If you want to ride faster and longer you have probably asked how to make a bike seat more comfortable. Comfort is key when it comes to enjoying day rides. The more comfortable you are the more you can focus on the scenery around you. An uncomfortable saddle will ruin a ride.
There are a lot of factors that impact comfort while riding. Tire pressure, riding position and even your seatpost can make the ride more or less enjoyable. Tweaking your tire pressure or seat position are moves I make while in transit if my saddle gets uncomfortable during a long ride.
The biggest difference you will notice in saddle comfort doesn’t come from the saddle at all. A good pair of bike shorts will dramatically improve ride quality. Check out my favorite cycling shorts review here.
Why Are Bicycle Seats Uncomfortable?
Bike seats are not made to be uncomfortable. Everybody’s bone structure does not measure the same. Making a factory saddle that fits everyone is impossible. Your sit bones don’t align with the majority of the public if you find the factory seat uncomfortable. Factory saddles are designed to fit as many people as possible, but they won’t fit everyone. If you are average build with average sit bone spacing you are more likely to enjoy a factory bike saddle.
If the factory bike saddle doesn’t work for you, try cycling shorts. A good pair of cycling shorts will cost less than most high end saddles. If cycling shorts don’t work you may need to make that upgrade. With both an upgraded saddle and cycling shorts you are all but guaranteed enough comfort for an all day ride.
Another reason bicycle seats seem uncomfortable is due to cyclists upgrading the contact points on their bike. The saddle, pedals and grips are often off the bike before it leaves the bike shop for the first time. Bike manufacturers know this, so there is very little incentive to create a comfortable seat since the topic of comfort is such a personal preference.
Does Bike Seat Pain Go Away?
There is a rumor in the cycling world that your body will adjust to saddle discomfort. That is simply not true. Bike seat pain does not go away, and ignoring it can compound problems.
When you feel discomfort in the saddle your body will compensate by dipping your hip. After a few miles that pelvic pain will turn into lower back pain caused by the hip dipping.
If you don’t address saddle discomfort right away your body will feel incredibly sore the next day. That kind of discomfort causes people to shy away from riding again. An uncomfortable saddle is bad for the industry as a whole. Bike shops know that which is why they offer saddle fitments. Stop in to your local bike shop for a fitting before you buy a new seat.
Does Your Bottom Get Used To Cycling?
If you think the more you cycle the faster you will build up a tolerance to saddle discomfort. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. Pelvic regions are mainly soft tissue. It doesn’t build a tolerance to the bike seat. Your seat may break in, unless its a hard mountain bike saddle. The saddle on mountain bikes is firm because it increases pedaling efficiency and circulation. A hard seat is also cooler than a soft seat. Hard saddles prevent nerve compression and you are far less likely to suffer friction burns or chafing on your skin.
You are much better off riding on a hard saddle with a good pair of cycling shorts. The shorts provide the comfort and the hard saddle provides cooling and efficiency.
If you are still wondering how to make a bike seat more comfortable after trying cycling shorts you need to upgrade your saddle. Use the saddle selector from Ergon to find the saddle that will fit you best. Ergon saddles are not the cheapest, but they are the most comfortable saddles on the market.