When you rent a bike from us at www.goodwheelrentabike.co.uk we want you to be comfortable. In order to be comfortable you have to have the right saddle and know how to use it properly. Here is some advice from the cycling gurus Sheldon Brown and John Allen.
Every Spring, bike shops sell lots of saddles to cyclists who come in because their old saddle has become uncomfortable since they stopped cycling in the Autumn. They went out for a ride or two, and found it much less comfortable than they remembered from the previous year. They’ve heard about the latest buzzword in saddle gimmicks, and they want one of those!
They buy the new saddle, put it on the bike, go for a few more rides, and find they’re much more comfortable. They tell all their friends about their wonderful new saddle, and how they need one too…
But was it really the new, high-tech saddle…or was it just that the rider had become unaccustomed to cycling over the winter layoff? In many cases, working your way up over the course of a few short rides of gradually increasing length is all that is necessary, if you have a decent-quality saddle, properly adjusted. If you have previously been comfortable on your present saddle, don’t be in a hurry to change.
A saddle is intended to carry some, but not all of your weight. The rest of your weight is mainly carried by your legs, and some by your hands and arms.
A cyclist who is out of cycling shape from being off a bicycle for a few months or more, will start out strong, but their legs will tire rapidly. When the legs tire, the rider sits harder on the saddle, and that’s when the trouble starts. Many saddle complaints are actually traceable to fatigue caused by starting out the season with a longer ride than you are ready for.
If it has been several months or more since you rode a bicycle regularly, you can expect to be sore if you ride any serious distance.
If you are coming off of a layoff of months or years, start with short rides and increase your distance gradually. Anybody in decent shape can hop on a bike and ride 15-20 miles, but if you haven’t accustomed your body to cycling first you are likely to feel it afterwards.
When a cyclist finds a saddle uncomfortable, the first impulse is often to look for a soft one. This is often a mistake. Just as the softest mattress is not necessarily the most comfortable to sleep on, the softest saddle is not the most comfortable to cycle on.
Many cyclists are unaware of this, and many saddles are made to appeal to the purchaser who chooses a saddle on the basis of how easily the thumb can sink into the squishy top. This type of saddle is only comfortable for very short rides, (though an inexperienced cyclist will often find it more comfortable than a better saddle, as long as rides don’t exceed a mile or two.)
Saddles with excessive padding are also a common cause of painful chafing of the inner thigh, as rides become longer.
So what is the best way to avoid saddle pain? Make sure you saddle is not too soft and don’t use it as a seat. Keep most of your weight on your legs, rather like when you are riding a horse!