Cycling shouldn’t make you sore. Here are some suggestions to help you sit comfortably on your journey to work.
New cyclists often suffer from some stiffness and mild aching in the buttock muscles to begin with. This is normal. Your body isn’t used to cycling. It’s like your feet aching after a day when you walk or stand more than usual. What isn’t normal is pain or numbness. Either is a sign that there’s something wrong with your saddle.
To be comfortable on a bike, your weight needs to rest on your ‘sit bones’, the bony bits at the bottom of your pelvis. Problems occur when your weight is instead pressing down on the soft tissue of the perineum (the in-between bit of your undercarriage) or, particularly in women, the genitals. This can pinch nerves or cause chaffing. The problem is usually worse the further forward you lean.
We’re all different shapes and sizes, so there’s no one perfect saddle. It needs to be wide enough for your sit bones, which is why women’s saddles are generally wider (due to a wider pelvis). And it mustn’t press on your sensitive bits, which is the reason for the grooves and holes in saddles. It also needs to be set at the correct angle for you – horizontal or a handful of degrees either side – and not too far forward or back. As a rule of thumb, the further and faster you plan to ride, the narrower and harder your saddle needs to be.
Cyclescheme Price: £26.25*
An inexpensive saddle with the same shape as the better known Charge Spoon, Madison’s Flux is simple, durable, and relatively lightweight. There’s no hole in it but the raised, grooved rear suits the sit bones of lots of bottoms.
Specialized The Cup
Cyclescheme Price: £30*
Specialized’s Body Geometry series helped bring anatomic saddles into the mainstream. Many are narrow and racy, but even this wide, well-padded one has a central groove to “increase bloodflow in critical areas”. Should suit men or women on sit-up-and-beg style bikes.
Selle SMP TRK Medium
Cyclescheme Price: £39.68*
Selle SMP saddles have a distinctive drooped nose, which is less likely to snag your shorts or trousers and may help when leaning forward. The pressure relief channel is long and wide. Saddle width depends on the user and intended discipline; this one’s for trekking and city bikes.
Brooks B17 Short
Cyclescheme Price: £78.75*
Like leather shoes, leather saddles gradually conform to your body providing, some say, unparalleled comfort. They do need protecting from the rain, however. The B17 is Brooks’ flagship model. This is the women’s version, which is shorter and wider than the men’s.
ISM PR 1.0
Cyclescheme Price: 90*
ISM goes one step further when it comes to pressure relief: the channel extends to the front of the saddle so its saddles are noseless. This should particularly help cyclists who lean forward a lot but the design isn’t only for racers. There are wide ones for roadsters and this one is for hybrids.