How to Choose a Bicycle Seat

How to Choose a Bicycle Seat
After a long ride, you noticed that your nether regions are sore like never before. It's clear that you need a new seat for your mountain bike, but not so clear exactly what seat you need. Getting the right mountain bike seat for your bike may take a little time and testing, but once you get it right, your body will thank you.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Current bicycle seat
  • Proper tools
Step 1
Consider possible causes of your problem. Perhaps your current bike or seat is brand new and will take a little breaking in. Perhaps it's the beginning of the season and you need to get accustomed to the seat. Perhaps the seat is too low, too far back or at an awkward angle--try readjusting it.
Step 2
Look carefully at your seat and think about where it goes wrong. Is the shape awkward? Do your legs chafe against the sides? Where does it cause pain? Consider exactly how the seat is designed, and what part of that design is making it uncomfortable.
Step 3
Make sure that your prospective seat is wide enough. The seat should comfortably support your two sit bones, which are easy to feel on your bottom. You could try measuring these, with the help of someone who cares for you deeply, or you could simply test the seat at the shop to make sure that it supports your body. Your sit bones should be centered horizontally on the meat of the seat.
Step 4
Get the right style. As comfortable as those springy, cushioned wide seats might look, those are designed for upright riding. As a mountain biker, you're going to be leaned forward a bit more and are going to want a narrower seat. Narrower seats allow you to pedal efficiently while leaning and provide the best performance for mountain bikers and other types of cyclists.
Step 5
Shop according to gender. Women have a different body structure, with wider hips, so women's seats are designed to better fit women's bodies, being shorter and wider.
Step 6
Consider relieving pressure with a cutout seat. Some seats have cutouts in the genital area to help relieve pressure that can cause pain and soreness. If this is a problem you experience, look for this type of seat.
Step 7
Consider gel. Gel is not necessarily a cure-all, but if you can't seem to figure out another reason that your seat is causing you discomfort, it could help to cushion the ride.
Step 8
Bring your seat into the shop and compare with the one that you're considering buying. Make sure that the new seat addresses the problems with your old seat.
Step 9
Speak to the staff at the bike shop about their return policy on saddles. You won't know if it's the right seat until you've put some mileage on it. Ideally, you'll want a grace period that allows you to test the seat for a few weeks and then return it if it's not comfortable. During testing, carefully adjust the seat and get out and ride as much as you can to put the seat to the test.

Tips & Warnings

Wear padded biking shorts when riding to increase comfort.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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