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How much should a bike seat hurt?

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How much should a bike seat hurt?

Old 05-22-19, 10:44 PM
  #1  
borzoid
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How much should a bike seat hurt?

Another newbie question.

Iíve purchased a second hand Mountain Bike. I havenít ridden for at least 10 years. Iím overweight, but not hugely so. But for some reason my bike seat HURTS!

Iím not talking after 5km of riding. Literally as soon as I sit down on the chair I feel like itís rearranging my bones. I havenít been able to ride for more than 5 minutes at a time because itís SO uncomfortable.

The seat is your pretty average leather seat (sorry, not very technical!), not very narrow, not very wide. We tried adjusting it up and down but nothing makes it feel better.

My question is - is this a fitness thing? Do I need to swallow a spoonful of concrete and hope it alleviates after a week? Or should I be shopping for seats/seat covers?

Its been such a long time I donít know how to judge whatís normal and what isnít. I should mention Iím a women if it could be an anatomy thing.

Thank you!!
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Old 05-22-19, 11:05 PM
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The handlebar setup also changes the way a seat feels. but a seat should be comfortable.


You will feel the seat press on your bones, but it should not hurt. Soft seats don't support the spine and hips like a firmer seat. It's important not to have something too wide or narrow. You can actually get fitted for a seat now and they'l measure your sit bones. It's worth doing, but even if the measurement is technically right it is still subjective.

A more padded seat should still be firm enough, if it's too soft your basically squashing everything fleshly and bone into the seat, after a little pedal it hurts.


I got measured recently and my new seat is much better, the pain was reduced greatly. Getting measured will help, you can be slightly wider, but if you are too narrow the body isn't supported and the pain is increased.


Find a good bike shop or sporting good store that has demo seats to try, they can measure you or you can just try different ones. It's not worth spending a lot of money if the seat doesn't fit.
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Old 05-22-19, 11:05 PM
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Short answer, it shouldnít. There will be a period of adjusting to about any saddle but what you describe sounds like something is entirely wrong. Go to a bike shop and have your sit bones measured. This is not as weird as it sounds...you will sit on a soft pad and your sit bones will leave a pair of impressions in it. This distance will be like 130, 140, 150ish mm. This will give you an idea of what width you will need. From there try some gender specific types to see what works with your personal anatomy. Most shops will have ďtestĒ saddles available for this or can be purchased on EBay or similar. Try several, it can be a lengthy process or you may find one that disappears under you first try. Really, a good fit is gonna be evident pretty quickly.
From my wifeís searches a Selle SMP is hard to beat and is offered in a multitude of profiles. Also check out offerings from Terry, most of their line was developed for women. Good luck in your quest. Saddle comfort and proper fit on the bike is paramount to enjoying riding and preventing injury while pedaling.
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Old 05-22-19, 11:15 PM
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wedgeSG
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P.S.
Covers, will probably make matters worse. Too much squish/softness generally adds pressure in the worst places. You want support not a padded stool.
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Old 05-23-19, 02:51 AM
  #5  
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Have any of your friends got bikes you could try just to compare??

The bike you bought, do you know if it was a man / woman that owned it and if it's a mens / ladies bike ... generally women's sit bones and therefore their saddles are wider than men's and men's bikes tend to have a longer reach than women's which would affect how you're positioned on the saddle.

As others have already said though a shop will be able to measure you although even with the right saddle it will still be a certain amount of time before you have no discomfort on longer rides.

In my younger years when I as extremely fit from other sports I had a mobile home at the coast, it closed for 4 months of the year and I wouldn't get on a bicycle in that time.
When the site re-opened for the summer I was easily able to ride 20 miles because of my fitness level but it would totally destroy my backside ... especially if I tried to sit on a bike in the next 2/3 days which was really painful and I've always assumed is just bruising.

A couple of weekends into the year and it stopped happening, the best way to avoid it altogether is to start with short rides often and build up the distance ... it'll only take a couple of weeks max.
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Old 05-23-19, 06:13 AM
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When first starting to ride, you may experience some discomfort, but should not be anything like you're describing! Lots of good advice given above. I'd say go to your local bike shop and have them take a look at you while on the bike. They should be able to help you with fit and adjustments, and perhaps recommend a good saddle. Padding may also help-if you don't want to go full bike shorts with a chamois yet, you could look up Adiamo-they make padded briefs that you can wear under regular running shorts. And while I'm talking about clothing, don't wear "regular" type clothing with seams or pockets, anything under your butt that may push into it when seated.
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Old 05-23-19, 07:13 AM
  #7  
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Everyone experiences some level of discomfort on a bike seat. Some just wont admit it. This is especially true on day long rides. If course I will catch hell for mentioning the solution. Remember however virtually all of us that now ride bents rode tens of thousands of miles on DF bikes. Some form of recumbent bike or trike prevents butt pain you get, pure and simple. It pretty much riding around on a lawn chair.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:01 AM
  #8  
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Now you know why there are actually a thousand or More different saddles made..
At my neighborhood bike shop there is a box of Take-off saddles ..

New bike buyers get a different saddle , original one goes into the box..

But its a cheap way to try different saddles .. by sitting on them ..




manufacturers offer a little wider saddle for women's pelvises , because of the bone structure,
and for those sitting upright more ..

I'm using a 'unisex' saddle on my bike, for the 2nd reason..







...

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-23-19 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 05-23-19, 10:01 AM
  #9  
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I'll go across the grain here. Jumping on a bicycle, motorcycle or a horse is not going to be a totally pleasant experience until you get broken in so to speak. But shouldn't be as painful as your describing. I say take a chance on a padded cover or cycling shorts. The same people who rattle off off against seat covers will tell you to get cycling shorts but it's the same dang thing, just sewn in shorts. Or just buy a cheap saddle in a different style and try that. Just something so you can get the time and miles in then later comes the fun and expenses of finding the magic saddle.
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Old 05-23-19, 10:09 AM
  #10  
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Everybody is different. This is something I simply didn't understand when I started riding. I guess I figured there were a couple of good saddles that would basically be magic for most riders. That is apparently not the case. In the past year I've tried a dozen or so saddles. I've found a couple that work pretty well for me and a bunch that didn't. For me...gel padding is a must. The seats that work or almost work for me all have gel padding. The others...not so much. My two most comfortable saddles are Serfas Dual Density models. Two different ones. But your mileage will likely vary.

Make sure you get a saddle that's wide enough. Too narrow and it tends to pry your sit bones apart which is not a good feeling. Most bike shops will have a sit-bone measuring device which will tell you how wide your sit bones are. Add about 10mm to that measurement and look for a saddle in that width.

As @hillyman mentioned, you do have to get used to riding on a bicycle saddle, to start with. For me, this took about 300 miles of riding. And it takes me about 100 miles to get used to any given saddle.

-Matt


Edited to add that I also wear cycling shorts with gel pads. Some folks claim padded shorts on a padded saddle is a no go, but it works for me, and it's what was required for me to get past the initial soreness when I started riding. I'm going to try some non-padded shorts soon.

Also, you shouldn't be wearing underwear under your cycling shorts. Doing so will almost certainly add to the pain issue.
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Old 05-23-19, 10:51 AM
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One other comment. Your position on the bike matters as well. If you sit upright, a wider seat may be more comfortable. If you are leaning forward, that same wide seat will likely not feel as good, and a narrower seat will be best. So even with the sit bone test, you may still need to try out different widths to find a comfortable saddle.
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Old 05-23-19, 03:11 PM
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Suffering...

...is a badge of honor among cyclists. You must make your abode deep within the pain cave. Your residence is your pedigree. Toughen up.
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Old 05-23-19, 03:37 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by borzoid View Post
Another newbie question.

I’ve purchased a second hand Mountain Bike. I haven’t ridden for at least 10 years. I’m overweight, but not hugely so. But for some reason my bike seat HURTS!

I’m not talking after 5km of riding. Literally as soon as I sit down on the chair I feel like it’s rearranging my bones. I haven’t been able to ride for more than 5 minutes at a time because it’s SO uncomfortable.

The seat is your pretty average leather seat (sorry, not very technical!), not very narrow, not very wide. We tried adjusting it up and down but nothing makes it feel better.

My question is - is this a fitness thing? Do I need to swallow a spoonful of concrete and hope it alleviates after a week? Or should I be shopping for seats/seat covers?

Its been such a long time I don’t know how to judge what’s normal and what isn’t. I should mention I’m a women if it could be an anatomy thing.

Thank you!!
Borzoi, the short answer is that it should not hurt, it should disappear. You only have four posts and cannot show pics. Build up your numbr of posts to 10 and then show some pictures of your saddle - side view, top view, rear view. It might be that your old leather saddle is just plain collapsed, due to age, water exposure, stretching, and perhaps just abuse. For a lot of us leather saddles are the gold standard, and for others not. It sounds like you are sort of settling INTO the saddle, and you should be perched on top of the saddle.

I don't think it's a female anatomy thing - the bones that should be supporting your weight are in the same places as mine are. My wife, Mrs. Road Fan rides a leather saddle that is the same model and size as some of the ones I use. It's not that you're a girl in a man's world, at least that is not your biggest problem now.

Your sit bones should contact the seat on nice leather platforms at the widest part of the saddle. You should not be sitting on the front of the saddle where it is narrow. The saddle should be level or near level, usually tilted up maybe 1 degree, to help stop the contour of teh saddle from making you slide forward off of the little platforms.

The side skirts of the saddle should not be collapsed or curled up - they are in tension when you sit, to help the top of the saddle to support your weight.
The nose of the saddle takes all the pull of the leather skin. We're not intended to sit on it, in 99% of riding.

There is a tightening screw under the nose of the saddle. I would resist the temptation to play with the screw.

If you chatter back at us about everything that's been written, you'll have 10 posts in just a few days, and then be able to post pictures so we can see the condition of the saddle.
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Old 05-23-19, 08:14 PM
  #14  
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Three years ago I bit the bullet and spent a lot of money on an ugly, heavy saddle that changed my cycling forever. I bought a Selle Anatomica leather saddle and it felt great from the moment I sat on it. It required a tiny bit of set up because they are somewhat different than plastic saddles, but I had it nailed down after twenty miles. You ride them with the nose up a tiny bit so that you slide back a little on the flattest part of the saddle. And like all saddles, you need to adjust fore and aft to make sure that your weight is balanced between your butt and your hands.


This saddle has totally changed my riding forever. I NEVER think about how my rear end feels...it never crosses my mind. And over the last couple of years their saddles have gotten a bit lighter by changing to an aluminum frame instead of steel. And they also have a new all Carbon saddle that is super light and expensive. Not sure this model will work for quite as many people as the leather ones do however? That's it...this saddle has changed my riding like no bike or accessory ever has...maybe it will work for you? I see occasional lightly used ones for sale on the forums and Ebay.
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Old 05-23-19, 08:20 PM
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It definitely shouldn't hurt that much!! I am with the others who think you should pay a reputable, established LBS a visit.
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Old 05-23-19, 11:30 PM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by borzoid View Post
I should mention Iím a women if it could be an anatomy thing.

Thank you!!
From Peter White (of Peter White cycles):

It's important to understand, that for women, a full leather saddle is either very comfortable, or a medieval torture device. Most saddles designed by and for women have a cutout in the center for a lady's tender bits. So, depending on exactly how the lady in question is constructed, she may love or hate this saddle. There's only one way to tell, and that's to try it. But there is no return possible on a used saddle, so it could be an expensive trial. You are of course welcome to try one here at the shop. It takes only a few seconds to know if it's suitable for you.

A good rule of thumb is, the more miles you ride, the firmer the saddle you'll prefer. This applies equally to men and women. Sixty miles on one of these thick soft gushy saddles can be brutal. When your gluteus muscles are in good shape, you'll want the firm but flexible surface to sit on. And a leather saddle provides just that. The issue for women is not the firm rear section of a leather saddle, it's the lack of a cutout in the center. Cutting a hole in the center of a leather saddle isn't necessarily the solution, since the edges of the leather can then irritate you.

Bottom line is this: If you try one of these and your middle "tender bits" area is fine, but you feel like your sit bones are on something too hard, most likely you'll end up very happy with it, since the leather will soften up a bit, and you'll cause the leather to conform to your shape fairly quickly. But if your tender bits scream in agony, forget about using one of these. If my history selling saddles to women is a reliable guide, the majority of women will not like this saaddle, just as they don't like Brooks saddles. But, some women will love them, and never want anything else.
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Old 05-24-19, 02:42 AM
  #17  
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It shouldn't hurt at all. But even the most comfortable seat can become uncomfortable if you're on it for long enough. Although there may be a break-in period for your bum to get used to a new seat.

After that, if it still hurt then you need to specifically identify the where and when and make the necessary adjustments to correct the problem.
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Old 05-24-19, 04:06 AM
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How much should a bike seat hurt?
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
...is a badge of honor among cyclists. You must make your abode deep within the pain cave. Your residence is your pedigree. Toughen up.
I call it:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Ö,extended, continuous time in the saddle; I calI it...ahem...uh...ďpounding the perineum [or pudendum]

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 05-24-19 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 05-24-19, 05:05 AM
  #19  
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Thank you so, so much everybody! I think the general consensus is it's not normal to feel your pelvic bones shift with each pedal.

I will build my posts up so I can post photos... I must admit, I imagine it's a pretty average bike!! I brought something cheap and secondhand to start with, in case I don't fall in love with the hobby. Though maybe I'm paying for that...

Thanks again It looks like a trip to the bike shop is in order
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Old 05-24-19, 05:38 AM
  #20  
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Almost all of us have to condition ourselves to our seats to a certain degree.

We are all built differently. Some seats don't work well with some of our anatomies.

Padded bike shorts help most people a lot.

Bike shops often have a bin full of "take-off" seats and will let you try them until you find one you like.
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Old 05-24-19, 07:20 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by borzoid View Post
Thank you so, so much everybody! I think the general consensus is it's not normal to feel your pelvic bones shift with each pedal.

I will build my posts up so I can post photos... I must admit, I imagine it's a pretty average bike!! I brought something cheap and secondhand to start with, in case I don't fall in love with the hobby. Though maybe I'm paying for that...

Thanks again It looks like a trip to the bike shop is in order
No you've done the right thing .... now just find yourself a saddle that works for you but hang onto the old one and if you take to riding and want to upgrade your bike in the future you can sell that bike with the saddle it came with transfer your new comfortable saddle to whatever you get in the future knowing it works
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Old 05-24-19, 08:15 AM
  #22  
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It depends really on how fast the bike seat is hurtling at you. But if you're sitting on it, there will be soreness if you are not accustomed to riding. It should go away as you put in more miles on the saddle. Pain, however is not normal. You've gotten pretty great advice so far. Keep riding
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Old 05-24-19, 10:23 AM
  #23  
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Amazing this thread has gone this far and no mention (or did I miss it?) of saddle angle. Most women will prefer a saddle tilted slightly down. Slightly means one or two degrees, more than that and a whole series of new problems results. If saddle is currently angled up, try dead level before trying angled down.

Best advice so far is from mtb addict. Weight off saddle and on pedals. It can be hard work to keep weight on pedals and off saddle. Fine. Just take short rides until more used to the game. Standing on pedals is also a lot of work. If standing the saddle can't possibly hurt.
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Old 05-24-19, 11:52 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Amazing this thread has gone this far and no mention (or did I miss it?) of saddle angle. Most women will prefer a saddle tilted slightly down. Slightly means one or two degrees, more than that and a whole series of new problems results.
+1. The angle matters, especially for women! Ideally, the wide part of the saddle will support the sit bones and there will be a bit less contact up front. Men's saddles without a relief channel can require an even more extreme angle.

I like to think of getting on a bike as a balancing act; the goal is to have weight distributed around the upper body, core, and seat, rather than placing all my weight on the seat. In the beginning, one tends to have a weak core, which can put additional pressure on the seat and cause some pain.

That said, a bike seat should not cause immediate pain. A bit of pain on longer than usual rides is normal. It may be worth checking with local shops or clubs to see if they have any to test - I know I have a pile of discarded saddles in my basement...
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Old 05-24-19, 01:03 PM
  #25  
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I think the general consensus is it's not normal to feel your pelvic bones shift with each pedal.
That makes your sitch sound like the seat is be too high.

How many miles/hours have you spent in the saddle? How often have you ridden? How long have you been riding? Before I started using a trainer in the winter, every Spring I had to treat my butt very gingerly - a couple of miles one day, a day or 2 of rest, then 4 miles, and a day or 2 of rest, and so on. So if you're talking about just starting out, and perhaps forcing yourself to ride consecutive days, what you describe may be normal, if it's not the seat being to high.

Also, leather saddles conform to the rider. If you see indentations where the previous owner's sitbones might have been, you might be riding a saddle that just won't fit.
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