I constantly see kids riding with their saddle’s too low. As a reminder, bike seats are called saddles since they are straddled and not meant to carry all your weight which is actually shared by your arms and legs. However, the part that holds the saddle is still called a seat post.
Smaller kids riding bikes in the 12-inch to 24-inch size range are especially susceptible to riding with saddles too low. When kids first start out, saddles are generally set lower to provide a sense of security to touch the ground. Thereafter kids are growing so fast that saddle heights aren’t adjusted to keep up. In many cases a saddle should be raised multiple times a year for a growing child and not many people think to do this.
Children’s saddles, once they are adept at riding, should be adjusted very similar to adult saddles with around a 20 degree bend in the knee with the pedal at 6 o’clock. If the saddle is too high the leg will be straightening out and it will cause hips to rock back and forth.
The main issue with a low saddle is it puts excess stress on knees and greatly reduces power and efficiency. The fact that so many kids ride with too low of saddle also translates to many adults riding low as well, since this was how they grew up.
Once you correct your child’s saddle, you may find them able to keep up with you easier and go farther. They certainly will enjoy riding just a bit more with the correct height.