Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking the Lane: Oh My Aching Bum (or other piece of anatomy)!

I was not going to post a blog about bicycle seats so soon into my blog journey.  I had another 3-page blog post written up and ready to go 3 weeks ago.  I do not need to write a post about bicycle seats right now. Not at all.  In fact, I should be packing my bags because I am leaving for vacation tomorrow morning. However, gosh darn it, I think this needs to be said.

Let’s face it ladies.  Bicycle seats stink.  I don’t recall them being so uncomfortable as a child, but perhaps that is because I wasn’t on them for an hour at a time, or 6 hours at a time as it seems to be these days.  I simply rode them to get 6 blocks down the street to a friend’s house, or to the pool or school.  Now that I’ve gotten older, my hips have gotten wider, and my rides have gotten longer, saddles have become a very important piece of equipment.  Let’s face it, if you have an uncomfortable seat, you just do not want to ride your bike.

What is the secret to getting a comfortable saddle?

The first thing to do is make sure your saddle is relatively straight/flat/horizontal from front to back.  This adjustment alone may solve your problems. From there you can make small adjustment to lower or raise the nose a couple millimeters at a time.  If this brings no relief it's time to look at something else.

There are three main issues that seem to affect women – or three main areas that seem to experience pain.  So let’s address them: tailbone, sit bones, and the labia/pubis area.

If you have tailbone issues it is good guess that you ride in a rather up right position.  This is easiest one of the easiest to alleviate because you can purchase a saddle with a cut out in the back for this purpose.  A quick search for tailbone comfort saddles will bring up a large selection of saddles for you to choose.

If you experience pain in the sits bone area, chances are you just need to get your bum used to being on a bike seat.  For some odd reason it takes a few rides to get that area of the body toughened up.  The good news is, after just a few rides the pain typically disappears.  If it doesn’t it may be an issue with your saddle being the wrong size (too narrow, too wide, too soft).  Wait.  Did I just say too soft?  Yes.  Too soft.  You might think softer is the way to go, but oddly enough, softer can often times be the reason your bum is sore.

And the final reason, which seems to affect women who have had children more than those who haven’t, is pain in the labia/pubis area.  To alleviate this pain and discomfort a saddle with a divot or cut out down the center often brings great pressure relief along with choosing a saddle with the right width.

If you have been hesitant to start biking due to an uncomfortable, painful saddle, know that better saddles are out there.  The easiest way to solve this problem is a visit to your local bike shop.  They are more than happy to find the right saddle to fit you and your bike.  I highly recommend it.

I have several different saddles on my bikes and it was a trial and effort for me to find one that was comfortable for me.  The saddles that came on my bikes were NEVER the right one for me, so odds are yours probably isn’t right for you.  If you are curious, right now I have a Selle Royal Respiro on my mountain bike, Specialized Oura on my cross bike, and Adamo Typhoon on my triathlon bike.

Check out the video below for some more tips.


  1. I am a huge fan of my Terry Butterfly saddle. It is amazing what a difference having a saddle that is actually made for your anatomy makes. Great post!

    1. I had the Terry Butterfly and that particular saddle didn't work for me, but I know it has worked for so many other ladies. I have bought and sold several saddles that haven't worked for me. My favorite seat thus far is my Specialized Oura -picked out at one of the local bike stores specifically for my riding position (on my cx bike) and width of my sit bones combined. (Thank you Dave!) Pricey little things, but they totally make or break cycling for so many of us!