Is this you?
Seat Tubes have Changed
|Is the slack seat tube angle a feature, or a bug?|
Now Your Heels Touch The Ground, But The Hills Get Harder
|"Aaaah! I'm falling backward and|
it's hard to pedal!" The mannikin
should be leaning forward with
his elbows sticking out.
Many cities, like Chicago and Amsterdam, don't have hills so it isn't an issue, but if you live in San Francisco or even somewhere with moderate hills like New York City, you might want to fix this. Fixing it in Chicago or Amsterdam can probably help you go faster on the flat, too.
So fix it!
There is a simple fix you might want to try, and a more complicated one if you need more. With some of these bikes you just can't get the seat to be comfortable and also get up a hill happily, but with most bikes you can.
You know how the seat is attached to the seat post? The clamp there? See how the rails on the bottom of the seat can slide back and forth in the clamp? Just loosen the clamp a bit, slide the seat as far forward as you can get it, and tighten it again. Somewhere between this position and the original one is a really comfortable place that will let you pedal on a hill too. Maybe you can point the front of the seat less upward too at this point. You might also want to raise the seat, so your knees are straight when your heels are on the pedals. We arrange ours so we can sit on the seat and just barely reach the ground on both sides with our tiptoes. (There's another trend in bike design that affects this, raising the bottom bracket, but you can read about that somewhere else. More modern bikes are built so you have to slide forward off the seat to touch the ground at intersections if your seat is set for efficient pedaling. It's yet another reason to prefer vintage bikes.)
Seats in General
|or even as far as this|
|from far back, to this|
Ride it for an hour or two and adjust it a little more. The rules of thumb you see on other sites about how your knee when bent at so-and-so many degrees should be 1.6 cm forward of the midpoint of the etcetera are useless and foolish, in my opinion, so just find a position you like. Peter White has a helpful approach to this problem on his website too.
Fix it More?
Does sliding the seat forward improve things but not enough? Try flipping the seat clamp around. Often the seat post tube goes in front of the clamp bolt, and by turning the clamp over, reinstalling it backwards, or twisting the seat post around the other way, you can move the seat even further forward. This is often needed on Brooks saddles, which have very little adjustment in their notoriously short rails. With old, standard seat clamps you take the seat off, twist the loop of the clamp from the front to the back, and put it back. On less-old ones there might be a lip blocking the top of that loop, so you take the clamp off the seat and put it back on the other way. On a modern seatpost with integrated clamp you can flip the whole post around and install the seat "backwards".
|These seats are really far forward to compensate|
for the bottom bracket and crank position
that permit good folding
If even that isn't enough you can get an extension for the clamp, a 2 or 3 inch piece that makes the seat post into an upside down letter "L". Early Bakfiets used to use them (to make the angle slacker, but they tended to break), and Brompton still makes them I think. They are probably a special order item but any bike shop should be able to get them. Point the extension forward. Or you can look for a BMX style bent seat post and point it the wrong way, toward the front. Then a regular seat post clamp can be used with the loop pointing down. If you need to do this to be comfortable you may find it worthwhile to look at a different bike.
Now Go Ride
You might not need to do everything in this post, but if you find that little ramp up and over the highway to be a big problem on your city bike or Bakfiets, moving the seat forward can really help. You can also level the seat out and stop leaning forward so much, taking weight off your numb hands or private parts, by doing this. Go ride around and fiddle with it a little more until your bike is as comfortable as you can make it - it's almost certainly going to be better than it was when you started.