saddle Height Method Is Correct?
In that article, it’s correctly noted that the thickness of the pedals, the thickness of the soles of the shoes, as well as the thickness of the insoles, will affect this measurement. But there’s an even more important reason that almost everyone misses. The primary reason bike fitting experts don’t use this formula is because it doesn’t take crank arm length into account.
I use a goniometer (aka angle-finder) to determine saddle height based on knee angle at max extension.
The LeMond method takes the inseam * 0.883 = center of bottom bracket to top of saddle. But which crank size are you riding? If you ride shorter cranks, the saddle should be higher. And if you ride longer cranks, the saddle should be lower. So it’s much more accurate to find a correct saddle height by measuring a cyclist while they’re pedaling the bike on the trainer, which correctly sets the height for the actual bicycle that you are riding, with longer or shorter cranks.
Coach Rick Schultz is an avid cyclist who trains, races and coaches in Southern California. Rick is an engineer by trade, and in addition to being a coach, he’s a bike fitter and prolific product reviewer. He’s the author of Stretching & Core Strengthening for the Cyclist in the RBR eBookstore. Check his product reviews website, www.biketestreviews.com, and his coaching site, www.bikefitnesscoaching.com. Click to read Rick’s full bio.