January 13, 2006

    I have a beautiful Schwinn Airdyne bike but the seat is not comfortable and I can only stand to ride for about 10 minutes. If I had a comfortable seat I could ride much longer. Can you help me find the right seat? Thanks.

Judy N.

    Seats cause discomfort for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they’ve got the wrong position for your body. Other times, they don’t fit right, or have too much or too little padding.
    Let’s start with the simple stuff. Try tilting the nose of the seat up or down slightly and see if that makes a difference. (You should find a nut underneath the seat you to loosen it. After you tilt the seat tighten the nut.)
    If that doesn’t work, you could try a new seat. The softer the better, right? Maybe. Maybe not. A really soft seat might hurt you cuz your soft tissue, not your pelvic bones, ends up supporting most of your weight. This explains why veteran long-distance cyclists like leather saddles: Tho the saddle might feel hard at the start, over time it molds itself so that it supports the pelvis’s “sit bones” (actually called the ischial tuberosities).
    An alternative to a leather saddle: One that flares up slightly in the back to support your sit bones, and has some kind of groove or hole in the center to keep your soft tissue from supporting your weight (e.g., the Cloud Nine Lady Gf).
    But if you don’t sit on that seat for more than, say, 30 minutes at a time, a plain old gel-padded seat might just work out in the end (ha ha). Note, tho, that saddles come in different widths; too narrow a seat might have your sit bones sort of falling off the edges, leaving your soft tissue to do most of the support. I recommend you visit your local bike shop and find a seat that seems to fit. Make sure you can exchange the seat in case it doesn’t feel right over time.
    You can find more tips and pictures of different seat types in my book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips.

Mr Bike

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