Why Are Bike Seats So Uncomfortable?

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There’re a few industries in the world that worry more about the user comfort than the bicycle seat domain.

For more than a century of product development, it shows it’s not an easy problem to solve for everyone. Maybe, you had terrible luck in finding the ideal bicycle seat, or maybe haven’t adjusted yours right? This could make your bike seat uncomfortable leaving you wondering why does my bicycle seat hurt?

Either way, we can all agree that some of our experiences with bikes has not been so great, and has even left us with a pain in the butt. This can happen with weird bike seats.

And this leads us to the question, “Why are bike seats so uncomfortable?”

Well, in my opinion, or at least what we think, the uncomfortable feeling on bike seat boils down to two factors: poor fit and human anatomy.

Let’s first discuss the latter to learn more about what makes a bicycle seat uncomfortable.

Reasons Why Are Bike Seats So Uncomfortable

1. Human Anatomy and Bike Sizing

Why do bike seats hurt? While this is not quite ubiquitous, it’s not natural for our bodies to support weight on the nether regions and nothing in the world is going to change that.

See, riders and humans, in general, are not used to bearing weight on their butts, and this is to mean that even the best saddle in the world will probably be uncomfortable occasionally, and this is a thing that we have to live with. This means that some bike seats hurt.

For a long time, the cycling domain has tried to improve on this, and fortunately getting better by the day, but one thing you need to understand is they can never change on human anatomy and physiology.

Rather, rethinks, the manufacturer should actually try to build on the human anatomy, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with unconventional designs.

Why are bike seats so small? For instance, it’s a shame that bicycle seats are treated as one-size-fits-all, but in reality, we humans or riders, in particular, are unique in our own ways and with varying needs. The answer to why are bicycle seats so uncomfortable could be the size of the seat.

Fortunately, there’s a way to overcome the anatomy factor, and this leads us to the science in fitting the seat.

For starters, you’ll need to go to a reputable bike store. Here, you need to get a saddle that fits both your anatomy and type of riding that you want.  When sizing, ensure that you are comfortable with the saddle and don’t face any challenges when riding. If you are overweight, you might want to take a look at our guide which is Most Comfortable Bike Seat For Overweight.

The good news is, the new saddle models are now designed to conform to your pelvis over time, thus gradually becoming increasingly comfortable.

While you might experience discomfort for a start, be patient, and you’ll get used to it.

2. Poor Fit

The second reason why bike seats are so uncomfortable boils down to poor fit. It’s no brainer that using an improperly fitted seat will result in pain and discomfort.

Bike saddles, unlike seat or saddles are primarily designed to support active motion rather than rest. This is to mean that what makes a comfortable seat, may actually turn out to be a terrible saddle.

See, seats will support a broad area of your butt and upper thighs, while saddles, on the other hand, should not interfere with the leg motion lest it causes chafing or bruising. Moreover, biking is least tiring if both legs can share the propelling task.

Now, in between the need not to interfere with your legs pumping, while promoting a lateral control, and the relatively narrow orientation of the sit bones when the pelvis is flung forward, you’re typically left with a “pointy” bike saddle shape.

The pointy saddle shape might seem like a torture or rite of passage to the passage, but it’s simply business and it’s the best shape for optimal comfort.

See, while the large, more softly-padded saddles might seem like a comfortable option, but after 15 to 20 miles, you’ll realize why they sell at $19.99.

Another part that is not understood by many riders is that the bicycle saddle and cycling shorts (with padded chamois) work in tandem as a system. Padding on your cycling shorts, as opposed to that of the saddle, will greatly reduce chafing on your skin, not to mention it wicks away the moisture, keeping you ll dry.

uncomfortable seat

Why Padded Saddles are Not a Good Idea?

If you’ve used squishy shoes for running, you know they’re probably not the most comfortable shoes in the long run. The same case applies to the softest bike saddles.

While this seems to beat the logic of soft padding, you’ll realize that a saddle is not intended to be a cushion. If the padding on the saddle is too soft, your sit bones will not be supported and will sink down to the hard part of the seat sort like sitting on a hard floor with a really soft pillow. Although some folks still want a soft seat for bike riding. Some still enjoy a cushy bike seat.

The good news, there’re numerous methods to enhance a proper fit in saddles, and the below section, we’re going to look at the various means and methods how to adjust the bike saddle for optimum comfort instead of buying the softest bike seat.

Check your Saddle Height

The positioning of your saddle has a significant impact on your comfort level if your bicycle seat is uncomfortable.

A high saddle can cause IT band syndrome, which is a large contributor to knee pain in cyclist. On the other hand, while a saddle that is too low is less likely to cause injuries, it can compromise on your pedaling efficiency.

Therefore, it’s essential that you set the right saddle height. To do so, you’ll need to take your inside leg measurement, then subtract  10 cm and use this measurement as the distance between the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle.

While not accurate, it will provide you with a basic idea of your ideal saddle height. From here, you can periodically adjust the height depending on your flexibility and comfort levels.

Check on Saddle Angle

The tilt of the saddle plays a crucial role, particularly if you spend most of your time riding in a low, aggressive position which could make the bicycle saddle uncomfortable.

Often, the tilt of the saddle is associated with numbness in the nether regions.

If this is the case, you should try to lower the nose of the saddle by a couple of degrees, and this should help in relieving some pressure on your nether regions.

A caveat of lowering the saddle means less weight is placed on the saddle, and thus the slack is taken up by your arms.

Is a Wide Bike Seat More Comfortable?

This would depend mostly on the bike and the size of the rider. A wider bike saddle could improve your comfort as there is more surface area to support you. A wide bicycle seat can come on bmx style bikes in the form of what’s called a banana seat. These are probably the widest bicycle seats. They are also considered a long bike seat.

A wide comfortable bike seat is found on a banana seat ebike like Super73 Z series.

Wrap Up

Why does my bike seat hurt? Whatever the case, steer away from the soft seat for bicycle, and instead, you would want to check that your bike is set up correctly. The saddle should distribute your weight evenly across the saddle as well as the handlebar.

If you’ve properly adjusted your saddle and your butt still hurts, you may want to shop for a new saddle that will match your anatomy.