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      08-22-2011, 10:02 AM   #1
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How to sit properly

Hi guys,

I read Bob Bonduran's book on performance driving and I have a question. He mentions that it's best to sit as straight as possible. Is this true?

I sit rather slouched over. My butt is about 10 cm from the rear end of the seat cushion. I find this position comfortable, I have about a fist and 2 fingers height above my head (slouching a bit). If I straighten up with the seat in the same position I a)hit my head on the roof liner, b)can't see much out of the front window with the sunblind down (approx 1/2).

If I move the seat down, and then a bit forward (because moving it down causes it to go back a bit) I can straighten up. Again, I have about a fist and 2 fingers height above my head. I also have more room for my legs. However, this position feels weird, like I'm "drowned" in the car. The car no longer feels small. Maybe this is just because I'm not used to it.

My question: should I get used to sitting straight (because it's better in the long run), or remain slouched, because I think I can feel the car's size better?

To illustrate:


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      08-22-2011, 11:39 AM   #2
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Definately get used to sitting straight up with your backside against the back of the seat. Get the seat adjusted as low as you possibly can in the car, but are still able to see clearly. I'm 6'1" and have a longer torso so with the stock seats, I don't feel I'm low enough.
Remember also, your shoulder blade should be touching the seatback with your wrist being about to touch the top of the steering wheel at the same time. Adjust the wheel in or out to do this while being able to touch the pedals properly.

This position allows you to react quickly and keep the car in control. It's one of the first things the high performance driving schools will teach. If you're not seated properly, your first reaction is to move yourself forward in order to react to anything that comes up in front of you (i.e. avoiding something).
That reaction to get into the proper position is wasted time and you may hit whatever you're trying to avoid.
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      08-22-2011, 12:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AW325xi View Post
Definately get used to sitting straight up with your backside against the back of the seat. Get the seat adjusted as low as you possibly can in the car, but are still able to see clearly. I'm 6'1" and have a longer torso so with the stock seats, I don't feel I'm low enough.
Remember also, your shoulder blade should be touching the seatback with your wrist being about to touch the top of the steering wheel at the same time. Adjust the wheel in or out to do this while being able to touch the pedals properly.

This position allows you to react quickly and keep the car in control. It's one of the first things the high performance driving schools will teach. If you're not seated properly, your first reaction is to move yourself forward in order to react to anything that comes up in front of you (i.e. avoiding something).
That reaction to get into the proper position is wasted time and you may hit whatever you're trying to avoid.
Thank you!

I do have some more questions though...

I was taught how to sit at the BMW Fahrer training in Munich, twice actually. Granted, it was a year ago, so I don't remember everything, but they said you should try to sit as HIGH as possible - with about a fist or so above your head. This seems to make sense, because it allows you to see the road ahead better (i.e. you can see closer to the car) - therefore, you can decide to dodge potholes, etc. more precisely. - maybe this is what you're saying, but it's hard to make sense of " but are still able to see clearly. ". Is approx. a fist height/10 cm to the roofliner acceptable?

Also, to "Remember also, your shoulder blade should be touching the seatback with your wrist....." - I like this, but I have a question. They taught us to do this at the BMW school, but I can't remember if they told us to do it with the shoulder blade leaning against the seatback. At the moment, I can do it by moving my shoulder away, but it feels comfortable and natural. I can also turn the wheel more than 180 degrees with my hands at 3 and 9. Right now, I think I have approximately a 120 or 140 degree angle in my arms. The wheel is almost completely "tucked in" to the dashboard - maybe 1 or 2 cm out. I think that if I move it further out, my hands will be bent too much? What do you think?

Also, what is the proper sequence for seat/steering wheel/mirror adjustment? I was taught (IIRC):
First seat height - fist above head
Then seat forward/backward - so that you can depress the clutch/brake/accelerator fully and still have a bend in your leg
Then seatback/lumbar support
Then steering wheel - wrist on top of wheel
Last mirrors.

any further tips welcome.
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      08-22-2011, 12:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_o_S View Post
I was taught how to sit at the BMW Fahrer training in Munich, twice actually. Granted, it was a year ago, so I don't remember everything, but they said you should try to sit as HIGH as possible - with about a fist or so above your head. This seems to make sense, because it allows you to see the road ahead better (i.e. you can see closer to the car) - therefore, you can decide to dodge potholes, etc. more precisely. - maybe this is what you're saying, but it's hard to make sense of " but are still able to see clearly. ". Is approx. a fist height/10 cm to the roofliner acceptable?
For driving on the track, this is one thing you should NOT be doing. You should be looking further ahead than closer to your car. Therefore, sitting "high" is unnecessary IMO. In every car I jump in, I always adjust the seat to the lowest position possible to give me maximum head/helmet room.
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      08-22-2011, 01:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_o_S View Post
Thank you!

I do have some more questions though...

I was taught how to sit at the BMW Fahrer training in Munich, twice actually. Granted, it was a year ago, so I don't remember everything, but they said you should try to sit as HIGH as possible - with about a fist or so above your head. This seems to make sense, because it allows you to see the road ahead better (i.e. you can see closer to the car) - therefore, you can decide to dodge potholes, etc. more precisely. - maybe this is what you're saying, but it's hard to make sense of " but are still able to see clearly. ". Is approx. a fist height/10 cm to the roofliner acceptable?

Also, to "Remember also, your shoulder blade should be touching the seatback with your wrist....." - I like this, but I have a question. They taught us to do this at the BMW school, but I can't remember if they told us to do it with the shoulder blade leaning against the seatback. At the moment, I can do it by moving my shoulder away, but it feels comfortable and natural. I can also turn the wheel more than 180 degrees with my hands at 3 and 9. Right now, I think I have approximately a 120 or 140 degree angle in my arms. The wheel is almost completely "tucked in" to the dashboard - maybe 1 or 2 cm out. I think that if I move it further out, my hands will be bent too much? What do you think?

Also, what is the proper sequence for seat/steering wheel/mirror adjustment? I was taught (IIRC):
First seat height - fist above head
Then seat forward/backward - so that you can depress the clutch/brake/accelerator fully and still have a bend in your leg
Then seatback/lumbar support
Then steering wheel - wrist on top of wheel
Last mirrors.

any further tips welcome.

That's the same thing that my instructor at BMW M- school told us...and his instructions were to sit as HIGH as possible.

I figure I am driving a BMW on the roads, not a Formula 1 car on a track, I'll go with what the instructor said for my day to day driving.
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      08-22-2011, 01:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vwong View Post
For driving on the track, this is one thing you should NOT be doing. You should be looking further ahead than closer to your car. Therefore, sitting "high" is unnecessary IMO. In every car I jump in, I always adjust the seat to the lowest position possible to give me maximum head/helmet room.
Thanks,

I tend to change how far ahead I look, and I think everyone does too... When parking, I look at the end of the bonnet... when dodging a pothole at small speed I look at the pothole for as long as I can (i.e. follow the pothole all the way to the tip of the bonnet) and then calculate steering and throttle inputs. As speed increases I look about 50 - 100 meters ahead, etc... At night, I look at the very end of the headlight light (just where darkness starts).

The problem I have is when I move the seat completely down, it feels weird looking out of the side windows, and the car doesn't feel as comfortable any more (psychologically) - it suddenly feels bigger than it is.

Any other input welcome...

Found an article at trackpedia:
http://www.trackpedia.com/wiki/Seating_position
"The head should be about a fist's size (7-9mm) from the ceiling."

Last edited by D_o_S; 08-22-2011 at 01:23 PM.
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      08-22-2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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I remember that BMW M school teaches sitting high for better vision. Other instructors teach sitting as low as possible to feel your car's contact with the road better. I suppose sitting high makes more sense for street and sitting low makes more sense for track. But on track, definitely sit up straight so you feel the rear tires in your seat and sit close enough to the steering wheel to put some weight on it. My two cents.
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      08-23-2011, 01:26 AM   #8
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Few thoughts...

I have my seat memory set for both daily driving and track. When switching to track, the seat moves forward, more upright and slightly higher with side bolsters inflated to max. Doing so results in several benefits. Sitting deep in the seat with full bolsters keeps me stationary when cornering. Bent knees allow for comfort and your legs should not fully extend when braking, clutch, etc. Sitting higher allows for better visibility... Potholes maybe, but it's more about seeing the hood and gauging distance from curbs and corners. Lastly, adjust your mirrors so that you do not have blind spots. The center covers exactly that... The center rear view. The side mirrors make up the space between the rear view and what was previously your blind spots.

That's my 2 cents.
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      08-23-2011, 07:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_o_S View Post
Thank you!

I do have some more questions though...

I was taught how to sit at the BMW Fahrer training in Munich, twice actually. Granted, it was a year ago, so I don't remember everything, but they said you should try to sit as HIGH as possible - with about a fist or so above your head. This seems to make sense, because it allows you to see the road ahead better (i.e. you can see closer to the car) - therefore, you can decide to dodge potholes, etc. more precisely. - maybe this is what you're saying, but it's hard to make sense of " but are still able to see clearly. ". Is approx. a fist height/10 cm to the roofliner acceptable?

Also, to "Remember also, your shoulder blade should be touching the seatback with your wrist....." - I like this, but I have a question. They taught us to do this at the BMW school, but I can't remember if they told us to do it with the shoulder blade leaning against the seatback. At the moment, I can do it by moving my shoulder away, but it feels comfortable and natural. I can also turn the wheel more than 180 degrees with my hands at 3 and 9. Right now, I think I have approximately a 120 or 140 degree angle in my arms. The wheel is almost completely "tucked in" to the dashboard - maybe 1 or 2 cm out. I think that if I move it further out, my hands will be bent too much? What do you think?

Also, what is the proper sequence for seat/steering wheel/mirror adjustment? I was taught (IIRC):
First seat height - fist above head
Then seat forward/backward - so that you can depress the clutch/brake/accelerator fully and still have a bend in your leg
Then seatback/lumbar support
Then steering wheel - wrist on top of wheel
Last mirrors.

any further tips welcome.
For street driving, yes, you want to be a little higher than on the track. If you do lower your seat to the fist width and it's lower than you're accustomed to, it'll feel weird at first, but then you will like it after a while.

Your shoulder should not come off the seat back when checking for the shoulder - to - wrist length. Pull the steering wheel out.

Adjust the length for your legs first.
Then adjust the seat back - to - wrist length
Then adjust the height
Mirrors
Lumbar

Major importance when adjusting mirrors. They are SIDE VIEW mirrors, not another set of rear view mirrors. They should NOT be looking down the side of your car. This makes them useless. You should turn them out quite a bit. You should be able to loose sight of the vehicle behind you (as the pass on your driver side), once this happens, they should appear in your side view mirror. You should be able to see them until the nose is essentially right next to you (you'll see the very tail of the car in the mirror still, but the nose of the car will be visible with just a quick glance). In no way should you have to turn your head sideways to see the car next to you. When you turn your head, if the car in front of you suddenly slams on their brakes, you could be eating their bumper. Do you think racers turn their heads to see if a car is next to them going 150mph?
Try it. It's very odd at first and it does take some time to trust the mirrors, but it's much easier to move through traffic. Even my wife likes it now.

Another tip: set your interior dash lights as LOW as possible. The bright lights of the dash hurt your night vision. By dimming the dash lights, it allows your eyes to better focus in the dark.
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      08-23-2011, 08:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AW325xi View Post
For street driving, yes, you want to be a little higher than on the track. If you do lower your seat to the fist width and it's lower than you're accustomed to, it'll feel weird at first, but then you will like it after a while.

Your shoulder should not come off the seat back when checking for the shoulder - to - wrist length. Pull the steering wheel out.

Adjust the length for your legs first.
Then adjust the seat back - to - wrist length
Then adjust the height
Mirrors
Lumbar

Major importance when adjusting mirrors. They are SIDE VIEW mirrors, not another set of rear view mirrors. They should NOT be looking down the side of your car. This makes them useless. You should turn them out quite a bit. You should be able to loose sight of the vehicle behind you (as the pass on your driver side), once this happens, they should appear in your side view mirror. You should be able to see them until the nose is essentially right next to you (you'll see the very tail of the car in the mirror still, but the nose of the car will be visible with just a quick glance). In no way should you have to turn your head sideways to see the car next to you. When you turn your head, if the car in front of you suddenly slams on their brakes, you could be eating their bumper. Do you think racers turn their heads to see if a car is next to them going 150mph?
Try it. It's very odd at first and it does take some time to trust the mirrors, but it's much easier to move through traffic. Even my wife likes it now.

Another tip: set your interior dash lights as LOW as possible. The bright lights of the dash hurt your night vision. By dimming the dash lights, it allows your eyes to better focus in the dark.
Thanks,

I adjusted my seat today. And wow, what a difference! I have the height like 5mm from the bottom, this allows for fist+2fingers above head space. I can sit up straight now, after a few kilometers I'm finding it much more comfortable, natural, and best of all, I can really feel the car better now! I even managed to catch a slide before the DTC kicked in with a bit of countersteer. Also, I feel like I have better judgement of the size of the car.

Regarding the mirrors, it seems like it's a very controversial topic between having them "wide" or "closed". At the moment, I'm running them "closed", I can see the sides of the car - this seems to help me as a point of reference. But you're right regarding "When you turn your head, if the car in front of you suddenly slams on their brakes..." this happened to me once, and I almost crashed - for some reason, a truck driver decided to overtake me in the city, in narrowed lanes! I watched him for like a second, to make sure he will fit, and meanwhile, the car infront of me stopped - just as I turned my head back to see through the windshield, I noticed that the car infront was on its brakes and slammed mine to the floor - not a pleasant experience. So I think I may try "wide" mirrors.
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      08-23-2011, 09:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D_o_S View Post
. So I think I may try "wide" mirrors.
Try the "wide" mirrors again and give yourself some time to get used to it. You will never want to go back to "closed" again. And who needs 3 rear view mirrors anyway, I need my blind spot covered.
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      08-29-2011, 01:36 PM   #12
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Well, I've tried wide mirrors, and I like it. I've gotten them much wider than before, but not by the "tilt your head against the glass..." rule. Do I need to run them so wide? At the moment, I have them set up so I see none of the car when looking at the mirror. This way, when the right mirror moves down in reverse, I can see how far away I am from the curb precisely...
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      08-29-2011, 05:27 PM   #13
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From the diagram, it looks like you are sitting too far from the steering wheel because your arms are too straight at the normal position. You should move up closer so you can bend your elbows a bit. This allows you to have more arm length during turns.

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      08-29-2011, 07:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JunkStory View Post
From the diagram, it looks like you are sitting too far from the steering wheel because your arms are too straight at the normal position. You should move up closer so you can bend your elbows a bit. This allows you to have more arm length during turns.

Did you read all the posts?
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      08-30-2011, 10:29 AM   #15
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Now I have a question about steering:

I have problems turning the wheel "hand over hand" on many corners in the city. The thing is, most of the corners are "just so-so" - as soon as I lift one hand to grip over, it is time to straighten the wheel... what do I do? Do I just turn with one hand from the 9 and 3 position? For example. with a right turn, do I just keep my left hand on the wheel and turn using it?

Or is it better to place one hand at 12 (left one in a left turn, right one in a right turn) and turn using one hand from the 12 o'clock position?

Or is it better to shuffle? I'm confused :S

Look at senna for example:


Wow, this seems crazy, but apparently its the way to do it:

Last edited by D_o_S; 08-30-2011 at 10:49 AM.
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      08-30-2011, 11:56 AM   #16
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Hand position today is more 10 and 2 rather than 9 and 3 as dictated by our steering wheels (you'll notice the enlarged grip area right above the spokes).

Keep your hands there unless your arms are going to cross. If they're going to cross, shuffle the wheel.
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      02-26-2012, 09:48 AM   #17
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Okay, I'm back

So, I adjusted my seating position like half a year ago, everything was going fine, until two days ago...

Basically, I met a rally driver, and he told me that you can take ANY corner (even the tightest hairpin, he said - seems like BS to me) with fixed input steering on a rally car. I asked him if you can do that on the street in a normal car and he said sure...

So it made me think... I watched my hands turning into corners, and I realized they turn less than I thought. So, after driving around a bit and judging corners, I decided it was time to try fixed input steering for everything...

Well, I took a few corners, and I realized that some were OK, but slow ones taken at higher speed than usual were a problem. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that after about 100 degrees of turning the wheel, I have to lift my back off the seat in order to get enough leverage on the wheel. This is not apparent when standing still. The problem is multiplied when going fast, when you have to use the seat as support.

So, lo and behold, I decided to adjust my "ideal seating position". Rather unsystematicaly, I moved the seat closer to the wheel, and I moved the wheel closer to me.

There is one thing I can say for sure: you would be surprised how many corners you can take fixed input, and even more importantly, hand-over-hand is no problem.

BUT, there is a problem with the seating position.

Let's take this in order...

1) First, I dropped the seat all the way down, since it was only 1 click from being that way

2) I moved the seat closer. Now there is a problem. When I press the clutch pedal in, I have about a 120 degree bend in my knee (which seems OK). However, with my right foot just touching the brake pedal (not pressing), I have a 90 degree bend in my knee - I heard this is not a good idea. Should I move the seat back some?

3)I moved the steering wheel closer, actually to maximum extension. I also moved it higher than before.

Before, the top of the wheel was about 5 cm (I'm guessing) below shoulder height. Now, it's about 1cm below. After driving for like 15 minutes, my arms are hurting.

Second, even at maximum extension, with the wheel in a "high" position, I cannot rest my wrist on the top of the wheel, it's like 0.5cm away. If I move the wheel lower, I can rest my wrist comfortably, but then I cannot completely see the tach/speedo. I cannot move the back more upright (tried before), since if I move it more upright, I feel as if I am falling out of the seat.

All in all:

1) Wheel height - is it a good idea to keep the wheel high, and just wait for my arms to get used to it?

2) Is it a good idea to keep the wheel so close to me? Right now, when I put my hands at 9 and 3, I have a 100 degree bend in my elbows, which seems too little.

Basically, I feel I am able to control the car best the way the wheel is set up now, however, it is a bit painful (but that might just be because I am not fit enough).

Second, it feels a bit strange that with my height (174 cm) I have to have the seat all the way down, and the wheel fully extended.

Any help greatly appreciated.

EDIT: Right now, I'm sitting like this in my E90:
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      05-15-2012, 02:08 PM   #18
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I'm back...

well, I tried sitting straight for like 2 or 3 months. To be honest, I couldn't drive more than 100km before my arms hurt, having my hands at 9 and 3. As a band-aid, I would move my hands to 7 and 5 on the highway, to give them some rest.

Right now, I've tried tilting the seat back a a bit, and my back feels much better. Also, I moved the seat up.

Now, my question is: before, I couldn't see the right edge of the hood. Now, I can see it if I move my head.

If I move my seat further up, I can see the right edge at all times.

Any ideas? Should I choose the highest or lowest position possible, in regards to how much I can see out of the car?
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      05-15-2012, 04:33 PM   #19
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In my opinion, I think you should sit as low as possible for two reasons:
1) lower center of gravity (okay it's not that much)
2) visibility

The latter might sound ironic, but I think being able to look at the corner of your hood and the patch of road surface right in front of it is useless, let alone hindering your focus. If you keep your seat low and cover up the immediate front of your car with the dash, it may help you focus your vision far ahead rather than right in front of your hood, hence helping to you draw your lines better.

Another recommendation:
Try tilting the bottom of your seat back as much as you're comfortable with, and extend out the hamstring support. This will help you keep your body in place while hard braking, as well as cornering at some places.
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      05-23-2012, 02:58 AM   #20
alonzomerrill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonho View Post
In my opinion, I think you should sit as low as possible for two reasons:
1) lower center of gravity (okay it's not that much)
2) visibility

The latter might sound ironic, but I think being able to look at the corner of your hood and the patch of road surface right in front of it is useless, let alone hindering your focus. If you keep your seat low and cover up the immediate front of your car with the dash, it may help you focus your vision far ahead rather than right in front of your hood, hence helping to you draw your lines better.

Another recommendation:
Try tilting the bottom of your seat back as much as you're comfortable with, and extend out the hamstring support. This will help you keep your body in place while hard braking, as well as cornering at some places.
As per my think your information is right and i want to say that i always prefer to sit as much as comfortable and not sit straight. I never feel pain in my back but i want to know that it can injured my pain? It is safe or not?
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