A comfortable bicycle seat?
Is this a contradiction of terms?
Must all bicycle seats be uncomfortable?
Apparently the designers of bicycles think so. But this should be expected. In this designer-driven world, style and image are everything. Comfort, safety, utility, and cost count for nothing. The latest style must be observed regardless of consequences. The current bicycle seat mandated by designers is the racing saddle - a thin rail with a long horn and almost no area to support the rider.
And why do people buy these seats? The simple answer if that alternatives are not offered
by bicycle manufacturers. But they are not offered because the buyer is not expected to purchase
The image: You are racing in the Tour de France, being chased - but never quite caught - by Lance Armstrong. This image, accepted by manufacturer and buyer is probably the real reason that only racing saddles are offered on most bicycles. And the bicycle racers seldom use the seat. They usually are standing on the pedals, thus the type of seat is of little importance to them.
There are alternatives to the racing saddle, but you have to hunt for them. Few bicycle
stores offer even one alternative. The images of several alternatives are shown below.
Click on the image for more information about the seat. There are other alternatives, including some very weird ones.
Each manufacturer claims that their seat will prevent problems caused by the racing saddle. Some of the claims are probably true for some riders. If you experience any of these problems, or others that could be caused by the seat, you may want to investigate the alternative seats.
The two basic types are the split seat with no center and the wide seat with a large
support area. The type is more a personal preference than anything else. The price range
is from $25 to over $200. I have used the Easy Seat which works very well but not without
minor problems. But definitely get a seat post with a shock absorber. If your problems
are severe, a recumbent bicycle with its easy chair seat may be your best option.
I currently ride a Sun EZ 3-USX recumbent tricycle. As with any recumbent it presents greater stress on the leg muscles and the heart, but it virtually eliminates hand numbness. It also has a very comfortable seat. But if you have heart problems, use a recumbent with care.
Don't expect any bicycle seat to compete with a recliner. But any of the alternatives should be a great improvement over the racing saddle.
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