A Comfortable Bicycle Saddle | Sheldon Brown
Every bicyclist wants a comfortable saddle. What is not so obvious is what constitutes a comfortable saddle.
Every spring, bike shops sell scads of saddles to cyclists who come in because their old saddle has become uncomfortable since they stopped cycling in the fall. They went out for a ride or two, and found it much less comfortable than they remembered from the previous year. They've heard about the latest buzzword in saddle gimmicks, and they want one of those!
They buy the new saddle, put it on the bike, go for a few more rides, and find they're much more comfortable. They tell all their friends about their wonderful new saddle, and how they need one too...
But was it really the new, high-tech saddle...or was it just that the rider had become unaccustomed to cycling over the winter layoff? In many cases, working your way up over the course of a few short rides of gradually increasing length is all that is necessary, if you have a decent-quality saddle, properly adjusted. If you have previously been comfortable on your present saddle, don't be in a hurry to change.
You'll notice that I do call them "saddles," not "seats." There is a reason for this. A "seat" is something you sit on, and is designed to bear essentially your entire weight. Recumbent bicycles have "seats," but conventional upright bicycles have saddles. A saddle is intended to carry some, but not all of your weight. The rest of your weight is mainly carried by your legs, and some by your hands and arms.
A cyclist who is out of cycling shape from being off a bicycle for a few months or more, will start out strong, but the legs will tire rapidly. When the legs tire, the rider sits harder on the saddle, and that's when the trouble starts. Many saddle complaints are actually traceable to fatigue caused by starting out the season with a longer ride than you are ready for.
If it has been several months or more since you rode a bicycle regularly, you can expect to be sore if you ride any serious distance.
If you are coming off of a layoff of months or years, start with very short rides, maybe a mile or two, no more. Only gradually should you increase your ride distance. This may seem frustrating, but it does take a while to re-accustom your derrière to cycling. Anybody in decent shape can hop on a bike and ride 15-20 miles, but you'll be a wreck afterwards if you haven't accustomed your body to cycling first.
This is not to say that there are not real differences in saddles, nor that you should ride just anything. In fact, original-equipment saddles that come with bikes are often greatly inferior to better aftermarket saddles.
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