It’s normal for people to have a sore hind end after a tough cycling session. Why does that happen?
Well, as you sit on a bike seat for an extended period, your entire body weight is supported by two small bones located on the bottom of your pelvis. These body parts need to handle more than they can chew, thus leading to discomfort and soreness.
It also doesn’t help that most bike seats are built hard to maximize the performance output of riders. Well, here’s a firm reminder to the manufacturers—not all of us in the cycling group are looking to participate in the next Tour De France!
Needless to say, we need to play the cards we are dealt with. Thankfully, there are ways you can make your bike seat much more comfortable.
The tips I’ve listed below are applicable to all types of bikes including outdoor bikes such as road bikes, mountain bikes, and indoor bikes such as peloton bikes and exercise bikes. These suggestions will go a long way in preventing saddle sores during long rides or spin class.
7 Tips for a More Comfortable Bike Seat
1. Purchase a bike seat cover
Bike seat covers, available in both thick and thin padding, consist of springs, foam padding, and shock-absorbing materials to provide a safe and comfortable ride. There are also gel seat covers that bikers say are better than foam covers.
These covers are ideally useful for men and women with lower back injuries and spine pain problem.
Not only do the covers widen the seat to facilitate a more comfortable riding experience, but they also absorb the shocks, jolts, and vibrations you experience in case you find yourself on bumpy roads. Plus, I know for a fact that they usually boast of weather-resistant properties.
From personal experience, I prefer thin padding over thick ones. Thick seat covers usually restrict my ability to cycle effectively as there is greater pressure on my sit bones.
If you don’t want to dress up your seat, you can consider getting leggings or shorts that have built-in chamois or maybe chamois creams for cycling. This way, you and not your bike would be wearing the foam seat pad.
Therefore, head to a bike shop before your next journey and make sure you get a bike seat cover for your butt.
2. Buy the appropriate saddle
Don’t fall victim to the marketing ploys of large brand names. It would be a foolish move to splash the cash on a saddle simply because of its brand name.
To get your hands on a saddle that can go the distance, be sure to check the width of the saddle.
In essence, the saddle must be wide enough to accommodate your weight and distribute it evenly. However, opting for a saddle that is too wide isn’t the best option either as ultra-wide saddles tend to generate more friction between the crotch and the seat.
Meanwhile, narrow bicycle seats fail to execute the simple task of effective weight distribution.
To find the appropriate saddle, make sure you measure your sit and hip bones first.
3. Adjust your seat
It appears that the padding is up to par, the quality of the saddle is top-notch, and the performance of the saddle is second to none. But, why is it still so darn uncomfortable to ride?
It’s often the case that the inaccurate positioning of the saddle may be the simple reason behind uncomfortable rides. Unfortunately, there lies no one-solution-for-all in this matter; you’d have to find your ideal saddle riding position through trial and error.
Adjust your seat height by moving it up or down, tilt it side to side, or lift the seat post a little bit higher or lower. While doing this, also consider tweaking the height of the handlebars.
The key is for you to be patient as finding the right saddle position can take a decent period of time.
Here are some pointers while you adjust your seat:
- Don’t angle your seat too far forward or back.
- If you experience front knee pain, it is a tell-tale sign that your saddle is either too far forward or too low.
- If you feel pain in the back of your knee or feel your hamstring on overdrive, it’s an indicator that your saddle is too high.
- Make sure the adjustment is level to the naked eye. A level saddle is always better than an uneven one.
- There’s no need for you to go extra-extra with the changes.
4. Pay attention to your riding stance
There’s one thing many cyclists get wrong with bike seats—bike seats aren’t designed to accommodate your entire bodyweight. Bike saddles work hand in hand with bike handlebars to support the bodyweight of the cyclist.
The general rule of thumb implies that one should rely on handlebars to support at least 30% of the bodyweight with the remaining 70% accommodated by the bike seat. Distributing your weight in this manner will decrease butt soreness substantially and lead to a much more comfortable ride.
To stick to this rule, you’ll have to keep tweaking the position of your handlebars and seats until you find a good incline saddle angle. Again, this may take some time as there is no wizardry involved in getting this right. Have patience and you’ll eventually find the ideal saddle height and handlebar height.
Also, understand that it is ill-advised for you to sit too upright on your bike as doing so can cause back pain.
Additionally, don’t make the grave mistake of sitting too far forward on your bicycle saddle.
The saddle, as a whole, can’t accommodate your entire weight let alone its nose. When you do this, you expose your butt to unfamiliar territories and put stress on your crucial nerves.
This results in poor blood flow circulation that inevitably leads to soreness.
Why would you spend a bomb on the squishier gel part of a bicycle seat cover or saddle and not use it to your benefit? Your butt would feel a lot more grateful if you took up the whole seat.
5. Wear appropriate cycling shorts
If you don’t want to subject your skin to chafing, you should wear suitable bike shorts during your long-distance rides.
Loose cycling shorts often lead to skin rubbing which causes chafing in your thighs and groin area. When that happens, expect to feel discomfort and pain in those areas like never before.
On the other hand, high-quality cycling shorts sport tight-fitting to lower the friction and heat generated by the impact of the bike saddle and your body.
It’s even better if you get bicycle shorts with some form of padding.
6. Break-in your bike seat
A saddle, just like your shoes, will need breaking-in. Only when you ride on the saddle long enough will the seat mold to your shape and weight.
Tough as it may seem, sometimes, you simply need to suck it up and get some hard miles on your bike.
If the bike seat is still uncomfortable even after some diligent riding and repeated adjustments, there could be a problem with the bike seat. Perhaps, the saddle isn’t able to accommodate your butt properly?
If you feel too much pressure on your bottom, it’s in your best interest to forgo your current bike saddle and go for a new one.
7. Don’t sit all the time
It’s a known fact that when bike manufacturers make seats, they don’t really put “comfort” on the top of their priority list. They usually make bike saddles to optimize performance and pedaling.
If they made the seats soft, the energy that would be exerted on turning the pedals would be wasted as you bounce up and down on the soft padding.
If you’ve been sitting for a long time, it may be better for you to stand during steeper climbs. Doing so will switch up the muscles in play and give the rigorously used parts of your legs a sorely needed rest.
Additionally, your bum will not be subjected to bounces and the uncomfortable experiences they bring forth.
Cycling while standing up on your road bike is usually a great way to target your quads. So, if you want to focus on that specific muscle group, it is a good idea to stand up during a bike ride.
As a cyclist, more often than not, we primarily focus on getting faster. We tend to put too much emphasis on the weight of the bike and its aerodynamics.
While doing so, we lose sight of the importance of a comfortable ride. You can buy all the expensive cycling gear and product you want, but if your ride isn’t comfortable, there’s no way you can cover large areas and distances in record time.
Not only is it important to set up a bike fit for control, endurance, and performance, but it is also equally important to focus on comfort.
Now that you are well aware of all the tips and tricks to make your bike seat more comfortable, no longer will you have to dread your next long cycling session.
As a responsible rider, head to the nearest bike shops and share useful suggestions with other people. Providing a little bit of help to fellow cyclists wouldn’t hurt you or make you small.