How to Choose a Comfortable Seat For Spin Bike
If you are trying to figure out what is the difference between Foam, Gel, and Carbon Seats, and which one is best for cycling indoors and spin bikes, this article is for you.
Indoor cycling can be a very comfortable and rewarding way of getting regular exercise without having to leave the comfort of your own home. However, if you are not used to perching on those small cycling seats, it can be a challenging hobby to stick to, especially if you have to spend long periods on an uncomfortable indoor cycling bike seat.
You are not alone if you find the seat with your exercise bike somewhat uncomfortable. All is not lost, it may seem like a minefield, but throughout this article, we will help guide you in the right direction for finding which exercise bike seat is right for you.
As with many things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all indoor cycling seat, but that does not mean you should give up all hope or put up with pain and discomfort while cycling indoors.
Foam, Gel or Carbon Seats For Indoor Cycling
There are three main bike seat materials, and they each have their pros and cons.
Gel indoor cycling seat
Gel seats are one of the most comfortable indoor cycling seats. They are usually found on wider seat designs and provide excellent support for heavier riders, especially during longer rides. However, this level of support or springiness is uncomfortable for some. The most popular gel indoor cycling seats combine gel pads for your sit bones with a foam foundation.
Foam indoor cycling seat
Foam seats are one of the most popular indoor bike seat materials and are often the material used in the stock cycling seats that come with exercise bikes. The foam is more than just a sponge wrapped in leather. The best foam indoor cycling seats have memory foam fillings with a differing range of firmness depending on where you will place your body weight. This scientific approach results in even weight distribution and, more importantly, a more comfortable experience on your exercise bike.
Carbon indoor cycling seat
It is a lesser-known indoor cycling seat material, but there is a market for them. A carbon indoor cycling seat is only suitable for the pros or those used to spending hours in the saddle on their road bikes. As you can imagine, carbon bike seats are not very forgiving and will provide little to no comfort other than a place for you to rest your sit bones. So unless you are training for a race and want your body to get used to your ultra-lightweight carbon seat during indoor cycling, save your money and get any other type of bike seat.
Which indoor cycling seat material is best?
So while the material is a personal choice and depends on your anatomy and how long you intend to spend on your exercise bike, there are some pitfalls to avoid.
The most comfortable indoor bike seat is a mix of both gel and foam. It is the safest bet if you cannot try out how the different seat types feel before buying them. The blend of the gel’s support and the foam’s forgiveness makes for a perfect combination to keep you nice and comfortable for long indoor training sessions.
It is also worth noting that it is not only about the materials. The size and shape of the exercise bike seat will significantly impact your comfort, especially during longer rides.
What Width of Seat do I Need for Spin Bike?
As mentioned above, while the material of the bike seat is essential, you also need to consider the width and design of the seat. You may have the most beautiful and comfy material seat, but you will soon throw in the towel if it is not a good fit for your anatomy.
In an ideal world, you would be able to try before you buy, but the reality is that you get the best choice when online shopping, and worst case, you can always send back a seat that turns out to be the wrong size for your sit bones.
How to measure your sit bones?
It is easy to measure the width of your sit bones at home. Once you have done that, it helps narrow down your search when looking for the best indoor cycling seat for you.
The simplest way to measure your sit bones is by using a cardboard impression. You have to put some relatively thick cardboard down on a hard surface, then sit on it while lifting your legs by roughly 30 degrees (this helps put all your weight on your sit bones and not your glutes). Then stand up and mark a dot in the centre point of each indentation from your sit bone. Finally, measure the distance between each dot.
Here is a rough guide on the right seat size for you depending on the distance between your sit bones:
|Spin Bike Seat Guide||Narrow||Medium||Wide|
|Distance between sit bones||100mm or less||100-130mm||over 130mm|
|Width of the bike seat right||3.93″ or less||3.93″- 5.12″||over 5.12″|
Wide Seats (5.12” plus wide)
Wide indoor cycling seats are often found on upright exercise bikes as more of your weight is on your sit bones when sitting with an upright back. However, wide seats can be suitable for all types of indoor bikes. A wide seat may seem the most comfortable for beginners, especially those with wider hips.
The width of the seat is not always relative to how comfortable it will be. If you are using indoor cycling to lose weight and consider yourself a larger rider, buy a seat based on the distance between your sit bones and riding position, do not just get the widest you can find. Not everyone finds wide seats comfortable as they can cause extra chaffing if too large or if you try to sit in a more aggressive riding position (leaning forward and keeping your head low).
Your exercise bike probably came with a narrow seat, to begin with, and that is why you are here trying to find a more comfortable indoor cycling seat. Not all narrow seats are uncomfortable. The narrow seats are more like the seats you see on road bikes. They give you the support you need but can be very uncomfortable if you have wide hips.
If you have a spin bike or are used to riding a road bike, then you should look to keep a narrow seat. Just look for an upgrade on the sub-par stock one that came with your exercise bike. Narrow seats are not always uncomfortable for the larger rider; however, riding position and experience greatly impact your comfort, especially during longer rides. Perfect for those who ride in an aggressive racing position. You could always look for the best of both worlds and choose a medium width seat, best suited for those with a more relaxed riding position.
It is not just the width of the seat that is important. You also need to find an indoor cycling seat that is anatomically suitable for your needs. A centre ridge or cut out is an important feature for men and women. It relieves pressure from sensitive areas and allows some airflow.
Should I have a gender-specific seat for my spin bike?
Before going into too much detail, to confirm, all seats can be used by all and any gender. You may get lucky or have to go through a few seats to find the perfect one, but if you are at a loose end, try not to restrict yourself by only purchasing gender-specific indoor cycling seats.
There are both men and women-specific cycling seats on the market. The main difference is the ergonomics, as the human anatomy is different. Generally, a woman’s hips are wider, so female seats tend to have a wider back and shorter length to ensure comfort when leaning forward.
Conversely, men seats tend to be long and narrow, as this is more suitable for their narrow hips. Getting a seat that is the right width result in more comfort, especially over longer distances. However, it can take the body a little time to get used to perching on such a small surface area, even for those with a narrow distance between their sit bones.
There are plenty of unisex cycling seats and just as many that do not isolate their target market by mentioning a gender. It is much more important for you to understand what size and material of indoor bike seat you find most comfortable.
How to choose the right indoor cycling seat?
There are a few things to bear in mind to choose the best indoor cycling seat for you:
- Do not just go for the cheapest option. You will want value for money, but remember, the seat is one of the key contact points with your exercise bike, so it is worth spending a bit more money. Focus on value for money!
- Find the right material for you. There are comfortable versions of Gel, Foam and hybrid exercise bike seats. While the mixed version is considered the most versatile, that does not mean you should write off foam seats right away.
- Look for an ergonomic design. We, humans, come in all shapes and sizes, so it is only fitting that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the shape and size of your bike seat. Just make sure you are looking for a suitable design for your body and needs.
- Find a seat that suits your riding position. A wider seat is more suitable if you ride in a more relaxed position, with a straight back and a more upright position. However, if you are used to riding a bike in a more aggressive position, you will find that as you sit further forward, you will find a more narrow seat with a generous cut out more comfortable.
Choosing the right indoor cycling bike seat goes beyond just the material inside. However, if you want to know the best indoor cycling seat material, you are best off getting a hybrid. The rigidity of memory foam combined with the forgiveness and vibration dampening gel pads make the perfect combination to keep you comfortable no matter how long your workout is.
Just as important as the material is the shape and durability of your indoor cycling seat. Try not to get too hooked up on price. Remember, the seat is a very sensitive contact point with your exercise bike, so it is worth paying a little extra to ensure that it is comfortable and does not result in preventable injuries. Also, keep in mind that aside from a good spin bike seat, you would also need a pair of padded cycling shorts for a comfortable indoor cycling workout.