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Bicycle Seats Guide: Choosing the Best Bicycle Seat

Updated on April 7, 2010

The topic of bicycle seats usually invites a fair share of arguments about which one can really result in a comfortable ride. For those who ride their bike regularly a good bicycle seat can be incredibly important. The seat should be a good fit with the right size and shape for the rider. A bad bike seat can cause all sorts of problems and if it's too uncomfortable it will inhibit you from riding your bike. But just getting a better seat can make a world of difference.

With talk about bicycle seats causing impotence or other problems more designs have become available. These days we have a wide variety of options so if you look around a bit you can definitely find one that provides a comfortable, safe ride at a reasonable price.

Gel Bicycle Seat
Gel Bicycle Seat

Choosing a Bicycle Seat

It is important to realize the seat you choose should aid your pelvic bones, and the nose of the seat should be slim enough to prevent any kind of discomfort and friction while pedaling.  Just as we discovered in that hub about P90X reviews that different workouts are better for different people, different bicycle seats work for different people.

If your bicycle seat has more padding, the pedaling energy is absorbed by the seat and there is less energy going to the pedals. For many people it is better to have a comfortable ride rather than an energy efficient ride when it comes to bicycle seats, of course this isn't the case for serious or competitive cyclists.

The angle of the bicycle seat is a major consideration because the rise or the incline of the area of the seat you are in contact with can affect the pressure against your backside. That is usually why the seats will be flat or with a subtle downward angle at the front side of the seat.

Types of Bicycle Seats

There are a wide variety of bicycle seats available and it is easier than ever before to make an informed decision. Here are some of the types of bicycle seats that you can choose from:

  • Cushion Bicycle Seats, sometimes called Comfort Bicycle Seats: As the name says, this one is quite comfortable. The seat has somewhat broad nose and it is well cushioned and wide. They are usually heavier than most bicycle seats partly because of the size but also because there are springs underneath to hold it firm and provide for a smooth, hassle-free ride. If you like to ride around town at a moderate speed then the comfort seat is a good choice. It is well-suited for those bicycles with handlebars that are higher than the seat. These seats are made for a leisurely ride as it is not easy to pedal very fast with this kind of bike seat.
  • Gel Bicycle Seats: Gel seats have a lot of variety in terms of shape. They are extremely comfortable; in fact some feel they are the most comfortable bike seat available. A typical bicycle seat with a hard top can be irritating to your pelvic bone and groin if you ride for a prolonged amount of time. Gel bike seats with their soft gel cushion can help you avert such irritation and make for a very comfortable ride, even if you travel long distances on your bike.
  • Road Bicycle Seats or Racing Bicycle Seats: This type of seat is very well suited for racer or competitive cyclists. This kind of seat will ensure that you derive the maximum efficiency from your pedaling. Race bike seats are light weight, narrow and they have less padding. They help you get maximum speed out of your bike, even though they might be a bit less comfortable. They are good for people who want to race their bike or want to ride to exercise their legs and hips. When you ride on this bicycle seat, it is expected that you will lean forward when you pedal.
  • Mountain Bike Seats: A mountain bike seat is made for those who ride mostly off road on rough terrain. A mountain bike seat is fairly narrow, lightweight and has a medium amount of padding to help cushion the rough ride. They are made specifically for someone who will be moving around a lot on the seat while maneuvering rough terrain.
  • Cutaway Bicycle Seats: With a cutaway bicycle seat material is removed from part of the top of the saddle, some even have distinct spaces in the middle of the seat. This helps relieve the pain from pressure points. They are good for people who have tried other seats but still feel pain, numbness or tingling. A cutaway bicycle seat should help alleviate those feelings.
  • Hornless Bicycle Seats: As you can probably guess the hornless bicycle seat doesn't have the horn, just the place for your sit bones. This helps remove pressure from the groin area and provide a more comfortable ride for those suffer from pain or tingling they may experience with a regular bike seat.

Apart from the above types of bicycle seats, there are also specialized seats for both women and men because of the difference in pelvic breadths between men and women. Women's bike seats are shorter and wider because women typically have a wider pelvis than men. Similarly, bicycle seats for men are usually longer and narrower.

Cutaway Bicycle Seat
Cutaway Bicycle Seat

Finding Good Bicycle Seats For A Reasonable Price

Often times you can get good quality bicycle seats at reasonable prices online. When shopping online you have a wide variety to choose from all at your fingertips so you can compare prices and features of a number of bicycle seats easily. If you shop somewhere like Amazon you get a number of companies all selling on the same site making it that much easier to compare. 

If you want to see the bicycle seat in person before buying it go to local outdoor or specialty bicycle shops.  They should have a decent selection and you can ask questions.  If you're not in a big hurry you can wait for a store sale or ask if new models will be coming out, meaning the older ones may be marked down.


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