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Becoming a heel down pedaler means lower saddle height ?

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Becoming a heel down pedaler means lower saddle height ?

Old 01-17-20, 06:14 AM
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jambon
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Becoming a heel down pedaler means lower saddle height ?

What are you thoughts on this , is it possible to get away with a lower saddle height by changing pedal technique? The article linked below suggests you coukd drop a saddle by up to 4cm if you pedal heel down .


https://source-e.net/rider-resources/bike-fitting-toe-pointer-versus-heel-driver/
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Old 01-17-20, 07:35 AM
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If crank arms are 170 mm, then the total leg travel has to be 340 mm. This amount of travel is the same whether toe down or heel down. This amount of leg travel from a toe down position means the legs don't have to be raised as high and this may be helpful in the case of an aero belly. Consequently the quantity of beer consumption of a particular cyclist my well be the key parameter.
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Old 01-17-20, 08:40 AM
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The article isn't implying that you can train yourself to pedal heels down, and therefore lower your saddle. What is stated is that a "heel driver" has a saddle height 3-4cm lower than a "toe pointer" generally speaking, because of the angle of their foot at the back of the pedal stroke.

I don't really concentrate on the location of my heels while pedaling. For me, so long as the knees don't hurt, the saddle is at the right height.
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Old 01-20-20, 06:42 PM
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I think 4cm change would imply really big feet. You say "get away with." Why do you want to change your saddle height? Which comes first, chicken or egg, heel-down or saddle height? What's the objective?

When I ride, I concentrate on the feel of my heels throughout the pedal stroke. I like to constantly feel the contact of my heel with the heel cup of my shoe. Thus I relax my ankles to promote that. However, trying to relax one's ankles doesn't mean that they don't do anything. Our bipedal heritage insures that we automatically contract our calves to maintain pressure on the pedals when we push down with our legs.

At the top of the stroke I try to lift my toes so that it seems like I'm going over the top of the stroke with heels down although video will show they aren't really "down" just at a more acute angle w/r to my lower leg. Then I push forward, but more with my heel than my toe and on the downstroke continue to maintain contact with the heel cup. Then at the bottom of the stroke, I pull back with the heel cup, then on the backstroke attempt to lift my leg some but again maintaining contact with the heel cup, the relaxed ankles allowing the toe to drop until I need to flex it up again at 11 o'clock.

So that's how one pedals "heels down." To set saddle height, simply use the heel-on-pedal method, which is described on many fitting websites. Google and look at a few different explanations. After you use that method to set saddle height, you may need to play around with it a little, up to 5mm one way or the other, to get what feels like good power during the pull-back phase at the bottom.
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Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 01-20-20 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 01-21-20, 11:57 AM
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Sounds like OP is concerned with aesthetics? Set the seat height based on your proportions and riding style (includes pedal stroke).
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Old 01-21-20, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I think 4cm change would imply really big feet. You say "get away with." Why do you want to change your saddle height? Which comes first, chicken or egg, heel-down or saddle height? What's the objective?

When I ride, I concentrate on the feel of my heels throughout the pedal stroke. I like to constantly feel the contact of my heel with the heel cup of my shoe. Thus I relax my ankles to promote that. However, trying to relax one's ankles doesn't mean that they don't do anything. Our bipedal heritage insures that we automatically contract our calves to maintain pressure on the pedals when we push down with our legs.

At the top of the stroke I try to lift my toes so that it seems like I'm going over the top of the stroke with heels down although video will show they aren't really "down" just at a more acute angle w/r to my lower leg. Then I push forward, but more with my heel than my toe and on the downstroke continue to maintain contact with the heel cup. Then at the bottom of the stroke, I pull back with the heel cup, then on the backstroke attempt to lift my leg some but again maintaining contact with the heel cup, the relaxed ankles allowing the toe to drop until I need to flex it up again at 11 o'clock.

So that's how one pedals "heels down." To set saddle height, simply use the heel-on-pedal method, which is described on many fitting websites. Google and look at a few different explanations. After you use that method to set saddle height, you may need to play around with it a little, up to 5mm one way or the other, to get what feels like good power during the pull-back phase at the bottom.
Oh Carbonfiberboy, thou art truly wise in the ways of cycling biomechanics and pedal stroke. In this connection, I want to bring to the attention of the American people and you a truly fascinating article I came across by Steve Hogg (the most knowledgeable source of information I have found on bike fitting) which has a lot to say about feet position in cycling. The argument is long and not easily summarized, but there are two points relevant to this discussion. The first is that while riding a bike “no one knows what their feet are doing.” As with walking and running, the biomechanics of efficient pedaling—the order, timing, and duration of the on-and-off firing of the many muscles involved in a pedal stroke—is so extremely complex that it can only be accomplished unconsciously, controlled by muscle memory, by the cerebellum. That is why it is so very difficult to program a robot to walk with a natural human gait, why it takes toddler many years to learn how to walk naturally.

The second point is that this unconscious process requires feedback mechanisms to signal when various extensors and flexors should turn on and off, and for pedaling, Hogg argues, the most important feedback source is located in the plantar fascia in the arch of the foot. To maintain this feedback mechanism, Hogg concludes, the arch of the foot needs to be in contact with the shoe insole, and he estimates that 97% or 98% of cyclists need arch supports for this reason alone.

I find his argument very persuasive. I came across this article when I finally decided to heed the advice of three successive bike fitters and fully address my shoe-pedal-foot interface issues, which related to knee pain. With high-arch inserts, varus tilt support, and heel wedges, not only is my knee pain is gone, but my pedal stroke is noticeably smoother, more efficient, even at higher cadences than I had been used to.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...-arch-support/
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Old 01-21-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Moishe View Post
<snip>I find his argument very persuasive. I came across this article when I finally decided to heed the advice of three successive bike fitters and fully address my shoe-pedal-foot interface issues, which related to knee pain. With high-arch inserts, varus tilt support, and heel wedges, not only is my knee pain is gone, but my pedal stroke is noticeably smoother, more efficient, even at higher cadences than I had been used to.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...-arch-support/
Hogg doesn't mention the involvement of our basal ganglia. They can learn exactly what and when to file when we give them a general signal to act, that is, they are programmable by us rather than being preprogrammed. Children learn to walk, etc. Thus as Hogg intimates, we can use the sensory apparatus in our feet to consciously reprogram our muscles. Everyone knows this and every sport teaches this, except maybe cycling. I can still remember the first time I pedaled three "perfect" pedal strokes in a row. Running mechanics can be improved, swimming mechanics the same, but not cycling mechanics, oh no. I think that's because cycling is classed as a "non-technical" sport, meaning it's stupid simple. Or at least it seems so.

One can modify one's unconscious pedal stroke through conscious action, but it takes a lot of practice, just like tennis or playing the guitar. What is it, 10,000 hours?

If anyone wants to really get off into the weeds on this, here's something to attempt to read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5374212/

Basically, this learning, like most learning, is reward-based. Correct action must have some sort of reward for it to be selected for and then wired in.
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Old 01-21-20, 06:32 PM
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Beautiful, oh my brother in geezer road cycling! Your observation evokes for me that great line from “The New Breed” by Donald Fagen: “You're right, he really knows his ****.” [scheisse]
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Old 01-21-20, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Moishe View Post
Beautiful, oh my brother in geezer road cycling! Your observation evokes for me that great line from “The New Breed” by Donald Fagen: “You're right, he really knows his ****.” [scheisse]
Oy! My cup runneth over.
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Old 01-21-20, 10:25 PM
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jambon, why do you want your seat lower? (Simple question, Not saying that's wrong, just curious.) Lower seats do have advantages. I know. I've ridden decades with high seats. The asphalt is a long ways away and when I hit it, I hit it hard. I have to tip most of my bikes to put my foot down flat at lights. Cycle Oregon used to have a competition to see who could ride under the lowest barrier. I can imagine a competition where riders both race and have to pick up objects off the road while riding. Having both power and a low seat would be a huge advantage.

In general, as a racer, I suspect our natural pedal stroke is probably a good starting point for most of us. But at the same time, I know there are many exceptions to any given aspect of form. When I was racing 40 years ago, Jacque Anquetil and another racer of the '50s and 60s were frequently cited as radically different pedaling styles that worked very well.
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Old 01-22-20, 07:54 AM
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If you can pull it off, it can mean a bit of a "gain" in hip angle. You can open hip angle with shorter cranks, more stack, etc.... After all the fit coords are maxed out, your last option is that pedaling technique. In theory it opens up the hip angle at the top of power application.

To me, that last little bit probably isn't necessary if you train often enough in the TT position anyway unless your position is really really extreme.

For generic riding or something I'd never worry about it.
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