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How to Make a Bike Seat More Comfortable

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A great bicycle won’t get you anywhere if you avoid it because the seat hurts your bum.

Even if you have a perfectly sized bike for your leg length and body weight, the wrong seat will make you miserable and can even put you at risk when riding in traffic.

Choose the Proper Seat for Your Riding Style

Bicycles and riders all sit a bit differently.

However, the degree or angle of lean of the rider will be the first step in defining the sort of seat they need. Riders sit

  • upright, or touring position
  • regular, or mountain biking position
  • pro or racing position, for those who like to ride fast

A touring seat will have more padding and a wider cushion at the back.

These bikes generally require the rider to pedal a bit ahead of the seat, so the wide cushion at the back supports the spine without impacting speed.

On a touring seat, the majority of the weight of the rider is on the seat.

A regular seat has a narrower back and may have anatomical cutouts as needed. The width of the back of the seat should be no wider than the width of the sit bones.

The padding should be of medium density and some riders like a gel seat. On a touring or mountain biking seat, the weight of the rider is balanced between the seat, pedals, and handlebars.

The narrow front of this seat makes leaning in for more speed easy.

A racing seat is narrowest of all and may feature anatomical cuts or padding as necessary.

A rider on a racing bike has their weight forward. Their weight is mostly on their handlebars and pedals.

These are the narrowest seats and offer the easiest, fastest pedaling.

If you’re never going to race, get a touring seat.

Should you notice that the seat is getting in the way of your thighs as you pedal, a regular seat may be an effective addition.

Read more: Why Are Bike Seats So Uncomfortable

Add Padding

You may be able to enjoy a softer seat with a gel cover. However, before you make an addition or buy a new seat, make sure that the seat you’re currently using is

  • at the correct angle
  • set to the proper height
  • not worn so much it’s out of balance

It’s also important to make sure that you are on the proper seat for your anatomy. Women and men learning to race will be putting most of their weight on their arms and legs, but you need the right seat under your seat to avoid chafing and painful pressure.

Emollients

As you’re finding just the right spot on your bicycle seat, consider adding emollients to the seat to allow you to slide a bit.

Too much friction can lead to hot spots, chafing and a lot of discomfort. Should you find that you’re always having to slide to pedal fully through the stroke, consider also lowering the seat.

Read more: 6 Best Bike Seats for Overweight Person

Suspension Considerations

Depending on your body weight and the trails you like to take, upgrading the suspension on your bike can lessen your seat discomfort. You can either get shocks added to both wheels, called full suspension, or just on the back, or hardtail.

Upgrading the suspension needs to be done carefully. If your bike currently has shocks front and back and there is no travel in the mechanism, you may be at risk of failure.

Adding the wrong after-market shocks can alter how your tires hit the trail, which can impact your safety.

Getting the right shocks on the rear can improve pedal efficiency and boost your stroke power. It can also protect your spine and bottom.

To test the quality of your existing shocks, check just how much compression the shock will tolerate and the speed of the rebound if you take it over a bump or off a curb.

You only want one bounce. If so, your shocks are probably still in good shock.

However, if your rides on rough trails have you worried about your fillings as well as wincing about your bottom, an upgrade may be necessary.

Making your bike as comfortable as possible, whether you’re riding on a trail for fun or to the office for work, will keep you pedaling.

Clothing Choices

Bicycling shorts create slip so the fabric of your clothing doesn’t contribute to chafing and pressure. You can also get padded shorts to give you even more cushion.

Padded underwear is a possibility, and going without underwear is also an option. Adding an emollient cream under your bike shorts can also reduce chafing. It’s important to study up on the padding material itself.

If you’re riding in hot weather or pushing hard and sweating a great deal, biking shorts loaded with plain poly or furniture foam will lead to a lot of heat build-up.

There are folks that make their own seat covers. If you don’t notice discomfort during the hottest, hardest part of your ride, consider freezing a get or DIY cover and putting it on the seat as you cool down to keep inflammation and irritation down.

Getting the right seat for your riding style is the first step to being comfortable. If you sit back, your need more padding at the back of the seat. the more you lean forward, the less seat you need behind you.

Invest in the right suspension to keep you both cushioned and safe. Wear gear that will allow slip, and add emollients to keep you and the seat from too much rubbing.

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.

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