Are you comfortable on your bike seat? Feeling comfort on your bike seat is vital to your enjoyment of riding… so you can SMILE when you ride. Understanding bike seat design as well as the differences between women’s bike seat types can help you understand what your needs in a bike seat are. Lets look at the features of a women’s bike seat so you can find the ‘right’ bike seat solution for you.
Features of a Women’s Bike Seat – structure of a bike seat from the bottom to the top
Seat rails run along underneath the seat and are the part that attaches the seat to the bike via the seat post. Where the rails are attached to the bike can be adjusted so you can alter your reach to the handlebars and the tilt of the seat. See How to Attach a Bike Saddle. Rails can be made from a variety of elements – steel, aluminium, carbon, titanium, or manganese.
There is a bit of innovation going on at the moment with seat rails so you may start to come across some different looking systems e.g. an I-beam. There are also seat rail systems that allow a little flex to help absorb bumps from the road/trail working to achieve a more comfortable ride.
The seat shell is the hard plastic (sometimes carbon, more $) that makes up the structure and shape of your seat.
A seat cover consists of a inner cover and an outer cover
The inner cover is the stuff that makes it bearable to sit on and absorbs shock or impacts from the ground. Usually made from
- multi-density foam can have different density at different parts of the seat to alter the amount of support. The higher the density the greater the support (feedback to your bones) the less cushioning, and vice versa
- gel is a better material for cushioning, pressure distribution and shock absorption than foam. To get optimal performance from gel it needs the base support from multi-density foam. So a thin layer of gel is used on top of the foam, in the areas that it is needed for the type of rider you are.
The outer cover is made of spandex, vinyl, leather or an artificial leather and consideration is given to the durability required. Mountain biking seats need a more durable outer compared to a town seat because of ruggedness of the environment. Seat protectors are also available. These can be great to reduce wear and tear on your seat or, if they are water proof, protect you from getting wet. Some are designed to give you extra padding or they can be a fun way to give your bike some personality.
Features of a Women’s Bike Seat – Shape
We are going to talk about the bike seat in three sections. The rear of the seat (the widest part of the seat). The mid region of the seat and then the front known as the nose of the seat. The shape of the seat will vary depending on gender needs and the type of rider you are. The shape reflects a balance between support, cushioning and allowing movement to avoid chafing. The shape of the seat ranges from the pear-shaped seat for a town rider, where cushioning with support is a priority, to the T-shaped seat for the road rider or triathlete, where allowing you to pedal at high intensity and avoid chafing and rubbing, is balanced with support and cushioning.
Sections of a bike seat (saddle)
Pear shaped saddle
T shaped saddle
Features of a Women’s Bike Seat – Women’s Specific
A women’s bike seat/saddle is designed differently to a males. Why? To accommodate the differences in bone structure and soft tissue at this contact point with the bike.
A women’s saddle is wider and shorter than a man’s bike saddle. It is designed to fit our wider pelvic bone structure. The increased width allows the bike seat to support your sit bones in the correct place. Your sit bones need feedback that something is underneath them, supporting and firm. If your bike seat does not have the width to do this you will move around in the saddle a lot seeking this feeling.
With less additional soft tissue “add on’s” compared to males, we have a shorter saddle design. Providing less issues with inner thigh chafing which is an important consideration for women.
The other major difference is a cutout in the centre of the seat. This is to provide comfort in the genital area. This feature will reduce the risk of discomfort, numbness, tingling in the region that can result from long periods of time on a bike seat that does not work for YOU.
Note: when sitting on a bike seat we have two points that absorb the greatest pressure. At the rear your sit bones and at the front your genital area. The proportion of the weight or pressure that these areas will absorb is dependent on the type of rider you are and your riding position. Read more in Find your Perfect Bike Seat
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