Seatpost height hall of shame

Thanks to the elder Furbee for linking to this classic Lars and Bars hall of shame photo.

Also Eric Porter has the slammed seatpost of shame in his recent bike check on Vital.

Bonus hall of shame points for Porter for clamping his dropper post by the stanchion.

A lot of people in the comments didn’t like my suggestion that having your dropper seatpost slammed *probably* means your bike is poorly set up or poorly fitted for you. I suspect that’s because a lot of people have their bike poorly set up or poorly fitted and they don’t like hearing about it.

The complaints all came in one of these three flavors:

1. My frame fits perfectly, bro. How do you know my post isn’t at exactly the right height when the dropper is slammed?

How do I know it doesn’t fit perfectly? Because it doesn’t. Seat height is a tricky thing, and it’s a game of millimeters. Pro road and XC guys sometimes obsess over seat height down to thousandths of an inch. Obviously long travel full suspension bikes don’t require or allow that level of precision because the geometry changes as the bike cycles through travel, but dialing in seat height is still awful finicky.  Perfect seat height is really hard to find, and even when you find it, it can still change due to a myriad of factors. Sometimes you run the same seat height forever only to discover that your body has changed, necessitating a change in seat height. Sometimes you change your sag or compression settings on your rear shock, and that throws off your seat height. Sometimes you realize that you just had the wrong seat height in the first place because you’re an idiot. Personally, I struggle with that last one a lot.

In all of those scenarios, you might want to change your seat height. If your seatpost was already slammed, you can’t move it down. What I’m saying is: that sucks.

2. Anonymous asked “So if I want to put a 150mm drop Reverb on a frame where the original 125mm had over an inch clearance above collar I should buy a smaller frame?”

I can’t believe I have to spell this out, but here’s some quick math to help you out, Anonymous:

  More than an inch
– an inch
————————
More than zero inches

So, no, you shouldn’t need to buy a new frame, and sorry, this article clearly had nothing to do with you and your non-problem. If you have more than an inch of post showing with a 125mm dropper, and you put a 150mm dropper on there with the same dimensions and run the same seat height (aka 1 inch longer), you will still have seatpost showing above the collar. That would be the sort of situation where you might say:

“Wow, that seatpost barely fits, didn’t I get lucky? Judging by the fact that I still have some room to adjust, I am confident that I made the right decision for this bike, my riding needs, and my body dimensions. Boy I’m glad I made a smart decision.” 

This would be in contrast to the alternative position that I highlighted in my recent blog post “Seatpost height,” which goes something like this:

“When I attempt to put my seat at the correct position for proper leg extension, it leaves me no room for adjustment and fine tuning. Judging by the fact that I have no room for even minor adjustments, clearly this frame and seatpost combination is not correct for my riding needs and body dimensions. Bummer.”

Now if you have less than an inch of post showing and you want to upgrade to a 150mm dropper, you’re screwed. Either you have to settle for the wrong seat height, you have to buy a different frame or if you’re really sketchy maybe face down your seattube until it’s short enough, or you have to just deal with your 125mm post. What I’m saying is: that sucks.

3. I have a long torso, and if I buy the frame with the right reach length I have to run my post as low as it will go.

That would either mean your frame doesn’t fit you, or you’re running a bigger dropper post than you can get away with, or both. AKA the whole point of the article.

  • If you have to run a bike with a toptube that’s too short in order to get proper leg extension, that bike doesn’t fit you.
  • Conversely, if you have to run a bike where you can’t get proper leg extension in order to get the proper top tube length, that bike doesn’t fit you.
  • Germans love David Hasselhoff.
  • And Richie Schley.

Either way, that’s a poorly fitting bike for your body dimensions. And the point of the article is that I can see from a mile away that your bike doesn’t fit you when I look at your stupid dropper post that’s slammed in the stupid seattube. What I’m saying is: that sucks.

Go to a mountain bike demo, any mountain bike demo, and watch the guys working the van try to size people on modern mountain bikes with dropper posts. There’s not a single day that goes by where some tall gangly bastard says “I can’t get this dropper post high enough for proper leg extension, I’m running it above the minimum insertion line” or some tiny dwarf midget says “I can’t get this dropper post low enough for proper leg extension, it’s slammed and it’s still not low enough.” That’s true if it’s a Santa Cruz demo, an Ibis demo, a Diamondback demo, or a Specialized demo.

There is simply not a sufficient range of adjustment for modern mountain bikes with dropper posts. Sure, before dropper posts every once in a blue moon some tall guy needed a 400mm Thomson post so he could put his seat in the sky, but more often than not that was to eek out proper seat height on a frame that was too small in the first place. In contrast, I’ve never seen a shop run out of room to adjust a seat low enough on a frame that fit in every other dimension. This is a new problem since the advent of dropper posts, and it’s a common problem. Is that even arguable?

What I’m saying is: that sucks.

It’s like when I see 5’5″ women like Emily Batty on 29er’s with massively negative rise stems: that bike doesn’t really fit you. It’s a problem.

Watch how many hits this article gets on google now because it has a picture of Emily Batty.

21 thoughts on “Seatpost height hall of shame

  1. negative rise stems on a mountain bike just scream “I have no business riding in the dirt!!!”

  2. Dear Anonomys guy. Yes. Charlie runs a Bussworks, many, many spacers to make a big bike bigger. This is an opposite problem to the Batty scenario. What I'm trying to say is. Bikes that are too small are a bummer.

    (All credit for saying “the bummer” goes to Team Robot)

  3. Let's skip the Anonomys part and get right to the meat of your argument:

    “Charlie runs a Bussworks, many, many spacers to make a big bike bigger”

    I believe you are referencing the Buzzworks headset that was created to make bikes that don't fit in the first place, well, fit. It seems the irony is lost on you.

    “Bikes that are too small are a bummer”

    Charlie's bike is too small. Too small of a bike is a bummer. Charlie's bike is a bummer. The logic is sound.

    Since you're such a connoisseur on bike fit, let's take this one step further.

    As a former Diamondback rider, in “pro” or development capacities, I feel that some of the bike fit issues that the Mission frame exhibits have you to partly blame for. At some point it was your duty to inform the designers about the reach issues that Mike Kazimer points out so eloquently in this article: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/first-ride-diamondback-mission-275-2014.html

    You can probably see where I'm going with this. A rider looking to buy this bike, one that you should have done more to make it relevant to today's riding needs, has to move up to the next size frame to get the proper reach and is stuck with a longer seat tube.

    Woe them now since they will have to slam their dropper post.

    The irony of the issue that you had a hand in creating and are berating here is not lost on me.

  4. Ben and I have talked ad nauseum about how small our downhill bikes are. We are both dissatisfied with our XL sized frames. Wheelbases and reach lengths have both grown substantially in the past few years for riders under 6'2″, but for us tall guys the only properly fitting downhill bike to choose from in MY14 was the GT Fury. I had the chance to buy my own DH bike this year, and I chose the V10 because I preferred its suspension design to that of the Fury, despite my sizing concerns. The too small size drove me crazy for most of the year, until Chris King hooked me up with a Buzzworks headset. Guess what? The bike still doesn't fit, it just fits less bad now and I don't think about it as much. I will be keeping the Buzzworks headset, because I suspect my next downhill frame probably won't fit either. If you want me to say this whole situation sucks, I will. I am “a connoisseur of bike fit,” and this whole situation sucks.

    As for Diamondback, I gave them my feedback on MY12, 13, and 14 bikes. I informed the designers of my thoughts on bike sizing, and I am no longer working with Diamondback. Please take your MY15 Diamondback bike sizing concerns elsewhere.

  5. I'm totally on your side when it comes to squids setting up their bikes, or even using the wrong size frame. I also loathe it when people drop their posts down too far, because you never need to do that…ever.

    But not all bikes should be painted with the same brush. For example, some mediums have a taller seat tube than other mediums, and so on. What it looks like in these photos are people using posts with too much drop.

    I have a 5″ drop on my post with about an inch of base showing (not including the collar/seal area). If I had a 6″ drop post I would have a post that was too high, even with the collar slammed.

    Its not complicated.

  6. Damn I spelled Buzzworks incorrectly. My entire reputation is ruined as an internet comment section of a slightly ammusing and mostly ill informed but oh so lovable mountain bike blog.

  7. If you think you only need 4″ of drop on your dropper post that means you live somewhere flat or you are a sissy who doesn't ride steep trails.

    Most bikes do not accommodate a wide range of riders that could all run a 5″ (or more) dropper post so the situation often does suck.

    Less interruption of the seat tube and lower seat post collar's on all frame sizes would help but we also need a wider range of post lengths so the tall guys can get their seat high enough. I can't think of an easy fix-all solution, so yeah it sucks and we should all just ride road bikes.

    http://m.youtube.com/results?q=early%2090's%20courier%20cycling%20through%20London&sm=3

  8. If you ride with proper technique you don't need to drop your seat all the way down. Look at any WC level dh'er, their seats are pretty high relative to their cranks. Its not like I cut my teeth training laps on Cypress or anything.

  9. I mostly agree, at least I think I do. It's unlikely that a slammed post is exactly the right height, so you probably are compromising something there unless it actually is the exact height. I'm not sure about how important those millimeters really are though.

    Bike size is a problem here, but I think the big issue is with people thinking they need much longer post travel than they really do. If your post is slammed, do you ever drop the post all the way? I hope not.

    I don't think it's wrong to say that anyone on a S or M frame doesn't need a five inch dropper.

  10. Emily Batty is 5'1″ on a good day. No her bike does not fit her, but she insists on riding a 29er. She wants to win races or something.

  11. Most, if not all, bike sizing is rubbish. And that means that most, if not all, people ride the wrong sized bike, regardless of post length, or stem length, or bar width, or spd or flat pedals. If only the industry would wake up and offer us custom sized everything, surely it wouldn't be THAT expensive.(Half a million different sized moulds for one bike frame?) Imagine the monstrosities we could all laugh at when Joe Blogs has chosen the wrong size, yet again.

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