Do you remember going for long bike rides as a kid? Most people remember the pain or complete numbness that often came with those long rides due to uncomfortable bike seats. Maybe you upgraded to a more comfortable seat as an adult, or maybe you eventually moved beyond outdoor bike riding because you preferred the comfort of a car as a teenager. Either way, slipping onto the seat of an upright indoor exercise bike may bring back those pains of childhood.
So, why are exercise bike seats so uncomfortable? Are there ways you can relieve the pain or save your rear from going numb as you pedal through effective indoor workouts? We have the information you need to get a more comfortable indoor bike ride right here.
The Upright Bike Seat Design
Upright exercise bikes often have small seats that fit along the bottom of your rear end and extend between your legs. This design is what you see on standard outdoor bikes, which many indoor bikes are designed to mimic.
Exercise bike seats are naturally lightweight and small. Manufacturers don’t want a seat that weighs the bike down or interferes with the smooth glide as you roll through your ride. They’re worried about the ergonomics and overall weight, and that often leads to an uncomfortably hard seat that sits right along your bottom and some of the more sensitive parts of your body.
As you balance on an exercise bike seat, your body weight will naturally push down against the seat. When that pressure is too much for your body or the seat is hitting your rear at the wrong spot, it can lead to pain and/or numbness on a long bike ride.
Why is the Standard Bike Seat Design So Uncomfortable?
There are a few great reasons that standard bike seats all have the same shape and basic design:
Reasons Your Bike Seat May Hurt
Exercise bike seats often hurt because they weren’t designed with long bike rides in mind. Let’s take a look at the most common issues and how you can overcome them in the bike buying process or during your rides after you get your new indoor cycle home.
Manufacturers often use the most cost-effective materials, and that means as little padding as possible. Bikes designed for extreme comfort or luxury may have higher-quality materials and more extensive padding. High-end bikes may even have some technological innovations that create a more comfortable design.
The less you pay for your exercise bike, the more discomfort you can expect due to the choice of materials. If you invest more in your bike, make sure to look into the design of the seat and the materials used. Don’t assume that paying more for the overall bike automatically delivers a more comfortable bike seat. In many cases, the upgrades are in the flywheel, resistance, and other components that contribute to an effective, smooth indoor cycling session.
Lack of Padding
Bike seats are made from firm, durable materials that can hold the weight of your body safely without breaking down easily over time. Those base materials aren’t the softest or most comfortable for your body, and that’s why manufacturers add padding.
When the padding is minimal, you can expect a harder seat that may not feel as comfortable as a seat with more substantial padding. Quality of the bike overall comes into play here, but some expensive upright bikes still offer minimal padding because seat comfort wasn’t a primary consideration when designing the bike.
Incorrect Seat Position
You may find your exercise bike seat more uncomfortable if you have the seat at the wrong height for your body or otherwise adjusted improperly. Some bikes have more adjustable options than others, but they should all give you the option of multiple seat heights.
There is no one setting that works well for all riders. You should test multiple heights to find the best adjustment for your body when getting on an exercise bike. You will find that you’re more or less comfortable at different heights, so it’s about rear end comfort rather than just allowing your feet to comfortably reach the pedals.
User Weight or Size
We’re not blaming the victim here, but it’s important to mention that indoor exercise bikes have maximum weight capacities. That capacity tells you that the bike was designed to perform safely and comfortably for users up to a given bodyweight. If you’re beyond that weight by even a few pounds, you may not fit as comfortably onto the seat due to basic sizing.
Exercise bikes designed to comfortably hold more user weight may have larger seats with different designs and amounts of padding. Some bike seats are also a bit wider or longer, so looking at the basic size and shape of the seat is a great idea for anyone with a wider or heavier rear.
Even if you’re not overweight, you may have a wider or fuller bottom that just doesn’t sit as comfortably on a standard sized bike seat. We’re going to talk about some ways to increase your comfort in just a moment.
How to Maximize Comfort on Your Indoor Bicycle Seat
So, there are reasons bike seats are designed small and lightweight. What can you do to work with that design and ride with greater comfort? We have a few suggestions to consider.
Buy an Oversized Bike Seat
You can buy oversized bike seats that have a bit more room. They still have the general shape of a standard bike seat but are designed for those with more ample rears. Many are designed to fit a variety of exercise bikes, but you should make sure the one you want to purchase will fit on the exercise bike you purchase.
Ride More Standing Up
We mentioned that it’s easy to stand up and sit down with a standard bike seat, and that’s what you can do to ease some of the pressure on your rear. Standing up makes the ride a bit more challenging and puts more pressure down on your leg muscles and joints.
If you don’t have joint issues and can tolerate a higher intensity for a minute or two, standing up can ease the pressure on your bottom while making your workout more effective. If you’re riding your indoor bike to get in shape, you should start with just a minute or two of standing. You can build up to longer standing sessions as your strength improves.
Add a Gel Bike Seat Cushion
Gel bike seat cushions are placed over the top of a standard bicycle seat to add cushioning. If you have a bike that wasn’t padded substantially by the manufacturer, you can increase the padding with quality gel material that delivers added comfort instantly.
Check Your Cycling Gear
What do you wear when you go for a bike ride? Sometimes, a lot of the discomfort comes from scratchy or low-quality material rubbing against your thighs and rear while sitting. You can experiment with your clothing to find bottoms that work better for your body.
Some people enjoy wearing looser shorts or pants, while others swear by leggings or tight yoga pants. Make sure you wear soft fabrics with minimal seams and that the bottoms fit your body properly. If they’re too tight, you may end up with rubbing that makes riding more uncomfortable.
Finally, set a workout schedule and stick to it. The more you ride your indoor bike, the more you will get accustomed to the seat. You may also lose weight, tone up, and start to fit into your bike seat with greater comfort due to body shape changes.
Finally, make sure you adjust your bike seat for your body. You don’t have to use it as it came out of the box. Review guidelines or the user manual that came with your exercise bike, or look it up online. Most bikes are easy to adjust, and small adjustments can make a big difference in seat comfort.