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If you find your bike seat uncomfortable then you’re not alone.
Men and women of all ages, all over the world, who ride bikes feel discomfort from their cycle saddles. In fact, I would hazard a guess that anyone who rides a bike often enough will experience soreness from their bike seat at some point.
Why is this the case? Well, interestingly it’s not always the fault of the saddle. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it can be down to other factors including the angle of the seat (rather than the seat itself), or the lack of padding between you and the seat.
I’ve done some research and tracked down the best solutions for making your bike seat more comfortable. We’re going to go on a journey today from your skin to your bike and discuss all the options for making your saddle comfy so that you can get back to enjoying your bike riding. Shall we take a look?
Bruised bum from cycling? Here are our recommendations
Okay, there are five layers of defense between you and your saddle. These are:
- Anti chafing cream for cycling
- Casual cycling shorts with padding
- Comfy bike seat cover
- Most comfortable bike seat in the world
- Adjusting bike seat fore and aft and changing the angle
Let’s take a look at these in some more detail now.
How to treat chafing in groin area with Cycling Sore Bum Cream
Many cyclists find that one of the things that makes riding uncomfortable is the chafing that they get on their butt or cycling chafing inner thigh area.
This is caused by skin rubbing against skin or against rough clothing seams and is very sore indeed. Thankfully there are a range of anti-chafing treatments available called Chamois creams. These are specifically designed for cyclists to help soothe and protect areas of the skin that get sore and inflamed. One of the best creams available is Chamois Butt’r Cream. As an aside, if you haven’t experienced the pain of inner thigh chafing, then have a look at this ad video – ouch!
To use the Chamois Butt’r, just apply as per the instructions on the tube to the areas of your skin where you normally experience soreness. If you have space in your pockets, then pop the tube in so that you can apply more mid-ride. It’s a fantastic product and, as one reviewer said, it’s the “best thing for chafing balls!”
Best budget cycling shorts
My favorite method of making bike seats more comfortable has absolutely nothing to do with the saddle itself.
I find that wearing cycling shorts that have a special layer of padding stitched into them around the seat contact areas completely removes any pain and discomfort that I would otherwise get.
For ladies, these are my recommended padded shorts.
For men, I’d recommend these padded bike shorts.
If you’ve already got a favorite pair of shorts for cycling, then you can get a pair of padded underwear to team up with them. These give you the benefit of the padding between you and the saddle, but mean that you can wear whatever shorts over the top that you feel like. My recommendations are:
Don’t worry if tight spandex isn’t your cup of cocoa as there are padded baggy mountain bike shorts available that are excellent too.
How to wear cycling shorts properly?
There’s really nothing special about how you should wear cycling shorts. Just make sure that you pull them up snugly round your waist ensuring that there are no wrinkles or folds in the fabric – that’s particularly for fitted bike shorts like the ladies Beroy bike shorts I mentioned above.
The only other thing is…
Do you wear anything under bike shorts?
Be sure to remember that padded cycling shorts are designed to go against your skin. Any extra layers of underwear will likely cause friction and more rubbing. Go commando!
Whichever style of bicycle shorts you choose, I’m certain that you’ll feel a massive benefit both in terms of getting rid of chafing and also cushioning your butt and nether regions from an unforgiving saddle.
How to make bike seat softer
If you like the idea of a layer of padding between you and the saddle, but don’t like the idea of padded shorts or underwear, then I’d recommend you try a bike seat cushion.
These are essentially a padded cover for your bike saddle that is shaped to fit the seat.
Slip it over the top of your saddle, pull the toggle or tighten the straps to secure and it will fit perfectly.
I know lots of folks that use these on exercise bikes when they go to a spin class. They’re great because you can fit them in seconds and take them off quickly when you’re done.
How to make a bike seat cushion
If you’re feeling crafty, then you could make a custom seat cushion for your saddle. Take a look at this video to see how it’s done:
If you’re looking for a slightly easier solution, then one of the best seat covers is the Zacro Gel Bike Seat Cover. Easy to fit and the padding is super comfy. Note that this cover is designed to fit standard sized saddles and is around 11 x 7 inches. For wider saddles, go with their larger style saddle cover which measures in at 11.4 inches in length by 10.4 wide.
Bicycle seats that protect the perineum
If the bike saddle that you have fitted to your bike is one of those seats that looks more like the knife edges that pro riders use, then maybe it’s time to switch it up for something that’s more at the comfort end of the Ouch To Couch spectrum.
If that’s the case, then my recommendation is the Cloud 9 Suspension Saddle from Sunlite.
Made with gel padding for extra comfort, take a look on the underside and you’ll see the special secret of this saddle – two coil springs giving smooth suspension right where it’s needed (i.e. one for each butt cheek).
Bike seat hurts perineum – best bike saddle to prevent numbness?
If you find that your saddle hurts your perineal area then an alternative option is to swap to a different shape of saddle altogether. Some people find that the ‘nose’ of the saddle can press hard against the perineal area and make it go numb. One of the best bike saddle to prevent numbness that I’ve discovered is the Schwinn “Noseless Saddle”. As you can see it completely does away with the front part of the saddle, so there’s nothing there to put pressure on the perineum. It can take some getting used to, but definitely worth it.
How to adjust bicycle saddle angle
The last line of defense is to adjust your seat angle and also possibly the seat height from the floor. Crouch down next to your bike and take a look at your saddle. You ideally want it to be horizontal to the floor. If it’s sloping down towards your front wheel, you’ll likely find that you keep slipping forwards as you ride and this will put more strain on your arms and wrists. If it’s sloping the other way then it will press too hard on the perineum and can lead to numbness.
For an easy guide to adjusting the saddle position, take a look at this video:
How to make a mountain bike seat more comfortable
Many cyclists on mountain bikes, road bikes, and all sorts of other bikes, find their bike seats uncomfortable. So, if you do too, then you’re not alone.
But why is this happening? Strangely, it’s oftentimes not the fault of the seat. Sometimes it’s down to other factors like the saddle angle (rather than the actual seat itself), or the fact that there’s minimal cushioning between your butt and the seat.
I hope that these options will make you comfortable again on your bike and enable you to get back out enjoying your cycling.