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Subject: Soft Bicycle Saddles
From: Jobst Brandt
Date: December 10, 1999

I was wondering if someone could direct me to a bike seat that is soft. I have a Specialized-brand bike and the seat is hard. What is the softest seat available?

You may already have heard something like this but I think it bears repeating. Bicycle saddles are much harder and narrower than you might expect because they are designed to bear on a small area, primarily the protuberances of the pelvic bone that you can feel as solid bumps if you feel under your buttocks as you sit in a chair.

If you sit on a larger area, for instance on a soft cushion, you will be sitting on the muscles that propel the bicycle. Although this may be comfortable sitting still, pedaling, it causes a "charley horse" in these muscles for lack of adequate blood circulation. You will want to avoid such soft saddles if you plan to ride more than a few hundred yards because riding will become painful.

A better course is to ride a conventional firm saddle, repeatedly, until your seating is no longer sensitive. All bicyclists who ride substantial distances achieve this condition, albeit with various saddles, none of which have the broad deep cushion often sought by newcomers.

Even an experienced rider who is laid up or otherwise cannot ride for more than a month, experiences much the same discomfort you do when he returns to riding the saddle that he previously never gave a thought.

The big cushioned saddles are made for people who don't ride bicycles. That is why there are so few of them available, and they are generally not found in bicycle shops where the regulars shop.

Jobst Brandt

Spoke Divider

See also Sheldon Brown on Comfortable Saddles and Pain

Spoke Divider

More Articles by Jobst Brandt
Next: Ankling, a pedaling style
Previous: Shimmy or Speed Wobble

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