Mountain bike seat height: calculate and adjust

When you go mountain biking, it is very important that the seat is at the right height. You can use different measuring techniques to calculate the seat height. Once you have determined the correct mountain bike seat height, it can be a good idea to write it down somewhere. In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the right seat height for your MTB and why it’s so important.

Why the right mountain bike seat height is important

One of the most important parts of a mountain bike adjustment is the seat. If it is not at the correct height, it can cause unsafe situations or physical complaints. Back and neck complaints in particular can quickly occur if the seat is too high or too low.

If a seat is too high, you will not be able to reach the mountain bike pedals as well, for example. And the seat is too low, you can put less force if you want to climb. The mountain bike seat is very easy to adjust. In many cases you don’t even need a wrench.

mountain bike seat height
You often do not need MTB tools to adjust the height of your mountain bike seat. ©

Seat height MTB vs road bike

The correct seat height for a mountain bike can differ from that of a road bike. This is because you have a different posture while cycling. During a mountain bike ride, for example, it is much more common that you stand on the pedals and do not sit on your seat for long stretches, while this is often the case with a racing bike.

With a mountain bike, the seat is often set a lot lower when you descend a lot (downhill), so that you can stay upright. Are you going to climb right? Then a seat that is a bit higher is better, since it is best to stay on your seat when climbing to maintain grip on the trail.

Some seatposts are equipped with a height indicator. This allows you to easily see the height of the mountain bike seat.

mtb seatpost with height indicator
This seatpost is equipped with a seat height indicator. ©

Calculate mountain bike seat height

Time to calculate the right seat height for your MTB. There are several ways to determine the correct height. Let’s briefly discuss them one by one.

Inseam * 1.09 (109% method)

One of the most reliable ways to determine the correct seat height is the Hamley & Thomas 109% method. This measurement method is very simple and works almost the same as calculating the mountain bike frame size. Here too you have to measure the inseam length.

It is best to measure the inseam length by standing with your feet about 15 centimeters apart and then measuring the distance from the ground to the crotch. Then multiply this length by 1.09. The outcome of this calculation is the correct seat height measured from the pedal at the lowest point in the extension of the seat tube.

MTB seat at hip height

The easiest method to determine seat height is hip height. This method is also often used for normal bicycles. It works very simply:

  • Stand next to your mountain bike
  • Loosen the mountain bike seatpost and reattach the seat at hip height
  • Sit on the seat and press the pedal all the way down
  • Can this be done without overstretching your leg, then this is also a suitable seat height (keep about a knee angle of 10 degrees)

It is strongly recommended to cycle another round and experience whether this altitude is a good bike ride. Afterwards you can adjust the seat a little lower or higher for an optimal height.

Frequently asked questions about the correct seat height MTB

Why is the seat height for a mountain bike so important?

A seat that is too high or too low can cause physical complaints. But not only that: an incorrect seat height can also lead to unsafe situations, because you can lose control of your MTB faster, for example.

How can I calculate and determine the correct seat height?

There are many different methods to find the best mountain bike seat height. At the bottom there is never one right way: it is extremely personal and it will therefore always have to be determined per person. You can start with the 109% method. With this you measure your inseam length, after which you multiply this by 1.09. The result of this is the distance from the seat to the pedal in the lowest position. From here you can raise or lower the seat slightly to fine-tune it personally.

Is there a difference with the MTB seat height and that of a racing bike (cycling bike)?

Yes! With a mountain bike you also have to take into account that you are on your pedals a bit more often. Especially if you’re going to drive downhill a lot. With a racing bike you sit much more on your seat and the pedal efficiency is much more important.

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