Why Bike Seats are Uncomfortable! — and How To Fix It
Bikes are super enjoyable to ride, and they can help one build muscles. One can have a full-fledged workout by just trying to commute on a bike. However, with every enjoyable hobby, some setbacks ruin the fun, and one of them is an uncomfortable bike seat.
The uncomfortable bike seats make the muscles sore, and all the parts that come in contact with the seat rub against it, get overheated, and chafe too. The narrow seats make sitting on them for long rides uncomfortable, as there isn’t enough space to balance the body parts.
There can be many technical features of the bike that can cause discomfort and sometimes pain. But it’s not the bike itself but some little mistakes that cause such great discomfort.
Luckily, you can easily prevent this by finding the root cause of the problem. In this guide, I will discuss why your bike seat is uncomfortable and what you can do to make it comfortable again.
Why Are Bike Seats Uncomfortable? — The Root Cause
The feeling of discomfort and soreness is common among many. However, the reason for this discomfort can significantly differ from person to person. There are many reasons why a bike seat causes so much discomfort and pain.
Bike seats can be uncomfortable because of the riding posture, incorrect size, and many more. Knowing the cause of this can help one fight the problem and bring about a comfortable riding experience for themselves.
Here are some of the reasons why a bike seat is uncomfortable.
A bike seat is usually uncomfortable if it is too big or too small for you. An incorrect size will naturally impact your sitting position, giving room to discomfort and pain.
A lot of people give up on biking, thinking they will never escape the discomfort. However, it can be that their bike is either too large or too small in size.
Various people perceive bike seats to come in free size, but they can’t be more wrong. Like shoes, a bike’s saddle is never ‘one size fits all.’ This is why the right saddle size is important to have a comfortable experience.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: Women’s Bike Size Chart — (Correct Sizing, Bicycle)
If you are buying a bike, you need to make sure it’s the correct size for you. To select the right size, you may need to test drive a few bikes until you get that best-suited one.
If you already own a bike, you should see if the bike’s seat fits or not; you can also visit a bike shop and ask them to take your measurements. A bike’s saddle can also be changed as per the rider’s size requirements.
One can get the bike size charts at a local bike shop to see what their saddle size is.
Wrongly Positioned Handlebar
If your bike’s components, especially the handlebars, are not in a proper position, it can also be the reason for discomfort for you. This is because if a handlebar is wrongly positioned, it will either cause you to lean far too forward or far too back while riding the bike.
This can cause soreness in your muscles. A wrongly positioned handlebar can be too high or too low which requires the rider to reach shorter or longer than necessary.
You should get your handlebar’s position checked by a bike shop owner and ask them to position it right. The comfortable position of the handlebars can completely differ from person to person.
Trying out different positions of the handlebars can help to find the comfortable one.
One of the reasons that your bike deems uncomfortable even after ensuring the right size of the saddle and the right position of the handlebars is that it’s a low-quality bike. The high-end bikes are the ones that offer convenience and comfort to their buyers. These high-quality bikes guarantee safety and comfort to the customers.
They have customized or specialized saddles that are well engineered to deliver the best possible user experience.
The low-end bikes often lack these benefits, which make the riding experience uncomfortable.
» This could also be something for you: Road Bikes Easier To Ride?
Riding bikes is a sport, and every sport comes with its protective layer of clothing known as the PPE (personal protective equipment). The right sportswear provides many benefits, including comfort. For bike riders, there is specialized biking gear as well as cycling shorts which can significantly increase the rider’s comfort when riding a bike.
Wearing the right sportswear that is skin tight and has the right padding protection can not only protect the rider but also save one from the discomfort and soreness of the bike seat.
You can easily get biking/cycling shorts from any bike retailer. These shorts are designed to work well with the bike’s saddle shape. It can decrease the chances of chafing on your skin and reduces sweat.
Saddle Not Seat
Seats are significantly designed to carry the whole weight of the person sitting on them. Whereas saddles are not designed to carry the full weight of the rider. Bike riders are supposed to put half their weight on the saddle while their lower limb weight is supposed to go on the pedals. This, in return, makes the rider ride at a faster pace.
One of the many misconceptions that bike riders face is that they mistake the bike’s saddle for a seat. Seat and saddle are different terms with different meanings.
A bike seat is called a saddle, while a seat is a universal term for something you can sit on.
If one treats the bike’s saddle as a seat, it’s only natural that it becomes uncomfortable for them. One can even get a backache from exerting more force and weight on the saddle.
Riding a bike can make every bone in your body hurt if you ride in the wrong position/posture. People often ride their bikes without keeping the right posture in mind thinking it’s less important.
However, bike manufacturers design bikes, so cyclists ride them in a certain position.
The position of the handlebars, pedals, and saddle is all designed while keeping that right posture in mind.
Therefore, the wrong posture can make the experience poor, uncomfortable, and painful.
» Read my blog post: The Disadvantages Of Cycling?
How To Make Your Bike Seat Comfortable?
After knowing the possible causes for the uncomfortable bike seat, you can easily make your bike seat comfortable again by following these tips.
Bike Set Up
The height of the saddle is essential, so make sure the saddle is neither too high nor too low, so your legs can fully support your weight. If not, you will end up having back pain. Apart from that, the handlebar position is also very important to prevent the risk of soreness and discomfort.
Make sure you position the handlebars properly by setting the correct height that does not require you to lean too far forward or too far backward.
As soon as you buy a bike or feel that they are causing discomfort, you should check if the bike is installed properly.
Before riding, you should always inspect a bike’s component’s proper alignment to ensure a safe ride.
The proper installation of your bike seat can help you get rid of the discomfort. You should make the necessary adjustments that are suitable for you and your comfort.
Selecting the right size of the bike seat is as important as buying a nicely fitted suit. To ensure that the bike seat is comfortable, you should make sure that you have the right size of the bike seat. See the bike size charts, and then buy one that fits your measurements.
If the bike seat is not your suitable size, it can cause a lot of soreness and discomfort. Visit a bike shop and get a measurement done to find the right size of the saddle for your bike.
The right saddle won’t let your thighs rub against each other preventing chafing.
Choose the Right Saddle
Choosing the right saddle is crucial to ensure a comfortable experience. After selecting the right size of the saddle, make sure it is properly installed and at the correct position. Ensure that the height of the saddle is correct as per your requirements. Modify it by adjusting the saddle’s height to the same horizontal level as your hip.
The wrong height can cause soreness in the back.
Make sure to correctly angle the saddle of the bike so it does not sway or tilt when you are riding the bike. The right angle will fully sport the weight of the body.
» Read my blog post about: How Long Does It Take to Cycle a Mile?
One more important factor is the design and shape of the saddle.
If the saddle is too thin or too narrow, then the body weight will not be distributed properly, which can cause you to lose balance.
Meanwhile, if the saddle is padded and too wide, it can cause discomfort in the inner thighs by causing friction and giving room to pain and chafing.
The correct saddle is neither too wide nor thin; they are lightweight, well-engineered, and split or cut out from the middle to give room for pedaling.
Keep the Proper Posture
Position your butt properly on the saddle to ensure that your weight is distributed equally. This will prevent you from tilting and won’t put pressure on your lower legs.
The posture of the rider is equally responsible for the discomfort they feel while riding the bike. Riding in poor posture can cause you a lot of pain in certain areas, which you may blame on the bike itself, even if the culprit is you.
Ensure that you are riding in the correct posture on the bike. Make sure it is not slouchy or round.
Instead, you should keep your body as straight as possible, and your arms are extended when reaching the handlebars. This way, your body is perfectly aligned and relaxed.
Wear Your Sports Gear
Wearing the proper sports gear will have you achieve the utmost comfort when riding a bike. Cycling gear and shorts are designed to boost the comfort of the riders. These are made from smooth and slick material that prevents friction against the bike.
Wearing these cycling shorts can prevent the soreness of the muscles as well as prevent chafing in the thighs. Some cycling shorts also come with padding to ensure comfort over the uncomfortable saddle.
These are designed to provide cushioning to the butt area and decrease the friction from the saddle altogether.
» You can also read my post: How Many Miles to Bike a Day?
Do Seat Covers Make Any Difference?
Seat covers have a significant impact on comfort. Leather covers are popular amongst bike riders because leather seats are durable, and it takes a long time to wear and tear. Hence leather seats also take longer to mold to the body’s shape.
Some riders also prefer gel covers for their bike seats to add a sense of cushioning. However, the gel inside gets molded up pretty quickly and creates an uneven base on the bike seat, causing further discomfort.
Why Are Bike Seats Shaped the Way They Are?
The long narrow shape of the bike seat allows the riders to spin and pedal their legs at a high level. Whereas a wider saddle would interfere with the pedaling thighs. The skinny shape of the bike’s seat gives good thigh space for effective pedaling.
Moreover, the back of the saddle is designed broad enough to support the rider’s pelvis.
Imagine if a bike’s seat was a wide cushioned saddle, the seat would sink with the weight of the rider and won’t support the weight so the rider can paddle easily.
Plus the back end of the saddle is efficient for riders who continuously move their pelvis back to front when riding and changing speed or just want to give their butts a rest.
Cycling is all fun and games until the pain kicks in, and the soreness eats away at your muscles. But no doubt, this acts as a big barrier to cycling for many riders.
But now, you do not have any reason to be intimidated by the long and narrow-looking saddle because you can easily pinpoint why your bike seat is causing you soreness and prevent it.
Just follow the guide, keep your posture straight and your bike aligned, and you won’t have anything to worry about. I hope this guide was helpful and motivated you to take your bike out for a ride. Here’s to happy bike riding!