It doesn’t matter whether you spend a long time or a short time on your bike seat, either way when you do sit on that seat it should be comfortable. You need to find your bike seat “sweet spot”.  A position on your seat that goes completely unnoticed – no pain, no discomfort, no pressure points, numbness or stress on any parts of your body. 

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The Right Saddle

You need to find the right bike seat.  Don’t just ride the saddle that came with the bike.

  1. A seat that is the right width. For women that can mean a womens specific saddle which is more likely to match your pelvis width and have the shape that supports your soft tissue.
  2. That matches your riding position. Different bikes as well as the type of riding you do will put you in different riding positions.  A saddle designed to match the type of riding you do will give support and cushioning in all the right places.  This will go a long way to making sure you are comfortable when you ride.
  3. How long you ride for/ Where you ride.  The materials used in a seat will give cushioning and comfort for different lengths of time and work best in different environments so you must match your seat to the time you spend on the bike and where you ride.

 

bike saddle buying guide

Saddles are designed in a variety of shapes and widths depending on gender, the type of riding and time on the bike.

The Height Your Saddle is Set.

You are looking for a height where you have a slight bend in your knee. If you are a numbers type of girl you are going for a 25 to 35 degree bend from a straight leg i.e when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. A good trick is to set the height of your seat so that your leg is perfectly straight when the heel of your foot is on the pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke. When you then position your foot on the pedal as you would normally to ride (that is the ball of your foot on the pedal) – this should have created a slight bend in your leg and a comfortable height to ride at.

How should it feel? You should be stable and comfortable in your seat when pedalling – no rocking your hips from side to side – and your leg should be “nearing” straight at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Trial a new height and see if it makes a difference to your comfort

Note: It is also a myth that you should be able to touch the ground with both feet while seated on the bike but with that said some people prefer to be able to do this and most children need and want to be able to do this.  Read our story about getting up off your seat to help you with the idea of raising your seat height.

Tilt of the Saddle

You are looking for a tilt that is neutral (horizontal) or slightly nose down. Women tend to find comfort with a 2-3 degree forward tilt. The tilt of your seat affects where your body makes contact with the seat so you want to feel as though the majority of your body weight is going down through your sit bones (the bones you can feel when you sit on your hands) and not through your pubic bone, soft genital area or onto your handlebars.

How should it feel? You should be stable and comfortable in your seat and not feel like you are pushed to the back or onto the front of the seat. There should be no feelings of compression in your genital region and any tenderness from a long ride should be felt on your bones. Do you feel like your hips are in a position that your body can maintain with ease? Remember we don’t want constant shifting around. Trial a different tilt and see if it makes any difference to your comfort.

Reach to the Handlebars

Underneath your seat are seat rails and you can move your seat forward or back along these rails. This moves the seat closer or further away from the handlebars therefore affecting your reach.  It also affects the angle your leg drops down – the relationship between your hip and your ankle.

How should it feel? You are looking for a placement that feels right for your body shape (length of your back) and the type of riding that you enjoy doing (competitive vs cruising).  You want to feel like your leg is over your pedal and giving you good power.  Please read Chi Riding – Pedaling 

When your seat reach is not right it is fairly obvious as you will have the sensation of over-stretching (handlebars too far away) or being cramped (handlebars too close). If these sensations are not fixed with the small adjustments that you can make to your saddle, you may have to look into your bike frame size or your handlebar stem (these are bike fit issues).

 

The height, tilt and reach set up of your bike saddle will affect how the weight of your body is transferred down through the bike when in your riding position. So if this weight is not going down through the body parts that are designed for this – your sit bones and your feet you can get uncomfortable. Now we all have different bodies that have totally different histories of use. You may or may not have good movement in your lower back, hips, hamstrings or knee joints.  You may have a strong dominate side.  These are all things that influence the perfect saddle position, so a set up that is comfortable for one person may not be for someone else.

 

Wear Padding & Have Good Body Positioning

At this contact point on the bike you have more than just the bike seat to consider.  To help protect your bone structures from the loads they are expected to handle it is advisable that you wear padded bike pants/underwear. Bike pants that have padding (a chamois) sewn into them.  Women specific bike pants or underwear are made to protect our specific womanly differences. There are also differences in the density and placement of padding on the chamois so make sure you get a product that matches to the riding you do. See our Women’s Padded Pants Page 

You have done all the right things to make yourself comfortable on your seat

  1. You have the right bike seat
  2. You have adjusted height, tilt and reach
  3. You are wearing women specific padded bike pants/underwear

But you still need to make sure that YOU are performing well on your bike. At goRide we call this Chi Riding. A position of efficiency and comfort on the bike. Check out this video Chi Riding –The Correct Riding Position and the other Chi Riding Tips we have to offer.

The relationship between the saddle and your body habits needs to be acknowledged.  If you sit slightly wonky, spend a lot of time at a desk or with crossed legs this will impact how you body wants to sit on your bike, it will default to its “natural position”. We recommend that you spend time stretching and trying to balance out any issues you know you have.  Working on your core, lower back and pelvic strength can also have an impact.  Get up and move during the day, try not to stagnate for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Your bike riding success is different to others… use our stories and support, get the right solutions.

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