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I got my first road bike (and found I favor endurance riding position), and I can't figure out if I'm positioned well in the saddle. It's as far aft as it goes, but I still feel like I'm falling forward a bit and putting pressure on my hands. I don't know how much pressure and reaching forward is ideal. I've heard varying advice, like that I should be able to lift my hands a few millimeters off the hoods and still feel balanced, or that I should feel balanced when I'm in my riding-the-hoods position then put my hands behind my hips*. What's the recommendation for best stability? If I were to make an adjustment, it would be either a new saddle with longer rails, or a shorter stem (but I already swapped out my 105mm stem for an 80mm, and I'm concerned any shorter will throw off the handling). What's the general consensus - Should I feel completely balanced in the saddle, or is a little forward pressure normal?

General fit notes: My seat height and leg bend are good, my saddle is already tilted a few degrees nose-up (any more and I'd slide right off the back), the angle of my handlebars and position of the hoods on the bars is good, my KOPS is good, visually speaking the front hub is obscured by the bars, and my hips are as far back on the saddle and rotated as forward as possible without crushing any sensitive bits. I'd rather avoid a professional bike fit, since I'm poor and buying a new stem/saddle won't be cheap.

*Scroll to the section on "COG." And I'm trying to picture this hands-back position... like Naruto running, I suppose?

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    Note that those methods where you unweight your hands require that you put a fairly decent torque through your cranks. When going easy your leg will not push down with enough force on the leading pedal to cantilever your upper torso up. (You also need enough core strength.) – gschenk Apr 18 at 1:31
  • What bike do you have, what size bike and what height/inseam are you, and do you have any spacers above/below the stem? Hand pressure is probably affected more by raising/lowering the bars than moving them backwards and forwards. – Wilskt Apr 18 at 8:12
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Should I feel completely balanced in the saddle, or is a little forward pressure normal?

There should be some weight on your hands when riding. Not too much of course, but your setup is already slid back as far as it can reasonably be (saddle aft, 80mm stem), and chasing some abstract notion of fit when you're already at the extreme end of adjustments doesn't make much sense.

What's completely missing from your post: what happens when you actually ride the bike? Is there any specific problem? If not, just ride. And maybe think about neutralizing your adjustments a bit as an experiment--if you put the saddle 1cm forward of max-aft, does the bike become uncomfortable?

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  • "I still feel like I'm falling forward a bit and putting pressure on my hands." It's uncomfortable because I feel either stretched or falling forward. – ETL Apr 18 at 17:27
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This is one of the gold standards of setting saddle fore/aft position, note there are other viewpoints though: https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/05/seat-set-back-for-road-bikes/

As someone else commented, to achieve the balance point talked about in that article you need to be putting some force into the pedals, and it's pointless setting your saddle at your 30mph pace if most of your riding is at 18mph.

Note that saddle position should be set independently of handlebar position - once you've set your saddle you could raise or lower your bars to give you whatever weight on the hands that you wanted. If you're not full-out sprinting in the drops then there's not really any point in having super low bars.

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  • Concur - the BB axle is fixed, and everything else comes from that one datum. – Criggie Apr 18 at 8:31
  • I kind of doubt the balance point argument. Why is it desirable to have (almost) no pressure on the hands (as long as your hands and shoulders are fine)? Shouldn’t a more forward position improve your power output and reduce forces on the patella tendon? In an extremely aft position you are more or less in the hardest part of a squat. – Michael Apr 18 at 10:12
  • I don't know exactly, but the article in the link isn't advocating for an extreme aft position, it actually guides you towards the furthest forward position that you can maintain that balance. I think it's to do with the optimum force produced by your muscles going through the pedals. Note that once you've found that balance point you could have low bars to lessen the weight on your hands and increase the load on the back, or higher bars for vice versa. It really is about the legs and back, not the hands. – Wilskt Apr 18 at 12:26
  • In the first sentence, This is one of the gold standards of setting saddle fore/aft position - I assume you are referring to putting the knee over the pedal spindle? – Weiwen Ng Apr 18 at 13:23
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    Nope, the balance position advocated by the article - I see Steve Hogg referenced in lots of places. KOPS is an approximation by flawed reasoning at best. – Wilskt Apr 18 at 13:40

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