How To Choose a Bike Seat

Black bike seat of a yellow bike

The bike seat you choose for your bike could change the way you ride, your comfort level and your health. Yes, I said your health. The wrong bike seat can cause numbness, boils, infections and chafing and has been blamed for prostate problems and even impotency. There are three things you need to take into consideration when choosing a bike seat to reduce these problems.

  1. Does The Bike Seat Fit Your Body?
    • Are you a man or woman? There are different bike seats made for different genders because women and men are shaped differently. Men's bike seats tend to be longer and thinner while women's bike seats are shorter and wider.
    • Whether you are a man or a woman, all people are made a little differently. That's why you should try sitting on a bike seat if you can. Sit on it for a minute, then get off and immediately look at it. There should be two indentations centered on the main part of the bike seat. These indentations are made from your sit bones (the bones that you feel when you sit on a hard bike seat). If the indentations are not centered, then this may not be the right bike seat for you.
    • The front part of the bike seat (the part that comes out in the front) is there to help you control the bike with your thighs. It also helps support your weight in the front. Many riders find this part of the bike seat a little annoying. This is also the part of the bike seat that causes many of the medical problems mentioned above. There are different designs to choose from if you want something more comfortable.
      • Gel bike seats have gel in them and are very soft.  Some only have gel in the front part but others have gel throughout the whole thing.
      • Cutaway bike seats have holes or channels cut into them in the front or through the whole center.
  2. Does The Bike Seat Fit Your Riding Style?

    • If you are a bike racer or you like to ride really fast, you will want a bike seat that is narrow. There are bike seats made especially for racing, and you may want to choose one of these. When you ride fast, your body tends to shift forward, taking most of your weight off your bike seat so you don't need something soft and cushy. You also don't want a big bike seat getting in your way as you spin your legs faster and faster. One more reason you may want a narrow bike seat when racing is that it is more aerodynamic.
    • If you are riding your bike just to get from place to place or just for fun and you tend to go slowly, then you need a wider, cushier bike seat. You will be doing a lot more sitting and will be pedaling slower so you will need a bike seat that is more comfortable.
    • If you are a mountain biker, you will probably want a bike seat made for mountain biking and not touring. A mountain bike seat has a lot of features that other bike seats don't. They are made to absorb shock better and keep you from sliding off the bike seat.
  3. Is The Bike Seat Adjusted Correctly? - You can pick the best bike seat for you, your racing style and your body type, but if it's not adjusted properly on your bike, it will still be uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help you adjust your bike seat to your body and style of riding.
    • Start off by installing your bike seat on your bike using the directions that came with the bike seat. Make the bike seat level for now. You can adjust this later if you want to.
    • Sit on your bike using either a trainer to hold your bike up or by standing in a doorway so you can hold yourself up. Put the pedal in the 3 o'clock position. Your kneecap should come directly over your pedal. This is the general rule but if you feel more comfortable with your bike seat slightly more forward or back, you can adjust it a couple of degrees. If the nose of the bike seat bothers you, adjust it a couple of degrees.
    • Place your heels on the pedals and pedal backwards without rocking (keep your body straight). When your pedal is all the way at the bottom of the stroke, your knee should be completely straight. If you can't reach the pedals, then lower your seat. If you have to rock to reach the bottom, lower your seat. If your knees are bent, raise the seat.
    • Mark the seat post when you have chosen a final height.  This way if the seat slips, you can adjust it more easily next time.


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