Cycling combines numerous health benefits, as it can help you strengthen your legs, lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve brain function, enhance balance and coordination, etc.
However, as pleasant as it is to pedal around some nice landscapes, riding a bike can provide some discomfort – namely, its saddle can be pretty uncomfortable to sit on.
Why are bike seats so uncomfortable? And how can we make sitting on them less unpleasant? Read on to find some useful suggestions!
Why Do We Experience Saddle Soreness?
Saddle soreness is a very common experience, and many (if not all) bikers have experienced it at some point in their life. There are a few reasons why we feel it, such as:
Bruised Sit Bones
Most commonly, sit bones bruise because they are not used to a saddle, so especially if you have just started using a new one, you can expect some discomfort.
It will be even more unpleasant if the width of the saddle’s back is not well-adjusted to your sit bones size.
Another common issue is chafing, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. When your clothing material and your saddle rub together, it damages your skin. The problem increases when you dress improperly for your biking ride.
Skin Irritation and Damage
Skin irritation and damage feel really nasty, and it usually results from sitting on a saddle for a long time. It can be even more painful if you have an uncomfortable saddle and wear clothes made from materials that do not allow enough skin to breathe.
It can also stem from individual vulnerabilities – some people have more sensitive skin than others.
How to Make a Bike Seat More Comfortable?
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to make a bike seat more comfortable and reduce the risk of soreness, chafing, and skin irritation. Follow them carefully, and you may enjoy your cycling experience more without the unwanted side effects!
Set Your Bike Seat Properly
Before you start cycling, you should adjust your whole bike to fit your body. Reaching the right alignment can prevent lots of physical discomfort and injuries, and setting your seat properly is an important element of this process.
A good practice is to adjust it to the same height where your hip bones are located. What’s more, it is recommended to check if the distance between the saddle and the handlebar is right. And you don’t need any specialized tools for that – just put your elbow at the tip of the seat. Then, move the seat forward to create a one-forearm space apart from the handlebar. In this way, you will get enough distance between the handlebar and your hands (around three fingers).
Place the Saddle at the Right Height
Setting a bike seat too high results in more pressure going to the lower back, the butt, and the genital area. On the other hand, if it’s set too low, it can put too much stress on your knees and unload your back a little, and you may not be sure what’s the origin of the discomfort.
So, to position it right, you should set the height in such a way that when the heel is placed on the pedal, your leg is straight. As a result, placing the foot correctly at the pedal will lead to gentle bending of your knee, which is perfect for the most efficient pedaling.
Choose the Correct Saddle for Your Cycling Style
To achieve maximum comfort, you should install a bike seat that reflects your cycling style. For example, fast-speed bikers who love racing and mountain cycling should have a saddle with an aerodynamic, skinny design. When it comes to more ordinary recreational biking, you should go for a wider and a little curvy model.
This is associated with comfort in positioning. In more everyday cycling, a rider usually takes an upright position, and a curvy design will provide the right support to the butt and sit bones. On the other hand, when a rider is climbing or racing, they are usually tilted forward, so a narrow front can perform best.
Wear Padded Cycling Shorts
Before you hit the road, remember to dress up properly to minimize any discomfort and damage and maximize the efficiency and pleasure of riding. If you cycle on a regular basis, it is certainly a great idea to invest in dedicated padded cycling shorts. They are designed to reduce the pressure points and lessen road vibration and soreness.
Padded cycling shorts can really make a huge difference when it comes to your cycling experience, especially on longer distances!
Apply a Saddle Cover/Cushion
Most stock saddles are quite hard to sit on, which may be pretty frustrating and inconvenient. However, you can mitigate the stiffness and hardness if you apply a special cover.
It will work as a cushion, making the seat softer and more comfortable when you put it inside. If you don’t want to spend too much money and prefer to avoid replacing your saddle completely, it can be an excellent alternative.
The Bottom Line
All in all, if you are wondering how to make a bike seat more comfortable, you don’t have to worry about it, as there are quite a few ways to reduce the discomfort.
Setting up the saddle to fit your body perfectly is crucial, but if you don’t mind spending some money to improve your cycling experience as well, you can buy a new one, more adjusted to your riding style, and/or get yourself padded cycling shorts.
Apart from that, many bikers also use a bike seat cover to serve as a cushion, reducing the harshness of the saddle.
Keeping all of the above advice in mind will help you to avoid chafing, skin irritations and damage, as well as bruised sit bones, leaving just the pleasure of cycling and admiring beautiful landscapes around you. Start cycling more comfortably and prepare your bike seat properly before you hit the road next time!