Saddle position affects mechanical variables during submaximal cycling, but little is known about its effect on mechanical performance during maximal cycling. Therefore, this study relates saddle position to experimentally obtained maximal power output and theoretically calculated moment generating capacity of hip, knee and ankle muscles during isokinetic cycling. Ten subjects performed maximal cycling efforts (5 s at 100 rpm) at different saddle positions varying ± 2 cm around the in literature suggested optimal saddle position (109% of inner leg length), during which crank torque and maximal power output were determined. In a subgroup of 5 subjects, lower limb kinematics were additionally recorded during submaximal cycling at the different saddle positions. A decrease in maximal power output was found for lower saddle positions. Recorded changes in knee kinematics resulted in a decrease in moment generating capacity of biceps femoris, rectus femoris and vastus intermedius at the knee. No differences in muscle moment generating capacity were found at hip and ankle. Based on these results we conclude that lower saddle positions are less optimal to generate maximal power output, as it mainly affects knee joint kinematics, compromising mechanical performance of major muscle groups acting at the knee.
Jeroen Vrints, Erwin Koninckx, Marc Van Leemputte, and Ilse Jonkers (Corresponding Author) are with the Department of Biomedical Kinesiology, Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences, K. U. Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.