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Why Bike Seats Are So Uncomfortable & What To Do About It

A black bike seat with bright green details.

Whether you are a pro or new to cycling, you have probably asked yourself at some point why the seat of your bicycle is so uncomfortable. Sometimes the discomfort can turn into pain and even numbness. Bike seat pain is definitely a no-no. However, why does a bicycle seat tend to be so uncomfortable, and what can you do about that discomfort?

Bike seats are uncomfortable due to:

  • excessive or insufficient cushioning
  • the seat is not level
  • the person’s balance is off
  • the handlebars are not correctly set

Some possible solutions are:

  • adjusting the seat and handlebars
  • get the correct seat size
  • buy padded shorts
  • get a padded seat cover

Some modern bike seats are built for maximum comfort, but many bike seats are still quite uncomfortable. Those take some getting used to. You might say there’s a break-in period in some cases for the seat and your bottom alike.

The Reasons Why Bike Seats Are So Uncomfortable

Generally speaking, bike seats should not cause any discomfort. However, many cyclists endure quite a lot of discomfort and pain because they simply don’t know why their bike seat is so uncomfortable.

First, it is important to note that the pelvis plays a huge role in the discomfort you experience when sitting on a bike seat. Many people are aware that we have sit bones. However, they are unaware that we actually only ever sit on those sit bones when we are sitting straight up in a chair.

There is an area directly below the sit bones called the ischial ramus. This is the area you actually sit on when you sit on a bike. This is because the more aggressive the position is on the bike, the further one tends to sit forward.

Due to the pelvis’s shape, its bones get narrower when the cycling position is more aggressive. This is the key to bike seat discomfort. However, each rider has their own optimal pelvic posture. With that in mind, several factors make bike seats uncomfortable.

Discomfort Is Caused By A Excessive Or Insufficient Cushion

As unpleasant as little cushioning can be, so can excessive cushioning. Sometimes you might believe adding additional padding will make the discomfort disappear, but this isn’t always the case.

Your Bikes Handlebars Are Not Set Up Properly

Your handlebars’ position is the main source of the issue. You will be forced off of the larger portion of the seat if the handlebars of your bicycle are not in the proper position. This will thus result in bike seat discomfort.

Bikes in a row, showing the medium sized black bike seats.
It is important for the bike seat to be level

Discomfort In The Seat Results From An Uneven Bike Seat

In almost all situations, a bike seat must be primarily level. You cannot maintain a balanced pelvis on a seat if it isn’t level. Frequently, many riders lower the seat of their bikes.

This means they roll forward to the center of the seat when the seat is inclined down, increasing pressure on the backside. This will not only result in backside discomfort but will also put additional weight on the hands, which will change the ideal weight distribution.

Poor Balance Will Result In Seat Discomfort

Too little weight on your feet might lead to seat discomfort when riding a bike. There is a risk of developing seat discomfort if you don’t have an appropriate balance on the bike between the:

  • hips
  • feet
  • hands

The feet are especially essential because if they do not support the weight properly, the bike seat will be forced to support the additional weight. The hip-to-foot posture is crucial because of this.

What Can You Do About An Uncomfortable Bike Seat?

You may have observed that the bike seat, which bears most of the body’s weight while riding a bike, is relatively small. Finding a bike seat that fits properly is essential.

As mentioned, you don’t typically sit on sit bones when pedaling. A pain-free or painful bike ride depends on knowing the distance between your two front pelvic bones.

Sit on some kind of gel pad at the closest bike shop to get measured. Your ideal seat will be easier to choose if you know how far apart the two bones are. You can replace your seat with one that matches your proportions, just like you can alter your bike seat.

Additionally, wearing a pair of bike shorts, like these on Amazon, will help with discomfort. The shorts are designed to prevent rubbing and offer the right amount of cushioning to lessen any discomfort from bike sitting. It’s crucial to get a pair that fits you well.

Investing in a bike seat cover is yet another technique to alleviate bike seat discomfort. Here’s a great one available at Amazon. People frequently wear padded riding shorts, but a seat cover eliminates the need because it has enough padding to reduce the high pressure your body weight places on the seat.

A red bike seat with extra padding.
Moderate bike seat cushioning is best

In addition to the measures mentioned above, you will also need to remedy the causes of bike seat discomfort. For excessive or insufficient seat cushioning, you’ll want to look into cushioning that works best. The ideal cushioning is moderate.

When the discomfort in the seat results from an uneven bike seat, ensure that you adjust the seat or purchase a new one if it persistently goes uneven.

If the bike handlebars are not set up properly, ensure that you adjust them or go to a bike shop where they can advise you on where they should be depending on height.

As mentioned above, poor balance will result in seat discomfort. In this case, strength training and conditioning is the only thing to do and gain more experience on the bike.


Uncomfortable bike seats can take away from the joy of cycling. Furthermore, they can cause an ache long after the ride is finished.

Now that you know just what causes bike seats to be so uncomfortable, you can use the suggested methods to decrease the discomfort you experience so you can go back to enjoying riding a bike!

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