Why Are Bike Seats So Uncomfortable And Often Hard?

When I first got my bike, I thought the seat was so hard, and so I replaced it with a thickly cushioned one. You know what? It didn’t help! That got me thinking: ‘why are bike seats so uncomfortable?’

More often than not, bike seats are uncomfortable because we put all our weight there. Remember, the seat is designed only to support your sit bones. So, it’s likely to feel uncomfortable if you exert all your weight. Other reasons include using an extra softly padded seat or just the wrong seat angle, shape, or type.   

I’ll explain all these possible scenarios in detail. Plus, I’ll recommend a few tips you can use to improve your seat comfort.

why are bike seats so uncomfortable

Why Are Bike Seats So Uncomfortable? 4 Possible Reasons

Here are possible explanations for your uncomfortable bike seat.

1. All Of Your Weight On The Bike Seat

Generally, the bike seat is not designed to support your entire body weight. Instead, it’s only meant to support your sit bones.

But due to not spreading your weight well over the handlebar, all of your weight shifts onto the seat. The effect is the seat hurting.

Fortunately, such an issue is correctible with seating correctly on the bike and adjusting the seat, as I’ll explain later.

2. Too Much Padding (An Extra Soft Bike Seat)

While most people think that extra padding equals comfort, the reality is that it doesn’t.

If the seat is too soft due to too much cushioning, your sit bones will not have adequate support. Instead, they’ll sink into the hard metal part of the seat, and your butt will start to hurt as a result.

It’s more like putting an extra soft pillow on a hard floor and sitting on it. You must agree that it’s never comfortable.

So, the fix is to get a seat or seat cover with thin padding.

3. Wrong Bike Seat Angle and Height

The seat angle or tilt determines how the seat feels under your sit bones. If you over-tilt it, it could result in butt numbness, and you wouldn’t want that.

Just ensure you lower its nose slightly to ensure you place less weight on the seat.

Also, note that the saddle height also influences your seating comfort. If the saddle is too high, you’ll strain your knee, and if it’s too low, you’ll have a hard time pedaling.

Either way, the result is an uncomfortable bike seat, which is avoidable with correct positioning.

4. Wrong Type Of Bike Seat

Remember, an MTB seat is not the same in design as a road cycling seat or any other. So, if you use the wrong seat on your bike, it’s likely to be uncomfortable.

For example, road cycling and racing saddles come in slimmer, lightweight designs that often feel hard. Comfort saddles, on the other hand, comes thicker and with lots of foam cushioning.

Also, note that lack of a middle cutout or just using an extra narrow or extra wide saddle could be the source of discomfort. The seat shouldn’t be too thin as it’ll press you, and its nose shouldn’t be too broad as it’ll cause thigh friction.

What’s more, a cutout eliminates pressure points, thus a good design element to have on your seat.

How To Make A Bike Seat More Comfortable

Now that you know why your bicycle seat is uncomfortable, here are ways to boost its comfort:

a) Use A Thinly-Cushioned Seat Cover

Your saddle could use a thinly cushioned seat cover if it doesn’t have any. I’ve used the term thinly cushioned since you wouldn’t want your bike saddle to be too soft as that’ll result in its discomfort.

One bike seat cover worth considering is the Domain Cycling Premium Gel Seat Cushion Cover.

The seat cover fits both spin bikes and outdoor cycles with a seat measuring 10.5 by 7 inches. That means it won’t fit extra-wide bike seats, which is quite unfortunate.

But if you want a wide and comfortable bike seat cover, check it here.

How To Make A Bike Seat More Comfortable

b) Adjust the Bike Seat and Handlebar

Still asking, why is my bike seat uncomfortable? Sometimes it has nothing to do with the saddle but the handlebar.

You’ve to adjust the saddle angle correctly to ensure you don’t put all your weight directly on it. Don’t tilt it too much backward. Instead, lower the nose to allow the wider part to hold the most weight.

Also, ensure that the seat height is correct. It shouldn’t be too high or too low as that spells discomfort.

Don’t forget about the handlebars, nonetheless. Ensure they are not too close or too wide to allow you to sit more comfortably.

c) Wear Padded Cycling Shorts

Since there is so much butt and thigh friction when cycling, you need biking shorts to cushion you against chafing.

Consider getting cushioned bike shorts to offer you adequate protection when riding long-distance. Besides, most of them also come in breathable, lightweight fabric to improve your general cycling comfort.

Relevant Post: Are Cycling Shorts Worth It?

d) Grease Up

You can prevent friction and seat soreness by applying an anti-chafe cream. A fantastic choice that athletes use is the Chamois Butt’r Original Anti-Chafe Cream, which prevents all forms of chafing.

You can also find more anti-chafe emollient creams here.

Alternatively, you can apply petroleum jelly, skin creams, or baby powder.

How Do I Make My Bike Seat Not To Hurt

e) Occasionally Stand Up

Cycling while sitting for about 3 hours straight doesn’t do your sit bones any good. On the contrary, it makes your sit bones hurt.

So, to avoid all that, occasionally stand up in between your ride, even if it’s for 5-10 minutes.

f) Sit Correctly On the Saddle

Sometimes, all it takes to find relief from saddle discomfort is seating correctly. Your whole body shouldn’t rest directly on the saddle, as I mentioned earlier.

Also, don’t sit too upright and ensure you spread your body out when holding the handlebar.

g) Get The Right Bike Seat

Lastly, if you have tried all the above ideas to no avail, what remains is replacing the uncomfortable bicycle seat.

Perhaps the seat shape is wrong, or it could be that it’s too soft. Either way, getting a thinly cushioned saddle that is not too narrow or doesn’t have a thicker nose could help.

One seat that fits the description is the Bikeroo Oversized Comfort Bike Seat.

The unisex bike seat is suitable for both indoor and outdoor bikes. Plus, it comes adequately padded and features suspension to offer you optimal comfort.

uncomfortable bike seat

Relevant Post: Is Cycling Bad For Your Balls?

FAQs About An Uncomfortable Bike Seat

1. How Do I Make My Bike Seat Not To Hurt?

Here are things you can do to stop your bike seat from hurting:

  • Tilt the seat angle correctly and adjust its height
  • Switch to a thinly-padded saddle
  • Invest in a thinly-cushioned seat cover
  • Wear cushioned cycling shorts
  • Apply emollient cream
  • Stand up often when cycling long-distance

2. Why Are Road Bike Seats So Hard?

Road bike seats don’t have much padding, making them feel a little bear and hard.

While this may look like a bad thing, there is a reason behind it. The fact that the seat is hard means more support to your butt’s soft tissues and sit bones.

A hard seat also prevents nerve compression and chaffing to allow you to cycle long-distance.

3. Why Are Mountain Bike Seats So Uncomfortable?

Compared to most bikes, mountain bike seats are a little harder, explaining why they are often uncomfortable.

They are made from extra hard material and do not feature thick foam padding. This is also the answer to, ‘why are bike seats so hard?’

The other reason is that mountain bike seats come in a smaller design, which doesn’t favor riders with a big bottom.

It could also be that you don’t ride often and so you are not used to the seat or that the seat angle or height is wrong.

Perhaps it’s a case of using the wrong seat, probably using a road bike seat.

4. How Can I Make My Bike Seat Softer?

Note that making your seat softer often doesn’t prevent saddle soreness. But if the seat is extra hard, then it might be a good idea to add some thin padding inform of a seat cover.

Alternatively, consider adjusting the seat angle, wearing cushioned bike shorts, and using chamois cream.

5. Why Are Spinning Bike Seats So Uncomfortable?

Given that spinning sessions are often aggressive, there is usually a lot of friction between the seat and the legs, which creates chaffing and sometimes leading to soreness.

That explains why spin bike seats are so uncomfortable. But still, not standing up in the mid of your spin session, tilting the seat wrongly, or not using the right saddle could also be the reason for the discomfort.

Closing Thought:

Now, you don’t have to ask, ‘why are bike seats so uncomfortable?’ You only need to establish the reason behind the discomfort and find a way to overcome it. You can use the tips I’ve shared to your advantage.