Why Are Bicycle Seats So Small and Hard?

There is no denying the fact that exercising the body is a great way to preserve the flexibility and mobility of the body as well as improving one’s overall health.

That said, one exercise that will always remain evergreen is cycling. Cycling is a great form of exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness, decreases stress levels and improve joint mobility among other exceptional benefits.

Apart from its obvious health benefits, cycling can also be a fun way to pass time.

A significant aspect of cycling is a thorough understanding of your bicycle. Hence, this post will provide insights into some of the questions you have about your bicycle and the ways it affects your cycling experience.

At the end of this article you will have answers that will make cycling more fun and enjoyable for you.Bicycle seats


Why are bicycle seats so small and hard?

Bicycles are designed to have five contact points when in use. These are the two pedals, the two handlebars and the seat which is also known as the saddle.

It should be noted that the foremost objective in the design of bicycles is mobility and not rest. This is especially evident in the shape of the seat.

Now for a bike to achieve mobility, you need to pedal. Hence, the seat is designed in a way that does not interfere with the motions of your legs while pedalling.

Bicycle seats are made small to allow sufficient room for the movements of your legs without resulting in chafing or bruising.

The bicycle seat is hard in order to provide a firm and stable platform to support your sit bones and allow you to produce power for effective pedalling.

You see, you push against the pedals when cycling. And the pedals push back, too. That’s why you need a hard and firm support for your sit bones in order to generate enough power to counteract the resistance of the pedals.

If the seat was made of sofa-like cushion or gel, then the pedal will succeed in sinking you deeper into the seat every time you push the pedal and the effectiveness of the cycling will be greatly reduced.

Hence, bicycle seats are so small and hard to allow your legs move freely and provide a suitable launching platform for effective cycling.

When will my bike seat stop hurting?

First you must understand that there are a number of reasons, other than the bike seat, you might be experiencing pain and discomfort as a result of cycling.

Sitting position can cause discomfort while cycling and even after cycling if you do not get it right. Specifically as a newbie, your muscles may be unaccustomed to riding.

Extended periods of cycling over long distances can also cause pain or discomfort.

That said, if you are able to ascertain that the pain or discomfort is due to the bike seat, then you will need between one and two weeks to get used to the seat.

During this period, it’s advisable you spend less than an hour on the seat each day. This will help you get accustomed to the new seat with minimal discomfort.

Why do mountain bike seats hurt?

Mountain bikes are specifically designed for off-road cycling through uneven terrains. As such, mountain bike seats are designed to be super hard.

This is done to provide a sturdy support for your sit bones in order for you to be able to generate sufficient power to navigate a supposedly rugged path.

Another reason mountain bike seats hurts so much is the fact that the seat is very narrow because it is assumed that the rider will be doing a lot of high intensity cycling that would often require standing while riding the bike.

The narrow seats combined with the hardness of the seats make mountain bike seats hurt like hell. Now, that’s also why the seats are designed with the assumption that the rider will be wearing cycling shorts which are padded with high intensity foam.

What is the best way to find a comfortable bike seat?

They say people come in different shapes and sizes, well so do bike seats. Recall that a bike seat or saddle is specifically designed to support your sit bones while riding a bike.

Now, sit bones come in different variations and getting a bike seat that matches your sit bones is key to finding a comfortable bike seat.

Hence, the first thing you need to do is determine the width of your sit bones. Then you can select a seat with a width that matches your sit bones.

Finding a comfortable bike seat also depends on the flexibility of the rider. A flexible rider will be more comfortable on a bike with flat seat whereas a less flexible rider will find a rounded seat to be more comfortable.

Flexibility can be easily tested by sitting on the ground and leaning forward to touch your toes with your hands.

If you’re able to touch your toes, then you are very flexible and you’ll be comfortable on a flat seat.

But if you find it difficult to even lean forward, you are less flexible and a rounded seat will be ideal for you.

Finally, the purpose of a seat will determine how you can find the best one. For instance, a bike seat that is great for aggressive cycling through uneven terrains may not be ideal for riding on normal roads.

Hence, the type of cycling you do must be taken into consideration when finding a comfortable bike seat.

What is the purpose of the hole in a bike seat?

The hole or cut-out in a bike seat performs multiple functions. The most important purpose of the hole in a bike seat is to protect the tender areas of the purineum, i.e. crotch area, from pressure that may result from cycling.

Traditional bike seats with no hole or cut-out can be very uncomfortable for aggressive or mountain cycling because it puts excessive pressure on the tender crotch area. The purpose of the hole in a bike seat is to relieve this pressure.

Another key significance of the hole in a bike seat is that it allows for ventilation. The hole or cut-out in a bike seat exposes the purineum area to fresh air while riding.

This can make long rides more comfortable and less sweaty. Finally, the hole in a bike seat prevents it from collecting water when the bicycle is stationed outside in the event of a rainfall.

Unlike other type of bike seats, a bike seat with a hole collects little water that can easily be wiped off with a bit of tissue.

Why do women’s bike seats have holes?

As stated earlier, the hole in a bike seat has multiple functions including allowing for the free circulation of air, preventing the seat from collecting water during rainfalls and taking pressure off the soft tissue in the perineum area.

However, the major reason holes or cut-outs are so prevalent in women’s bike seats today is to to prevent soreness by making sure that little or no pressure is placed on the perineum area.

How do I know when my bike seat is too high?

The height of your bike seat has a significant impact on your riding experience. A bike seat that is too high can cause injury, discomfort and loss of cycling efficiency. Hence, you must ensure that your bike seat is not too high.

A tell tale sign of a bike seat that is too high is an overextended knee while riding. When it seems like you are fully standing while cycling, it means your bike seat is too high and you’re overextending your knees to compensate.

Also, when your hips rock back and forth continuously while riding and your butts shift on the seat, then the bike seat is too high and needs readjusting.

A bike seat that is fixed too high will make you hurt behind the knees, cause saddle sores,weaken your pedalling and make cycling generally uncomfortable.

Ensure that you determine your optimal seat position before riding to prevent pain and discomfort.


This post has covered various questions regarding bicycle seats or saddles with special attention to nuances that will help you gain more insight into the seat or saddle of your bicycle.

Hopefully, you will have a more enjoyable and comfortable cycling experience from utilizing the actionable knowledge presented here.


cycling health benefits

why are bike seats so hard

the purpose of home in bike seat

getting used to saddle sitting

why do women bike seats have holes

why mountain bike are hard


tips for finding perfect saddle

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