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Door to trail riders - tell me how you've accommodated these crazy steep seat angles please

May 31, 2022, 12:25 p.m.
Posts: 44
Joined: July 29, 2013

I know there is a lot of variation when it come to seat angles and that for a long time long legged folks were essentially ignored in this regard by the industry. It seems that pendulum has firmly shifted and now shorter legged folks are having to deal with these new steeper angles.

Regardless of the angle number ultimately saddles are now arriving further ahead at your pedalling height than they used to. On a couple of example bikes I've measured (saddle nose to BB) the first "old-school" bike puts my saddle 40-45mm behind the BB the "new-school" bike puts my saddle 15mm behind the BB (with the same saddle).

It's been a couple years on the "new-school" bike now and I get the benefits on trail, the issues I describe below are almost non-existent on trail and I like the position when climbing steep terrain.

On door to trail rides that have a lot of flat pedalling I'm not finding a happy place with the "new school" bike. It requires an odd mid foot pedal position which seems to limit power and feels almost like I'm riding on my heels, but thats something I can deal with. The bigger issue is the feeling that I'm having to hold myself up constantly despite not really being that leaned over (or hinged at the hips) lots of hand pressure and wrist and elbow joint issues, its just uncomfortable. Whereas the "old-school" bike I can ride for hours on flat or steep terrain comfortably.

I'm hoping I can get some feedback from other folks that share similar issues and any tips on what if anything they have been able to do to increase comfort on flat riding that did not severely impact on trail performance. For exmaple I know some folks have raised bar height significantly but I struggle with those hump ups on climbs because I can't get "over the bars"...

What are you doing?

Thanks!

Ride on,

Michael


 Last edited by: geraldooka on May 31, 2022, 2:33 p.m., edited 10 times in total.
May 31, 2022, 12:50 p.m.
Posts: 262
Joined: Jan. 21, 2013

If it's a new bike, give it some time. It took me a while to get used to a steeper seat angle - maybe a month or two of progressively longer rides to really get comfy on a steeper ST.

May 31, 2022, 1 p.m.
Posts: 170
Joined: March 16, 2017

Posted by: mrbrett

If it's a new bike, give it some time. It took me a while to get used to a steeper seat angle - maybe a month or two of progressively longer rides to really get comfy on a steeper ST.

Some would call it the  Think Less Ride More Methodology.

May 31, 2022, 1:19 p.m.
Posts: 1645
Joined: Nov. 8, 2003

I ride to the trailhead pretty much always. Hands are fine for most of the ride, but on way home I've dealt with hand pain. Mostly mitigated now:

My saddle height is fairly low for the trail , so on the road I slide to the back of the saddle and still have reasonable leg extension. Sounds overly simple but this mostly does the trick.

I'm clipped in, which may or may not be making any specific difference, but it makes getting the power down more comfortable in general for me.

For flat relatively safe sections of road I rest my forearms on the bars. I ride a couple of long sections of road this way everytime. On some slippery bars I've put down a strip of hockey tape.

I may not be dealing with all the same issues you are though, I did years of triathlon and my body is very conditioned to be in the TT bike position. Hamstrings especially take some time to get used to the extra load.


 Last edited by: Hepcat on May 31, 2022, 1:24 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 31, 2022, 2 p.m.
Posts: 1221
Joined: May 11, 2018

I have the same issues with new body position/geometry. I just don't buy new bikes. My steepest STA is my primer which is 76 and I have that saddle slammed all the way back. I do lots of road and gravel and quite like a "traditional" geometry. On steeps I just hinge at the hip and concentrate on pedalling efficiency. Steep STA only helps the down (power) stroke of the pedal stroke IMO. When I want more power, I focus on all the other parts and derive my power from improved pedalling efficiency rather than an increased power (down) stroke exclusively. It works for me. I recognize on the steepest of climbs a forward position would be an advantage but on anything mild to moderate it's not. Besides, I can always get out of the saddle. Not to mention, I think shorter reach makes for a more fun ride with a more playful bike (although less stable). It's all trade offs.

They do make layback dropper posts. Or maybe throw a rigid post in your bike with a layback and see how you like it?

May 31, 2022, 2:02 p.m.
Posts: 1233
Joined: Sept. 10, 2012

I just don't deal with super steep STA bikes. They don't work for me. I just measured my Bird Forge which is my main bike these days and I'll comfortably pedal that to the trails. Effective STA [at saddle] is ~74deg. Now on a 140mm hardtail once sagged it'll be more like ~75.5 deg in while moving. While that's not crazy slack it has nothing on the 77-78+ STAs that you can find on some bikes these days.

I also use high bars which I find are great for my comfort. They don't cause me any issues on steep climbs, but I am somebody looking to get more weight on the back wheel in those situations not less.

Slap a 1" setback dropper on the "new skool" STA bike and you are back in your comfort zone for easy long distance pedaling and then slide forward on the saddle for a particularly steep climb. You know like you did the previous 20+ years of riding MTBs. ;-)

May 31, 2022, 2:13 p.m.
Posts: 1017
Joined: June 26, 2012

Weight on your hands potentially suggests a saddle tilt issue. Try tilting it back a bit more to move yourself into a more neutral position.

May 31, 2022, 2:23 p.m.
Posts: 2297
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

Mtb's are a compromise for fit if you want to use them for all types of riding - up/down/flat. At the end of the day I always go back to horses for courses - set your bike up for the type of riding you primarily use it for and then accept that you'll have to compromise with fit/comfort in other areas. An mtb (or any bike really) can't be designed to do all things really well. It's either going to excel at some things and be ok at others OR is going to be good at a number of things but not excel at anything.

I think part of what you're noticing is what Hepcat mentioned, with the different saddle position (and bar position too) you've change the amount of work the anterior and posterior leg muscles are doing so until the anterior chain gets a bit stronger and adapts to the new position things are going to be a bit harder/uncomfortable.

Edit: there are also those new saddle tilt adjuster you can get that adjusts the tilt of your saddle for flats/hills to make things more comfortable. I bias my seat angle towards a better climbing position as rarely sit on the seat on the way down.


 Last edited by: syncro on May 31, 2022, 2:29 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 31, 2022, 2:40 p.m.
Posts: 44
Joined: July 29, 2013

Posted by: mrbrett

If it's a new bike, give it some time. It took me a while to get used to a steeper seat angle - maybe a month or two of progressively longer rides to really get comfy on a steeper ST.

Thanks for the advice, not a new bike or new to the feeling just not able to get a position I'm happy with.

May 31, 2022, 2:48 p.m.
Posts: 44
Joined: July 29, 2013

I'm sure Syncro is right, just gotta deal with the compromise and I suspect the seemingly non-stop love for the steeper position is in no small part because folks are just not riding these bikes on flat terrain. I'd still like to hear how folks have adjusted to find a compromise they are happy with if they find themselves in a similar quandry.

I'm starting to think for bikes where I'm climbing seated more than half the time (i.e. with gears) I'll just have to size down (to accommodate cockpit length increase) and run a set back dropper and make sure the chain stays are long enough that I don't suffer the front end lifting (yes I'm aware of the shift my weight on the saddle thing but that just doesn't work for me). On the SS a slacker seat angle is a non-issue and the short CS is a benefit to climbing because I'm standing much more.

Thanks for the feedback so far folks.

May 31, 2022, 2:49 p.m.
Posts: 44
Joined: July 29, 2013

Posted by: D_C_

Weight on your hands potentially suggests a saddle tilt issue. Try tilting it back a bit more to move yourself into a more neutral position.

I'll try fiddling a bit more with this. Thanks.

May 31, 2022, 4:34 p.m.
Posts: 520
Joined: Jan. 2, 2018

Can echo many here. 

My general approach is to avoid such bikes. Tried a few. Disliked them all. 

That said a few things can help:

- tipping the seat up a little

- more spacers/higher bar rise 

- use your dropper- lower the seat an inch or two when traversing. Obviously not ideal for pedalling but it gives some releif.

May 31, 2022, 4:50 p.m.
Posts: 235
Joined: April 26, 2004

Posted by: mrbrett

If it's a new bike, give it some time. It took me a while to get used to a steeper seat angle - maybe a month or two of progressively longer rides to really get comfy on a steeper ST.

Posted by: geraldooka

It's been a couple years on the "new-school" bike now


 Last edited by: taprider on May 31, 2022, 5 p.m., edited 2 times in total.
May 31, 2022, 5:03 p.m.
Posts: 235
Joined: April 26, 2004

What I don't like about the New School bikes is the long front centre (with short rear) for cornering while seated (such as when riding to the ride, bikepacking or XC Marathon races)

May 31, 2022, 5:12 p.m.
Posts: 286
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Perhaps you're just not on the correct sized bike or the right bike for the application. 

Need more info. Hardtail or fully? The steep sta on a full suspension bike should put you pretty close to 74 ish at seated sag. 

So many variables in play for anyone to just say "steep sta angle, don't like em, not for me."

Buy a 9poin8 dropper and have the option of setback or zero offset. Between dropper post offset and the amount of rail position on a decent saddle you should be able to dial it in. Well unless someone is trying to replicate some old early 2000's freeride bike with 70sta and massive sag.

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