Why Are Mountain Bike Seats So High?

Approx Reading Time: 8 minutes

As a biking enthusiast, I have been wondering how can I get more efficient while running around with my bike in difficult positions. I did some research online and offline and found some references to seat height working as a huge factor when it comes to obtaining better efficiency while biking. But, why are mountain bike seats so high?

Generally, the seat of a mountain bike is kept at a higher position than other bike types, to decrease the power needed for the pedal to work smoothly. Thus it increases the overall effectiveness of the pedal power and results in increasing the overall efficiency. Keeping the seats at a higher level also gives the rider an opportunity to fully extend their legs and that strengthen the muscles.

But, that’s not even the good part. There are countless other things associated with the bike seat height and you’ve just started with it. Let’s get on a brief summary on achieving the perfect mountain bike seat height en-route.

Why Not To Keep Your Seat Lower

Why does everybody emphasize on not keeping the seat lower? Let’s find out!

  • Dead Weight

Remember, when you’re sitting on comfortable sofa. You just sit on that by keeping your center of gravity as a dead weight against the sofa. If you keep your bike seat height at a lower position, you’re almost sitting on a couch. You’re working like a dead weight for the bike.

  • Weight Shifting

If the seat height is low, your weight gets concentrated at the middle of the bike and that creates speed and control issues. Because of the dead weight, there is no option to move the weight backwards or forwards. You can’t increase or decrease the speed by shifting your weight anymore. And, this will get you more tired more often as you would need to drag yourself by pedalling endlessly.

  • Pedal Problem

Pedals are a big problem too. Keeping the seat lower will give you no option to stretch your legs to the fullest. You would need to keep your legs shrunk at all times. That will eventually creates muscle pain when you are on long journeys. Your muscles won’t heal so fast and you will be left with unbearable pain at the middle of the journey. 

  • Knee Placement

Your knees are another factor to not keep your seats lower. Keeping the knees retracted will create problems for blood flow. The blood will flow faster when you extend your knee and slower when you shrink it. This unusual blood flow will result in greater pain for the muscles.

These are the main reasons for not keeping your seat height lower. But, what good can increasing seat height gain? Well, let’s find out about that!      

Advantages of Keeping The Seat Height Higher

There are plenty of advantages associated with keeping the seat height at a higher level. Let’s know them first!

  • Smooth and Powerful Pedal

Keeping the seat height higher means extending your legs to the highest potential. That means, you can use the perfect amount of force required for any speed limit. You can get control of the speed through the pedal pretty smoothly. The pedal works as a power transmitter and rectifier. It just reflects your force along with the rotational power induced upon it.

  • Don’t Tire Your Legs

Biking has its limits and you can not keep running the pedal while keeping your legs squeezed for a long time. However, keeping the seat height at a higher level can help you with that. While going on long travels with your bike, you need to stretch your legs as much as possible. The higher the seat height, the more the stretches. Your legs will get the rest it needs and the muscles will gain the exercise it requires. Plus, you won’t get tired so quickly as your legs will run at their natural best.

  • Increased Strokes

Stretching your legs more will result in increased number of strokes per minute. Extending your feet to the highest limit will give you more access to rotations. You will be able to gain more pedal power to increase speed at the lowest amount of time. This is the trick used by professional mountain bikers to cruise at a higher speed and gain speed in the lowest possible time.

  • Better Position for Knees

Increasing the seat height and keeping it aligned will give more options for your knees. You can keep your knees inclined with the pedals. This will further result in getting rid of muscle pain. Constant movement and stretching of your knees will increase the blood flow. The inclination will keep your knees safer in times of accidents.

  • Higher Control at Higher Speeds

When you are biking at a higher speed, you need to shift your body weight forward or backward to keep the speed and balance. Shifting your body weight forwards will lead to higher speed but you will eventually get lagged on the controls. But, shifting your body weight on the back saddle will improve your controls while running at a high speed. Higher seat height will lead to better weight shifting and gain more control in a matter of time.

  • Riding on Difficult Trails

Technical trails are always pretty difficult to ride on. You need to shift your body weight randomly to meet the inclination required while taking turns. There are a lot of twists and turns in a technical trail and keeping your seat height higher will give you more opportunities on those trails. The seat height will provide you more control so you can turn the bike at a lower angle than required. Your weight will get shifted through the saddle to the back wheel.

The Higher, The Better?

No, higher is not better when it comes to mountain bike seats. You can’t simply keep the pedal out of your feet’s reach. There’s a suitable position for every person according to their leg size and body weight.

According to leg height, the seat height should be so high that you can reach the last point of rotation with your toe. While rotating the pedal, if your toes can reach the last inclination, it will give you the stretch your legs need. Keep the seat height perfect to keep your legs stretched perfectly.

On another note, keep an eye out for knee placement. The seat height should allow your knees to be at a similar angle to the pedal when your leg is stretched at the highest limit. That way, your knees can ease up during long periods of biking. The blood flow will increase and it will decrease the muscle pain associated with the random strokes.

Tips for Different Biking Situations

We face a lot of turning and twisting and going down the hill or going up against the wind while we are biking. There are a lot of genuine hacks that you can apply if your seat height is higher and adjusted to your limits. Let’s hear some of these tips from professionals!

  • Going Downhill

If you are going on a road with a lot of downhill slopes, you can decrease the seat height an inch or half an inch lower than the actual height. This will help you distribute your weight on a downhill road. While traveling on a downward slope, just simply shift your body weight backwards and change the center of gravity. That will shift the weight to the rear wheel and you will be able to ride smoothly. This trick also helps you to get better control at downhill slopes.

  • Increased Pedal Performance

If you are worried about the efficiency when you decrease the height, don’t worry so much. Decreasing the height by an inch will rather increase the efficiency because you will now be more in control of your bike than before. The pedal performance will increase for the shift in weight. The support from the rear wheels will give you more control over the increasing speed on downhill slopes.

  • Turns and Twists

If the road you’re taking has a lot of turns and twists, keep your seat height high to turn effortlessly. The higher the seat height, the less effort it will take to turn your bike. When you’re cornering, remember to shift your body weight sideways according to the turning angle. This will enable you to adapt to turns better by moving the rear wheel when in need. You will get more grip as your body will support the turning angles. The weight will actually get supplied to the rear wheels through the pedal.

  • Flat Turns

If you are turning on a flat roundabout, you can try extending your leg according to the side of the turn. Suppose, if you need to turn to the left side, extend your left leg out in the direction of the turn and use your pelvic thrust to rotate the bike according to your needs. This will help your bike perform better on flat turns and require less effort from your hands.