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Bike Talk Bike Seat

| by mjr5house

3

An Overly Padded Bike Seat Can Lead to Numbness

Does Your Bike Seat Hinder Your Long Rides?

There are three points of contact between you and your bike: your feet; your hands; and your seat. Today, we are going to look into the bike seat as it takes the most body weight of the three.

Did Your Last Ride End With a “Thank God Thats Over”?

Seat pain can take a beautiful day and turn it into a tortuous festival of suck. Leaving you with a bad memory of a wonderful trip. Although Bikepacking is considered an endurance activity that does not mean you need to ride in a never ending pain cave. All too often I hear new bikepackers talk about heading off on there first big bikepacking adventure only to have the event over shadowed by painful seat issues. And many times new riders assume that the key to being comfy on longer rides is to get a big squishy gel filled seat only to discover that now they have a burning numbing pain that goes down their legs. If that sounds like your last ride keep reading. It does not have to be that way.

 

Hind End Anatomy

The ischium bones in your pelvis create two bony protrusions called ischial tuberosities (your “sit bones”) on the very underside of your bum. When seated the sit bones bare the majority of the human bodies weight. There are many muscles and ligaments such as the “ham string” attached to this part of your backside. When seated the muscle that covers the ischial tuberosities moves and the bone becomes more in contact with the surface of your seat.

 

It’s Not Just Bones Back There?

The theory of using a heavily padded bike seat seems logical and the pressure on the sit bones will definitely be decreased causing short term comfort gains. Thats why so many people make the mistake of getting one as they increase their milage. However as you sink into that squishy wonder seat you actually increase the area of pressure by a substantial amount. The problem with that is you now have a much bigger area of impedance to the blood vessels that supply your legs. That will always lead to numbness, pain and decreased performance as the ride time increases. The truth is that the most effective way to decrease bike seat pain is to ride on a proper fitting seat (most bike shops can measure your sit bones and get you into the size thats best) with just enough padding to take the edge off. Then just spend the time in the saddle to toughen up. You may be tender for a period but it will get better the more you ride. Trust me I have thousands miles on the bike seat in the picture. To many it may look like a torture device but seat pain is not an issue for me anymore thanks to a proper fit and time invested.


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3 Responses to An Overly Padded Bike Seat Can Lead to Numbness

  1. Pingback: When the Going Gets Tough: 10 tips for Overcoming the Hard Road and a Long Journey - Bikepacking Gear Reviews | Bikepacking Tips & How To videos | Bikepacking Life

  2. Pingback: The ideal bikepacking saddle | Trails and Tours - Bikepacking

  3. Scott says:

    He speaks the truth! I switched to a hard leather Brooks B17 about a year ago. With over 1200 miles on it now, it’s absolutely the most comfortable seat I’ve ridden on in my adult life, rivaled only by the banana seat I had on one of the bikes I owned as a kid. But when you weigh 75 pounds, no seat is uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem logical that a hard seat would be more comfortable than a cooshy plush one, but try a Brooks and it will make you a believer! A lot of this has to do with friction. When you sink into a seat’s padding, the padding creates friction on your backside’s natural movement as you move your legs up and down to pedal. That friction is what creates saddle sores and hot spots. If you don’t sink in, your contact patch is much smaller, and your backside can slide back and forth on the smooth surface without abrading you.

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