If your crotch or butt hurts after a long ride, chances are, your rides feel more like a punishment than something that you would like to do daily. The good news, however, is that figuring out the answer to the question “how can I make my bike seat more comfortable?” is not too complicated.
Various factors – including, the saddle’s alignment on the seat post, the saddle design, your sitting position, and handlebar positioning – can affect the amount of comfort offered by your bike seat. This means that if your bike seats hurt, buying a new MTB saddle may not be the only solution. In this guide, we will take a deeper look at the top solutions you can use to avoid a painful ride.
How to Make a Bike Seat More Comfortable
1. Invest in the Right Saddle
Sometimes – but not always – bike seats hurt because of poor design. If your seat has a poor design, the most ideal solution is to choose a bike seat that complements your type of riding.
Choosing a good bike seat involves considering your biking needs. The position you take on your saddle when riding your hardtail mountain bike off-road will be different from your position when riding a commuter bike on a paved road.
To give you an example, if you are a cyclist who slides forward during efforts and likes to ride on the rivet – this happens when mountain biking – you will need a saddle featuring a flat profile and a wide, flat nose. If you like to sit more upright on your bike and do not move around a lot – for example, when using your touring bike on a flat surface – you will need a saddle that is slightly wider and has a curved profile for improved comfort.
2. Adjust Your Saddle’s Position
Once you invest in the right saddle for your bike, the next answer to how can I make my bike seat more comfortable is adjusting the saddle’s position. When adjusting your bike seat, the main elements to consider include the seat height, fore/aft position, and tilt.
If your bike seat is too high, it will force you to tilt your hips on both sides when pedaling. This is one of the reasons why bike seats hurt – the bigger the tilting motion, the bigger the potential for chafing and rubbing. The friction makes your butt and crotch hurt and the ride extremely uncomfortable.
In addition to the seat height, work on adjusting the side by side angle and the up and down angle. If your seat is tilted too far forward, it will cause you to slip off the seat’s front and put excess pressure on your elbows, wrists, and hands. If the sit is tilted too far back, it will have your butt sliding off the rear of the saddle and putting unnecessary pressure on the nether regions.
Adjusting your saddle just one or two millimeters can have a significant impact on your comfort. Don’t be afraid to play around with your saddle and seat post positioning – settle once you feel 100% comfortable when riding your budget road bike.
3. Adjust Your Position on the Seat
Your full body weight is not meant to rest entirely on your bike’s saddle. The saddle is supposed to be one area of the bike in which you should be spreading out your weight. While riding your bike, your body weight should be dispersed between the crotch and the saddle, your hands and the bike’s handlebars, and your feet and the mountain bike pedals. If too much weight is pressing down on the saddle, you will end up complaining that your bike seats hurt.
In addition to distributing your weight evenly, another solution to how can I make my bike seat more comfortable is taking up the whole seat. Often, cyclists sit too far forward on the bike seat, leaving their butt to rest on the skinnier part of the bike’s saddle.
Sitting on the nose of the saddle exerts a lot of pressure on the rider’s perineum, compresses important nerves, and restricts blood flow. This can cause feelings of pain and uneasiness. Taking up the whole saddle can make the seat more comfortable.
4. Avoid Wide Seats
Generally, wide bike seats are usually less comfortable compared to narrower seats. The wider the seat, the more friction and chaffing it will cause while you are pedaling your bike. This results in discomfort.
It is worth noting that the wideness and largeness of a bike seat are relative. The ideal saddle width is dependent on the cyclist’s sit bone width.
The bony ends of the pelvis – the sit bones – bear most of your weight and can withstand the pressure when seating. As such, the width of your bike seat is determined by the sit bones’ positioning and not how wide your bum is.
Most bike saddle dealers have simple devices you can use to measure the seat bone width. If you cannot find an ideal device to measure your sit bone width, you can follow the procedure outlined below to measure the width at home:
- Fill a gallon-sized zip-lock bag with enough flour for approximately a 2-inch flour cushion when the bag is placed on a flat surface.
- Place the bag on a flat and hard surface – this could be your table – and then sit on it while mimicking the position you take while riding your bike. If possible, sit on the bag in bare skin.
- Stand up without disturbing the bag. The resulting 2 dimples or impressions you see on the flour are from the sit bones.
- To measure the sit bone width, simply take a millimeter tape and measure the distance from one dimple to the other. Record your measurements.
Important: Measure the center of one depression to the center of the other.
This should give you an ideal measurement you can use to select a perfectly sized bike saddle. If you need help determining which saddle will fit the width, consider talking to a bike fitting expert.
5. Use Thin Padding
It is not uncommon for cyclists to assume that thick padding is the best way to avoid saddle soreness when riding a bike. However, excessively soft and thick padding could be the reason your bike seats hurt.
The thicker and softer the padding, the more the pressure experienced by your sit bones. This can make your ride uncomfortable. One of the best ways to make your saddle more comfortable is to invest in thinner padding that will add sturdiness and plushness to your overall riding experience.
6. Get the Right Biking Wear
If you are wearing loose clothing – or you have a lot of excess fat or skin – in the area between your saddle and your body, this could be the reason you are wondering how can I make my bike seat more comfortable.
Any loose fabric or skin that is rubbing between your body and saddle will start chaffing over time. With time, this will cause some discomfort when riding the bike.
The right biking wear can help eliminate the discomfort resulting from loose clothes. For example, tight biking shorts will reduce the impact between your touring saddle and your body. If your bib shorts are properly designed, they will pull in excess body fat, while at the same time providing a relatively flat and smooth area for your body to interact with the saddle.
7. Adjust the Handlebar Height
Handlebar height can influence your comfort on your bike’s saddle. Beginning cyclists often have a very high handlebar height. If your handlebars are too high, they will not allow much weight to be placed on your hands – this puts excessive pressure on your butt.
Experienced riders, on the other hand, tend to put their handlebar too low. This can cause back pain, reduced power output, and, in extreme situations, saddle sores.
If your goal is to do more gravel rides or take on longer biking trips, you should consider figuring out the ideal handlebar height for your type of riding and body. As noted earlier, if your weight is distributed perfectly between your saddle, handlebars, and pedals, your comfort on the saddle should increase.
8. Check the Cleat Positioning
The connection between your feet and the pedals is extremely crucial. You will turn your bike’s pedals thousands of times even on short trips. If your cleats are not set up correctly, meaning that your foot is attached to your pedal in the wrong position, you may end up with cycling knee pain, hip problems, ankle issues. Also, since you may need to move a lot on your saddle, the resulting friction may cause chaffing and discomfort.
An ideal starting point is to have your pedal’s cleats positioned in line with your foot’s ball, angled straight. You can then adjust this as you go along if you experience discomfort or lack power through the pedal strokes. However, most pedals and their cleats will offer a degree of float, allowing the rider’s foot to move in the pedal, giving a small error margin in the setup.
Q: How Do I Stop My Bike Seat from Hurting?
To keep your bike’s saddle from hurting, use the following tips:
- Adjust the seat height – Find the saddle height that suits your body type.
- Use the right biking wear – Loose clothes increase friction between your butt and the saddle, leading to chaffing and eventual pain. Wear tight shorts designed for biking to eliminate this problem.
- Adjust your position on the saddle – Instead of sitting on the saddle’s nose, sit on the whole saddle to avoid putting excessive pressure on your perineum.
Q: How Do I Make My Bike Seat Comfortable?
One of the best ways to make bike saddle comfortable is to use thinner padding. While using soft and thick seat padding might seem like a good idea, you will end up feeling uncomfortable since the padding will put a lot of pressure on your seat bones. Another way to make the bike seat comfortable is to adjust the seat’s height – if the seat is too high, you will end up feeling uncomfortable while pedaling from the saddle.
Q: Why is My Bike Seat Uncomfortable?
Some of the things that make bike seat uncomfortable include:
- Misaligned seat post and saddle
- Improper or poor saddle design
- Low-quality or worn-out saddle
- Taking the wrong sitting position on the saddle
- Excess fabric or body tissue between your body and the saddle
Q: Does Bike Seat Pain Go Away?
Yes, bike seat pain does go away. However, it may take some time before it disappears completely. The best way to avoid seat pain is to adjust the seat angle and height to make sure that it is perfect for your body type and height. Additionally, sitting in an ideal position on the seat can eliminate the possibility of dealing with the pain in the future.
Q: Why is My Bum Sore After Cycling?
If your crotch or butt hurts after a short ride, the problem is generally caused by a worn-out saddle, improperly positioned bike seat, the wrong biking wear, or unideal handlebar height. If your saddle is worn out, replacing it will be the most ideal solution. For people who wear loose biking clothing, investing in some tight biking wear can fix your problem. If your handlebar or seat height is not ideal, a bike fit could eliminate the cycling-related butt soreness.
Globo Surf Overview
With an uncomfortable bike seat, rides become unbearable. If your bike seat is not worn out, replacing it may not be the best way to make your seat more comfortable. Things like adjusting the seat height, replacing thick padding with thinner padding, and using the right biking wear work much better.
In this guide, we have focused on answering how can I make my bike seat more comfortable for all types of riders. The solutions outlined above will work for mountain bikers, touring cyclists, and those who like to use their bikes to commute.