When it comes to cycling, there are a few things that can impact how comfortable you find a bike: from the material it’s made out of, to the fit of the bike.
However, without a doubt, the saddle, and where you’re sitting on it, is going to have the biggest impact on your comfort.
Sitting incorrectly on a saddle can not only cause discomfort, but may trigger further issues such as back pain, particularly if you’re riding for long periods.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how to sit comfortably on your saddle, as well as other things to consider, such as saddle height, position, and what to look for in a good bike saddle.
Where should I sit on my bike saddle?
Riding positions will vary somewhat between cyclists, depending on their riding style and bike. However, generally, you should sit as far back as possible on the widest part of the saddle.
What is the best seat position on a bike?
The clamp connecting your saddle to the seat post should be pretty much in the center of the rails, not all the way forward or back.
In terms of the angle, the seat should be level or tilted down by a few degrees at the front, but never tilt it upwards.
When you’re sitting on the saddle, you should ensure that you can easily reach the tops and brake hoods on a road bike, or the grips on a mountain bike.
Your elbows shouldn’t be locked, they should be slightly bent, and you should engage your core to support your torso as it leans forward in a comfortable position.
There should be no need to slide forward or backward on the seat.
Other factors which will affect your comfort
The size of your bike
If your bike isn’t the right size for you, you’ll struggle to sit comfortably on the saddle.
Bike frames are measured based on the height of your pubic bone, which is similar to your inseam measurement.
To find out yours, use a measuring tape to measure the distance from your pubic bone to the base of your heel along the inside of your leg.
Once you know your pubic bone height, you can then find out what size bike you need using a manufacturer's size chart.
If you’re between two sizes, go for the smaller one, as you can easily make up the difference by adjusting your seat height.
If you’re finding your bike saddle uncomfortable, it could be that your saddle height needs adjusting.
To find the ideal seat height for you, lean the bike against a wall and mount it in place.
Then, use an Allen key or the quick release to adjust the height so it’s hip-height, or so your knee is slightly bent when the pedal is at its lowest point when you’re pedaling.
The reason for this is that you want some bend in your knee so that you’re not straining to reach the pedals, but equally you don’t want to bend too much as this will be less efficient and will take its toll on your joints.
Ride in the right position
When you cycle, you should lean forward so that your body forms a triangle shape, with your arms leaning forward to meet the handlebars and your head at the apex.
This allows you to distribute weight between your sit bones and your hands, while your back absorbs the vibration and jarring but without straining.
Your elbows should be slightly bent, with your neck and shoulders relaxed.
If you feel like you’re overstretching to reach the handlebars and the various positions on the drop bars, you may need to adjust the height of your handlebar stem.
Get a proper bike fit
It’s a good idea to get a proper bike fit, as this way a professional bike fitter will be able to ensure your handlebars, saddle height, and saddle position are tailored to your height.
This will not only ensure you’re more comfortable on your bike but will also allow you to ride more efficiently.
Choosing the right saddle
If you’ve done all of the above, and you’re still not finding your bike comfortable, it could be that the saddle just isn’t right for you.
Choosing the right saddle for you depends on a few different things, but you’ll mainly want to tailor your saddle to the type of riding you’ll be predominantly doing.
For example, experienced riders who are cycling in an ‘aggressive’ position will require a thinner, more aerodynamic saddle with a narrow nose and quick flare to allow them to sit back on their sit bones.
These riders will also need more soft tissue relief, which can be found in the shape of a saddle with a cutout or relief channel.
Those riding trails will need more pressure relief at the front, which can be found in saddles with a split nose design or short nose.
People riding in a more upright position will need plenty of sit bone support and plenty of padding for additional comfort.
General tips for comfortable riding
- Try riding in a more upright position
- Avoid riding with a heavy backpack
- More pedal pressure reduces the pressure from the saddle
- Look at reducing body weight if necessary, as this reduces pressure from the saddle
- Use a thinner saddle padding
- Sit as far back as possible on the widest part of the saddle
- Adjust the saddle angle down slightly
Your saddle holds the key to comfortable riding, and there are several things you need to think about to ensure maximum comfort.
Your saddle should be the right height for your proportions, and you should be sat back on the widest part of it but still able to reach the handlebars with a slight bend in your elbows.
If you’re still not finding your saddle comfortable, you should consider getting a professional bike fit, or if you’re satisfied that your saddle height and positioning are correct, you could buy a new saddle that is more ergonomic.