Jul 102012
Sitting Pretty: Some Solutions for Bike Butt

One of many colors available for the SüLi BikeCap.

So a co-worker sidles up to me as I lead a tour of visitors and says in a quiet aside, “Would you want me to tell you if you had spinach in your teeth?”

“Yes,” I answer.

“Then–” he pauses uncomfortably, “–you may want to know that your bike left a . . . mark on your pants.”

Uh-oh. I had bike butt.

Bike butt is what I call that lovely little black smooch your saddle gives your bottom when it transfers some of its color to your clothing. It’s the reason bike shorts mostly come in black, I assume, since who would use black as the standard color for clothing used for an outdoor activity most often associated with summer?

My practical (or some would say “cheap”) solution is to slide a plastic produce bag over the seat when I wear light-colored clothing.

The other day, however, I learned that the ink Mr. Rosauers chooses for his produce bags doesn’t (ahem) adhere strictly to the bag so I got bike butt in bright grocery-store green on a beautiful new cream-colored cotton skirt. Luckily for me, it washed out just fine in the sink, but that was a heart-sinking moment since the skirt was brand-new and was the bottom of a beautiful three-piece outfit.

Triathlete Diva describes a different problem with the plastic-bag solution on her blog post, which includes some pictures of an animal saddle cover that may be up your alley, if you’re given to whimsy or 10 years old.

Another solution serendipitously crossed my path within the past couple of weeks and I thought I’d share it in case you want to give one a try.

A waterproof cover for your bike saddle from SuLi
One of many colors available for the SüLi BikeCap.

I know of this product because they commented on the Bike Style Spokane Facebook page–clever way to come to my attention! The SüLi BikeCap, made in the Netherlands, is a waterproof saddle cover that attaches to the stem with an anti-theft cord. In fun prints from map images to comic books to florals and checks, it offers enough choices that you should be able to find something to suit your style. It goes for $19.95 US, which sounds pretty reasonable to me given that I’ve come close to losing pieces of my wardrobe over this problem.

This made me go looking to see what else is out there.

Cruiser Candy has a similar design with fabrics running more to solids and animal prints for $14.99.

PUBLIC Bikes also sells a bike cap for $20. They only show three colors, none of which go with my bike’s color scheme, but they may work for you.

For you DIY types, you can always recover your saddle following these steps from Instructables.

Crocheters can take inspiration from a Pinterest board with lots of crocheted seat covers along with some skirt guards.

If you’re not a DIY type but you want to buy from someone who is, you can look at the Etsy results for “cute bike saddle cover” and get an assortment.

REI lists a saddle cover made for using when you’re not riding your bike, so I, perhaps unfairly, assume no thought was given to possible color transfer. [Insert your own comments here about bike accessories not designed with the female market in mind. If they were, the notion of color transfer would be addressed in the product description.]

Your Turn

  • Remember that “most embarrassing moment” in the teen magazines you read as a girl? What’s your worst (or best) bike butt story? (In my little anecdote above, I was wearing white jeans.)
  • What do you do about it–cover your saddle or change your clothing choices?


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Reader Comments

  1. Never thought or had to deal with this problem as I have a white saddle too! Great ideas though for those that do not!

  2. I changed my saddle choice to avoid bike butt. 🙂 Of course, the white saddle (and hand grips) look fantastic with my bike’s color scheme, but there’s no dye to transfer to my light colored clothing. Unfortunately, my dark colored denim capris have left the shadow of a stain on the white saddle. ~le sigh~

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