Sore butt? I’ve been there.
And if you’re riding on a new bike seat, then this naturally raises the question:
Will I get used to my bike seat?
Generally, you will get used to your bike seat over time, as you “break in” the seat and as your body adjusts. This can take anywhere from 0-250 miles of riding, depending on the fit, materials, and design of your seat. However, if your bike seat doesn’t fit properly, then it could actually become more painful.
There are several factors that contribute to your comfort on a bike seat, so let’s dig deeper into the following topics:
Does Bike Seat Pain Go Away?
Going for a bike ride is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, but pain from your bike seat can have the opposite effect. If you have a properly fitted bike seat the pain from a ride should go away after some time.
It can take a few days to a few weeks to start noticing a decline in the pain; don’t give up! More often than not, buying a new bike seat won’t solve the problem. Allowing time to break in your seat and get accustomed to it is the most effective thing you can do.
If you experience pain on the first few rides, it’s advised to give yourself a break for a few days and then try again. You want to avoid getting bruises or sores, which can take weeks to heal. Taking breaks in between rides can help your body adjust more easily.
There is always a chance that the bike seat you chose simply is not the right fit for you. If the bike seat pain doesn’t go away or subside after a couple of months, try a new seat.
Do Bike Seats Break In?
If you’ve been experiencing consistent pain due to your bike seat, it’s normal to wonder if your bike seat will ever break in, or if you’ll ever adjust to it enough to enjoy your ride.
Generally, bike seats will break in over time. However, bike seats come in a variety of materials and designs, and they don’t all perform the same way. For example, bike seats made of soft gel-like materials typically will not break-in. Whereas leather seats, usually do have a break in period.
Let’s use shoes as an example, to understand this better.
Some shoes, like a cheap pair of flip flops or some slip on sandals will have no break in period. You slip them on and know right away if they are a good fit.
On the other hand, with hiking boots or leather shoes, you know there will be a break in period, and you must go through this to determine if they are a good fit. There is a similar process with your bike seat.
Some bike seats are made of soft gel-like materials and will either be comfortable right away or not; there will be no break in period. While leather seats, typically both hard surfaced and narrow, will break in and become more comfortable over time.
The good news is that more often than not, your bike seat will break in. Or, more accurately, you will adapt and adjust to your bike seat.
How Long Does it Take to Get Used to a Bike Seat?
Since your bike seat determines so much about the quality of your rides, it’s helpful to have an idea of how long it will realistically take to get used to.
As a general rule, it takes anywhere from 0 to 250 miles of riding to get used to a new bike seat. And assuming you ride ~30 miles a week, it could take 0-8+ weeks to get used to a new seat. Exactly how long this process takes depends on a number of factors, such as the materials, fit, and design of your specific seat.
As I mentioned above, some bike seats have no break in period; they shouldn’t take any time to get used to. These seats are often wide, soft and have a lot of give. With this type of seat, you should be able to determine if it’s the right fit for you by sitting on the bike, or taking it for a short ride.
On the other hand, it can take up to 250 miles of riding to break-in a leather seat, and these seats usually do get more comfortable over time.
Break in techniques have emerged over the years for people who have an interest in speeding up the break in period for their seat. A popular one being to submerge the leather seat in water to make it more malleable.
These techniques are not advised by experts; they could compromise the integrity of the leather in an irreversible manner.
The best way to get used to your bike seat is to ride your bike.
Tips to Help You Get Comfortable With Your Bike Seat
There are some proactive ways to get more comfortable with your bike seat and to get some enjoyable rides in; let’s take a look.
1. Try a Seat Cover (Temporarily)
If you find that you need some extra cushion on your bike seat, consider temporarily using a bike seat cover until you get more comfortable with your bike.
Generally speaking, I think it’s better to avoid bike seat covers. But if you’re looking for a short-term fix, while your body gets accustomed to riding short distances, then it’s something to consider. You can read more about bike seat covers (and whether they’re worth using) here.
2. Make Adjustments to the Bike Seat
Sometimes, the discomfort is being caused by improper placement or angling of your bike seat or handlebars. Some factors to consider are the height of the seat post, the height of your handlebars and the angle of your seat.
Your seat can be moved side to side or titled up and down. Similarly your handlebars can be raised or lowered and your seat post height can be adjusted. As for the height of your seat post; your knee should be slightly bent when on the pedal in the downward position.
Keep in mind that your bike seat should be mostly level, so start small with any angling adjustments. Try tweaking some of these elements until you find the perfect position for yourself.
And if you really want to nerd-out about tweaking your bike seat position, then check out this video:
3. Sit Correctly
Sitting too far forward or too far back on your seat could be the culprit, causing your discomfort.
Make sure your bottom is taking up the whole seat; that should ensure you are sitting on it correctly.
Also, you want your weight to be distributed between your seat and your handlebars. You want to shoot for 70% of your weight being absorbed by the seat and 30% by the handlebars. Adjust your handlebars to help you strike this balance.
4. Wear Proper Cycling Clothing
This may be one of the factors that gets most overlooked, but it’s important.
Wearing chamois-padded cycling shorts can be a great way to improve your comfort while riding a bike. These shorts are padded, prevent chafing, and are even aerodynamic (if speed is what you’re into).
If you’re new to cycling shorts, or if you’re not sure about them, check out my article on whether cycling shorts are worth it.
5. Keep Riding
Sometimes you just have to ride through the discomfort. If you’ve made proper adjustments, your seat is angled properly and you are wearing proper cycling clothing, try going for a few more rides. You may just be in the break in period.
With that said, don’t let your body suffer too much, and prioritize your health and safety. If you don’t notice a decline of pain in a reasonable amount of time, look into getting a new seat.
Bike Seats That NEVER Get More Comfortable
It’s possible to find yourself in a situation where the bike seat you have just plain won’t work for you. As disappointing as this can be, the sooner you can determine this, the better.
If you’ve ended up with a bike seat that doesn’t support your sit bones properly, it will NEVER get more comfortable.
The good news is, bike seats are typically interchangeable across bikes, so if your seat doesn’t work for you, it should be easy to get a replacement.
A bike seat’s job is simple, it’s supposed to support your sit bones. Your sit bones are the bones at the bottom of your pelvis that support you when seated.
Everyone’s sit bones are positioned slightly differently. It’s the width between these two bones that indicates the proper width needed for your bike seat. If you’ve ended up with a bike seat that doesn’t support your sit bones properly, it will never get more comfortable.
If you find yourself in this situation, head on over to a bike shop, they’ll help you get properly fitted for a bike seat that’s right for you.
In conclusion, breaking in your bike seat and determining if it’s the right fit for you can take some time. Just remember that the joy of cycling makes it all worth it! Happy riding.