Basil, Bored

Poor Basil’s been languishing.  Due to an unfortunate decision I made, some travel, and other complications, I’ve only taken very short rides with him during the past weeks.

Just before going to this year’s US Brompton National Championship, I’d been thinking about raising my seat post height so that my leg would be more fully extended — but not completely extended — while peddling.   I like not having to dismount when stopping, but I decided that I wanted to see if I could gain some more cycling power by adding some leg extension.

Wisely, I didn’t make this change right before the Brompton weekend.  Instead, I focused on teaching myself to dismount when stopping Basil.  I actually don’t like the full stop/dismount process, but learning to do it went well.  All for the greater good, after all.

Unwisely, I came back from the BNC, hopped on Basil the next morning, raised the seat post and then blithely set off on a twenty-mile ride with Dr. Diarist.  It was a lovely ride, and, though it was unclear that my Garmin agreed, I seemed to be riding faster and with greater ease.  That was thrilling!

The aftermath was less so:  Though I felt no pain at all during the ride, I came home with saddle sores.  Not minor saddle sores, either.  Also plenty of pain.


I had cleverly used twine to mark the right post height, once I’d found it.  Then I less-brilliantly failed to adjust the previously perfect angle of the seat to fit the new geometry.

When I first got Basil, it took at least ten attempts before I found the saddle height and angle that worked best for me.  Once those metrics were set, the result was a very comfortable ride.  A year and a half later,  I’m not exactly sure why I thought I’d get such a relatively major change accomplished in only one go .  .  .

TL;DR: Made a major adjustment to my Brompton, rode for twenty miles, suffered the consequences for nearly two weeks.

Don’t do that.  When making changes, pessimism isn’t called for, but judicious testing is.  Lesson learned — at least until next time.

10 replies on “Basil, Bored”

Welcome back, and OUCH! Saddle sores are horrid. Sending good wishes for rapid healing.

Well well, I feel a significant void in my life has been refilled, at least for now; unfortunately, I am saddened, tho most likely not as much as you, with the temporary demise of an oh so important and oft used area of your body.

It should noted that raising the seat is does not occur at 90 degree angle to horizontal. As you raise the seat, it is also moving rearward…a carefully chosen word. Therefore, your feet are no longer positioned the same in relation to your knee cap, and lo and behold the distance to the handle bars is slightly longer and higher. These can result in knee pain and hand discomfort, not previously experienced. Of course, we are talking a game of millimeters here.

The seat should also be horizontal, or slightly down…I think.

If I remember correctly, the proper knee bend is 28 degrees with pedal at 6 o clock, but this assumes proper seat position, up and down and fore and aft, proper leg position and foot properly in pedal…or with leg straight your heel should just touch pedal in 6 oclock.

This has not been a fun time, that’s for sure!

Thanks for the excellent information, Saul — it’s really helpful. The millimeters are proving elusive, but I’ll get it, and once it’s done, as before, all will be good again. Basil and I are both annoyed at this disruption of our usual life together, though. Bah!

You might want to consider a more comfortable saddle. I broke-in a Brooks and was very comfortable – in fact too comfy for city commuting. There are many choices out there. But your original premise is correct to gain more power from your legs by raising the saddle.

Hi, Harry — I must be the only person in the world who really loved the stock Brompton saddle, so I’m hoping it will continue to work for me once I’ve figured out the right settings.

It was a good thing, too, because using the hand grip under the saddle is the only way I’ve been able to lift Basil comfortably. However, he’s got a handle on the frame now, and that will allow me to look at other saddle options if I need to.

A Brooks is definitely a possibility if something different is called for. I have a lot of trouble with the idea that a Brooks could be truly right for 20 mile/32 km + rides, even though that seems to be a near-universal sentiment. And “too comfy for city commuting” — wow! This bears investigating, for sure.

Ouch!… (as said earlier). Best wishes in finding this very personal & unique critical saddle setting. I could make suggestions as to what works for me but I will refrain (& save you any more pain when/if you discover it doesn’t work for you). BTW, bit unfair about that TL;DR – at times, hearing about pain can be fun & may offer all sorts of opportunity for comments?

I’m tempted, Ian, to say that I’m sorry for not I having exploited the more explict aspects of my present circumstances for greater entertainment value, but I’m afraid my apologies would be completely insincere! I shall have to take my chances with the comments, and console myself by noting that this way, at least, I retain a shred of dignity!

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