Hey new bike commuters! Are you fixing to ride to work? Maybe for the first time ever? Congratulations!
If you’re prepared, you have been listening to lots of advice, and maybe you’ve read our entire Commuting 101 section.
Here’s one last thing that will make a world of difference: Properly adjust your dang seat height.
If it’s too low, you will be making yourself more tired than you otherwise would be. If it’s too high, you will put stress on your knees and lower back. Here is our article on the topic.
I have few pet peeves about my fellow cyclists. I don’t care what kind of bike you ride, whether you are in street clothes, Lycra, or nude. Helmet or no helmet. I don’t care if you call it a bike seat or a saddle. If you are on a bike and being being safe, civil, and legal (listed in order of priority), you are okay by me.
But seats that are too low really get to me. It’s one thing that screams to me in my mind when I see it, This person doesn’t know what he is doing!
By which I mean, This person is teaching himself to hate being on a bicycle!
I know it’s nice to come to a stop and put your foot down and not have to get off the seat. And there are bike designs that allow you to use your legs efficiently and still put your foot on the ground while you remain sitting. You probably don’t have one of those bikes.
Trust me and just get used to the idea that you will have to leave the seat when you come to a stop.
On the Montague Boston 8 bike I’m riding, the seat kept creeping down below my favorite position. I tightened the quick-release on the seat post collar. Then I tightened it some more. Then I stripped the little bolt that makes it possible to adjust the seat post at all. I was halfway to work. Five miles to go.
I pulled over and pondered my dilemma under the shade of an acacia tree. The obvious answer: Just ride in the rest of the way low-rider style.
No! Anything but that!
I will try anything. Ride anything. Wear anything. But the idea of riding with my seat down and my knees up in my face like a clueless noob? That would be humiliating.
I took an inventory of what I had with me. Were there any parts I could cannibalize from the bike? No.
I had a Planet Bike headlight. Could I use the handlebar mount to squeeze tight the seat post collar? It kept slipping off.
I had a tube with a Presta valve. Could I use the valve stem? Nothing to tighten onto the threads.
I had a guitar capo. Not enough pressure.
No choice but the ride of shame.
I tried my best to remember “The Beginner’s Mind.” There is something I can learn from this.
Nope. I only learned that all of the people who advise new cyclists to properly adjust their seat height, well, they’re right.
I had less power. I was sitting on my tailbone and it hurt. And I even had a disadvantage over the people who don’t know any better: I felt like an idiot.
After work I rode another four miles in this manner to Ordinary Bike Shop and replaced the seat post collar. Damn it felt good to be up where I belong.
But on the way there, at least once, I found myself thinking, It is kind of nice to just put my foot down when I stop.