A common thing I hear new riders say is:
"my butt hurts from biking, can you help me!"
You would think with all out technology we would have come up with a solution for this by now.
But somehow seemingly half of the riding population suffers from butt pains.
I recently wrote a big guide on the most comfortable bike saddle around, so give that a read if you're after a new saddle.
However, it's important to note that simply getting the biggest, squishiest saddle is rarely the answer.
In fact, your butt problem may not be a result of your saddle at all.
What's the answer to your pain?
Before you go out and buy a new saddle, you should try and make some adjustments to your current setup.
The problems you're having can often be remedied by minor changes. Here are some common problems that can be fixed with ease.
Your saddle is misaligned: saddles should be angled downward to avoid putting too much pressure on the perineal nerves.
You could be wearing inappropriate clothing: when biking, you want to minimize friction otherwise you begin to chafe (nobody enjoys chafing) and to off-set that you will inevitably sit all weight on the saddle. Causing - you guessed it - butt pains.
Click here to find the types of gear you need to combat chafing.
Your saddle height is incorrect: If your saddle height is too low you'll be putting too much body weight on your saddle area. If your saddle is too high your hips will start to rock, which again, causes chafing.
Check out this guide by roadcyclinguk to get your saddle in the perfect position
Try adjusting your handlebars: You may have some nice handlebars. But if they're set up incorrectly it can cause you to distribute your weight unevenly.
A poorly set up bike can cause all sorts of pain from sore knees to a bad back. Before you start to look at new gear, I would invest in a proper bike fitting from your local bike shop first.
A personal story
I always remember when I was on a long cycling trip across Europe. I had been riding for a few days, and my butt was killing me.
I decided to play around with my saddle height to see if that would make a difference. I raised it up no more than 1mm, and it cured everything
It's strange how it works, but tiny incremental changes are sometimes all that's needed. And once you've got it just how you like it don't change a thing!
For example, with my saddle height I made sure I marked exactly where it was on the seat post, just in case it slipped down over time.
More top tips for when your butt hurts from biking
For some more tips on how to avoid a sore ass make sure you watch this great video by the guys from the GCN.
What's your riding style?
Your riding style is going to play a significant role when deciding what type of saddle you need.
If you're into road cycling, you'll want a long, thin saddle. I know it sounds counterintuitive to get a small seat when you're in pain with a bigger one, but trust me!
When you are riding at high speeds, two things happen: One the bulk of your weight is going to shift forward a bit. Allowing for you to generate more torque and, subsequently, more power.
The second, and more relevant to this discussion, is that you pedal faster (meaning you pedal more). This can cause you serious problems if you're using a wide saddle because friction is the biggest contributing factor to chafing.
These two facts of riding for speed are why narrow saddles are preferred if that's your goal.
If you're having trouble deciding which saddle is best for you I’ve found that the Selle SMP saddle does well for aggressive riding.
Maybe you aren’t too worried about speed, but you still want to be able to have a comfortable saddle. One that lets you be aggressive when necessary but can rest your body during longer rides.
I've seen a few different saddles that work well for this style of riding with the Outerdo saddle providing excellent bang for your buck.
If you're the cruising type of rider, you're going to want a different saddle to other cyclists. Cruisers do much less peddling than most bikers, and far more coasting. (Cruising, by the way, is the single greatest way to enjoy beautiful weather)
Because you pedal less and coast more, the style of saddle you choose should be more consistent with what looks most comfortable to you.
You should be looking for a sturdy yet well-padded saddle with a wide frame so that you have the maximum surface area possible for your butt to rest on.
In my opinion, the Sunlite Cloud 9 is the saddle to go for. Its short, wide frame makes it perfect for sitting on for longer durations of time, and it's padded well enough that you won’t get fatigued quickly.
Other things to take into consideration
Saddle comfort is a very personal thing. What is right for me, may not be right for you and vice versa.
When purchasing a new saddle be sure to get one that not only fits your riding style but your body type as well. Some of us have wider hips than others, that means you might need a different set up than your friend who has been cycling for 15 years.
So don’t just go off of what others tell you, get in the bike shop and try some of these out.
There will be some trial and error involved. But trust me when I say, once you finally find the right saddle for you and your bike, you will enjoy cycling so much more than you ever thought you could.