Choosing a Bike Saddle Is like Choosing a Life Partner: An Andrea Post, Part III
In Part I of this three-part series we discussed the bike saddle/bike seat debate (we say both sides win–call it what you want to call it). Part II looked at the types of relationships you might have with your bike seat, from one-night stand to life partner and even alternative options. Part III sends you on your way with some tips for what you should look for to select the bike saddle that will keep you happy for as long as you both shall live.
How to search for your seat
So in our search for just the right life-partner seat, what to keep in mind?
- Your fit: Your sit bones can be measured by many bike shops, using a bench that you sit on (no uncomfortable grabbing and tape measures, I promise!). You can also try and get a feel for your current seat or saddle, decide if it is too wide or too narrow, and go from there. However, not all seats have measurements, so you may just have to eyeball it. “Fit” seats are often also very expensive, so you can try my el-cheapo method: pull off your current seat, take it into a bike shop or store, and look for one that is wider or narrower, depending on the fit you want.
- Padding is rarely the issue: If you have an uncomfortable bike seat, then adding extra padding probably will not help. If a seat makes you sore or hurts, then it is probably a bad fit. Padding can help, but make sure that the seat is not too small or rubbing in uncomfortable places before you try to make a life partner out of a one-night stand. Padding can also add extra height, which, it is worth noting, will change how your bike rides. And for some women in particular, padding can represent more bulk to smoosh into tender places if your bike is one that has you leaning forward, like a road bike. For others this isn’t a problem.
- Your sex life is worth it: Study after study has found that, to nobody’s surprise, biking on a bad seat can have negative effects on your sex life. For women and men, lots of extra, hip-rocking pressure on the soft tissues between your legs can be bad. It is worth your health to try out a few different seats, to get them fit, and to explore alternatives if that’s what feels right.
- You don’t have to commit right away: Many bike shops will have a bucket or a box somewhere full of used seats and saddles. Ask to test these out for a ride around the block at least, if not more. Even if you don’t find your life partner, you will have a better idea of what you like and don’t, what fits and what doesn’t.
- Committing blasphemy is sometimes necessary: There are lots of people who will tell you that you “have” to do this, or it is “unacceptable” to do that when it comes to your bike seat. The reality is, you need to do what works for you. I ended up putting my ultra-padded, sprung frame, extra-extra wide cruiser saddle on my road bike, because nothing else fit. It may be blasphemous, but it fits and makes riding a joy, and I will never apologize for it.
You may be a noseless saddle, ultra-padded, carefully adjusted type of girl. You might be the guy that prefers a slung leather banana seat. You might be the person who rides a stock saddle out of the local bike shop and has a 50-year relationship. The point is that everyone is different, but understanding that your body size, the nose of the bike, the fit of the saddle, and how it makes you feel are all important factors in finding the seat you want to keep. Just like cupholders in cars, it may feel a bit luxurious and indulgent, but there is a good reason for it.
Posts by Andrea
- Choosing a Bike Saddle Is like Choosing a Life Partner: Part I
- Choosing a Bike Saddle Is like Choosing a Life Partner: Part II
- The Forced Mindfulness of Bicycling
- Gamification Keeps Me Going (aka I’m the Self-Tracking Type)
- The Long Path to Becoming a Spokane Cyclist
- Fat Girl on a Bike