Not So Fast: How Dropper Posts Created Steep Seat Tube Angles

Nov 8, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  
Mojo Nicolai GeoMetron
Nicolai's GeoMetron helped pioneer today's steep seat angle trend.

Hindsight is 20/20, they say. Mountain bike geometry has taken a big leap forward in less than five years. One of those improvements - steep seat tube angles - has inspired much ridicule about old-school mountain bike designs. "How did anyone ride those things?" Compare the performance of a modern trail bike to any vanguard design from or before the year 2000 and you might believe an alien race had recently intervened to alter the course of our sport.

Pole Machine review
Pole Machine: With the saddle never too far from the rider's standing position, climbing ergonomics and weight transfer feel spot on.

Spend a day climbing on a bike with a 76- or 77-degree seat tube angle and you'd wonder how anyone managed that task with anything slacker. How could early bike designers miss something so obvious? To discover the answer to that question, one need only perform the following test:

Roll up to a steep, challenging descent aboard your Pole Machine. Extend its 170-millimeter dropper post all the way to the top and give it a go. I'll take a risk here and say you'll completely understand the remainder of this article in less than 20 meters. With the seatpost fully extended, the steep-angled seat tube positions your saddle exactly where your body needs to hover. Nearly every effort to control the bike is impeded by the saddle's location.

Pole Machine review
Pole's Machine demonstrates, even at full drop, the saddle and rider compete for the same real estate while riding techy trails.

Turns out that you can't have a steep seat tube angle without a proper dropper seatpost. First, steep seat tube angles position the saddle much taller over the bike - awkward! Further hindering the rider is the fact that the difference between your seated and standing position over the saddle narrows dramatically as the angle arcs upward as it nears vertical. If you haven't put two and two together, it was the widespread acceptance of the dropper seatpost that made steep seat tube angles possible.

Liteville 301 MK10 and RC in Sedona 2
It's been a while since I've high-posted a drop (or ridden 26" wheels), but this shot from 2012 illustrates how we did it before the dropper revolution.

Before the dropper post was included in the mountain bike equation, slacker seat tube angles offered a mechanical solution. For the same leg length, the slack seat angle's saddle sits significantly lower over the bike. When the rider stands to descend, the forward and upward movement away from the seat creates three to five inches of free space for maneuvering the bike. Without a dropper post (or an Allen wrench in hand to manually lower it), 74 degrees was the upper limit for seat angles before the saddle's position at
full extension became a serious handicap on the downs. The old-school, 73-degree seat tube angle offered a compromise between climbing and descending when dropper technology was not available.

So you have the Gravity Dropper, not modern frame designers or an alien master race, to thank for steep seat tube angles and the wonderfully improved climbing performance this simple improvement has bestowed upon today's trail bikes.

Gravity Dropper Turbo rebuild
Mike Levy photo





225 Comments

  • 201 8
 Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like that Liteville RC is riding does have a dropper.
  • 283 5
 he's 115 this year. give him a break
  • 279 2
 It's probably another broken Reverb.
  • 59 4
 Looks like it's extended too, as described below the photo. Which was the point of the photo. I think.
  • 25 1
 Is it only a dropper if you drop it???
  • 196 3
 @bde1024: Demonstration purposes only, mate. @makripper: Actually, 116 and a half.
  • 50 0
 Yet younger at heart than a lot of us!! Keep at it RC!
  • 27 42
flag trailtap (Nov 7, 2019 at 13:00) (Below Threshold)
 @noapathy: LOL. REVERBS and Sram brakes worthless rubbish
  • 15 2
 It's a reverb so it doesn't count Wink
  • 10 0
 @makripper: I hear his knees are made of loam, actually where the term originated.
  • 13 3
 @makripper: and he still faster than you
  • 4 1
 You are wrong , in that you didn't read the caption carefully enough.
  • 4 0
 Still trying to pull a superman seatgrab then drop it like its hot.
  • 4 0
 @DGWW: You sir are correct!
@bde1024 The caption says "illustrates". That means it shows a demonstration, not necessarily the actual use. I bet @RichardCunningham is well aware how to use a dropper... even at his age. ;-)
  • 2 8
flag softsteel (Nov 8, 2019 at 5:12) (Below Threshold)
 Yes indeed. Pink Bike couldn`t find a worst illustration. uncredible...
  • 2 0
 @RichardCunningham: No offense intended, I'm a big fan. I appreciate you calling me "mate" and not "bro". And if you're 116 and a half, that probably makes me about 125.
  • 1 0
 @bde1024: in reality I think hes 86ish.
  • 84 7
 Still a crappy solution, but there was something between carrying an allen key and droppers: The QR seatpost binder. It required stopping and fussing about, but that's how we lowered the seat relatively quickly way back when.
  • 11 7
 I still use them with my droppers to control torque and ease of use for other riders to use.
  • 13 1
 @madmon: Same, but for a different reason: 150mm is enough for trail rides, but for bikepark laps a bit more room is nice. With a small bikepark 5 minutes away, I don't want to have to carry a tool every time.
  • 23 42
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 7, 2019 at 12:38) (Below Threshold)
 The proponents of long droppers miss a thing or two. Yes you can have too much of too good. The equation is simple. The longer the travel of your bike, the bigger the wheels, the shorter the dropper you can have. If you have a 160mm bike and your saddle doesn't stop 160mm above the rear tyre of non Sagged bike.. then hello! yes you do not always bottom out your suspension with your ass right above the rear tyre,but your bike does lean forward on steeps bringing the rear tyre closer to your butt. Anyone who has ridden 29" HTs on proper steeps knows that. Their ass knows. If it doesn't try harder. When you do realize that imagine this will easily move 100mm higher up. And the worse rider you are with more tendency to hang over the back end, the worse it gets.

Please look at this graphic showing comparison of Remedy with 150 dropper and Session, both in same size: www.pinkbike.com/photo/16210339
Yes downhillers ride with saddles quite high up and they don't moan about it.
  • 24 0
 Way back when?! That's still how I lower the seat on my trail bike....which has 26" wheels Big Grin
  • 18 0
 Yeah, this also caught my attention. Who in their right mind ran a standard post with a non-QR collar, before droppers came along?? Definitely for commuters, road bikes, bmx, dirt jumpers and DH, but not for trail bikes.
  • 1 0
 @NickBosshard: Actually I have to have them in Jamaica for my rental fleet of 6 down country rippers
  • 18 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Umm, not true... DH bikes aside because they are designed with different goals in mind. Any current enduro or trail bike is designed so that a seat post and seat at full drop won't be hit by the wheel at full travel. Not sure about you, but where my saddle is when dropped has zero relation to where I am putting my ass while descending gnarly terrain.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you don’t have to climb a DH bike so your point becomes largely irrelevant.
  • 14 27
flag WAKIdesigns (Nov 7, 2019 at 14:55) (Below Threshold)
 @islandforlife: I am pretty sure you didn’t mean that you basically don’t need a dropper even though you effectively wrote just that. Why would you drop saddle so low then?

DH bikes designed with a different goal? Hey, there’s geometron there and a Pole... i mean... hello. think again, these are short travel DH bikes, they are designed with one and only thing in mind: emulate DH bike handling down the hill. People who actually can ride will even use DH tyres on them. I gave you a juxtaposed picture of session and remedy showing how extremely close these two bikes are, how seat, pedals and bars are located in almost very same place... It’s right there, Jesus Christ... if you can pedal a Pole Machine with DH tyres up a hill, you can also pedal up a Session if you only get normal drivetrain, dropper and lockout on it. Not only that, if that Pole uses a coil shock, and that Session 9.9 has X2...that session is lighter.

There is no such thing as being awake as fuk. Sorry... there’s just denying seeing what is right in front of you
  • 4 3
 @WAKIdesigns: your looking at a pic of two bikes, but when you actually sit on them, the session’s seat angle will get more slack because it’s has more travel to sag into.
  • 7 0
 @WAKIdesigns: why aren’t we seeing DH bikes in the EWS then? Because they’re inefficient when it comes to pedalling back up. You may have unlimited reserves of energy but most of the EWS riders don’t, so they need an efficient bike to be able to get them to the top again. If this means a steeper STA then great.
  • 14 1
 @WAKIdesigns: What the f*ck are you smoking? Those bikes look similar because they're mountain bikes, you could overlay almost any current bike, no matter the style and they would look "similar". Maybe I'm not understanding what you were trying to say... it seems maybe many are misunderstanding you as per the votes.

But at the end of the day... I've had experience with 170 and 200mm droppers on 135 and 160mm travel 29'r trail/enduro bikes with 76 and 77 degree SA's. So for me, slammed droppers are always in a perfect position far away from my body while I'm standing and descending and the rear wheel has never contacted the seat.

I'm not really sure what else you were trying to say?? I will say, yes DH and big enduro bikes definitely blur the lines of purpose... so much so that I don't believe DH bikes really serve much of purpose beyond DH racing anymore. Anyway, take care and have a wonderful evening!
  • 7 0
 I have a friend on an 8-year old Cannondale HT that raises and lowers his saddle while riding with a qr. Pretty impressive.
  • 15 0
 If you squeeze your cheeks you can manage to bring your qr saddle back up to climbing height... with a little practice. ????
  • 1 0
 Amen
  • 2 0
 You only need to fiddle bringing it up dropping is pretty simple on the bike
  • 1 5
flag whambat (Nov 7, 2019 at 20:12) (Below Threshold)
 @mammal: because most QRs sucked. They were hard to get enough pressure to hold the seatpost without sliding or spinning and they often broke. Salsa was one of the few good QR levers. Most others would fail if used often. Allen bolts were just a simpler effective solution.
  • 4 0
 WAKI does bring up a good question. What drives seat tube angles/saddle position on downhill bikes? Tradition? Having a place to sit when in the lift queue? Why isn't the saddle placed more like a dirt jumper or BMX?
  • 9 2
 @dave-f: Because you still use the saddle to control the bike, set your saddle slammed on your DH and you can no longer control the bike between your knees,makes a big difference.
  • 7 9
 @islandforlife: What I am saying is, rear tyre is limiting the available range of movement for your hips hence there is no point to lower the saddle further than the bottom out position of the rear wheel. I don’t care if you ride a dropper with 400mm drop, if the seat goes below the point where rear tyre will contact your bum it makes no sense. I have experience riding with 100-170 droppers. Thank you. At 178cm tall on 160 bike I am fine with 100mm.

@dubod22 I am not saying pro Enduro racers should use DH bikes, I am saying amateurs riding in the mountains are better off using 180-200mm of travel.

@Honduh2000 Modern DH bikes have 0-10mm travel more in the rear than in the front and sag no more than 3% more in the rear than in the front as compared to Enduro bikes. Which leaves us with no more than 1 degree seat angle difference. There is also nothing stopping DH bike design from putting the saddle in exactly same spot as it would be on Enduro bike. As to power generation it’s the other way around. Let’s stopusing the term dh bike all together, A bike with 200mm travel, regular drivetrain, dropper, lock out will pedal up a liason stage just as well as Enduro bike given they use same tyres (which they often do). Racing wise DH bike will pedal worse where the clock is ticking, on the race stages. Efficiency wise tyres play a huge role. There is big, instantly perceivable difference between different tyre types, for instance DHF/SS combo will roll evidently faster than 2 DHFs and defo faster than 2 Magic Maries and that is not un uncommon sight on amateur/pro enduro bikes

@dave-f Dh bikes have seat high up for 2 reasons: rear wheel bum clearance, using seat to control the bike. BMX bikes require utilizing full available range of motion, it is power sport. Small wheels help to. The saddle is there only to not get the frame in your ass. You don’t slide the bike around corners either.
  • 2 3
 @WAKIdesigns: but... But bigger is always better! Because it's more! And more is better! Always...

BTW im 175 and using 100mm dropper so the saddle is at a position I can actually use it to control my bike. And it's never in my way. As on my dh bike I always set the saddle to the highest position where it doesn't bother me when cornering but still can be used as a additional contact point. Can't really lean against a saddle with my knees...
  • 6 8
 @Schlafmutzli: after all most owners of bikes with aggro geos, aggro tire patterns and 140mm of travel or more, use Exo casings so who the hell am I even talking to... Last years Trek Slash came stock with XR4 tyres... that is not even funny anymore. I am capable of destroying Double Downs with insert. The moment I get on DH tyres the bike feels like it has 20mm more travel and 1 degree slacker head tube, it just slices through rough stuff allowing me to look where I want to go. It basically allows me to make conscious line choice. That is why I prefer more travel too. Looking and planning. But if someone looks down and has no idea what on Earth does it mean to place tyres where you want to have them, then what are we even talking about. He may as well buy a 200mm dropper and 120 frame to ride in Squamish for fks sake... cuz 2 plies are heavy on the way uuuup, oooh Ghaaaawd. I will be up there 5 minutes later and my buds will laugh at me, I cannot keep up with them on downs so why do I even care... give me light bike, I live for effective fireroad climbs....
  • 4 0
 @NickBosshard: mtbers that don't carry tools aren't real mtbers.
  • 2 0
 @mhoshal: If I have a problem 5 minutes from my home I can walk 15 minutes and have all the tools I need. No need to carry anything for some quick afterwork laps.
  • 6 0
 @mhoshal: Tools: bring one, don't be one.
  • 4 0
 @whambat: Only if you're running shitty QR collars. There were plenty of quality ones on the market over the years. My sympathies to you sir, having to use an allen key all those years.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Ahh I see what you're saying... thing is, thinking about this.. with my 200mm dropper, the space where my seat was is now usable space. At that same point, my wheel isn't hitting my ass. I just like to get the seat out of the way and have all the space I want to move around. Sure, I've buzzed my ass on my 29 inch wheels a couple times, but no more than when I was on a bike with 140mm of travel with a 125mm dropper than my 160mm bike with a 200mm dropper. I used to think 125mm was enough and it was, then I got a 150 and it was so much better and I thought that was enough, then I used a 170 and it was even better and I thought ok, I'll never need more... then I got a 200 and I thought, see I was right, I definitely don't NEED a 200, but damn it if it isn't even better than my 170. Again, the dropper getting out of the way has very little to no influence on how easily I buzz my ass (very, very, very rare).
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns:

Not sure why he's downvoted he has a point
  • 1 0
 This! Something we all used to do back in the day. Now, even with a dropper, for some steep and/or really long climbs 1+ hours I’ll adjust my seat angle nosed down to match the grade. Inevitably we all stop to rest at the top before the descent so I readjust the angle back to level-ish (slight nose up) or around -4° for really gnarly trails.
  • 3 0
 @islandforlife: if we forget about bike disciplines, the seat position boils down to the range of movement of hips required to perform a certain task. Seated pedal requires virtually no range of movement from the hips. Descending requires more of it. Jumping, pumping even more. That range of movement has its limitations beyond how much do you really need to move your ass to perform a certain action. It is different for rolling/ hopping through a rockgarden, rolling a steep chute (or slab) and definitely different than rolling a BMX track or hopping around urban features on trails bike where you need all of it. Limitations come from the top of rear tyre position and length of your legs. That means that below certain point lowering the seat lower not only does nothing because you cannot utilize this range of movement, but as we now established, rear tyre will hit your ass. If you gave me a 160 bike with 200mm dropper I would buzz the rear tyre with my ass when attempting to bunnyhop, when compressing the tyre. It is interesting to consider hardtails here since they require more range of movement from your body than the full susser, at least if you want to stay smooth. We could even talk about speeds here. XC hardtails require less range of movement because their geometry and tyres don’t allow you to ride fast enough to require as much range of movement as a AM 140 HT would.

Now why should we care... the longer the dropper, the longer has to be the uninterrupted section of seat tube. You can’t just take any bike and say, I want more seat drop. It has profound implications on frame design, meeting other factors like susoension design, desired chainstay length or BB drop. With steeper seat angles and longer straight sections of seat tubes you are inevitably pushing the shock more forward which leads to longer yokes, longer seat stay tubing, longer links which is nit desireable. Mote or less doable depending on the suspension design.

RC has some really weird reasoning there. Steep seat tube with a fixed seat position makes it easier to shift your weight behind the saddle and allows you to keep your hips, COM of your body closer to be above BB. We can all see it on the pic of him rolling the slab. The steep seat angle has nothing to do with droppers I claim... it has to do with climbing steep stuff when seated (if you have to) keeping your com above bb in such cases, instead of inserting the tip of the saddle straight into your bum hole (talking from experience) but it also allows for more comfortable position on a bike with really long reach. Finally it allows for making chainstays shorter on longer travel bikes.

Spesh - bring the Enduro Evo back! 180 front and rear, mullet! Call it Endemo

Cheers!
  • 2 0
 And let's not forget the Hite-Rite! Best low-tech solution of them all.
  • 1 0
 @NickBosshard: that would make sense but I myself travel all over the great country of Canada to ride so I can't just walk into my garage and grab whatever I need. Most of the time I overkill stuff but I have yet to have to walk out of any trail.
  • 1 0
 @mhoshal: On any other ride I normally bring a tool, tireplugs, a pump, a deraillieur hanger and even a shift cable. Basically just all the stuff that I leave in my backpack all the time. Really depends on where and how you're riding on how much makes sense to bring with you.
  • 62 4
 Counterpoint: The saddle being further back with the slack seat tube made it even harder to get behind the saddle when it was called for.

The reason so far as I see it is that mountain bikes and their geometry pulled pretty heavily from late 80s road and touring bikes, thus the 15+ year prevalence of 71 HTA 73 STA and lower reach values. Once reach was expanded to make a longer and more stable platform it allowed the STA to steepen and give the rider better traction on uphills.
  • 3 1
 This has been my experience as well
  • 3 0
 First point is exactly what I was thinking as well.
  • 8 0
 Side note: Fatbikes seem to be stuck in old geometry. Guess no once cares enough?
  • 7 0
 Counter counter point: steep seat angles are usually accompanied with a longer reach, which means that the saddle is the same(ish) horizontal distance from the bars, but a couple inches higher.
  • 2 2
 I thought the reach expanded to make room for the 27.5" and 29" wheels. Bike designers don't like to have overlap where your foot can contact the front wheel, plus the longer reach allows for room for a water bottle...or shock.
  • 1 0
 Agree, I don't think slack seat tube angles had anything to do with allowing riders to ride better while standing or crouching. That was an accidental "benefit". As you say, getting behind the seat where the saddle is over the back wheel makes that harder than when its further forward.
  • 3 0
 @sdurant12: Exactly. Effective top tube length (cockpit length when sitting) has remained roughly the same. People have not grown, so you can't lengthen the cockpit or you compromise the riding position. Smile
  • 2 1
 @IamZOSO: Pole make a fat bike with appropiately Pole-like geometry.

But otherwise, yeah, no one cares.
  • 2 1
 @JCO: THANKS! Think I'll order a frameset! Looks perfect.

Still funny to me that the majority of fatbikers don't get rowdy in the snow. That's what it's all about!
  • 4 0
 @IamZOSO:
Do fat bikes go up and down super steep terrain typically. I find that the steep seat tube angles are not necessary for more moderate climbing and pretty terrible if you are doing much flat terrain riding.
  • 3 0
 I've also ridden slack seat angle bikes for many years, and all of them sucked when the climbing got steep. The current geo for a trail bike, for me at least, is so much better for climbing.
  • 29 6
 RC, couldn't disagree more. That slacked out seat with rigid post in 1996 made me compromise my seat height for seated climbs and good descending position at the same time. 73* meant getting a saddle in the mid-stomach and having to be ass-out over the rear wheel on the steeps. A 74 or 75 would have given better flexibility to descend without so much weight behind the back tire. Except front centers were stupid short, a la road bike.

I'll call you on that risk, the 79* STA bike I ride with 170 post is absolutely no more in the way than what a 73* rigid post would be at the same height (full climb). I'll rotate further forward and take a position over the long front center, like a rider should anyways.

That FC/STA relationship could have been done with rigid posts.
  • 13 1
 P.S. the comment about saddle and rider competing for real estate even at full drop, is just plain 100% false. It's one of the things I noticed immediately and really like about the Machine - the saddle is far more out of the way on descents than any other bike I've ridden to date, no question.
  • 3 1
 Absolutely agree. I've been riding MTB since '92, so I've been there, done that.
  • 39 3
 Exactly... this article actually makes no sense. Any bike designer from back in the day designing a rowdy "downhill first" kind of bike, did not for one tenth of a second even come close to thinking about whether or not a steeper or slacker seat post angle made it more difficult to ride down steep and gnarly sections of trail... because for them and everyone else, it was f*cking totally mandatory to stop, lower your post, then keep riding.

No way is it any more difficult to roll a steep section with a fully extended post on a 78 degree angle than it is on a 73 degree angle... both those angles would send you straight over the f*cking bars. And actually, if for some reason you forgot to lower your post (it happened)... a seat sitting on a 78 degree seat tube would actually have been easier to get behind than a seat on a 73 degree seat tube.

Slack seat angles were solely the result of overall bike design and geometry back then. If you stuck a 78 degree seat tube on those bikes that had super short (compared with today) top tubes and reach, you would have been hitting your knees on the bars constantly while pedaling. Would have felt like pedaling a tricycle. Also back then, the common theme was to ride the smallest bike size you could to reduce weight and because it made the bike more "maneuverable" or "gave it better handling". So the solution to having a tiny front triangle that had a seat far enough away so that you could still pedal, was crazy slack seat tube angles.... not because of droppers.
  • 1 0
 Seems like super long reach could be a factor. I doubt my arms are long enough to extend anywhere as close to the far back as the pic above on a Geometron. Which is not necessary to do on it, but dropping the seat down is going to be helpful still.
  • 4 1
 Totally agree. There's no reason why STA would be slack with rigid posts, that just puts the seat even more in the way when descending. If anything a steep STA would help, like you say, by making it easier to get your body and weight behind the seat and low on descents. They've gotten steep because reach has gotten longer...
  • 5 0
 @islandforlife: This ^^^ contains more sound logic than the article
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: but have you considered the extra height of the seat with a higher seat angle? For those who didn't regularly drop their posts at the top of a climb, which I think was the vast majority of mtn bikers back in the day, that extra height could really make high-posting painful, er, more painful...
  • 18 0
 Uhh no? Did you guys even ride back then?? Because this article actually makes no sense. Any bike designer from back in the day designing a rowdy "downhill first" kind of bike, did not for one tenth of a second even come close to thinking about whether or not a steeper or slacker seat post angle made it more difficult to ride down steep and gnarly sections of trail... because for them and everyone else, it was totally f*cking mandatory to stop, lower your post, then ride the steep stuff.

No way is it any more difficult to roll a steep section with a fully extended post on a 78 degree angle than it is on a 73 degree angle... both those angles would send you straight over the f*cking bars. And actually, if for some reason you forgot to lower your post (it happened)... a seat sitting on a 78 degree seat tube would actually have been easier to get behind than a seat on a 73 degree seat tube.

Slack seat angles were solely the result of overall bike design and geometry back then. If you stuck a 78 degree seat tube on those bikes that had super short (compared with today) top tubes and reach, you would have been hitting your knees on the bars constantly while pedaling. Would have felt like pedaling a tricycle. Also back then, the common theme was to ride the smallest bike size you could to reduce weight and because it made the bike more "maneuverable" or "flickable" or "gave it better handling". So the solution to having a tiny front triangle that had a seat far enough away so that you could still pedal the bike, was slack seat tube angles.... not because of droppers.

As bike design got better, more stretched out and people started riding properly sized bike... there was more room for steeper seat tube angles. It took some companies longer than others to see the light or evolve, but most are pretty much there now or will be there within a year or two.
  • 2 0
 Ya I remember that downsizing nonsense. They did the same stupid stuff with downsizing ski boots too
  • 2 0
 Call it a craze, for me it was simply about having the top tube as low as possible. More room for play. So I was just always looking at frames with about a 400mm seattube (which gave an indication of how high the top would be). And then I actually wanted the longest top tube I could for that size. Reach numbers weren't readily available but with all seat tubes being 73deg anyway, top tube length gives you a decent idea of how long the bike is. My kneepads would still hit the bars when climbing steep (standing on the pedals). Either way, getting a small bike for me was in order to get the top tube low, not in order to have a short bike. It is only last year that I got a new frame that still has this 400mm seattube but a reach that actually suits me.

As for the seat tube angle thing itself, I do agree with you that it seems that there seems to be a bigger focus nowadays on seated climbing than there was back in the days. It also shows in the saddle orientation people seem to have now. I prefer my saddle low and tilted backwards (nose up). It is a more comfortable orientation to have when sitting on a low saddle but also when descending steep. To have your belly or chest against when it gets really steep. The current trend of the more level or even nose down saddle orientation may be nice for seated pedaling on a high saddle though it seems less pleasant to bump into when you have your body over the rear wheel. Apparently seated pedaling is primary concern now and as except for Specialized no one seems to have produced a saddle that tilts back as it drops, I can imagine that in these cases you just want the saddle forwards and as much out of the way when it is dropped. For descending that is.

My current frame is more modern and has a steeper STA than what I had. But I compensated for that by getting a seatpost with about an inch setback.
  • 19 1
 I would like to hear from someone with knowledge in biomechanics about the new-school pedaling position,and the power generated from diferent groups of muscles.
  • 6 2
 Yeah I’m too lazy to say more right now but it’s better. Masters in kinesiology and thesis on cycling. Look up Borut Fonda for some good research
  • 7 1
 @andrewfif: If you have a moment I'd love to hear more on your synthesis of the info out there- any drawbacks bio mechanically to modern geometry?
  • 10 0
 @snl1200: It would be interesting to read a through review of it based on terrain. I've tried the new steep STA and all I can say is they suck for rolling terrain for me.
  • 6 0
 @snl1200: Yes, pedaling with the seat up on flat ground. The change in power from your legs is debatable, but there's an increase in weight on your hands (with a steeper seat angle).
  • 5 4
 I'm pretty sure that the steep seat angle has more to do with the space needed to make room for bigger wheels rather than biomechanics
  • 10 0
 @snl1200: so on flat terrain or rolling sure it’s a bummer as it’s more weight on the hands. But for a steepish or steep climb it’s optimal for traction and com position. You don’t have nearly as much hip flexion which is good for two reasons. First it’s more comfortable being upright and reduces hip impingement issues. Secondly less flexible people tend to have too much lumbar flexion on the steeps or a road bike which leads to skeletal issues over time (see John muyor papers). So comfort is increased as well as power production. Power is optimized in the position that a rider is most used to (Fonda), however, humans are stronger when closer to a fully extended position generally which is inherent in a more upright position. the knee over pedal thing isn’t remotely based on any science that I could ever find and most geo issues stem from road heritage. It’s true that during running uphill there is greater glute and hamstrings recruitment, however it doesn’t appear to be the same in cycling. Real issues arise because the idea of aerodynamics especially. The more the travel, the steeper the climb, the more forward the com should be. If you want to chat more I can but that’s the take home
  • 1 0
 @huntingbears: but the extra weight in the hands can be compensated for with a higher bar height. It’s not necessarily aerodynamic, but outside of XC racing, I think it’s too minimal to care. Besides, the bikes with ultra steep HA usually are with tall long travel forks and higher front ends anyhow.
  • 2 0
 @andrewfif: What I'm interested in, with STAs being in the number zone they are now (or getting there), should cranks become longer or shorter (and not because pedal strikes) than the norm, or remain the same? Especially at frames size large and XL.
  • 7 0
 @jollyXroger: that’s a great question. There are quite a few papers on the subject of crank length from a power production perspective. It seems that a shorter crank length allows cyclists to reach peak power faster and that there is no diff in economy. This indicates to me to use a shorter crank for reduced hip flexion and increased ground clearance. There’s also the discussion that longer cranks minutely increase control by potentially lowering com height or when parallel. Your base of support is ultimately your tires and wheelbase, but your crank length and pedal stance width may have some influence on that similar to handlebar width. Longer cranks when one foot is dropper also decreases com height by the 5 mm or whatever. I’ve never seen evidence that longer legs require diff cranks. The real bummer is that all of this research exists primarily in road and xc cycling and the enduro bikes we ride now have very diff requirements.
  • 1 0
 @andrewfif: thanks! What does ‚com height‘ mean?
  • 2 0
 @vhdh666: COM stands for center of mass.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: dankjewel
  • 2 0
 @andrewfif: Thanks. You would really want to see someone conduct a real world experiment on this.
  • 3 2
 @andrewfif: Cranks were longer to give more torque, but can get same torque with shorter cranks & smaller gear, but real reason seat angles got steeper was too fit 29er wheels with out overly lengthening the rear end
But also benefits use of dropper not the other way round?
  • 1 0
 @andrewfif:
I can’t give you many references but there are a few that look at sustained power output increase with rearward (mid shoe) cleat position and seat forward body adjustment. (Not that seat forward is the primary reason for steep seat tubes). The theory is greater use and power from Primary power muscles, and a marked decrease in neuromuscular stress from smaller associated riding muscles. More power from the big guns, less loss of energy and non-directed force of smaller muscles.

For me, I switched to flats this season (primarily to learn and practice for level 2 PMBIA certification) and I have discovered that on flats, I FEEL like have larger platform to power through, and combined with a little more forward seat position I FEEL like I have more power on climbs and steep moves. (Sitting on the nose of your saddle and maintaining good cadence will get my RM Altitude up most climbs without too much strain). I think some (all?j of this is from the ability to adjust foot (and leg and hip) position in different situations, rather than being clipped into a single foot position which is good for some things (like sustained XC spinning) but not necessarily ideal overall. (The idea that a single cleat position for clipless is optimal for all riding is fundamentally wrong). I think flat pedals force riders to improve and use better techniques and body position which may really be the benefit. On downhills and descents I’ll take flat pedals any day, for the same reason that they allow so much more positional adjustment. Maybe I t’s the riders greater ability to move and adapt that bring the benefits.

The seat tube angle is not really that important overall. A good rider can adjust to the rig and find necessary efficiencies.


Check out:
www.bikejames.com/strength/newly-updated-flat-pedal-revolution-manifesto-the-science-and-logic-of-using-flats-to-improve-your-riding

www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/04/power-to-the-pedal-cleat-position
  • 1 0
 @whambat: but manufactures aren't raising the stack to compensate. You can only have so many spacer under the stem. I had a Ripley V4, more than allowable spacers under the stem and a riser bar. Still hand pain.
  • 2 0
 Listen to @andrewfif. He did his PhD in this specific area, and I have picked his brain heavily about it and read through some of the research he mentions.
  • 1 0
 @Juarez: so you’re totally right about midfoot positions on the pedal. I agree and like flats and rearward placement on clips for the same reasons. His ideas are interesting, although large pedals like that may not work for all. More research should be done for sure. The interesting thing is that uphill and downhill positions differ a fair bit. Good points. the seat tube angle (or rather body position) absolutely matters still.
  • 1 0
 @andrewfif: Seat tube angle only matters for body position when riding seated. If you stand up, you can always be in the optimal position independent on what the seat tube angle is.

I've got six pairs of Catalyst pedals. On my commuter bikes, mountainbikes, BMX and mountain unicycle. I like them and anything smaller feels uncomfortable now.
  • 1 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: I’m curious: did you move your saddle back all the way and that not compensate enough as well as the higher bars?
  • 1 0
 @whambat: yes I spent over a month. Even got suggestions from Ibis. I'm in MD, no long climbs and descents.

Look at MD trails in Trail Forks. Mostly flat with a 1 minute climb here and there. I went from OG Ripley-no hand pain- V4 Ripley- hand pain in less than 30 minutes- to Ripley LS no hand pain.

200ft elevation change is big here.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: of course you are correct. Hopefully that’s universally understood. But how often do you stand vs seated? If you’re normal and understand how to maximize efficiency, most people sit far more than they stand while climbing. I’m glad to hear that you like those pedals! And counterpoint, sometimes you gotta drop the post while standing to get it out of the way Wink
  • 1 0
 @aljoburr: nah plenty of clearance exists already. Look at new bikes with bad geo on the STA such as the enduro and megatower. Huge travel and poor design in that respect for taller riders on steep climbs. Steep climbs is key here because without those this isn’t a useful topic. Manufactures that are savvy realize they climb better
  • 2 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: I started riding in the Philly area, so I know your terrain. In Colorado now, but I have similar type rides in a few spots with rolling quick hills. I haven’t had a problem with my Ripmo on those. I’ve also gone to a 35 stem along with tall bars, even the XL frame has a short head tube. I love the steep SA for riding with the bigger travel in helping keep the front end down, I wonder if it start pushing the limit with shorter travel trail bikes though. That said the quick rides I’ve done on the new Ripley felt pretty good to me, maybe I’ve just gotten used to the feel though. When I’ve demoed bikes lately with traditional SA, it feels like the front ends just want to wander if I don’t have the bars low enough.
  • 18 0
 I would lower and raise my post so much back in the day that I wore the anodizing off of it.
  • 15 1
 I don’t see the logic behind the problems mentioned in this article. Tall seats are bad for descending, regardless of position front to back. If anything, moving the seat forwards makes it easier to get behind. However, there is a real issue with new-school geometry though, that this article ignores.

At full extension, a steep post angle is great for climbing, but makes distance riding over flat or rolling terrain unnecessarily aggressive and uncomfortable.

There is a reason road bikes, and traditional mountain bikes, have had the 73° angle for so long. It’s comfortable, and in distance riding, comfort = less fatigue = faster.

Most riders do not live in straight up and down terrain, (where the only time you really need to pedal is cranking up hills).

Everyone saying that road and XC angles are 73° because they are ‘conservative’ and ‘the industry is afraid of change’ is wrong. If bike builders thought a steep post would be faster for a general purpose bike, they would exploit that. Pedaling dynamics are a science, and we know what works in terms of body positioning over top of the pedals.

Ever seen a time trial bike? Seat angles are steep as fuuuuck. Very aggressive, very aero, and very fast... For a brief amount of time. This is not a new idea.

https://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/11/Canyon-Speedmax-tt-CF-SLX.jpg

Steep angles have their place, and my next mountain bike will take advantage of that. Just don’t be surprised that a significant part of the MTB market probably won’t be adopting that geometry, and it’s for a pretty legitimate reason.
  • 1 0
 Correction here. TT bikes have steep seat angles solely for aerodynamics. A correctly designed TT bike will allow a rider to maintain a similar hip angle as on a standard road bike because this is where we produce the most power. In addition to this, you can maintain this for long periods of time otherwise triathlon bikes would not be so close to TT bikes in geometry.

You cannot produce as much power on a bike with a steep seat angle and an upright position. Your hip angle is too open and you can’t counter the leg force as easily by pulling back on the bars. There’s a reason pro XC racers are still using bikes without overly steep seat tube angles.
  • 1 1
 @bogey: I actually think the steeper STAs on Tri bikes (similar in geo to TT) are because that body position recruits one group of muscles for pedaling, and saves the running muscles for the run.
I believe TT uses same geo for spinning efficiency. Road bike geo allows/encourages more climbing/power/cranking out of the saddle which is not the body position one is in on a TT/Tri bike, but it’s ok because that road riding style is not how a Tri/TT rider rides.
  • 1 0
 @erikkellison: how much time do you think a typical road rider or racer spends cranking out of the saddle? 1%?

The TT position is effectively a forward rotated road position tweaked for aerodynamics.
  • 1 0
 @bogey: certainly aerodynamics are important too as wind resistance is very important at those speeds, but I encourage you to read more on the matter as it is not so simple as to be reduced to a single factor.
There are certain leg positions that recruit different muscle groups at differing levels of sustainability, and force capacity. If it was solely for aero, TT bikes would look different. It’s optimization of all factors.
  • 1 0
 Anyways the point of this, was merely to call attention to the fact that these new mountain bikes are not the first bikes to use a steep seat tube angle. Tri and TT bikes have been around for a while with steep set tubes.

Good point about hip angle... A much better articulation of the point I was trying to make- steep seat post angles (with hips forward) are not being ideal for long distance flat riding on an other wise upright MTB.
  • 14 5
 The same can be said about the recent resurgence of flat pedals. Yes, current pedals and shoes are incredibly good, but I would never ride flat pedals of rough terrain with an extended seatpost
  • 5 4
 Counterpoint, the resurgence of flat pedals is because the generation currently getting into MTB didn’t grow up in the 80’s with a BMX bike as their primary source of transportation and recreation, therefore may not necessarily know a lot of the skills required. We already knew how to bunny hop way before clipless pedals were invented.
  • 2 0
 Yup, penalty of getting slapped in the sack by your saddle is somewhat lower when clipped in as you don't also get pushed off your pedals.
  • 6 2
 @SlodownU: almost sounds like you are suggesting that flat pedals are for less skilled riders, when the opposite is true. Clipless pedals are a crutch that makes most types of riding easier by requiring less focus and proper form. Flat pedals are great for all levels. FWIW I ride both.
  • 2 0
 @SlodownU: I'll speak from my own experience. Circa 2012 I experimented a bit with flat pedals on my bikepacking rig, which was my thing back then.
The pedals, Superstar Nanos, were already quite nice, that part was already being figured out back then. I hated the shoes, those Fivetens were this humongous hot things which would soak water by the gallon and hold it for a week.
But the worse was that, in order to have minimal clearance to move around a bit with and extended seatpost, you have to ride almost on tiptoes. You'll still see plenty of XC guys doing that, but so much for"drop your heels". Awful feel that is on flats, zero stability and traction, anytime the bike moves under you you lost your pedals.
  • 9 0
 this article makes no sense to me...a steeper seat tube makes it easer to push yourself away from the seat when you lean back. A slacker seat tube makes it harder hence the RC pic.
  • 8 1
 Bike companies had zero desire to produce frames that weren’t based off dated road bike numbers until recently.

Dropper post is a separate issue. We could have steep STA without droppers. People would just be doing what I was doing up to 2010 and lowered their posts by hand when needed.
  • 9 3
 steep effective STAs are a byproduct of the longer reach fad. its the only way to restore a normal ETT so yo can actually be comfortable in the saddle.

if steep STAs only bring positives, somebody needs to tell Nino Schurter that the 73.8* STA on his Scott Spark is costing him dearly.

in reality, the farther you roll the STA forward, the more you roll the seated pressure forward off the sit bones and on to the center of the perineum, causing discomfort for extended in the saddle pedaling.
  • 2 1
 This is not correct. Saddle design, tilt, and position impact your interactions. Dr. Bressell has done some research ok the subject and is a good starting point. Xc has an aero advantage and has some archaic design. the long and low stems exist primarily to keep the front weighted as the riders crunch themselves up a hill. They need more rearward positions due to the flat and rolling terrain as well. An XC stem likely has a larger butt to hands measurement as a long reach all mountain bike with a short stem. Puzzle indeed
  • 3 0
 Fad? You think we are going back?
  • 2 1
 @andrewfif:

of course saddle position impacts comfort.
at 0*, your sit bones are lower than your perineum.
at 90* your perineum is lower than your sit bones.
you can tilt the saddle to compensate for this, but the more you drop the nose of the saddle, the increase pressure you will need with your hands to keep you from sliding forward in the saddle....you end up "wedging" yourself in place.
out of all of these variables in the puzzle, there is one constant: the vector of the acceleration due to gravity is through the center of the earth.

if seat tube angle is THE answer, then why are are only trail and AM bikes pursuing steep seat tube angles? XC races and road races are won on the climbs....the point is that it is not the THE answer, Only trail and AM bikes are pursuing longer reaches. as reach increases, TT grows proportionally. try climbing on a bike that has a TT that is 30mm too long. fix the TT length by steepening the STA, the bike returns to normal feeling, and the frame builder now has some new geo figure that they solved so they can sell you something.
  • 2 0
 @tobiusmaximum:

fair enough. poor choice of words. Having owned a Pole Stamina 180 with 510mm of reach and 2020 Spesh Enduro with 487mm of reach, I can tell you that feeling between the two is negligible when out of the saddle. So, yeah, I went backwards, but not because I thought one was too long. What I discovered is that it didn't matter. That said, I aint going back to a 460mm reach haha.
  • 1 0
 @tdcworm: how tall are you?
  • 1 0
 @tobiusmaximum: 73" or 185cm....but all arms and legs w a 36" or 91cm inseam. wingspan is 79" or 201cm. with long arms and legs, i ride super high on the bike....even when in the attack position. i've come to appreciate longer reach....490ish seems to be a good compromise for my odd shape. getting too long makes it hard to get your hips behind the bottom bracket on super steep stuff. i suspect this is why we don't see true DH bikes following the same reach trends as AM bikes....
  • 1 0
 I traded my 2018 vitus sentier with a guy on the trail who was on a 2001-ish Specialized. He loved the feel of new geometry immediately and I could barely ride the narrow short 26" bike. No way in hell I go back to a road bike with bigger tires design.
  • 1 0
 @tdcworm: because Xc and road bikes rely on aero advantages and typically do not ride steep sustained grades that rely on seated climbing for a long time. It is THE answer for people that climb steep trails unless they have a longer chain stay. This is what maybe you don’t understand about saddle tilt. When on a steep uphill, you can effectively become level again. Of course there is sacrifice on the flats and mellow. Then again, for that terrain you don’t use an enduro bike. So maybe I should have explained more fully but I usually expect people to understand the basis of the discussion.
  • 1 0
 @andrewfif:

i appreciate the effort in being condescending. i'd dignify it, but my ego is no match for yours.
1) i had no idea how many definitions there were for "tilt" as it applies to the saddle. you did, in fact, prove that I had an understanding (albeit weaker than yours) of saddle tilt, when you acknowledged "there is a sacrifice on the flats," which is precisely the wedging effect of which i spoke.
2) show me an XC bike with drop bars, and i will show you an XC racer that depends on aero advantages.
3) using a BB to saddle length of 30" and a seat tube angle of 74*, the vertical height of saddle over the BB is 28.4". Steeping the seat tube angle to 77* brings the height to 29.2" or a difference of 0.6" which will matter exactly none when speed slow as climbing begins. XC racers are won on the way up hill, and often times, they get out of the saddle, further increasing their silhouette.
4) enduro is a race format, not a type of bike. bikes designed for riding faster on the downs are getting longer for more stability. a bike is composed of a front triangle and a rear triangle. if you increase the front triangle length you HAVE to increase the seat tube angle, thereby restoring ETT, so that you can pedal it up hill. it is a by product of the pursuit of stability desired while pointed downhill. you could make seat tubes steeper on any bike, but then the ETT gets shorter and you have a cramped in the saddle position.
5) Below is the list of bikes I have owned in the past 4 years, w/ STAs ranging from 73* to 78.6*. What I have found is that as long as I had the bar height to saddle position dialed, then the STA difference was negligible. None of them gets me to the top any different than the other. No I don't ride as much as you, only 159 miles in October. No I don't climb as much as you, only 17,486 feet in October. No, my rides aren't as steep as yours, they only require the 42 and 50t Eagle rings on sustained sections.

Yeti SB6 (73* STA)
Evil Wreckoning (74.8* STA)
Evil Following (74.3* STA)
Evil Offering (77* STA)
2017 Spesh Enduro (76* STA)
2020 Spesh Enduro (76* STA)
Pole Stamina 140 (78.6* STA)
Pole Stamina (78.3* STA)

speaking of bikes, i am off to enjoy some climbing on the one I find most pleasurable to get to the top, which has the second slackest seat tube: the Following. Enjoy.
  • 2 0
 @tdcworm: sorry for the offensive remark. It was unnecessary. We clearly have very diff ideas about bikes and it’s not worth our energy online to discuss. In person over a good ride I’m super down. Come to Bellingham for a great time and discussion and I’m pretty nice in person, and love a good debate
  • 3 0
 @andrewfif:
haha. no harm no foul. love a good debate myself. also love me some galbraith, chuck and s&t (speaking of brutal climbs, did somebody say e bike?)...i make an annual pilgrimage to BC and occasionally get some B'ham time when i can pry myself away from Squamish and Whistler.

i actually think we are probably in violent agreement....STA is A thing, but by itself it is not THE thing. i tend to get a bit sensitive when i feel like things are marketing ploys, haha. cheers
  • 5 0
 Interesting article!
I´we been looking at new enduro bikes like Privateers 161, but that extremely steep seat post angle been scaring me. I have never reflected regarding seat angle and therefore were ignorant. Is my concern legit, or are that steep angle the way to go? Aren't there any downsides with a 80 degree seat post angle?
  • 1 0
 They feel a bit weird when you first go on a steeper bike - pedalling position is odd, feels like you cant put the power down in the same way (or it did to me) - I have a steep hardtail and a less steep FS and the two feel very different to pedal - the FS I move around on way more and get on the saddle nose but I actually think that makes me better at climbing on it also (though the traction assist of VPP might help too).
  • 4 0
 The reason you were scared is because you’ve read conservatism for years about any angle or length. I often have the feeling the "professionals " (understand mostly journalists, product managers) have no clue what they are talking about. Read a product launch 5 years ago: you’ll read they’ve extended the reach by 30 mm compared to the previous generation but they stated you couldn’t go any longer. Àd 5 years later and 2 bike generations later the old XL is shorter than the current M (or S!). But everything is fine. Then cale steeper seat angle like 75 and some journalists say it’s too steep! Really ? I have 73 on my road bike and guess what? My road bike won’t sag and the front wheel does not have wallowing issue. Because they angle staid at 73 whereas under sag on a steep an mtb with 73 SA was closer to 68!
And that article! Written by the same person who wrote the problem with steeper seat angles was that the saddle, once dropped, wouldn’t be as far forward as with a slacker angle. I will let the author discuss with Pythagoras and Thales about that. He might have meant "the relative move forward"? But then so what? In the end the saddle is effectively more forward once dropped, therefore it’s another non problem created by the bike industry.
Of course it goes way beyond the bike industry, conservatism is predominant among riders who think 300g shaving on a frame is important on your performance. How much more difficult is it to ride uphill with your jacket in your backpack compared to without ? No difference.
The 3 cm longer wheelbase will make the bike more clumsy on hairpin turns. When the wheelbase is 120cm, it’s like 2.5% more. Massive difference ?? No.
The mtb geometry is finally strongly departing from the road bikes. It took a while! But now it’s getting quick and I assume it will stabilize in about 5-6 years. Unless something I didn’t see coming shows up. Keep your minds open !
  • 9 0
 Actually I have built a bike with 79° SA. And in the last few month i learned a few things about that:
1. I needed some time to get used to it
2. I love it for going uphill
3. I feel very planted to the saddle, so I do use the dropper more often (as RC wrote)
4. I need the bars to be quite high for being comfortable on longer rides (that is not a bad thing for going down hill)
5. Since my rides usually contain quite much riding along without going up or down ( Frown ), I ended up, pushing the saddle all the way back on its rails
6, for my next frame (unless, I live in the Mountains until then) I would go back to 77°
  • 1 0
 @EnduroManiac: Good points there!!
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: Sounds not to bad...
  • 2 0
 @Endurip: Like JokerT says - it is a learning curve to get used to riding - the saddle feels like its in a weird place but you get used to it - the only odd thing is standing pedalling - saddle is definitely in the way for that and I like standing pedalling on a hardtail.
  • 1 0
 @JokerT: It's a true point that with a steeper seat angle you'll be higher so indeed it can be an issue for very steep SA and rather flat riding. As for anything in mountainbiking it's always a compromise to find, and it will be a different one for each of us depending on morphology, personal preference and type of riding.
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: That's a bit the same thing with wide bars. At first they felt weird but you get used to it. I remember reading in a magazine the test rider complaining about the 740mm wide bars of a Specialized Enduro. Apparently that was only good for a DH bike. Seen any bike with 740 mm bars stock now? XC bikes maybe, not even so sure. And what was the point to complain? If too wide, cut it. Easy. With seat angles there's much less room to play.
  • 1 0
 Super steep sat angles only have a couple of issues depending on what you are doing. 1. Not always good for very steep of long climbs on road bike. this is because if you are too far forward its a little harder to engage the hamstrings and glutes to fully engage the the full muscle groups and that can lead to fatigue in the other muscles on long climbs. 2. because of the above when sitting you can get dead spots the pedal stroke at low cadence. But for me they don't really apply for MTB, when was the last time you climbed seated for over and hour..... when was the last time you ran out of gears seat and didn't stand up. Or had to get off the bike and run a marathon after a big ride.. So possible downsides but not sure they are massive negative fro MTB.
  • 9 4
 No, it's because the bike companies were so conservative for so long. We were asking for steep seat angles 25 years ago, but nobody had the balls to do it. Dropper posts have nothing to do with it, design departments retiring old staff do
  • 5 0
 Gravity Dropper post was really reliable and light weight. Too bad it didnt win fashion contests and never adapted to internal cable routing. Would still rather have on over a Reverb though.
  • 2 0
 I had some of the early ones and they were a game changer ( i think there were like 10 guys with dropper at the mega avai in 06-07.) the main down side was if you hit the leaver the seat woudl shoot up and smack you int he nads..... ahhh great times.....
  • 3 0
 Here is an idea, why doesn't the MTB industry come up with a standardised way of measuring seat position. Actual vs Effective seat tube angle is nonsense. What we want to know is the centre of the seat rails to the centre of the bottom bracket in the horizontal plane, with the seat rails set at a height suitable for the average rider of that size. Far more reliable way of measuring.
  • 3 0
 With there being so much debate about the pros and cons of seat tube angles, I wonder why there aren’t more bikes like the Canyon Strive with its Shapeshifter tech which lets you change geometry in the fly, not to mention kinematics and travel.

Thoughts?
  • 5 3
 "Without a dropper post (or an Allen wrench in hand to manually lower it), 74 degrees was the upper limit for seat angles before the saddle's position at full extension became a serious handicap on the downs."

I'd find this claim more credible if a single frame designer/engineer was referenced. C'mon pinkbike, pick up the phone and call a few bike companies!

Note in the last picture the guy is high-posting with a dropper!!!
  • 3 0
 Plenty bikes have been at more than 74 for at least ten years. Just looking at the bike I own: Ibis HD3, HD4, or Mojo 3 are all btw 74.6 and 75.4 depending on the fork you use.

It is obvious that if you can drop the seat post, as all can do in a blink now, you can move the seat more forward and maybe gain a bit of control going up hill, and maybe efficiency. But there are limits related to individuals' body geometry, and a forward geometry might work up-hill but might not work too well anywhere else where efficient pedaling is required. There are flats and moderate inclines out there!

And, just as a side comments: lost in the never ending Pinkbike search for "trends" (translated: you must buy a new bike), is the fact that all it would take to obtain the same slightly forward geometry are saddles with longer rails and/or step forward drop posts (like the rigid version used for road bikes).
  • 3 3
 C'mon @foggnm , pick up the smartphone and look up @RichardCunningham 's background.
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: Good to know. Thanks for the background Brent!
  • 6 3
 I had an Evil Wreckoning for about 10 minutes. It's a slack ST angle so that they can say in their marketing copy, "Wow, look how different we are with our super-slack seat tube angle!" and then there's a climb.
  • 2 0
 I don´t think that article is right. My Giant AC Team had a insanely slack seat angle. The only reason for that was, that nobody thought a bike a lot longer would be rideable.

German magazines always told us that longer bikes are not turnable Wink .

It definitely needed small companies like Nicolai and Pole to change that. It had nothing to do with dropper posts. Back then you dropped your saddle by hand as far as possible.
  • 3 1
 Geo remained stagnant as MFG got obsessed with weight and Carbon frames. It is cost prohibitive to make new molds and risk a mistake in the market. Huge capital investment makes companies very conservative in their decision making. Next Geo demand will be more stack. I find it is woefully lacking once the STA gets steeper. Even on the leaders like Geometron and Pole. The slacked out HTA will either reign in if Linkage forks catch on or demand stiffer DH type fork solutions to deal with the added stresses. Interestingly, the steeper the STA goes the less stress that is placed on the Dropper post. Should improve reliability in that component.
  • 6 1
 This article is dumb. Slack hta and short chain stays pushed steeper sta to center the rider between the wheels.
  • 2 0
 Here's a crazy thought in general about steep STA. Has anyone considered the fact that some people ride aggressively with the seatpost...wait for it....UP! Not every trail is straight up or straight down. Many flowing trails you ride aggressively with the seat up or dropped down only an inch or so. With a crazy steep STA all that aggressive flowing riding makes you feel pitched forward and nervous about OTB. But I'm sure this will get downvoted because everyone is a super endurbro and you ride for 20-30 mins at a time standing with the seat down on your rock-hard, never-fatiguing leg muscles.
  • 2 0
 Major mountain bike corporate stake holder: “Hey Pinkbike, can you pique your reader’s desires to purchase one of our new bikes festooned with the latest “modern geometry” and the “proper” wheel size while simultaneously planting a seed that convinces them to not want to buy any of the used, worthless, unrideable bikes that we manufactured prior to about 2018?”

Richard Cunningham: “Hold my beer...”
  • 4 3
 it is not only droppers, steeper seat tubes, however longer reach and other geometry changes contribute - also for the short-legged riders sub 74 could be just fine, however, anyone with a longer inseam will hate anything below 76 or even 77;
  • 2 1
 What am I missing - doesn't a slack angle puts the saddle further back making it harder to get behind the saddle? If you have a steeper seatpost there is more real estate to play with behind it as long as your gut doesnt end up impaled on the saddle nose.

Not like if the seat was up and slack you ever use the space in front of it - that shot of richie on his 2012 "non" dropper Liteville looks to me like he would deal with things better if the seat angle was 79 instead of 72....
  • 3 0
 The same distance from saddle to crank with a steeper SA results in the saddle being much more in your work area when you stand, and much more in your stomach when you get behind it. It's quite noticeable.
  • 5 1
 @paulskibum: except that (for the same leg length) the saddle gets significantly taller over the BB as it arcs forward. At some point your seated and standing position would theoretically be the same.
  • 1 0
 @RichardCunningham: OK - I guess I can see that - I am pretty short so my saddle height relative to the bars is not that high on most trail bikes so I dont get into such a flat back stretched out position.

I find steep seat posts mean it is harder to pedal out of the saddle - saddle is always in the way unless I lower it but if I leave the seat up I can get behind it better on the few smaller features I have tried.

I do enjoy biking more with a dropper - seat angle slack or steep.
  • 4 0
 @RichardCunningham: If this article is correct, why are you BEHIND the saddle in your demo photo on the Liteville?!!
  • 3 2
 RC makes some good points, especially the oft overlooked fact that the steeper your STA, the more vertical height that translates to for your saddle at a given extension. Combined with the inherent forward weight bias of the steeper STA, additional saddle-bar drop really puts a damper on riding anything remotely techy without your seat dropped.

Maybe not a big deal if your riding consists of long, boring climbs followed by sustained descents, but for rolling terrain it gets annoying to drop/raise your saddle every few seconds.
  • 2 0
 and here i thought it was a conspiracy between frame and dropper post manufacturers driving seat tube angles steeper to get rid of all the bushing stress on the old angles Big Grin

/s
  • 1 0
 err designers knew this even in 2000. they just didnt have droppers that were tall and reliable.
then progress was artificially slowed down as it always is, for sales, but eventually, we got them.. so the frame makers changed the angle.
Hell some frame makers still make new bikes with worse seat tube angle right now (hi Lapierre?) while they don't have to, for cost/marketing reasons


all that to say if they all decided to make this happen quick and money was not a thing, we'd have this a long time ago
  • 1 0
 I was very reluctant of the dropper post ,cause more things to go wrong (thank god I bought a fox the first ones dropper ,just indestructible,amazing thing after all the things)because what’s the problem of stopping and Lower your post with the quick release,but.......,what an amazing thing it is ,even in simple stuff,just brilliant,but if bikes of older times had more steep seat angles like nowdays maybe the dropper thing might get a little late ,for most of us ,you could get behind the bike a little more “easy “
  • 2 1
 I agree that the new position leaves alot to be desired. What ever happened to sliding forward onto the nose of the saddle on steep climbs. On challenging steep tech climbs I clean climbs easier if the saddle is a little low and I think this is due to a lower center of gravity. This is contrary to the reviews talking about how poorly a bike climbs with a 73 degree seat when the seat is jacked triathalon style. It also leaves a rider perched on the bike rather then in the bike.
  • 4 1
 As usual from RC - how on earth did he get to that conclusion. Sorry to say it, but I even stopped reading your reviews because of the twisted logic.
  • 1 0
 Who remembers telescoping seatposts on the early "all mountain" bikes (when "Enduro" was just a model of bike from Specialized)? Seatpost with TWO QRs so you could pedal bikes like the Norco Six or Brodie Enduro with ultra short seat tubes uphill.

Bike sure don't suck anymore....
  • 1 0
 I'm not going to take a position on the premise or truth of this article - other than I use the dropper sometimes more often than the shifter, and I'm really happy with a STA around 75-77 degrees.

But how much of MTB design not evolving past the old school 73-is degree STA until the recent handful of years, had to do with being stuck in the old KOPS (knee over pedal spindle) philosophy from road bike design?

I haven't done this setup method in decades, so also wondering how much further the knee is forward of the pedal spindle with a 77 degree STA (average 5'-10" male with 33" inseam). Anyone?
  • 2 1
 Yeah it had nothing to do with getting your knee over pedal spindle in the correct position... It was all to do with getting lower. Sorry not buying that. Seat angles were as they were due to the way bikes were fit for pedaling action back in the day:

www.sheldonbrown.com/kops.html
  • 1 0
 That's what I was asking / wondering out loud.

How much, and for how long was MTB evolution held back by this philosophy?
  • 3 0
 Okay, boomer. We had quick release seat collars. The problem was frame builders, such as yourself (mantis) didn’t question mtb geometry. Just copied it over from road.
  • 2 1
 I second xcPhil. Most of us mountain bikers make fun of triathletes yet we now have their riding position. Basic bike fitting says that the more forward you go the more weight on your upper body and hands. I recently tried a new Hightower back to back against my old one. The actual cockpit.l Saddle tip to center of the same bars in 1.5 inches shorter in an XL. I have a long upper body and short legs. After a 1 hour ride my hands were done. A 3 hour ride on my old Hightower would never be an issue. Climbing was great on the new bike 10 percent of the time on the super steeps on double diamond XC trails but the remainder of the time it sucked climbing. Hated the position. I would put a laid back dropper on it. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
  • 1 0
 Id like to downvote you and upvote you!

We are NOT riding in tri positions because we are far more upright. Hip angle is far more open on these steep STA mtbs.

I definitely agree with your take on the old vs new Hightower. It doesn’t even have a radically steep STA or long reach but it is tiring on rolling terrain but handles steep ups and downs like a champ. I’m still considering getting one but I’d overfork it to 160mm to lay back the seated position a touch.
  • 3 0
 @bogey: I should almost do a blog review of the old versus new. Bluntly they are two different bikes. A lot of the position thing comes down to personal preference. You are correct the new Hightower is really not even close to the old bike. Way better on the extremes, but not on the blue and green stuff in my opinion due to the position. Like I said before. My hands were in agony after a short ride. I also did a bunch of tech steep downs I had never done before. Of course I then went back and did them on my old Hightower. I certainly was under less control but still got them.

When I say tri position I am referring to the position of the saddle relative to the bb.

These trends always swing too far before reversing themselves. Not saying we are there yet but does anyone remember when we cut our bars down to get through trees? Now a 10 year old rides 820 mm wide bars.
  • 1 0
 @dldewar: @bogey , do you think this difference in weight distribution is due to STA or rather a shorter cockpit? I wonder if STA alone has such an effect. I was going to buy a bike with a steeper seat tube but now I have doubts. Logically, if the top tube is the same then load on the hands should be the same too?
  • 1 0
 I would suggest doing a demo of any bike you are going to buy. You can very easily compare your existing to new bike position. Bring your existing bike into your local bike shop and compare. Sliding forward a bit is no big deal. Also I have wimpy hands and need to be back. You may not notice it at all if you slide forward. The good news is these new bikes are so confidence inspiring. Good luck.
  • 3 1
 I love articles like this.
You best go tell Nino as he is a climbing weapon and has it wrong with his seat angle not being steep enough Smile
Trek too with their new Supercaliber cross-country race bike.

haha
  • 1 0
 There's more to the slack SA of the past. And it has nothing to do with dropper posts. Back in the day, we rode for fun, not for utmost speed in the gnar. We had no trail centers, just some local trails that were just thin lines of bare soil barely visible under fallen leaves. We had no suspension so we had to negotiate many obstacles that we do not notice anymore nowadays. Also a tiny northshore skinny with tight radius would be almost unrideable with 1250mm+ wheelbase bikes of today. To fit a reasonable cockpit room over a short wheelbase, it needed to stretch more to the back, and front as well, which also explains the steep head angles. Now look at what's happening to MTB the trails. They straighten up, little by little. Les Gets DH is an extreme example, but you do get the point.
Lastly, as already stated by many, we had QR seatpost collars and DID use them frequently. It may sound awkward, but this used to be the norm. Nobody complained about having to take a rest before a descent, everybody just had to.
  • 1 0
 PB team - have you guys ever thought of adding a “listen to this article” feature similar to what NPR does? Just an audio recording right under the title. Would allow me to listen to a lot more of the reviews/op eds on my commute!
  • 1 0
 "How did anyone ride those things?" but since the beginning of MTB, the principle has been completely out of tune by taking a classic bicycle frame, putting big tyres and some awkward suspensions. Geometry progresses went veeeery slowly.
30 years ago I was into motocross, and when I see the nowadays MTBs compared to the first ones, I`m just thinking: shit: all this for that? Any DH bike and even enduro bikes now look pretty much like a motocross with pedals! Slack HA?... look at 90`s MX. Nowadays MTBs are very similar to MXs... with steeper and steeper SA to pedal them Smile
  • 2 0
 He is riding with a dropper, but without it dropped, that's deliberate to illustrate the challenge if a steep seat angle if your post were fixed.
  • 1 0
 @sargey2003 Or what happens when you forget to drop before hitting that steep chute!
  • 7 0
 Making a deliberate example in 2012 for an article he'd write 7 years later... Oracle Cunningham.
  • 2 2
 There is a performance benefit to having a 73 degree seat tube angle, like RC said, it lowers your saddle height at full extension, which lowers your seated COG. Basically every road bike is 73 STA for power aerodynamics and cog.

STA and ETT come into play in defining how much space is available in front of or behind the saddle for “getting behind the saddle” whether raised or lowered. If the STA angle is increased without lengthening reach then the cockpit becomes more cramped, possibly leading to reduced steering room near knees. If you increase reach you upset good for aft weight distribution.

The Pole Bikes have longish chainstays, which is a huge contributor to keeping bike from losing front wheel traction up or downhill; more so than extreme seat tube angles. Long chainstays also make more room for the seat to go lower without buzzing saddle, which with seat tube depth allows more room to move the bike

If someone wanted a bike with a relatively compact front center (to maintain front wheel grip, keep constraint of wheelbase and make front end lifting easier) then a steep seat tube angle would be troublesome.

to have steep seat tube, you need long reach. If you have slack headtube, you have long front center. If you have long front center you need to lean on handlebars, WHICH RAISES COG DRASTICALLY AND DECREASES STABILITY...Or you can just lengthen chainstay; which allows reduced saddle height, better aerodynamics, better weight distribution , better power.

On the fly fork travel reduction increases STA, A-C, reach, and lowers COG; all of which drastically improve climbing. Talas and Dual Air are being killed off by the manufactures and media, which blows to not even have this great option especially considering theres 50 shades of the same thing on offer.
  • 1 1
 Talas and Dual Air forks are toast as frames don't require them anymore. I never liked them anyway as the climb seemed harder if the fork was lowered.
  • 1 0
 Problem with Talas is that it further lowers the BB which, in LLS geometries, is already at a low threshold of what is acceptable. Canyon's Shapeshifter does the opposite which makes it a better solution in on the fly geometry altering.
  • 1 0
 @jollyXroger: if you lower fork it adds weight to front wheel and removes weight from rear wheel, relatively extending rear shock raising bb somewhat. Bb being very low may be an issue tech climbing but wouldnt matter on smooth/road climbs. Higher bb can help one ride faster sometimes because pedals never get as close to ground, Making it easier to send it into hairy terrain. If bb higher initially then lowering not such a problem. Also timing gear: pedal stokes.
  • 1 0
 @getsomesy: No, you cannot lower the fork and lift BB, even accounting for a difference in sag between the two positions due weight transfer, which is also not that great. Why would you want to lower it on smooth climbs in the first place? It's in the tech section where it counts and fails to deliver.
I had a Talas (actually still do but is only collecting dust), so I'm not writing from a theoretical point of view only.
  • 1 0
 One spec my next Enduro bike decision will be based on is, how low the seat height can be lowered before tyre buzz is a problem. I like to run a super low seat (cut out seat), so Seat Tube height is critical...
  • 4 0
 "Hindsight is 20/20, they say."

do i detect a megadeth reference....?
  • 2 1
 I went from a Pole in 2017/2018 to a 2019 Nomad and the first I noticed, on the very first climb and even at the very first tight switchback, is that the nomad f*cking sucked at climbing in comparison. steeper the better imo
  • 1 0
 I don't think it's as binary as dropper posts = steeper STAs with no other influencing factors but it's an interesting "angle" to consider. Just go shred whatever bike you have with whatever seat height you prefer!
  • 1 0
 As a trials rider coming back to mountain bikes, I'm very used to stood up pedalling. I'm yet to use a dropper and don't mind stopping at the top of the climb to drop my post with the QR.
  • 2 0
 Gravity dropper changed my life!!
they never failed, easy to rebuild and I still have 3 on old bikes.

Who here remember the Hite-Rite from the 80s?
thats was the first one.
  • 2 0
 i had a hiterite in 87-89 . great bit of kit. ird did a remote for it.
  • 2 0
 Bikes were so short in the old days, I don’t really get how anyone (other than a really short person) could ride between the saddle and bars..
  • 1 0
 Winter must be tough on PB writers, maybe y'all could write about some other mind-blowing insights like how advances in manufacturing processes made bikes lighter..... #inOtherObviousNews
  • 1 1
 This theory seems like a poor attempt to develop a reason to account for the terrible geometry we’ve suffered for so many years. A steeper STA would have actually had us getting gut-punched by the saddle even less since it would have been more forward vs. a slack STA. I’m trying to be kind here and use nice words, but what a joke. This “theory” is an insult to actually thought-out and reasonable theories, like gravity, and natural selection.
It also seems like an attempt to take credit away from the progressive manufacturers who pioneered the geometry which is slowly trickling down to the mainstream companies.
Thank you #Nicolai #GEOMETRON #Geolution #MojoRising #PoleBicycles
  • 1 0
 You also forgot that riding uphill used to be cool, modern gravity riders don't know anything about bike fit and think having your seat slammed forward when pedaling makes the bike "climb better".
  • 2 0
 Nice article; we were literally just talking about this in the comments of another!
  • 2 0
 I guess the guys that slammed their seats forward back in the day were just ahead of their time...or wore tighter shorts.
  • 1 0
 That's so true and I still do today
  • 1 0
 Always love reading your articles RC, and the action shots of you getting rowdy are truly inspirational to those of us not in our 20s anymore!
  • 1 0
 I've never had any problems with 72 STA, or 74 as today. If anything, this bikes were harder to ride uphill, but that's a result of short FC with the same cockpit length.
  • 1 0
 I would argue that longer reach numbers drove steeper seat angles more than dropper posts. Longer stroke droppers are driving shorter seat tubes, which is nice.
  • 2 1
 Other way around
  • 1 0
 Used to ride with Frank from CB, he wouldnt ride with a dropper on any of the Laguna trails so we'd have to manually raise and lower our seats.
  • 2 0
 A steep seat angle also makes it much easier to get your belly on the saddle and do a superman down the street.
  • 1 0
 Long dropper posts coupled with steep seat angles should kill all frames with longer than 450mm seat tubes...fingers crossed!
  • 3 0
 i heart dropper posts
  • 2 0
 The seat positioning on the Geometron ,looks like the frames too long lol
  • 1 0
 Loved my Gravity Dropper Turbo!! Looked so weird but preformed day in and day out with no issues.
  • 2 0
 Blah, blah, blah... that GeoMetron is sick!
  • 1 3
 Nope, steeper STA is not due to the dropper revolution.

Steeper STA is in response to longer reach.

Longer reach is in response to slacker HTA.

Slacker STA made it “harder” to get behind the seat, you’d think that bit of geometry would be obvious to writer.

Droppers are convenient for folks who ride up and down, but for the majority of riders it’s not all that necessary, to them it’s just a convenient way to rest their feet when they come to a stop .
  • 3 0
 Maybe I’m in the minority, and the majority is XC, but I feel like the majority of bikers DO ride up and down.
  • 1 0
 @erikkellison - Yup, I’m in the same boat. Here in the PNW most trails are ride up ride down and in many cases are long and steep on the way up, extra spicy down. Lovin the new trend towards steeper STA’s.
  • 2 0
 Proud to say that I was an early Gravity Dropper adopter.
  • 1 0
 The townspeople have spoken, the pitchforks and torches are out. Time to retire RC! Wink
  • 1 1
 Wow, lots of fuckin passionate Shakespeares showed up to comment this article. That front fender would be a real contender vs the Kurvyturd in an ugly contest.
  • 1 0
 I think it is the exact opposite, namely that the seatpost manufacturers should thank the pioneers of the new geometries.
  • 1 0
 I hope that I am still riding as well as @RichardCunningham when I am his age , keeps me positive !
  • 1 0
 the word aero comes to mind when thinking old school geometry !!
  • 1 0
 And how long will it be before E-assist is viewed the same way.
  • 3 1
 ok Boomer
  • 1 0
 I actually went out and bought a liteville based on that photo!!
  • 3 2
 100% wrong....again.
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