One of the most critical measurements to consider when buying a recumbent is the bikes seat height. Unfortunately, because seat designs vary and no manufacturer seems to measure seat heights from the same spot, it’s hard to really know what bike may fit you best based on the published specifications.
In an effort to shed some light on the subject, and show how BACCHETTA measures seats, we invested a little time in PhotoShop to create some composite pictures help clear things up. Just so you know, all the bikes used to create these composite pictures, the RANS V-Rex, Volae Tour and Bacchetta Giro-20, have mesh back seats with a foam base and the same size wheel set. Tire sizes varied a little from model to model but not enough to significantly affect what we are trying to demonstrate.
At BACCHETTA we measure our Re-curve seat from the front edge of the seat pan and add a half inch for the compressed foam. (indicated by the white line in photo #2) To us, this is the most effective spot to measure from because its the highest point on the seat that impedes your leg from touching the ground. (the RED line indicates this same point on the other two bike seats) Also, our seat height measurements are taken with the seat in the center of its adjustment range on the frame and with the recline adjusted to its mid range, so the seat height will change when adjusted for individual riders. Just something to keep in mind when looking at the pictures.
Now, to get a reference point for our comparisons we used the published bottom bracket (BB) height on the RANS V-Rex, which is 25 inches, and is a very easy point to measure accurately. We then drew a line that ran parallel to ground from the center of their BB back to the rear wheel. Since a 559 wheel with a 1.5 inch tire is roughly 25 inches tall the BB reference line we drew appears to be fairly accurate. The published seat height range for a V-Rex is 22.5 to 23.75 inches, the Volae lists the Tour as 25 inches and the Giro-20 is 24 inches. The composite photos show that the Tour and Giro seats seem reasonably close to their published numbers. But if you believe that our BB reference line is correct than its hard to reconcile the published seat height numbers for the V-Rex.
Like we said before, there a lot of variables here but the pictures clearly show that published seat height numbers are, at best, a ball park figure and that’s what we want folks to keep in mind when considering a bike. If you are looking to purchase a recumbent you should not dismiss a bike out-of-hand based on its published seat height. Only a test ride will truly confirm whether or not a bike fits you properly and we highly recommend test riding any bike you’re considering before making up your mind.
Originally published on bacchettabikes.com on Oct. 7, 2008.