Have you ever wondered why all bike seats are so uncomfortable? Quite a sizeable percentage of new riders wonder why the design of all bike seats doesn’t provide comfort while riding. If you fall into this category, you are not alone. When I acquired my first bike and ventured into the biking world, I consistently asked myself the same question. However, I became wiser later on and realized the science behind the bike seat design.
The design of bike seats is not intended to support the entire weight of the riders. When riding, the bike seat supports only your sit bones, enabling free movement of the thighs when pedaling. By maintaining the correct riding form, most of your weight is supported on your soft tissue between the sit bones. Generally, a pampered and comfortable bike seat hinders your riding form, resulting in ineffective pedaling, hence poor performance.
A Seat Or A Saddle?
In the biking world, the bike seat is known as a saddle. Though it is practical to call what you sit on a seat, be informed that there is a big difference between a seat and a saddle. While a seat accommodates all your body’s weight, the saddle carries a small percentage of your weight while riding.
Another pertinent question is, “what supports the rest of your weight if the saddle supports a fraction of it?” the answer is straightforward, the rest of your body weight is supported by the pedals when riding.
Having understood the glaring difference between a seat and a saddle, now you know why a bike seat (saddle) isn’t comfortable.
Reasons Why The Saddle Is Skinny And Small
If you are a new entrant into the biking world, you might be asking yourself the reason why bike seats are skinny and small.
All of us enjoy sitting on a soft surface for comfort. But the science of bike riding dictates the opposite. The skinny and weird design of the bike seat is the best.
1. The primary reason why the saddle is skinny, small, and comes with a hard surface is to support your sit bones. Generally, sit bones, also known as Ischial Tuberosity are two bones that are the primary contact point on a bike seat when riding. Your two sit bones act as mini pillars and offer you support to maintain a comfortable riding position.
2. Another reason explaining the weird design of all bike seats is that the saddle enables you to sit on the seat rather than sitting in the seat. If the seat was soft and comfy, it means that you’ll sit in it, which might cause kin chaffing due to too much contact.
3. Wider and soft seats might be comfy to sit on, but they cause discomfort and hinder pedaling efficiency when it comes to riding.
4. The small and narrow nose featured at the front of the seat enables the rider enough thigh clearance. If the nose is wide, you will find your thighs rubbing against the seat leading to skin chafing and bacterial infection.
Types Of Bike Seats
There are numerous types of bike seats, and each type is ideal for a specific purpose. Here below are some of the most common bike seats:
Racing saddles are lightweight, skinny, and stiff. The design of these seats provides bikers with freedom of thigh movement to minimize chafing.
The seats are set in a low position to eliminate wind resistance and offer aerodynamics; hence, the rider’s weight is distributed to the hands and feet.
Comfort saddles are skinny bike seats that feature padding within the seat cover. The seats are comfy, allowing you to ride for an extended period without numbness. Comfort saddles are suitable when riding on bumpy trails as they offer shock resistance.
These narrow seats are synonymous with mountain and hybrid bikes. The saddles are built, featuring a springy mechanism beneath the seat. The mechanism suspends the rider to ensure minimal impact whenever you cycle in uneven terrains.
Mountain Bike Saddles
Mountain bike saddles come with a narrow and padded design. The padding enables the rider to shift the body regularly while riding on rough trails. The seat’s shape makes it easy for your butt to move backward or forward within the seat. The rear shape allows for effortless back movement, while the nose is in a slope position to enable you to move forward with ease.
Gel saddles feature a unique design that enables them to mold to the rider’s body contours. The saddles come in light and heavy options. Whereas light saddles are narrower, their heavy counterparts are wide.
Gel saddles distribute your weight uniformly to minimize chafing, groin discomfort, and numbness.
Gender-specific saddles are engineered for either men or women to suit the pelvic structure of each gender. While men’s seats are long and narrow, women’s seats are shorter and wider.
Tips To Aid In Avoiding Bike Seat Discomfort
The design of a bike seat doesn’t make it uncomfortable when riding. What brings discomfort is improper use of the seat, poor riding form, ineffective riding attires, and other minor factors. Given below are tips to avoid saddle discomfort while riding:
Choose The Correct Saddle
Butts come in different designs and sizes. A comfortable saddle with your friend might not necessarily be comfortable with you.
Ensure you choose a saddle that has the correct width for your butt. If you select a narrow seat, your weight can’t be distributed uniformly, while wide seats result in crotch friction hence chafing and bacterial infections.
The right saddle fits your butts perfectly and allows your two sit bones to sit squarely on the sit resulting in more comfort while riding.
Wear Correct Bike Shorts
Invest in well-padded cycling shorts that fit you snugly. A correct bike short minimizes butt discomfort as the padding acts as a cushion between the saddle and your butt, eliminating numbness.
Adjust Your Saddle To The Correct Height
If your seat is too high, it leads to friction in your crotch. It would help if you identify the correct bike fit that works for you and adjust the saddle to the right size.
Bike seats are perceived to be so uncomfortable, but this is not the case. Their design might be weird, but the seat has numerous benefits to the cyclist if properly used. Follow the above-given tips to eliminate instances of bike seat discomfort when cycling.