The Ups and Downs of Bike Saddles - 7 Things To Look Out For

Nothing dulls the therapeutic effects of a long bike ride across the countryside than a poor-quality seat. For recreational cyclists who love to pedal, the full experience demands a bicycle saddle provides comfort and support. Contrary to popular belief, your crotch area can hinder endurance more than your legs. When shopping for the optimal bike seat cushion, you should know how to spot early signs of discomfort. 

What is Bike Saddle Discomfort?

No matter the price tag of your seemingly well-rounded seat, a breathable bicycle saddle shouldn’t feel like a medieval torture instrument after the first hour of riding. 

A bicycle will typically only support three contact points: the hands, feet, and crotch. Bicycle saddle discomfort can be characterised by numbness in the nether regions, causing abrasion and, in men, a potential for erectile dysfunction. 

However, there’s no reason cycling should be a—literal—pain in the butt. When selecting the right bike saddle solution, consider the following features. 

1. The Overall Experience

Whether you cycle competitively or casually, your saddle must be compatible with your anatomy. Some cyclists prefer narrow, lightly padded seats, whereas others will only make it around the block with something a little heftier. In the end, what it comes down to is your preference, leaving specific brand recommendations in the dust. 

2. Width

What supports your weight on a bike seat is your ischial tuberosities or your “sit bones.” The lower your handlebars concerning your saddle, the more you’ll arch forward as you ride, placing pressure away from your sit bones. 

A seat that is too narrow will place too much weight on the soft tissue between your sit bones, where the blood vessels are. On average, women have wider sit bones than men and should shop for wider seats.

3. Curvature

From the rear, a bicycle seat should be flat or only slightly domed. A large curve can put a strain on your sit bones. 

4. Dip

From the side, a bicycle saddle should be flat from nose to tail. Prioritise a dip that is only 6 degrees elevated or less. When the bottom leans up, it becomes uncomfortable to sit on—you certainly won’t be on your way towards becoming the next Lance Armstrong. 

5. Padding

More padding doesn’t beget more comfort. You only want enough foam to allow your bones to sink in barely. Too much foam and the center begins to press upward. 

6. Other Sections

New generation saddles may come adorned with gel-padded areas, cutouts, and holes on the top. Some may lessen contact and pressure, whereas an overembellished seat may not be as comfortable as it should be. Give your seat a test cycle before you make a final purchase. 

7. Position

A perfect saddle won’t do what it’s supposed to if you position it poorly. Establish saddle height by getting a feel of the optimal riding position. It should be level, with little room for a tilt. Measure the angle with a yardstick, making sure not to lift the seat more than a single degree. 

For most riders, the crank arms should be horizontal. Some racers prefer the seat post clamp to fall 1 to 2 centimetres behind the crank arm to increase pedaling leverage. 

If the nose of your seat keeps pressing in the wrong spot, feel free to adjust it to fit your body. 

Riding Techniques

For longer biking sessions, ensure that you aren’t sitting statically for too long. Avoid constant pressure by moving on the saddle from side to side. Moving will remove the risk of sore spots and numbness. Mainly off-road, movement is seamless as you adjust to various terrains. On a flat terrain, shift to a higher gear for at least 30 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes. 

Conclusion

What the ideal bicycle seat comes down to are your preferences and skill. Wider or narrower seats that suit others may not serve you as well—your best bet is to give each seat a test run. 

At CUSHBIKE, our comfortable bicycle seats aren’t just cosy to sit on. They’re waterproof, reflective, and advanced. Shop our selection today for a seat that cushions your bottom as you enjoy the cycling scenery across the U.K.