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I have seen a few people do this where their saddle was angled down a bit. Why would someone do that?

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In what circumstance? Are these few people commuters or racers? –  user313 Feb 16 '12 at 22:43
    
1) Because they like it that way. 2) Because the clamp bolt is loose and the seat keeps tilting forward. 3) Because the clamp will only adjust in 15-degree increments. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 17 '12 at 0:19
    
I was recently told it was a roadie thing, that angling the nose down was for sprinting/speed while angling the nose up was for better hill climbing. –  OMG Ponies Feb 17 '12 at 5:02
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In general, I don't know why one would do this. Especially men.

Here's what Sheldon Brown has to say, and I tend to agree: "If the saddle is tilted down in front, the rider will tend to slide forward onto the narrower part of the saddle. Women who are riding on saddles that were designed for men frequently tilt their saddles down. This will relieve some of the discomfort from the saddle itself, but creates new problems: The downward slope of the saddle causes the rider to tend to slide forward, and this can only be counteracted by pressure on the hands. Thus, poorly-angled saddles often are the cause of wrist, shoulder and neck problems, due to carrying too much of the rider's weight on the hands."

Lennard Zinn mentions that a "very slight" tilt in either direction may be optimal for some riders; but no more than ~2 degrees. Basically the same reasons that Sheldon Brown mentions. The downward forward tilt adds pressure on the arms, back, and shoulders due to sliding forward.

You want your "sit bones" to be on the widest part of the saddle. If you slide forward, the pressure will shift from the sit bones to the perineum; and that's probably a bad thing. There are special cases for tilting the saddle nose downward; but for the general rider it's not necessary.

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Sometimes, specially if the saddle is very "aft" in the fore-aft position, you can counteract sliding forward with action on the legs, specially if the bike is meant to ride fast and pedal hard. Sometimes yet, if the handlebar is very low, the very flexion on the torso already relieves some weight from the hands (It's counter-intuitive, but I have the impression I already felt this way on a bike). –  heltonbiker Feb 17 '12 at 12:04
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@heltonbiker - As mentioned: "...special cases for tilting the saddle nose downward, or upward for that matter" and "In general..." Saddle tilt is probably one of the very last items for achieving a good bike fit. –  user313 Feb 23 '12 at 6:09
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I had some saddles that in some bikes were best with a slight tilt down, otherwise they would crush my perineum.

One of my current saddles (Brooks) is tilted nose-up, otherwise it is very uncomfortable because I feel thrown forward.

In the end, I think it depends on:

  • Rider's anatomical shape;
  • Saddle shape (in case of a leather saddle, might change over time);
  • Overall position of the bike (if you put the saddle on different bikes, optimal tilt might vary;
  • Cruise speed of the bike. If you pedal hard, tilt down might be fine. If you pedal slowly and upright, most probably tilt down would be very uncomfortable.
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For time trialing, or other riding where the rider will be in a very aggressive position for extended periods of time, a slight tilt forward can relieve unnecessary pressure on the perineum.

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I tilt the seat down slightly to make it much more comfortable for me to ride, When the seat is horizontal, I find I end up with pain from that narrow part of the seat pressing where it shouldn't. Tilting the seat down means that I am only in contact with the slightly wider part of the seat.

The way I have my bars set up means there is no possibility of sliding forwards on the seat.

While my bike is a road racer, with bars and seat set up accordingly, I use it for commuting - about 35 miles a day.

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I do this as well, tilting the saddle forward a hair so that I have to push up with my legs just a little tiny bit to stay on the saddle. I find this to be a good balance between comfort and discomfort on the delicate areas. –  Neil Fein Mar 17 '12 at 9:33
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