ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Abstract and Figures

Incorrect bicycle configuration may predispose athletes to injury and reduce their cycling performance. There is disagreement within scientific and coaching communities regarding optimal configuration of bicycles for athletes. This review summarizes literature on methods for determining bicycle saddle height and the effects of bicycle saddle height on measures of cycling performance and lower limb injury risk. Peer-reviewed journals, books, theses and conference proceedings published since 1960 were searched using MEDLINE, Scopus, ISI Web of Knowledge, EBSCO and Google Scholar databases, resulting in 62 references being reviewed. Keywords searched included 'body positioning', 'saddle', 'posture, 'cycling' and 'injury'. The review revealed that methods for determining optimal saddle height are varied and not well established, and have been based on relationships between saddle height and lower limb length (Hamley and Thomas, trochanteric length, length from ischial tuberosity to floor, LeMond, heel methods) or a reference range of knee joint flexion. There is limited information on the effects of saddle height on lower limb injury risk (lower limb kinematics, knee joint forces and moments and muscle mechanics), but more information on the effects of saddle height on cycling performance (performance time, energy expenditure/oxygen uptake, power output, pedal force application). Increasing saddle height can cause increased shortening of the vastii muscle group, but no change in hamstring length. Length and velocity of contraction in the soleus seems to be more affected by saddle height than that in the gastrocnemius. The majority of evidence suggested that a 5% change in saddle height affected knee joint kinematics by 35% and moments by 16%. Patellofemoral compressive force seems to be inversely related to saddle height but the effects on tibiofemoral forces are uncertain. Changes of less than 4% in trochanteric length do not seem to affect injury risk or performance. The main limitations from the reported studies are that different methods have been employed for determining saddle height, small sample sizes have been used, cyclists with low levels of expertise have mostly been evaluated and different outcome variables have been measured. Given that the occurrence of overuse knee joint pain is 50% in cyclists, future studies may focus on how saddle height can be optimized to improve cycling performance and reduce knee joint forces to reduce lower limb injury risk. On the basis of the conflicting evidence on the effects of saddle height changes on performance and lower limb injury risk in cycling, we suggest the saddle height may be set using the knee flexion angle method (25-30°) to reduce the risk of knee injuries and to minimize oxygen uptake.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Terms and Conditions for Use of PDF
The provision of PDFs for authors' personal use is subject to the following Terms & Conditions:
The PDF provided is protected by copyright. All rights not specifically granted in these Terms & Conditions are expressly
reserved. Printing and storage is for scholarly research and educational and personal use. Any copyright or other notices
or disclaimers must not be removed, obscured or modified. The PDF may not be posted on an open-access website
(including personal and university sites).
The PDF may be used as follows:
to make copies of the article for your own personal use, including for your own classroom teaching use (this includes
posting on a closed website for exclusive use by course students);
to make copies and distribute copies (including through e-mail) of the article to research colleagues, for the personal use
by such colleagues (but not commercially or systematically, e.g. via an e-mail list or list serve);
to present the article at a meeting or conference and to distribute copies of such paper or article to the delegates
attending the meeting;
to include the article in full or in part in a thesis or disser tation (provided that this is not to be published commercially).
This material is the copyright of the original publisher.
Unauthorised copying and distribution is prohibited.
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Knee
Injury Risk and Cycling Performance
Rodrigo Bini,
1,2
Patria A. Hume
1
and James L. Croft
1
1 Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand, School of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University
of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
2 CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil
Contents
Abstract................................................................................. 463
1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464
2. Literature Search Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 465
3. Findings.............................................................................. 465
3.1 Methods for Configuring Saddle Height. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 465
3.1.1 Percentage of Lower Leg Length Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 465
3.1.2 Knee Angle Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 469
3.1.3 Comparing Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 469
3.2 Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height Configuration on Cycling Performance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 469
3.2.1 Cycling Performance Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470
3.2.2 Energy Expenditure/Oxygen Uptake ( .
VO
2
)....................................... 470
3.2.3 Power Output . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470
3.2.4 Cycling Economy (Power Output to .
VO
2
Ratio). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470
3.2.5 Pedal Force Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470
3.3 Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height Configuration on Knee Injury Risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 471
3.3.1 Lower Limb Kinematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 471
3.3.2 Knee Joint Forces and Moments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 471
3.3.3 Muscle Mechanics and Activation Patterns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 473
3.4 Limitations of the Cited Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 474
3.5 Practical Implications and Recommendations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 474
4. Conclusions........................................................................... 475
Abstract Incorrect bicycle configuration may predispose athletes to injury and re-
duce their cycling performance. There is disagreement within scientific and
coaching communities regarding optimal configuration of bicycles for ath-
letes. This review summarizes literature on methods for determining bicycle
saddle height and the effects of bicycle saddle height on measures of cycling
performance and lower limb injury risk. Peer-reviewed journals, books,
theses and conference proceedings published since 1960 were searched using
MEDLINE, Scopus, ISI Web of Knowledge, EBSCO and Google Scholar
databases, resulting in 62 references being reviewed. Keywords searched in-
cluded ‘body positioning’, ‘saddle’, ‘posture, ‘cycling’ and ‘injury’. The review
revealed that methods for determining optimal saddle height are varied and
not well established, and have been based on relationships between saddle
REVIEW ARTICLE Sports Med 2011; 41 (6): 463-476
0112-1642/11/0006-0463/$49.95/0
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
height and lower limb length (Hamley and Thomas, trochanteric length,
length from ischial tuberosity to floor, LeMond, heel methods) or a reference
range of knee joint flexion. There is limited information on the effects of
saddle height on lower limb injury risk (lower limb kinematics, knee joint
forces and moments and muscle mechanics), but more information on the
effects of saddle height on cycling performance (performance time, energy
expenditure/oxygen uptake, power output, pedal force application). Increas-
ing saddle height can cause increased shortening of the vastii muscle group,
but no change in hamstring length. Length and velocity of contraction in the
soleus seems to be more affected by saddle height than that in the gastro-
cnemius. The majority of evidence suggested that a 5%change in saddle
height affected knee joint kinematics by 35%and moments by 16%. Patello-
femoral compressive force seems to be inversely related to saddle height but
the effects on tibiofemoral forces are uncertain. Changes of less than 4%in
trochanteric length do not seem to affect injury risk or performance. The
main limitations from the reported studies are that different methods have
been employed for determining saddle height, small sample sizes have been
used, cyclists with low levels of expertise have mostly been evaluated and
different outcome variables have been measured. Given that the occurrence
of overuse knee joint pain is 50%in cyclists, future studies may focus on how
saddle height can be optimized to improve cycling performance and reduce
knee joint forces to reduce lower limb injury risk. On the basis of the con-
flicting evidence on the effects of saddle height changes on performance and
lower limb injury risk in cycling, we suggest the saddle height may be set using
the knee flexion angle method (2530) to reduce the risk of knee injuries and
to minimize oxygen uptake.
1. Introduction
The increased popularity of cycling as a sport
and recreational activity has led to a higher in-
cidence of acute
[1,2]
and overuse
[3,4]
(90%and 85%,
respectively) injuries. Anterior knee pain will oc-
cur in 25%of the population sometime during
their life
[5]
and for cyclists, the knee joint is one of
the most affected by overuse injuries.
[4]
Overuse
injuries can be a result of poor positioning on the
bicycle.
[6]
However, there is disagreement within
scientific and coaching communities regarding
optimal configuration of bicycles for athletes.
[6]
The most controversial aspect of configura-
tion of the bicycle is saddle height and, conse-
quently, this has been the focus of most studies
regarding body position on the bicycle.
[7-11]
Never-
theless, cyclists often select the saddle position
relative to the pedals (and therefore crank) by
comfort rather than scientific knowledge. There
is concern that an improper position could lead to
joint overuse injuries,
[12]
mainly those affecting
the knee joint.
[3]
On the other hand, most of the
strategies to prevent knee injuries based on the
configuration of bicycle components have not
been assessed by scientific research.
[13]
Wishv-Roth
[14]
recently indicated that under-
standing the geometry and research around op-
timal configuration of the bicycle components is
vital to maximize performance and minimize in-
jury for both recreation and elite cyclists. Most
guidelines reported in magazines are based on
empirical data, without guidance from scientific
experimental research. Sports medicine practi-
tioners need to be able to advise their athletes on
ways to reduce knee injury risk in cycling whilst
maintaining or improving cycling performance.
Therefore, an understanding of how saddle height
may be configured and the effects it has on knee
injury risk and cycling performance, are important
464 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
for better prescription by the sports medicine
practitioner for bicycle configuration.
This review summarizes, for the sports medi-
cine practitioner, the literature on methods for
determining bicycle saddle height configuration
and the effects of saddle height on cycling per-
formance (measured via performance time, energy
expenditure/oxygen uptake [ .
VO
2
], power out-
put and pedal force application) and knee injury
risk measures (measured via lower limb kinemat-
ics, knee joint forces and moments, and muscle
mechanics).
2. Literature Search Methodology
Peer-reviewed journals, books, theses and con-
ference proceedings published since 1960 were
searched using MEDLINE, Scopus, ISI Web of
Knowledge, EBSCO and Google Scholar data-
bases. Keywords searched included ‘body posi-
tioning’, ‘saddle’, ‘posture, ‘cycling’ and ‘injury’.
Results were searched for the keyword ‘knee
joint’ to locate studies regarding the effects of
saddle position on the knee joint. Articles were
excluded if they did not have at least an English
abstract, or if they were concerned with the anal-
ysis of different bicycle saddles, saddle pressure,
and/or the effects on erectile dysfunction, result-
ing in 62 references being reviewed.
3. Findings
Section 3.1 outlines methods for configuring
saddle height. Knowledge of the various methods
available is needed for interpretation of the two
following sections on the effects of bicycle saddle
height configuration on cycling performance
(section 3.2) and knee injury risk (section 3.3).
Sports medicine practitioners, coaches and cyclists
need to be aware of how changing seat height for
performance may influence injury risk and vice versa.
Since initial investigations of saddle height on
physiology and performance,
[15]
sports scientists
have beensearching for the ‘optimal’ configuration
of bicycle components to increase performance and
prevent injuries.
[8]
A variety of methods have been
proposed, some of which are based upon scientific
studies and others on anecdotal experience. Some
methods, as in the following, are used for de-
termining saddle height are based on lower limb
length: (i) Hamley and Thomas;
[15]
(ii) trochan-
teric length;
[16]
(iii) length from ischial tuberosity
to floor;
[17]
(iv) Greg LeMond;
[18]
and (v) the heel
method.
[6]
A reference range of knee joint flexion
has been also used to set saddle height.
[18,19]
Ex-
perimental studies (see table I) and reviews and
empirical-based articles (see table II) examin-
ing effects of saddle configuration have shown
that ‘optimal’ saddle height depends on the out-
come variable measured as follows: (i) cycling
performance time;
[15]
(ii) energy expenditure/
.
VO
2
;
[16,17]
(iii) power output;
[22]
(iv) lower limb
kinematics;
[7,11,16,20,28]
(v) pedal force applica-
tion;
[27,28]
(vi) knee joint forces and moments;
[24,35]
and (vii) muscle mechanics.
[23,26]
3.1 Methods for Configuring Saddle Height
This section outlines the various methods for
configuring saddle height. All measurements for
lower leg length of the cyclist have been taken in a
standing position unless otherwise indicated. For
a proper configuration, the saddle height measure-
ment must be completed with the crank in line with
the seat tube and the measurement taken from
the pedal surface to the top of the saddle. The use
of various saddle height methods and the effects
on performance or injury risk outcomes are con-
tained in subsequent sections.
3.1.1 Percentage of Lower Leg Length Methods
The inseam leg length, ischial and trochanteric
methods are all based on anthropometric length
measurements of the lower leg for configuration
of saddle height.
Hamley and Thomas Method
The Hamley and Thomas
[15]
method was prob-
ably the first research-based method. For a pro-
per set-up using this method (see figures 1 and 2a),
the saddle height must be set at 109%of inseam leg
length measurement.
Trochanteric Length Method
The trochanteric length method (see figure 1)
uses the length from the most prominent bony
surface of the greater trochanter to the floor.
[16]
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 465
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
Table I. Summary of experimental studies examining effects of saddle configuration
Study Method of setting saddle
height
Outcome measures No. of subjects
a
Main results and notes
Hamley and Thomas
[15]
Percentage of inseam
leg length
Time to exhaustion
during constant load
cycling exercise
100 109%of inseam leg minimized time to exhaustion
during constant workload cycling exercise. No
additional information on how different saddle
heights were compared
Desipres
[20]
Percentage of inseam
leg length
Muscle activity and joint
kinematics
3 male junior cyclists No significant effects of saddle height (95%and
105%of the inseam leg length) on quadriceps and
hamstrings activation. Ankle joint kinematics were
most affected when raising the saddle height
Shennum and DeVries
[17]
Percentage of inseam
leg length
.
VO
2
5 aged between 16 and 18 y Between 100%and 103%of inseam leg length
minimized .
VO
2
. Between 103%and 104%of
inseam leg length could minimize power output
Rugg and Gregor
[21]
Percentage of inseam
leg length
Muscle estimated length,
shortening velocity,
moment arm of lower
limb muscles
5 male cyclists 102%of the trochanteric length (high saddle
height) increased shortening of the vastii group,
while the hamstring group was not affected due to
its bi-articular attachment
Peveler et al.
[9]
Hamley and Thomas
[15]
method and LeMond
methods
[18]
Knee angle when pedal
was at the bottom dead
centre
14 male and 5 female cyclists No difference between Hamley and Thomas
[15]
and Greg LeMond methods. Both methods did not
ensure that the knee angle was between 2530
for minimizing knee joint load
Peveler et al.
[22]
Degree of knee angle,
percentage of inseam
leg length
Anaerobic power 9 male trained cyclists,
3 male non-cyclists,
15 female non-cyclists
25knee angle resulted in significantly higher
mean power compared with 109%inseam leg
length in those that fell outside the recommended
range on the anaerobic test
Peveler
[8]
Degree of knee angle,
percentage of inseam
leg length
.
VO
2
5 male cyclists, 2 male
non-cyclists, 8 female
non-cyclists
.
VO
2
was significantly lower at a saddle height set
using 25knee angle compared with 35knee
angle or 109%of inseam leg length
Nordeen Snyder
[16]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
.
VO
2
, joint kinematics 10 female non-cyclists aged
between 18 and 31 y
100%of trochanteric length minimized .
VO
2
compared with 95%and 105%. Major adaptations
for knee and ankle joint kinematics when shifting
the saddle height
Price and Donne
[11]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
.
VO
2
, joint kinematics 14 competitive road cyclists
with mean SD age of
22.9 4.1 y
Reduced efficiency at 104%of trochanteric length
(higher saddle height) compared with 100%and
96%. Optimal range of saddle height for minimal
.
VO
2
was between 96%and 100%of trochanteric
height
Continued next page
466 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
Table I. Contd
Study Method of setting saddle
height
Outcome measures No. of subjects
a
Main results and notes
Jorge and Hull
[23]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
Muscle activity 6 cyclists of different training
levels
Higher quadriceps and hamstring activation for
saddle height at 95%of trochanteric length
compared with 100%
Sanderson and Amoroso
[7]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
Muscle activity,
estimated muscle length
and joint kinematics
13 female cyclists with
mean SD age of 25.6 5.9 y
Increased activation of gastrocnemius medialis
with greater saddle height (107%) compared with
the preferred (102%) and low (92%) saddle height.
Both muscles of triceps surae do not operate on
the same length range when the saddle height is
modified. Soleus was more affected by saddle
height in relation to length and velocity of
contraction than gastrocnemius medialis, mainly
when the saddle height was raised by 5%of the
preferred position. Gastrocnemius medialis length
seems affected by the combination of ankle and
knee joint kinematics
Gonzalez and Hull
[24]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
Average absolute hip
and knee joint moments
3 male trained cyclists 97%of trochanteric length minimized the average
absolute hip and knee moments
McCoy and Gregor
[25]
Percentage of
trochanteric length
Compressive and
anterior-posterior force
of the tibiofemoral joint
10 male non-athletes
(mean age 29 y)
No effects of saddle height (94%, 100%and 106%)
on the compressive force of the tibiofemoral joint
for 10 male subjects riding at 200 W of power
output and 80 rpm of pedalling cadence
Ericson et al.
[26]
Percentage of the ischial
tuberosity to the floor
Muscle activity 6 healthy non-cyclists aged
between 20 and 31 y
Increased activation of gluteus medius, semi-
membranosus, soleus and gastrocnemius
medialis for 120%ischial tuberosity to the floor
(higher saddle height) compared with 102%and
113%)
Ericson and Nisell
[27]
Percentage of ischial
tuberosity to floor
Pedal force
effectiveness
b
6 healthy non-cyclists aged
between 20 and 31 y
Saddle heights (102%, 113%and 120%of the
ischial tuberosity to the floor) did not affect
force effectiveness
Diefenthaeler et al.
[28]
1 cm relative to preferred
saddle height
Pedal force, muscle
activity and joint
kinematics
3 elite cyclists aged between
23 and 30 y
Saddle height altered pedalling technique and
muscle activity with optimal results for preferred
saddle height
Rankin and Neptune
[29]
Saddle position relative
to the bottom bracket
Power output Computational simulation Small changes in saddle height (1 cm) affected
power output. Ankle joint compensates for most
changes in saddle height
Houtz and Fischer
[30]
Lowest possible on the
ergometer
c
Muscle activity 3 healthy female non-cyclists Reduced muscle activation in high saddle heights
associated with less perceived effort
a Subjects’ characteristics were not always specified in the papers. Where possible the age, sex and cycling level are reported.
b Ratio of the force perpendicular to the crank (effective force) to the total force applied to the pedal (resultant force).
c Saddle height configuration relative to subject anthropometry was not reported.
rpm =revolutions per minute; .
VO
2
=oxygen uptake.
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 467
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
Settings of 100%of trochanteric length have been
reported.
[11,16]
Length from Ischial Tuberosity to Floor Method
The length from the ischial tuberosity to the
floor method (see figure 1) is measured with the
cyclist standing and the distance taken between
the most prominent bony surface of the ischial tu-
berosity to the floor.
[17]
Settings of 113%of ischial
tuberosity to floor length have been reported.
[35]
LeMond Method
The Greg LeMond method
[18]
involves the
measurement of the inseam leg length and the con-
figuration of the saddle height based on 88.3%of
the distance between the top of the saddle and the
centre of the bottom bracket. This method (see
figures 1 and 2b) is based on the empirical ex-
perience of three-times Tour de France winner
Greg LeMond. It is important to note that this
method does not consider differences in the crank
length dimensions. Longer crank length (i.e. 5 mm)
results in lower pedalling cadence and smaller knee
flexion angle.
[36]
Further research may look at the
effects of crank length on performance variables
andonvariablesrelatedtotheriskofinjuries.
Heel Method
The empirical heel method (see figure 3a) is
commonly used.
[18]
When the cyclist is seated on
the saddle, the knee must be fully extended when
the heel is on the pedal and the crank is in line
with the seat tube.
Table II. Summary of review- or empirical-based articles examining effects of saddle configuration
Study Method of setting saddle
height
Outcome measures Paper type Main results and notes
Burke and Pruitt
[6,18]
Heel, inseam leg length and
LeMond methods, and
degree of knee joint angle
Optimize power output and
reduce the risk of injuries
Book
chapter
Knee joint range method used 2530.
No recommendation for any of the four
methods
Silberman et al.
[31]
LeMond
[18]
and Holmes
et al.
[19]
methods
Optimize power output and
reduce the risk of injuries
Review Greg LeMond
[18]
and Holmes et al.
[19]
methods as possibilities for saddle
height configuration
Mellion
[32]
Percentage of inseam leg
length
Overview of overuse
problems and cycling
injuries
Review 109%of inseam leg to fit saddle height.
96%of the sum of shank and thigh
length as an alternative set for saddle
height. Saddle fore-aft adjust by the
knee to pedal axis (see figure 1b)
Wanich et al.
[3]
Percentage of inseam leg
length
Overview of overuse
problems and cycling
injuries
Review 109%of inseam leg method for optimal
fitting of the saddle height
Holmes et al.
[19]
Degree of knee joint angle Clinical based analysis of
the common overuse
problems and cycling
injuries
Review Minimal knee joint range 2530for
minimizing knee joint load
Moore
[33]
Degree of knee joint angle Body positioning for cycling Magazine
article
Holmes et al.
[19]
method but with knee
joint range 2030
Borysewicz
[34]
Percentage of trochanteric
length
.
VO
2
Book
chapter
Cyclists could minimize .
VO
2
setting
saddle height at 96%of trochanteric
length
De Vey Mestdagh
[10]
Percentage of trochanteric
length or inseam leg length
Optimize power output and
reduce the risk of injuries
Review Nordeen-Snyder
[16]
method optimal to
set the saddle height, use 100%of
trochanteric length or 107%of the
inseam leg
Gregor
[12]
Percentage of trochanteric
length or inseam leg
Biomechanical variables
related to cycling
Review Saddle height affects knee joint
resultant force, muscle activity, joint
kinematics and muscle length
.
VO
2
=oxygen uptake.
468 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
3.1.2 Knee Angle Methods
Holmes et al. Method
The Holmes et al.
[19]
method (see figure 3b)
involves measurement of the knee angle flexed
when the pedal is at the bottom dead centre and the
cyclist is seated on the saddle, for 25of flexion for
chondromalacea and patellar tendinitis, between
25and 30of flexion for quadriceps tendinitis and
medial plica/medial patellofemoral ligament injury,
and between 30and 35of flexion for iliotibial
band syndrome and biceps tendinitis.
Howard Method
A variation of the Holmes et al.
[19]
method was
reported by Burke
[18]
as the Howard method, for
a knee angle of 30with the pedal at the bottom
dead centre and the cyclist seated on the saddle.
Similar to the Holmes et al.
[19]
method, the knee
angle measurement depends on the ankle angle.
Increasing ankle plantar flexion results in higher
knee flexion angle.
3.1.3 Comparing Methods
Peveler et al.
[9]
compared the knee angle when
the pedal was in the bottom dead centre using
different methods. They observed that length-based
measures (Hamley and Thomas
[15]
and LeMond
[18]
methods) did not ensure the same knee joint angle
range. Only 13 of 19 cyclists reached the desired
knee angle range (2535) using either method.
The reason is possibly because the length-based
methods do not take into account individual
variations in femur, tibia and foot length.
[37]
Review papers by De Vey Mestdagh,
[10]
Silberman et al.
[31]
and Wanich et al.
[3]
reported a
series of cycling posture adjustments for perfor-
mance improvement and injury prevention dur-
ing cycling based on measuring joint angles and
segment lengths, in relation to optimal references
from experimental research
[15-17]
and from em-
pirical knowledge. As reported by Peveler,
[8]
most
of the references for posture optimization on the
bicycle were based on empirical data and there-
fore we still do not have enough valid or reliable
scientific studies to determine which method is
the best. The knee flexion angle method seems more
reasonable than the length methods for reducing
the risk of injuries and improving performance
[8]
because it may standardize the kinematics of the
knee, which is one of the most affected joints in
terms of injuries in cycling,
[4]
and one of the most
important for power production.
[24]
3.2 Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height
Configuration on Cycling Performance
Since Hamley and Thomas
[15]
reported that
bicycle saddle height affected time to exhaustion
during constant workload cycling trials, studies
have investigated the effect of saddle height on
other parameters. In this section, we review studies
that have examined the effects of saddle height on
cycling performance measures (cycling performance
time, energy expenditure/.
VO
2
, power output and
pedal force application).
ab c
Fig. 1. Examples of lower leg length measurements: (a) ischial
tuberosity; (b) trochanteric length; and (c) inseam leg length.
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 469
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
3.2.1 Cycling Performance Time
There was only one study that investigated the
effects of saddle height on cycling performance
time. Hamley and Thomas
[15]
measured time to
exhaustion during constant load trials in the labor-
atory for 100 non-specified performers. A longer
time to exhaustion could be achieved when setting
thesaddleheightat109%of the inseam leg length.
3.2.2 Energy Expenditure/Oxygen Uptake ( .
VO
2
)
There seems to be an optimal range of saddle
heights to minimize .
VO
2
but studies differ on the
optimal saddle height configuration.
[15-17]
Shennum
and DeVries
[17]
and Nordeen-Snyder
[16]
reported
that a 5%reduction in saddle height resulted in a
5%increase in .
VO
2
..
VO
2
was minimized with
saddle height set between 100%and 103%of in-
seam leg length during steady-state cycling for
five healthy subjects.
[17]
and when set to 100%of
trochanteric length (about 107%of inseam leg
length) for ten healthy females.
[16]
Borysewicz
[34]
reported lowest .
VO
2
during 45 minutes of steady-
state cycling when the saddle height was set at 96%
of trochanteric length. .
VO
2
during steady-state cy-
cling has been reported as significantly lower for
25knee angle at the bottom dead centre than for
35knee angle at the bottom dead centre and 109%
of inseam leg length conditions.
[8]
3.2.3 Power Output
The effects of saddle height on power output
and subsequent increased cycling performance
have been observed in anaerobic exercises,
[22]
with suggested increased power output at higher
saddle positions, compared with aerobic cy-
cling.
[11]
Few studies on saddle height changes
could be included for this topic because power
output was set as an independent variable with
focus on the measurement of physiological vari-
ables (i.e. .
VO
2
).
[15-17]
3.2.4 Cycling Economy (Power Output to .
VO
2
Ratio)
Cycling economy is an important perfor-
mance predictor because it indicates the ratio
between power output and .
VO
2
.
[38]
The majority
of research on saddle height evaluated economy
based on steady state cycling (i.e. fixed power
output) and effects on .
VO
2
.
[15-17]
Peveler and
Green
[8,37]
observed the effects of different saddle
height configuration on cycling economy based
on .
VO
2
measurement during steady-state cyc-
ling, with optimal results when setting the saddle
height as 25of knee angle. Price and Donne
[11]
reported that with power output fixed at 200 W,
economy was better with seat height at either 96%
or 100%of trochanteric length compared with
104%.
3.2.5 Pedal Force Application
Any relationship between maximal perfor-
mance and saddle height depends on the optimi-
zation of pedal force application.
[11]
Changing
saddle height can affect the ankle angle,
[16,22,28,29]
which works as a link between the force produced
H
ab
H
Fig. 2. Saddle-to-pedal axis distance used for (a) setting the saddle height by Hamley and Thomas,
[15]
trochanteric length,
[16]
and length from
the ischial tuberosity to the floor
[17]
methods and saddle to the centre of the bottom bracket distance; and (b) setting the saddle height by the
LeMond method.
[18]
470 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
in the hip and knee joints and the crank.
[39,40]
Ericson and Nisell
[27]
found no significant effects
on the force transferred from the pedal to the crank
generating propulsive torque for pedal forces
from six recreational cyclists at different saddle
heights. Pedalling technique, based on effective
pedal force application of trained cyclists, com-
pared with recreational cyclists, may be more
sensitive to changes in saddle height.
[27,28]
In summary, when the saddle height is set at
96100%of the trochanteric leg length
[16,17]
or
using the knee flexion angle (25),
[8]
reduced .
VO
2
and higher economy were observed. Moreover,
when the saddle height is set to 109%of the inseam
leg length (D102%of the trochanteric leg length),
performance time during a time-to-exhaustion
test is optimized.
[15]
On the other hand, no sub-
stantial effects in pedal force were found when
changing the saddle height.
[27]
3.3 Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height
Configuration on Knee Injury Risk
One of the main reasons for the prevalence of
knee injuries in cyclists is the relationship be-
tween knee joint forces and kinematics.
[41]
In this
section are studies that have examined the effects
of saddle height on knee injury risk measures
(lower limb kinematics, knee joint forces and
moments and muscle mechanics).
3.3.1 Lower Limb Kinematics
Most studies regarding cycling lower limb ki-
nematics have focused on sagittal plane move-
ment.
[7,16,17]
Typical ranges of motion of these
joints in the sagittal plane are 45for hip angle
(from the thigh parallel to the horizontal axis),
75for knee angle (25100of knee flexion angle),
and 20for ankle angle (about 10from the
neutral ankle position).
[42]
Saddle height affects
lower limb kinematics of the ankle,
[16,20,28,29]
the
knee
[11,12]
or both the ankle and knee.
[7,17]
Hip
and ankle joint angles are most affected by the
kinematic method of measurement (i.e. 2-dimen-
sional vs 3-dimensional [3-D]).
[43]
The lower limb
also moves inward in the frontal plane and this
movement is affected by saddle height.
[44]
Between 4%and 5%change (increase or de-
crease) in saddle height resulted in a 25%
[7]
change in
knee range of motion and a 40%
[42]
reduction in knee
joint angle when the pedal was at the bottom dead
centre and a 25%
[11]
to 51%
[7]
change in the maximal
ankle angle. Changes in joint range of motion cause
changes in muscle length
[7]
andinmomentarms
[21]
of the active muscles and force production.
3.3.2 Knee Joint Forces and Moments
During stationary cycling, maximal compres-
sive force on the patellofemoral joint has been
estimated to be between 800 N (riding at 75 W
α
ab
Fig. 3. Saddle height configuration based on (a) the heel method; and (b) the Holmes et al.
[19]
and the Howard
[18]
methods.
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 471
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
and 70 revolutions per minute [rpm]) and 1500 N
(riding at 157 W and 80 rpm).
[41,45,46]
Assuming a
contact area between the patella and the femur of
0.026 m
2[47]
and a peak force of 1500 N on the
patellofemoral joint,
[41]
we can achieve 30 MPa of
pressure at the cartilage, which is above the re-
ported physiological load.
[48]
Three studies have reported compressive forces
on the patellofemoral joint during cycling.
[41,46,49]
Ericson and Nisell
[49]
developed a kinetic model
that estimated from trigonometric procedures the
patellofemoral compressive forces during cycling.
Using three saddle heights (102%,113%and 120%
from the ischial tuberosity to the floor), they
showed that compressive force was inversely re-
lated to saddle height. Bressel
[41]
showed that
backward pedalling resulted in a shift in the lo-
cation of peak pedal force to a more flexed knee
angle, which increased patellofemoral compres-
sive force. Neptune and Kautz
[46]
described that
reverse cycling has been used in rehabilitation.
However, Bressel
[41]
reported that it can increase
patellofemoral compressive force by producing
higher knee flexion angles when peak force is
applied on the pedal. This example highlights the
relationship between joint kinematics and pa-
tellofemoral compressive load.
Neptune and Kautz’s
[46]
muscle-skeletal model
results agreed with Bressel’s
[41]
results of increas-
ed patellofemoral compressive force during
backward pedalling. However, for a very similar
workload (D150 W), Neptune and Kautz
[46]
ob-
served lower peak patellofemoral compressive force.
This result suggested that a musculo-skeletal model
improved the analysis of knee joint forces, com-
pared with the kinetic model, because it included
the effects co-contraction of the knee joint mus-
cles. During cycling, the knee joint flexors pro-
vide an important contribution to knee extension,
which could reduce the compressive patellofe-
moral force by co-contraction.
[50]
Tibiofemoral forces are important because
compressive forces on the menisci and the shear
forces on the anterior and the posterior ligaments
of the knee have been linked with injury.
[46]
Ruby
et al.
[44]
used a 3-D kinetic model of the knee to
report compressive tibiofemoral forces and ante-
rior shear forces on the knee throughout the
crank cycle. This was the first study to report
medio-lateral forces on the knee and rotational
moments around the long axis of the tibia, and
their results led to the analysis of cycling as a 3-D
movement. However, we could not find studies
reporting the effects of different saddle heights on
the 3-D forces and moments of the knee joint.
Ericson and Nisell
[51]
reported that saddle
height followed an inverse relationship with tibio-
femoral compressive force and shear force for
six healthy subjects riding in a constant load trial.
McCoy and Gregor
[25]
reported no effects of
saddle height on the compressive force of the ti-
biofemoral joint for ten male subjects riding at
200 W of power output and 80 rpm of pedalling
cadence. When in vivo forces on the anterior
cruciate ligament were compared at three levels
of workload (75, 125 and 175 W) and two pedal-
ling cadences for eight subjects,
[52]
there were no
significant differences in peak anterior cruciate
ligament strain in any situation. Therefore, cycling
can be useful in rehabilitation exercise program-
mes because of the low strain imposed on the
anterior cruciate ligament. One study found that
backward pedalling can increase the shear com-
ponent and reduce the compressive component at
the tibiofemoral joint.
[46]
Patients with menisci
damage may be better off pedalling backwards,
while patients with patellofemoral disorders or
ligaments (anterior and/or posterior cruciate liga-
ments) injuries should avoid pedalling backwards.
The complex relationship between joints af-
fects changes in lower limb joint moments. In-
creased extensor moments and reduced flexor
moments were observed when saddle height was
at a low position (102%of ischial tuberosity to
the medial malleolus
[35]
or 94%of the leg length).
[25]
The opposite behaviour was observed with a high
saddle (120%of the ischial tuberosity) compared
with the average position (113%of the ischial
tuberosity),
[35]
and for the 106%of the leg length
compared with the average position (100%).
[25]
For
the ankle joint, Sanderson and Amoroso
[7]
re-
ported increased peak extensor moment with a low
saddle and decreased peak extensor moment when
the saddle was raised from the reference position.
Regardless of some discrepancies between
studies, it seems that a 5%change in saddle height
472 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
affects force production and joint moments, joint
angles and muscle length. Knee joint angle and
moment are strongly affected by saddle height but
the optimal saddle height is still unclear because
different methods have been used to measure angles
and moments. Moreover, Umberger and Martin
[43]
and Sanderson and Amoroso
[7]
reported that cy-
clists chose an average of 104%and 102%, re-
spectively, of the trochanteric length as the saddle
height, which suggests that cyclists in these stu-
dies would have adapted to a different position
than one that could minimize joint moments
(97%of trochanteric length for Gonzalez and
Hull
[24]
)or .
VO
2
.
[11]
As previously observed by
Herzog et al.
[53]
and Savelberg and Meijer,
[54]
long-
term adaptations of training can affect the muscle
force-length relationship. These adaptations in-
crease the variability of the results and make it
difficult to assess the contribution of adapted
position. Only Umberger and Martin
[43]
and
Sanderson and Amoroso
[7]
reported the preferred
saddle heights of their cyclists.
Few studies have estimated knee joint forces
during cycling with changes in saddle height, and
some controversial results have emerged from the
reviewed research.
[25,51]
For the patellofemoral
joint, an inverse relationship was observed in one
study
[49]
while for the tibiofemoral joint, con-
troversial results have been reported.
[25,51]
Joint
kinematics and moments results have had differ-
ent outcomes.
[11,16,20,28]
Joint kinematics and mo-
ments also seem to depend on cycling expertise,
which compromises comparison between stu-
dies.
[11,16,20,28]
Therefore, we do not have enough
evidence to define ‘optimal’ saddle height based
on the results of knee joint forces or joint kine-
matics. If the aim is to minimize the risk of pa-
tellofemoral joint injuries, the inverse relation-
ship between saddle height and patellofemoral
compressive force may be used as a reference.
3.3.3 Muscle Mechanics and Activation Patterns
The effects of muscle length on force produc-
tion have been a focus of much sports science
research.
[55]
Direct measurement of muscle length
is usually not possible for ethical reasons, but
indirect measurements using ultrasound,
[56,57]
or
anthropometric models
[58]
have been used to es-
timate fascicle length and its effect on force pro-
duction in sports.
[59]
Grieve et al.
[58]
proposed
anthropometric methods based on cadaver mea-
surements of the muscle-tendon unit length while
Frigo and Pedotti
[60]
reported a model to estimate
muscle-tendon unit length based on the line of
action of lower limb muscles. Both studies re-
ported relationships between predicted muscle
length and kinematics, which allow the estima-
tion of muscle length during dynamic situations.
Some studies
[7,21,59]
have proposed measuring
kinematics to infer muscle length during cycling.
The force production and the magnitude of joint
load depend on muscle length. Rugg and Gregor
[21]
observed in five cyclists pedalling at 90 rpm of
cadence that increasing saddle height resulted in
increased shortening of the vastii group, but no
significant change in the hamstring group, possi-
bly due to its bi-articulate attachment. Sanderson
and Amoroso
[7]
applied the model of Grieve et al.
[58]
to evaluate the effects of three different saddle
heights on gastrocnemius and soleus. Gastro-
cnemius and soleus muscles operated in different
length ranges when saddle height was raised 5%
and lowered 10%from the preferred saddle
height. Length and velocity of contraction in the
soleus was more affected by saddle height than
that in the gastrocnemius, with greatest changes
occurring when the saddle height was raised 5%
from the preferred position. Gastrocnemius length
seemed to be affected by the combination of ankle
and knee joint kinematics. These results extend
previous data with similar experimental design.
[12]
There is inconclusive information on muscle-
length behaviour during dynamic situations.
[56]
Computational models have been used to estimate
muscle force production and length of shortening
during cycling,
[61,62]
but these models have not
been used to investigate saddle height changes.
Future simulations of muscle-length force pro-
duction during cycling at different saddle heights
would add important information regarding the
best saddle height for muscle force production.
Given the changes in muscle length that occur
with changes in saddle height, it is likely that
neural drive to control muscle force would also
change. Muscle force and joint load also depends
on neural drive. The first report of changes in
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 473
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
muscle activation at different saddle heights was
by Houtz and Fischer,
[30]
who observed increased
muscle activation when the saddle was reduced 15%
from the reference position. Houtz and Fischer’s
study,
[30]
and later studies,
[20,28]
have been con-
ducted with a limited numbers of subjects, which
does not allow results to be generalized to the
population. Jorge and Hull
[23]
found increased
quadricep and hamstring activation with saddle
height set at 95%of trochanteric length compared
with 100%. For high saddle height based on the
ischial tuberosity to floor height, Ericson et al.
[26]
found that the semi-membranosus and gastro-
cnemius medialis had increased activation for
six healthy subjects, which was subsequently con-
firmed by Sanderson and Amoroso
[7]
for 13 trained
female cyclists. The differences may be related to
the preparation of surface electromyography or
to the pedalling skills of the subjects (i.e. trained
cyclists or healthy subjects). There was also a re-
port that muscle timing (i.e. onset and offset)
would be modified by saddle height;
[12]
however,
there is still no conclusive evidence. Currently, we
cannot define an optimal saddle height for im-
proving performance or preventing injuries using
evidence from muscle activity studies.
3.4 Limitations of the Cited Studies
There are many limitations in the research
studies reviewed. The different approaches for
setting saddle height made it difficult to com-
pare results between studies. Only Shennum and
DeVries
[17]
reported their results of .
VO
2
with
comparison to other methods, while Peveler
et al.
[9]
highlighted the differences in the knee
joint angle using different methods to configure
the saddle height.
Sample size ranged from 3
[30]
to 100.
[15]
Ex-
pertise of the subjects ranged from trained road
cyclists
[11]
to healthy non-cyclists
[16,17,26,27]
to
mixed levels of cycling experience.
[8]
It is possible
that experienced cyclists adapt to a specific posi-
tion as a result of the time spent training. Such
adaptation may be less marked for recreational
cyclists or those that ride in multiple positions
(e.g. triathletes). However, we could not find any
studies that had a focus on training cyclists to ride
at different saddle heights and measured the dif-
ferences in performance.
Different outcome variables were analysed to
indicate the effects of optimal saddle height for
injury prevention and performance optimization.
Most studies did not report the sensitivity or
variability of these variables to changes in saddle
height. It is possible that different positions are
optimal for performance versus injury preven-
tion. The magnitude of the differences in some
studies
[8,37]
was too small (effects sizes 0.070.20),
so it was unclear how substantial the changes
were in the studies.
If we consider previously reported optimal
settings for saddle height (96100%of trochan-
teric length) and we use the ‘optimal’ setting of
the saddle to the bottom bracket length (0.773 m)
and crank length (0.191 m) reported by Gonzalez
and Hull,
[24]
(resulting in a saddle height of
0.964 m) for a subject 177.8 cm tall, cycling at
90 rpm, our ‘optimal range’ for the saddle height
will be between D0.925 m and 0.964 m. This differ-
ence of D4 cm is more than any experienced cyclist
would consider, and a 4%difference in saddle
height would result in ~5%change in .
VO
2
.
[16]
Most methods of setting saddle height resulted
in different joint kinematics, which would affect
joint forces and increase risk of injury.
[9]
3.5 Practical Implications and
Recommendations
The configuration of the bicycle saddle height
is not standardized in relation to the methods
that can be used for this configuration. The opti-
mal reference for each method is not well defined
and a wide range (i.e. 96100%of the trochan-
teric length to the floor) used for performance
optimization has been proposed. Evidence for
performance improvements has led to using the
knee joint angle method from Holmes et al.
[19]
ra-
ther than the leg length methods.
[8]
Future studies
may focus on the effects of previous training
adaptation on the optimal reference for the knee
angle for setting the bicycle saddle height.
Given the limitations of the research studies
reviewed, sports medicine practitioners are en-
couraged to advise their cycling athletes to con-
474 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
figure their bicycle using the Holmes et al.
[19]
method, which involves the measurement of the
knee angle when the pedal is at the bottom dead
centre. For proper configuration of the saddle
height using this method, the knee must be flexed
between 25and 30, which has been related to
lowering the knee joint load
[10]
and improving cy-
cling economy.
[8]
4. Conclusions
Methods for determining optimal saddle height
are varied and have not been comprehensively
compared using experimental research studies.
There is limited information on the effects of
saddle height on lower limb injury risk, but more
information on the effects of saddle height and
cycling performance. The range of 2530of knee
flexion has been advocated to reduce the risk of
knee injuries and minimize .
VO
2
. Given that over-
use knee joint injury is common in cyclists, future
studies should determine how saddle height can
be optimized to improve cycling performance and
reduce knee joint forces to reduce lower limb in-
jury risk.
Acknowledgements
The authors have no conflicts of interest directly relevant
to the contents of this article. The International Society of
Biomechanics (via a student international travel grant) and
the CAPES Foundation PhD scholarship (Brazil) supported
Rodrigo Bini to complete this review. The Auckland Univer-
sity of Technology supported Dr James Croft and Professor
Patria Hume to complete this review.
References
1. Harvey M, Bonning J, Cave G. Injury severity in mountain
bike competitions. Int Sportmed J 2008; 9 (4): 182-3
2. Kim PT, Jangra D, Ritchie AH, et al. Mountain biking in-
juries requiring trauma center admission: a 10-year regio-
nal trauma system experience. J Trauma 2006; 60 (2): 312-8
3. Wanich T, Hodgkins C, Columbier JA, et al. Cycling injuries
of the lower extremity. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2007; 15
(12): 748-56
4. Asplund C, St. Pierre P. Knee pain and bicycling. Phys
Sportsmed 2004; 32 (4): 23-30
5. Ward SR, Terk MR, Powers CM. Influence of patella alta on
knee extensor mechanics. J Biomech 2005; 38 (12): 2415-22
6. Burke ER, Pruitt AL. Body positioning for cycling. In:
Burke ER, editor. High-tech cycling. 2nd ed. Champaign
(IL): Human Kinetics, 2003: 69-92
7. Sanderson DJ, Amoroso AT. The influence of seat height on the
mechanical function of the triceps surae muscles during steady-
rate cycling. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2009; 19 (6): e465-71
8. Peveler WW. Effects of saddle height on economy in cycling.
J Strength Cond Res 2008; 22 (4): 1355-9
9. Peveler W, Bishop P, Smith J, et al. Comparing methods for
setting saddle height in trained cyclists. J Exerc Physiol-
online 2005; 8 (1): 51-5
10. De Vey Mestdagh K. Personal perspective: in search of an
optimum cycling posture. Appl Ergon 1998; 29 (5): 325-34
11. Price D, Donne B. Effect of variation in seat tube angle at
different seat heights on submaximal cycling performance
in man. J Sports Sci 1997; 15 (4): 395-402
12. Gregor RJ. Biomechanics of cycling. In: Garret WE,
Kirkendall DT, editors. Exercise and sports science.
Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott, Williams &Wilkins, 2000:
549-71
13. Dettori NJ, Norvell DC. Non-traumatic bicycle injuries: a
review of the literature. Sports Med 2006; 36 (1): 7-18
14. Wishv-Roth T. Assessment of cycling biomechanics to op-
timise performance and minimise injury. J Sci Med Sport
2009; 12 Suppl. 1: S51
15. Hamley EJ, Thomas V. Physiological and postural factors
in the calibration of the bicycle ergometer. J Physiol 1967;
191 (2): 55-6P
16. Nordeen-Snyder KS. The effect of bicycle seat height var-
iation upon oxygen consumption and lower limb kine-
matics. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1977; 9 (2): 113-7
17. Shennum PL, DeVries HA. The effect of saddle height on
oxygen consumption during bicycle ergometer work. Med
Sci Sports Exerc 1976; 8 (2): 119-21
18. Burke ER. Perfect positioning. In: Burke ER, editor. Serious
cycling. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 2002: 235-45
19. Holmes JC, Pruitt AL, Whalen NJ. Lower extremity overuse
in bicycling. Clin Sports Med 1994; 13 (1): 187-203
20. Desipres M. An electromyographic study of competitive road
cycling conditions simulated on a treadmill. In: Nelson RC,
Morehouse C, editors. Biomechanics IV. Baltimore (MD):
University Park Press, 1974: 349-55
21. Rugg SG, Gregor RJ. The effect of seat height on muscle
lengths, velocities and moment arms lengths during cy-
cling. J Biomech 1987; S20: 899
22. Peveler WW, Pounders JD, Bishop PA. Effects of saddle height
on anaerobic power production in cycling. J Strength Cond
Res 2007; 21 (4): 1023-7
23. Jorge M, Hull ML. Analysis of EMG measurements during
bicycle pedalling. J Biomech 1986; 19 (9): 683-94
24. Gonzalez H, Hull ML. Multivariable optimization of cy-
cling biomechanics. J Biomech 1989; 22 (11-12): 1151-61
25. McCoy RW, Gregor RJ. The effects of varying seat position
on knee loads during cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1989;
21 Suppl. 2: S79
26. Ericson MO, Nisell R, Arborelius UP, et al. Muscular ac-
tivity during ergometer cycling. Scand J Rehab Med 1985;
17 (2): 53-61
27. Ericson MO, Nisell R. Efficiency of pedal forces during
ergometer cycling. Int J Sports Med 1988; 9 (2): 118-22
Effects of Bicycle Saddle Height on Injury Risk and Performance 475
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
This material is
the copyright of the
original publisher.
Unauthorised copying
and distribution
is prohibited.
28. Diefenthaeler F, Bini RR, Laitano O, et al. Assessment of
the effects of saddle position on cyclists pedaling technique.
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006; 38 (5): S181
29. Rankin JW, Neptune RR. Determination of the optimal seat
position that maximizes average crank power: a theoretical
study. Proceedings of the North American Congress on
Biomechanics; 2008 Aug 5-9; Ann Arbor (MI). Ann Arbor
(MI): Canadian and North-American Societies of Bio-
mechanics, 2008
30. Houtz SJ, Fischer FJ. An analysis of muscle action and joint
excursion during exercise on a stationary bicycle. J Bone
Joint Surg 1959; 41A (1): 123-31
31. Silberman MR, Webner D, Collina S, et al. Road bicycle fit.
Clin J Sport Med 2005; 15 (4): 271-6
32. Mellion MB. Common cycling injuries: management and
prevention. Sports Med 1991; 11 (1): 52-70
33. Moore F. Practical guide: bike set-up in cycling. sportEX
medicine 2008; 37 (6): 4
34. Borysewicz E. Bicycle road racing complete program for train-
ing and competition. Brattleboro (VT): Velo-News Corp, 1985
35. Ericson MO, Bratt A, Nisell R. Load moments about the hip
and knee joints during ergometer cycling. Scand J Rehab
Med 1986; 18 (4): 165-72
36. MacDermid PW, Edwards AM. Influence of crank length
on cycle ergometry performance of well-trained female
cross-country mountain bike athletes. Eur J Appl Physiol
2010; 108 (1): 177-82
37. Peveler W, Green JM. Effects of saddle height on economy
and anaerobic power in well trained cyclists. J Strength
Cond Res 2011; 25 (3): 629-33
38. Lucı
´a A, Hoyos J, Pe
´rez M, et al. Inverse relationship be-
tween .
VO
2max
and economy/efficiency in world-class cy-
clists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002; 34 (12): 2079-84
39. Bini RR, Diefenthaeler F, Mota CB. Fatigue effects on the
coordinative pattern during cycling: kinetics and kinematics
evaluation. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010; 20 (1): 102-7
40. Mornieux G, Guenette JA, Sheel AW, et al. Influence
of cadence, power output and hypoxia on the joint moment
distribution during cycling. Eur J Appl Physiol 2007;
102 (1): 11-8
41. Bressel E. The influence of ergometer pedaling direction on
peak patellofemoral joint forces. Clin Biomech 2001; 16 (5):
431-7
42. Faria IE, Cavanagh PR. The physiology and biomechanics
of cycling. New York (NY): John Wiley, 1978
43. Umberger BR, Martin PE. Testing the planar assumption
during ergometer cycling.J Appl Biomech 2001; 17(1): 55-62
44. Ruby P, Hull ML, Hawkins D. Three-dimensional knee joint
loading during seated cycling. J Biomech 1992; 25 (1): 41-53
45. Tamborindeguy AC, Rico Bini R. Does saddle height affect
patellofemoral and tibiofemoral forces during bicycling for
rehabilitation? J Bodyw Mov Ther 2011; 15 (2): 186-91
46. Neptune RR, Kautz SA. Knee joint loading in forward
versus backward pedaling: implications for rehabilitation
strategies. Clin Biomech 2000; 15 (7): 528-35
47. Wolchok JC, Hull ML, Howell SM. The effect of interseg-
mental knee moments on patellofemoral contact mechanics
in cycling. J Biomech 1998; 31 (8): 677-83
48. Cohen ZA, Roglic H, Grelsamer RP, et al. Patellofemoral
stresses during open and closed kinetic chain exercises: an
analysis using computer simulation. Am J Sports Med
2001; 29 (4): 480-7
49. Ericson MO, Nisell R. Patellofemoral joint forces during
ergometric cycling. Phys Ther 1987; 67 (9): 1365-9
50. Van Ingen Schenau GJ, Boots PJM, De Groot G, et al. The
constrained control of force and position in multi-joint
movements. Neurosci 1992; 46 (1): 197-207
51. Ericson MO, Nisell R. Tibiofemoral joint forces during
ergometer cycling. Am J Sports Med 1986; 14 (4): 285-90
52. Fleming BC, Beynnon BD, Renstrom PA, et al. The strain
behavior of the anterior cruciate ligament during bicycling:
an in vivo study. Am J Sports Med 1998; 26 (1): 109-18
53. Herzog W, Guimaraes AC, Anton MG, et al. Moment-
length relations of rectus femoris muscles of speed skaters/
cyclists and runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1991; 23 (11):
1289-96
54. Savelberg HHCM, Meijer K. Contribution of mono- and
biarticular muscles to extending knee joint moments in
runners and cyclists. J Appl Physiol 2003; 94 (6): 2241-8
55. Rassier DE, MacIntosh BR, Herzog W. Length dependence
of active force production in skeletal muscle. J Appl Phy-
siol 1999; 86 (5): 1445-57
56. Austin N, Keren T, Wieland C, Herzog W. In vivo skeletal
muscle fibre function during cycling. In: Ashton-Miller JA,
editor. Proceedings of the North American Congress on
Biomechanics; 2008 Aug 5-9; Ann Arbor (MI). Ann Arbor
(MI): Canadian and North-American Societies of Bio-
mechanics, 2008
57. Muraoka T, Kawakami Y, Tachi M, et al. Muscle fiber and
tendon length changes in the human vastus lateralis during
slow pedaling. J Appl Physiol 2001; 91 (5): 2035-40
58. Grieve D, Pheasant S, Cavanagh PR. Prediction of gastro-
cnemius length from knee and ankle joint posture. In:
Assmussen E, Jorgensen K, editors. International series on
biomechanics. Baltimore (MD): University Park Press,
1978: 405-12
59. Sanderson DJ, Martin PE, Honeyman G, et al. Gastro-
cnemius and soleus muscle length, velocity, and EMG re-
sponses to changes in pedalling cadence. J Electromyogr
Kinesiol 2006; 16 (6): 642-9
60. Frigo C, Pedotti A. Determination of muscle length during
locomotion. In: Assmussen E, Jorgensen K, editors. In-
ternational series on biomechanics. Baltimore (MD):
University Park Press, 1978: 355-60
61. Neptune RR, Kautz SA, Zajac FE. Muscle contributions to
specific biomechanical functions do not change in forward
versus backward pedaling. J Biomech 2000; 33 (2): 155-64
62. Hawkins D, Hull ML. A method for determining lower ex-
tremity muscle-tendon lengths during flexion/extension
movements. J Biomech 1990; 23 (5): 487-94
Correspondence: Mr Rodrigo Bini, Sport Performance
Research Institute New Zealand, School of Sport and
Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Private
Bag 92006, Auckland, New Zealand.
E-mail: rbini@aut.ac.nz
476 Bini et al.
ª2011 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved. Sports Med 2011; 41 (6)
... Bike fitting can have a major impact on the performance of cyclists (Bateman, 2014) and can reduce the risk of non-traumatic injuries (Bini et al., 2011). This study shows significant changes in lower body biomechanics of road cyclists during and after fatigue and therefore expands the research from a more practical view. ...
... In road cycling it is important to ride as economically as possible because over the course of a cycling stage, any energy saved due to an improved position might help to improve one's overall competition performance (Bateman, 2014) and reduce the risk of non-traumatic injuries (Bini et al., 2011). Regarding the practical application of bike fitting there seem to be no consistent standards on how to perform this (Bini et al., 2014). ...
... The 90° position was selected for (pre-) evaluation as the forces present in the patellofemoral area are greater than those in the 180° position. The 180° position was additionally used for the following analysis, as it is the most commonly used in bike fitting practices and in other studies (Bini et al., 2011). After the pre-evaluation of the position on the bike, the subjects performed a lactate stepwise incremental test, starting with 100W and an increment of 20W for each time 3min until total exhaustion (Wahl et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
Conference Paper
Bike fitting can have a major impact on the performance of cyclists (Bateman, 2014) and can reduces the risk of non-traumatic injuries (Bini et al., 2011). This study shows significant changes in lower body biomechanics of road-cyclists while and after fatigue and therefore expands the research in a more practical way. These findings indicate to expand future research in the sensor-based analysis of road cycling (e.g., IMUs, oxygen saturation).
... Besides that, changes in saddle height largely affected knee and ankle joints with greater knee flexion and larger plantar flexion found for higher heights (Bini et al., 2011;Bini, Diefenthaeler, et al., 2014). Indeed, Bini et al. (2010) and Horscroft et al. (2003) showed that power produced by the hip, knee and ankle joints dictated power output during seated cycling and individual joints were sensitive to saddle height effects. ...
... According to Bini et al. (2011), previous research suggested that optimal efficiency in cycling may be achieved when the saddle height was set to a knee flexion range of motion of 25° and the pedal crank was at 6 o'clock position. There were no studies that had focus on training cyclists to ride at different saddle heights and measure the differences in performance. ...
... The measurement of joint range of motions with their bicycles has the potential to enhance the existing techniques for bicycle configuration components optimization. Plus, joint range of motion were important variables for the configuration of bicycle components that help to reduce injury risk and optimize the performance (Bini et al., 2011;Peveler & Green, 2011), but the assessment of joint range of motions of cyclists may depend on the type of exercise and conditions. ...
Full-text available
Article
The purpose of this study was to compare the movement kinematics between skilled and less skilled cyclists based on their preferred saddle heights. 12 recreational cyclists were recruited for this study, and they were required to perform 10-minute cycling using their own bike (mounted on a bike trainer) which consists of a 4-minute warm-up, and continue with a 6-minute cycle at 90-100 rotations per minute with their preferred saddle height. Reflective markers were placed at the joint involved such as hip, knee, and ankle to assess change in the segment and joint motion parallel to the 90° of the crank cycle (3'o clock) during the study. Additional variables such as cadence and power (watt) were recorded for monitoring purposes. Results showed that there were significant differences (p<0.05) in hip and ankle range of motion during pedalling between skilled and less-skilled recreational cyclists. It can be concluded, significantly better range of motion on the hip and ankle performed by the skilled cyclist may be due to suitable saddle height and it might lead to effectiveness on cycling efficiency.
... As some studies have pointed out a possible performance improvement after bicycle ergonomic adjustment [6,10,[12][13][14][15][16], these studies have supported the work of bikefitters along with professional athletes to improve their athletic performance on formal competitions. On the other hand, few studies have given attention to a cyclist's adherence to sports practice when faced with riding discomfort or pain. ...
... Thus, this increased pain could also be (at least partially) explained by the increased mileage. According to several authors, the knees and groin areas are often targets of non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain by cyclists imperfectly fitted to their bicycles or by high-volume riders such as professional athletes [13,20,21,[42][43][44]. ...
Full-text available
Article
The purpose of this study is to analyze the long-term riders' subjective responses to a standardized bikefitting method on their bicycles. Eighty-six amateur mountain bikers had their riding posture and bicycle components ergonomically adjusted through a 3D kinematic bikefitting method. Validated subjective scales (Feeling, OMNI, and Numerical Rating Pain Scale) were used to assess their overall riding comfort and fatigue along with localized pain for six body parts. Data were collected just before intervention (baseline or pre), immediately after (or post), and 30, 60, 90, and 120 days after the bikefit session. A Student's t-test comparing before bikefit and after 120 days showed significant (p < 0.05) reduction in localized pain for all six body parts and riding comfort along with a large effect size effect (d = 1.18) for riding comfort. Although initially reduced, fatigue scores gradually increased over the months, showing a high correlation (r = 0.946) with increased monthly training volume. In conclusion, overall riding discomfort and pain were significantly decreased after a standardized kinematic bikefit session even after 120 days post intervention. However, fatigue scores began to rise after 30 days, showing a high correlation with increasing monthly training volume.
... In road cycling it is important to ride as economically as possible because over the course of a cycling stage, any energy saved due to an improved position might help to improve one's overall competition performance (Bateman, 2014) and reduce the risk of non-traumatic injuries (Bini et al., 2011). Regarding the practical application of bike fitting there seem to be no consistent standards on how to perform this (Bini et al., 2014). ...
... The 90° position was selected for (pre-) evaluation as the forces present in the patellofemoral area are greater than those in the 180° position. The 180° position was additionally used for the following analysis, as it is the most commonly used in bike fitting practices and in other studies (Bini et al., 2011). After the pre-evaluation of the position on the bike, the subjects performed a lactate stepwise incremental test, starting with 100W and an increment of 20W for each time 3min until total exhaustion (Wahl et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
Book
This conference volume contains the contributions of all oral and poster presentations of the 14th Symposium of the Section Sport Informatics and Engineering of the German Association for Sport Science (dvs) at Chemnitz University of Technology (September 29-30, 2022). With the goal of advancing the research field of sports informatics and sports technology, nearly 20 four-page papers were submitted and presented in the sessions Information and Feedback Systems in Sport, Digital Movement: Data Acquisition, Analysis and Algorithms, and Sports Equipment Development: Materials, Construction, Testing.
... The primary function of quadriceps heads is to extend the knee, while the expression of neural, biological, physiological, anatomical, and mechanical properties of quadriceps depend on the mechanical conditions of the movement that this muscle needs to perform [16,17]. Therefore, choosing the correct knee angle may often have a crucial role in effective movement performance with a lower risk of injury as knee angle affects the force and power outputs [18][19][20], as well as musculoskeletal loading and loading of cruciate ligaments [21][22][23][24]. ...
... Understanding these mechanisms is also very important for sports practice because for the best physical performance, athletes are typically required to perform in knee joint ranges that provide them with the best potential to utilize muscular activities [19,43,44]. This may lead to an overload of muscles, tendons, ligaments or joints, resulting in tissue injury [23,24]. Therefore, the knee joint angles should be thoroughly analysed when implementing the training program in clinical and high-performance settings. ...
Full-text available
Article
This study investigated the effects of knee joint angle on muscle activation, exerted torque, and whether the knee angle affects the muscle activation–torque ratio. Nine healthy adult male participants participated in the study. They performed maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) at six (80°, 90°, 100°, 110°, 120°, and 130°) different knee joint angles (i.e., angles between the thigh and shin bones). Their maximal torque was assessed utilizing an isokinetic chair, while their muscle activation (root mean square [RMS]) was assessed using an eight-channel single differential surface EMG sensor. For the purposes of the torque–knee angle relationship and muscle activation–knee angle relationship, the torque and RMS were normalized relative to the maximal value obtained by each participant. To evaluate the muscle activation–torque ratio in function of knee angle, RMS was normalized relative to the corresponding torque obtained at each knee angle. Repeated measure analysis of variance was used to investigate the effects of knee angle on muscle activation, torque, and muscle activation–torque ratio. There was a significant effect of knee joint angle on normalized torque (F = 27.521, p < 0.001), while the activation of vastus lateralis and vastus medialis remained unchanged. The changes in knee angle affected the muscle activation–torque ratio of vastus lateralis (Chi-square = 16.246, p = 0.006) but not the vastus medialis. These results suggest that knee joint angles from 80° to 130° provide a stable milieu for muscle electrification, while mechanical factor such as knee joint angle (i.e., lever arm length) affect the torque output when one needs to contract quadriceps maximally during the isometric contraction.
... Pedallara yüksek güç aktarımı ve minimum aerobik sürtünme oluşturacak şekilde sürücüyü bisiklet üzerinde mümkün olan en yüksek verimlilik konumlandırmayı hedefler (Silberman vd., 2005). Bisiklette sele yüksekliğini belirlemek amacı ile diz fleksiyon derecesini "Altın Standart" olarak kabul edebilmek mümkündür (Bini, Hume ve Croft, 2011). Bini (2012)'nin yaptığı çalışma; dizlerdeki fleksiyon açısı, sele yüksekliğindeki değişikliklerden büyük ölçüde etkilenmiştir. ...
Article
Bu çalışma, farklı kullanım amaçlarına yönelik olarak üretilmiş olan bisikletlerin optimizasyon unsurlarını belirleme amacıyla yapılmıştır. Dünyada bisiklet sporunda optimizasyonun sağlanmasında kullanılan ve gelişen bir yöntem olan “bike fit”, bisiklet kullanıcılarının bisiklete uyum yönünden ihtiyaçlarına karşılık verebilme temeline dayanmaktadır. Aynı zamanda, kullanıcının kendisine en uygun bisikleti seçmiş olsa dahi, bisikletteki bazı parametrelerin kendisine uygun olmaması durumunda kullanıcılarda verim düşüklüğü, konfor eksikliği, sakatlıkların önüne geçilebilmesi gibi durumları rasyonel olarak açıklayabilmektir. Bu doğrultuda bike fit kullanıcının bisiklet üzerindeki duruş pozisyonunu optimize ederek bisiklete uyumunu artırılması temel alınmaktadır. Bu doğrultuda PubMed, Google Scholar, Science Direct veri tabanlarında ‘Bike Fit’, ‘Bisiklette Güç Aktarımı’ ve ‘Bisiklette Optimizasyon’ ve benzeri anahtar kelimeleri kullanılarak literatür incelemesi yapılmıştır. Konuyla ilgili 2002 ile 2021 tarihleri arasında yayınlanmış olan 55 çalışma amaca yönelik olarak incelenmiştir. Araştırmaya dahil edilme kriterlerine uygun toplam 20 yayın çalışma kapsamına alınmıştır. Araştırmada sonuç olarak; bisiklet üzerindeki konfor, sportif performans ve sakatlıkların önüne geçilebilmesi açısından bike fit uygulamalarının sporcu ve bisiklet kullanıcısı için gerekli bir uygulama olduğu tespit edilmiştir.
... To the best of our knowledge, no other study has used KFOF as a parameter to assess its effects on cycling efficiency. Previous studies commonly changed the seat tube angle, saddle height, or saddle setback position to observe their effects on the level of muscle activation, muscle fatigue, and energy expenditure [12,[14][15][16]23]. However, the relationships among pedaling positions, muscle fatigue, and energy consumption are still uncertain. ...
Background: Inappropriate cycling positions may affect muscle usage strategy and raise the level of fatigue or risk of sport injury. Dynamic bike fitting is a growing trend meant to help cyclists select proper bikes and adjust them to fit their ergometry. The purpose of this study is to investigate how the "knee forward of foot" (KFOF) distance, an important dynamic bike fitting variable, influences the muscle activation, muscle usage strategy, and rate of energy expenditure during cycling. Methods: Six amateur cyclists were recruited to perform the short-distance ride test (SRT) and the graded exercise tests (GXT) with pedaling positions at four different KFOF distances (+20, 0, -20, and -40 mm). The surface electromyographic (EMG) and portable energy metabolism systems were used to monitor the muscle activation and energy expenditure. The outcome measures included the EMG root-mean-square (RMS) amplitudes of eight muscles in the lower extremity during the SRT, the regression line of the changes in the EMG RMS amplitude and median frequency (MF), and the heart rate and oxygen consumption during the GXT. Results: Our results revealed significant differences in the muscle activation of vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and semitendinosus among four different pedaling positions during the SRT. During GXT, no statistically significant differences in muscle usage strategy and energy expenditure were found among different KFOF. However, most cyclists had the highest rate of energy expenditure with either KFOF at -40 mm or 20 mm. Conclusions: The KFOF distance altered muscle activation in the SRT; however, no significant influence on the muscle usage strategy was found in the GXT. A higher rate of energy expenditure in the extreme pedaling positions of KFOF was observed in most amateur cyclists, so professional assistance for proper bike fitting was recommended.
... First, the participant's height and body mass were measured, and age was noted. Next, the seat height of the electromagnetically braked SRM cycle ergometer (Schoberer Rad Messtechnik, Jülich, Germany) was adjusted according to "the heel method" (5). Further, the ergometer's power measuring unit, as well as the Powerforce system for pedal force measurements (Radlabor GmbH, Freiburg, Germany), were reset according to the manufactures' manuals. ...
Article
It was investigated whether the phenomenon of repeated bout rate enhancement occurs during submaximal ergometer cycling. Repeated bout rate enhancement is defined as an increase of the freely, or spontaneously, chosen cadence during repeated bouts of pedalling and has previously been reported for finger tapping. This is relevant to study since cadence can affect biomechanical and physiological responses. Recreationally active individuals (n=27) performed five consecutive 5-min bouts of cycling at 100 W using freely chosen cadence. All bouts were separated by 10-min rest. Cadence, pedal force profile characteristics, heart rate, tympanic temperature, and rate of perceived exertion were determined during cycling. The primary result was that cadence at the end of 5. bout was statistically significantly higher than at the end of all other bouts. Overall, the cadence at the end of 5. bout was 15.6%±20.4% higher than at the end of 1. bout. The altered rhythmic motor behaviour was accompanied by a statistically significant effect of bout on the pedal force profile. Also, there was a statistically significant effect of bout on heart rate, which amounted to 125±17 and 131±26 beats/min at the end of 1. and 5. bout, respectively. Perhaps the observed increase of cadence occurred as a nonconscious rhythmogenesis process in form of a net excitation of relevant parts of the nervous system. In conclusion, repeated bout rate enhancement during submaximal ergometer cycling occurred. The freely chosen cadence showed an increase of on average about 15%, or 10 rpm, as accumulated values across five bouts of cycling.
... Biomechanics applied to cycling has undergone great evolution in recent decades, both in the analysis techniques and in the technological systems used. This evolution has allowed the passage of traditional techniques for different bicycle adjustments such as the inseam leg length measurement multiplied by a correction factor [1], the use of static goniometers to measure knee angle [2], or 2D and 3D motion capture systems as a gold standard [3]. All these techniques mentioned above start from an important limitation, isolating the cyclist from the ecological context of their sports practice and leading them to develop their capabilities under laboratory conditions. ...
Full-text available
Article
Background: The use of inertial measurement sensors (IMUs), in the search for a more ecological measure, is spreading among sports professionals with the aim of improving the sports performance of cyclists. The kinematic evaluation using the Leomo system (TYPE-R, Leomo, Boulder, CO, USA) has become popular. Purpose: The present study aimed to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Leomo system by measuring the angular kinematics of the lower extremities in the sagittal plane during pedaling at different intensities compared to a gold-standard motion capture camera system (OptiTrack, Natural Point, Inc., Corvallis, OR, USA). Methods: Twenty-four elite cyclists recruited from national and international cycling teams performed two 6-min cycles of cycling on a cycle ergometer at two different intensities (first ventilatory threshold (VT1) and second ventilatory threshold (VT2)) in random order, with a 5 min rest between intensity conditions. The reliability and validity of the Leomo system versus the motion capture system were evaluated. Results: Both systems showed high validity and were consistently excellent in foot angular range Q1 (FAR (Q1)) and foot angular range (FAR) (ICC-VT1 between 0.91 and 0.95 and ICC-VT2 between 0.88 and 0.97), while the variables leg angular range (LAR) and pelvic angle showed a modest validity (ICC-VT1 from 0.52 to 0.71 and ICC-VT2 between 0.61 and 0.67). Compared with Optitrack, Leomo overestimated all the variables, especially the LAR and pelvic angle values, in a range between 12 and 15°. Conclusions: Leomo is a reliable and valid tool for analyzing the ranges of motion of the cyclist's lower limbs in the sagittal plane, especially for the variables FAR (Q1) and FAR. However, its systematic error for FAR and Pelvic Angle values must be considered in sports performance analysis.
Full-text available
Thesis
Bike fitting review. Study of the Cycling position and the settings of handlebar, saddle and clips. In italian.
Full-text available
Article
LUCÍA, A., J. HOYOS, M. PÉREZ, A. SANTALLA, and J. L. CHICHARRO. Inverse relationship between V̇O2max and economy/efficiency in world-class cyclists. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 2079–2084, 2002. Purpose: To determine the relationship that exists between V̇O2max and cycling economy/efficiency during intense, submaximal exercise in world-class road professional cyclists. Methods: Each of 11 male cyclists (26 ± 1 yr (mean ± SEM); V̇O2max: 72.0 ± 1.8 mL·kg−1·min−1) performed: 1) a ramp test for V̇O2max determination and 2) a constant-load test of 20-min duration at the power output eliciting 80% of subjects’ V̇O2max during the previous ramp test (mean power output of 385 ± 7 W). Cycling economy (CE) and gross mechanical efficiency (GE) were calculated during the constant-load tests. Results: CE and GE averaged 85.2 ± 2.3 W·L−1·min−1 and 24.5 ± 0.7%, respectively. An inverse, significant correlation was found between 1) V̇O2max (mL·kg−0.32·min−1) and both CE (r = −0.71;P = 0.01) and GE (−0.72;P = 0.01), and 2) V̇O2max (mL·kg−1·min−1) and both CE (r = −0.65;P = 0.03) and GE (−0.64;P = 0.03). Conclusions: A high CE/GE seems to compensate for a relatively low V̇O2max in professional cyclists.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Southern California, 1989. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 73-77).
Chapter
Houtz and Fischer (1959) analyzed muscle action and joint movement during exercise on a stationary bicycle. Hamley and Thomas (1967) experimented with skilled and unskilled cyclist-athletes to determine the effect of postural factors on the physiological efficiency on a bicycle ergometer. In both studies, stationary cycle ergometers were used. The purpose of this project was to study the effect of saddle height and load on the pattern of surface muscle interaction and accompanying joint ranges under competitive road riding conditions, which were simulated on a treadmill.
Article
In many arm or leg movements the hand or foot has to exert an external force on the environment. Based on an inverse dynamical analysis of cycling, it is shown that the distribution of net moments in the joints needed to control the direction of the external force is often opposite to the direction of joint displacements associated with this task. Kinetic and kinematic data were obtained from five experienced cyclists during ergometer cycling by means of film analysis and pedal force measurement. An inverse dynamic analysis, based on a linked segments model, yielded net joint moments, joint powers and muscle shortening velocities of eight leg muscles. Activation patterns of the muscles were obtained by means of surface electromyography. The results show that the transfer of rotations in hip, knee and ankle joints into the translation of the pedal is constrained by conflicting requirements. This occurs between the joint moments necessary to contribute to joint power and the moments necessary to establish a direction of the force on the pedal which allows this force to do work on the pedal. Co-activation of mono-articular agonists and their bi-articular antagonists appear to provide a unique solution for these conflicting requirements: bi-articular muscles appear to be able to control the desired direction of the external force on the pedal by adjusting the relative distribution of net moments over the joints while mono-articular muscles appear to be primarily activated when they are in the position to shorten and thus to contribute to positive work. Examples are given to illustrate the universal nature of this constrained control of force (external) and position (joint). Based on this study and published data it is suggested that different processes may underlie the organization of the control of mono- and bi-articular muscles.
Article
Lower extremity motions during cycling are often assumed to occur in the sagittal plane. While seemingly logical, this assumption has not been rigorously tested. Frontal plane rotation of the ankle joint (inversion/eversion) has been studied extensively during gait but infrequently during cycling despite the suggestion that excessive eversion or pronation may be related to overuse knee injuries. Two-dimensional sagittal plane hip, knee, and ankle joint kinematics were generally found to be similar to simultaneously measured 3-D values. Despite the similarity in motion patterns, maximum hip angle was 34° more flexed in 2-D than 3-D. Maximum and minimum frontal plane ankle joint angles were similar in 2-D and 3-D. However, during the middle of the pedal cycle, 2-D frontal plane ankle joint motion deviated from 3-D, such that maximum ankle eversion was reached 36% of the pedal cycle later in 2-D versus 3-D. The discrepancy at the hip was due primarily to differences in hip angle definition for 2-D and 3-D approaches, and an alternate convention for hip angle in 2-D is suggested. Discrepancies in frontal plane ankle joint motion are due to weaknesses in the planar approach and would be difficult to overcome without resorting to 3-D measurement.
Article
The increasing participation in the athletic forms of bicycling warrants expanded physician attention to the traumatic and overuse injuries experienced by cyclists. The modern bicycle consists of a frame with various components, including handlebars, brakes, wheels, pedals, and gears, in various configurations for the various modes of cycling. For high performance cycling the proper fit of the bicycle is critical. The most efficient method to provide an accurate fit is the Fitkit, but proper frame selection and adjustment can be made by following simple guidelines for frame size, seat height, fore and aft saddle position, saddle angle, reach and handlebar height. The human body functions most effectively in a narrow range of pedal resistance to effort. Riding at too much pedal resistance is a major cause of overuse problems in cyclists. Overuse injuries are lower using lower gear ratios at a higher cadence. Cycling injuries account for 500 000 visits per year to emergency rooms in the US. Over half the accidents involve motor vehicles, and road surface and mechanical problems with the bicycle are also common causes of accidents. Head injuries are common in cyclists and account for most of the fatal accidents. Despite good evidence of their effectiveness, victims with head injuries have rarely worn helmets. Contusions, sprains and fractures may occur throughout the body, most commonly to the hand, wrist, lower arm, shoulder, ankle and lower leg. The handlebar and seat have been implicated in a wide variety of abdominal and genital injuries. Abrasions, lacerations and bruises of the skin are the most common traumatic injuries. Trauma may be prevented or reduced by proper protective safety equipment and keeping the bike in top mechanical condition. Anticipation of the errors of others and practising and adopting specific riding strategies also help to prevent traumatic injuries. Management of overuse injuries in cycling generally involves mechanical adjustment as well as medical management. Neck and back pain are extremely common in cyclists, occurring in up to 60% of riders. Ulnar neuropathy, characterised by tingling, numbness and weakness in the hands is common in serious cyclists after several days of riding. Managing saddle-related injuries or irritations may also involve adjusting seat height, angle and fore and aft position in addition to changing the saddle. Padding in the saddle and shorts play an important part in saddle problems. Saddle-related problems include chafing, perineal folliculitis and furuncles, subcutaneous perineal nodules, pudendal neuropathy, male impotence, traumatic urethritis and a variety of vulva trauma. Improper fit of the bicycle may also lead to problems such as trochanteric bursitis, iliopsoas tendinitis, and ‘biker’s knee’ (patellofemoral pain syndrome). Foot paraesthesias, metatarsalgia and occasionally Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis have also been reported in cyclists. Cyclists should take proper precautions against sun and heat injuries, especially dehyration. Cyclists may benefit from a variety of protective clothing and equipment, such as helmets, mirrors, eyewear, lights and reflective clothing and footwear.
Article
Bicycle riding is a popular form of recreation, fitness and transportation in many areas of the world. Traumatic injuries associated with bicycle riding have been documented and intervention strategies have been successful. This has not been the case for non-traumatic injuries. The prevalence of non-traumatic bicycle injuries can be as high as 85%. The most common sites for non-traumatic cycling-related injuries include the knee, neck/shoulder, hands, buttock and perineum. Two categories of injuries that may have the greatest impact on disability include ulnar and median nerve palsy, and erectile dysfunction. Injury prevention strategies have been proposed to reduce non-traumatic injuries but these strategies remain untested.