General Wattbike Cycling Position and Set Up

Saddle Height

wattbike saddle angle

The easiest way to get a rough height for the saddle height is to stand the rider next to the bike with the heel pushed into the back stabiliser, and then lift the saddle up so that the top of the saddle is level with the bony protrusion of the hip.

Sit the rider on the Wattbike and align the crank arms with the seat post, place the heel of the foot on the crank arm nearest the floor – the leg should be straight (but not locked out).

When clipped in (or with feet in the toe clips) and with the pedal at its longest stroke (inline with the seat post) there should approximately 25-30° bend on the knee. The rider should be able to 'drop the ankle’.

Raise/lower the saddle height to get the correct leg position. ALWAYS DISMOUNT THE WATTBIKE BEFORE MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO THE SADDLE.

Now get the rider to pedal backwards, they should be able to complete rotations with only a slight rocking of hips and without the legs locking out.

Saddle fore/aft Position

With the feet clipped in (or in the toe clips) bring the crank arms parallel to the floor, drop a plumb line from the inside of the knee, in the indentation next to the patella - it should bisect the pedal spindle. Adjust the saddle fore/aft to ensure that the knee is over the pedal spindle.

NOTE – if you need to move the saddle fore/aft severely, you may need to raise/lower the saddle to compensate.

The difference between the forward and back positions of the saddle fore/aft adjustment is 6 cm

Handlebar Height (Saddle to Handlebar Difference)

wattbike showing saddle and handle height

Adjust the handlebar height so that it is no more than 4 to 10 cm lower than the saddle height (depending on fitness and flexibility, a higher handlebar height may be more comfortable) – for general exercise classes the saddle and handlebars should be at the same height - Use a long spirit level from the saddle across to the handlebar to set this height.

Once the handlebar height has been set, check it by asking the rider to lift their hands off the handlebars – they should be able to hold position.

NOTE – with the saddle and handlebar both set at maximum height there is a saddle to handlebar difference of 7 cm – for safety reasons do not go above minimum markings – extra long stems are available which increase the settings by 10 cm.

Handlebar fore/aft Position

wattbike showing fore and aft position

Ask your participant to place their hands on top of the handlebars and bring the crank arms parallel to the floor – drop a plumb line from the elbow, it should fall through the inside of the knee, in the indentation next to the patella and should bisect the pedal spindle – adjust handlebars fore/aft to get the correct position. ALWAYS DISMOUNT THE WATTBIKE BEFORE MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO THE SADDLE OR HANDLEBARS.

An alternative method is to look at the angle of the back which should be at 45° parallel to the floor with an upper arm to torso angle of 90°.

The difference between the forward and back positions of the handlebar fore/aft adjustment is 6 cm.

By following these simple steps the rider will be placed in the optimum position for both comfort and effective cycling technique. Any slight variation in correct set up will alter the alignment of the joints, muscles and subsequently technique. Ensure that you follow these simple steps with every new rider and recap where required with your existing, regular riders.

Notes on Bike Set Up

There are many variables that influence bike set up from anatomical differences through to equipment differences and event specific set up; individual cyclists may/will know their own set up but for general use and advice to Wattbike users the process outlined above should help to give them a safe cycling position

Saddle height formula

Measuring inseam (without shoes)

Stand with back flat against a wall with heels as close to wall as possible. Place a hardback book vertically as far as possible into the inseam with the edge flush against the wall. Make sure the book protrudes out enough to allow measurement from the top edge of the book down to the floor.

Take inseam measurement multiply by 0.885

e.g. Inseam 82 cm X 0.885 = 72.6 cm so saddle height = 72.6 cm above the bottom bracket axle – this ensures that leg is not at full stretch

Another common formula is to multiply the inseam measurement by 1.09 (this gives a measurement which includes the crank length).

Other multipliers suggested are 1.06 and 1.08, 1.06 for women who flex forward at the hip and 1.08 for men who flex forward through the mid and upper spine

Saddle fore/aft

Depending on a cyclist’s preference and type of racing back/forward position may vary 10-20 mm

Handlebar height (saddle to handlebar differences)

British Cycling Guidelines are relative to a cyclists’ height:

Rider height (cm) Saddle-to-handlebar difference (cm)
150 3
155 4
160 5
165 6
170 7
175 8
180 9
185 10
190 11
195 12
200 13

Handlebars fore/aft

Set up varies greatly by event type and aerodynamic position required.


Set up varies depending on the demands of the type of cycling – track sprinters and track endurance riders will differ, MTB, BMX, Cyclo-cross have their own set up differences as do road and time trial cyclists which they may wish to replicate on a Wattbike

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