How to Make a Recumbent Exercise Bike Seat More Comfortable
We have all been there; we bought a recumbent exercise bike and few rides in, our rear ends and back hurt like crazy. Let’s face it, recumbent bikes, while highly advantageous to the body, aren’t the most comfortable.
My first experience with a recumbent exercise bike was a mixture of pain and pleasure, not the best combination, I would say. The smooth-sailing exhilarating ride was a pleasure at its best, but I got a sore butt and an achy back in return. The pain crept in slowly until I could no longer ignore the ache and had to dismount. Talk about a killjoy.
Many rides and chafing later, my survival instinct kicked in, and I just had to get to the bottom of this painful misery. Suppose you have had a similar experience or currently experiencing the same. In that case, you might have asked Google “why is my bike uncomfortable” or “how to make a recumbent bike more comfortable.”
Well, good news! Through detailed research, I have successfully found answers and solutions to our collective “pain in the butt”. So, at the end of this read, your cycling sessions will be miles away from painful!
Why are Recumbent Exercise bikes Uncomfortable?
It all boils down to the seat. Yes, that seemingly harmless bike seat is the primary culprit. As for the “surprising” backache (because recumbent bikes are expected to provide maximum comfort for the back), you might have yourself to blame ─ you are probably not maintaining the correct riding posture.
Whether indoors or outdoors, recumbent exercise bikes primarily make contact with your hands, feet and butt. However, your butt takes the bulk of the weight. Although the feet are naturally meant to take the most cycling burden, the knees do a good job absorbing shock while offering a comfy cushion for the feet. The hands, on the other hand, incorporate minimal weight as they simply maintain balance. That said, the butt bears a great deal of cycling weight and most often than not, they are subjected to poorly constructed saddles which make riding uncomfortable and almost unbearable.
And unlike spin bikes, you can’t change the saddle of a recumbent bike at the slightest hint of discomfort. This is because the majority of recumbent exercise bikes are designed with a seat post, so replacing or switching the “original” seat with another one is anything but practical. So how can you make your recumbent exercise bike more comfortable when the most viable solution is a no-no?
Like I did, you can remedy this problem by making some slight yet fundamental changes. Follow these tips to prevent recumbent seat pain and learn how to ride a stationary recumbent bike for an hour without seat pain.
Tips for Making Your Recumbent Exercise Bike more comfortable
Pay Attention to Bike Adjustability
It is common knowledge that the vast majority of exercise bike seats are designed to fit a wide range of users, so finding a custom, specifically-made-for-you seat is next to impossible. However, this one-size-fits-all characterization is often to your advantage. You can adjust the seat to conform to your body shape. Exercise bike seat adjustability varies across brands, so you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the tee.
But generally, the seats can be adjusted vertically (up/down) and horizontally (backward/forward). A general rule of thumb states that bike seats should align with the rider’s hips when they assume a standing position. Doing otherwise can be detrimental to your back. The handlebars also contribute to the bike’s overall comfort; hence it’s positioning also matters. According to expert recommendations, you should set the handlebars higher to aid proper body posturing.
Maintain the Right Posture
Ensuring optimum recumbent bike comfort doesn’t end with seat and handlebar adjustability. You also have to maintain the proper body position by sitting on the saddle properly. Your sit bones and perineum will give you a tough time if you lean farther from the saddle, so it is best to position your rear on the broadest part of the saddle without stretching too far.
Also, sit with your chest lifted, and your shoulders behind you so you don’t slouch and invite that dreaded backache. Try to divert some of the weight from your behind to your legs. I can say for the fact that posturing can either make or mar your workout quality and experience. A good body posture not only guarantees comfort but helps improve oxygen and blood circulation.
Alternate Cycling Positions
After endlessly asking Google how to avoid recumbent exercise seat sore/seat numbness, I realized from experience how sitting and riding in the same cycling position contributed to my numbness and achy behind. When the pain became too intense to ignore, I suspected everything else but my cycling position, but now I know better.
Sitting in the same position over long spinning sessions place unwanted pressure on the soft tissues of the buttocks, causing all-too-familiar soreness. It also minimizes blood flow to compressed areas, causing numbness.
Get Tight Fitting Lycra Shorts or Pants
I will forever regret not discovering tight-fitting lycra shorts earlier, to think that a pair of shorts could have eliminated all the soreness I had to contend with! So don’t be like me. Get a good pair of skin-tight lycra shorts while you can and wave sore butts and inner thigh chafing goodbye.
Lycra shorts are specially designed to tackle chafing and soreness. They feature a smooth fabric that reduces friction between the skin and the saddle. Where recumbent bikes and exercises are concerned, Lycra shorts take precedence over padded shorts. Padded shorts are good for spin bikes but not recommended because the bulky padding in the seat area tends to be uncomfortable when the rider sits on the recumbent exercise bike.
Anti-chafing cream is Your Best Friend.
There is a reason why seasoned cyclists swear by anti-chafing or Chamois (Pronounced as “Shammy”) creams. Chafing occurs when your thighs rub against each other during spinning and cycling activities. And every cyclist knows how extremely painful. These are painful enough to make you want to give up cycling forever.
Thankfully, chamois creams are to the rescue. These creams form a potent weapon against skin-to-saddle friction. They are easy to apply and are incredibly soothing. They aren’t scarce, and you can find them in just about any fitness or drug store. But don’t get carried away and apply more than a nickel at a time.
You know what they say; “Practice makes perfect”. Bike discomfort that leads to soreness is common for new cyclists. Because your body will not automatically tune in to your new workout routine, it is natural to feel sore at the early stages. But if you remain consistent and cycle regularly, your body will become accustomed to the uncomfortable feelings, and the soreness and numbness will fade with time.
Regular spinning sessions will also strengthen your sit bones, making them less prone to saddle pain and discomfort. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t leave the remedy to time or constant practice if you find the discomfort unbearable. Instead, take the necessary steps as discussed to make your recumbent bike more comfortable.
Invest in a Gel Seat Cover
If you’ve been in the cycling game for long, you must have probably heard of or seen slip-on bike covers. There are two main types of bike seat covers, namely the gel and foam seat covers. The covers get their name from the material and padding they are made from ; gel and foam. However, Gel bike covers provide superior comfort than foam-based seat covers. They are an excellent alternative for uncomfortable saddle seats. They are easy to install, not to mention hygienic. Want the best comfort? Find seat covers that incorporate both gel and foam padding!
So what seat cushions to use on a recumbent bike? The most comfortable one! Yes, the Best recumbent exercise bike seat cover is the most comfortable one, and gel cum foam seat covers take the win. There are many gel seat covers for recumbent bikes to select from. But my best picks are;
The Domain cycling extra-large gel cover
The Domain cycling seat cover takes the lead for this review. It integrates both gel and foam padding to deliver ample cushioning for ulterior comfort. It is that seat cushion that release prostrate pressure on a recumbent exercise bike. It is super wide and can comfortably fit rectangle-shaped recumbet bike seats and other wide seat styles ; it measures 15.5 inches in width and 11.5 inches by length. However it takes some getting used to because of its stiff, compression-averting, design.
The Anzome bike seat cover
Like the Domain gel seat cover, the Anzome seat cover also adopts a gel and foam padding. Likewise it is designed to fit wide bike seats. But compared to Domain seat cover, it features a better ventilation-enhancing and compression-averting channel. It is more breathable and not as stiff. It is also wider than the Domain seat cover ; the Anzome gel seat cover dimensions are ; 16.5″ × 12″ × 1.5″ (L× W× H).
The Sunlite gel seat cover
Compared to the Domain and Anzome gel seat covers, the Sunlite gel cover is primarily composed of gel. While not as fantastic as the other two covers, it is quiet comfortable. It has an anti-slip surface and comes with drawstrings for quick and easy installation. It is also just as wide. It measures 12× 15.5 inches.
Xtreme Comforts Coccyx seat cushion
If I’m to pick the best memory foam cover for recumbent exercise bike, i’d pick the Xtreme Comforts Coccyx seat cushion in a heartbeat. Though it does not Integrate gel cushioning like the Domain, Anzome and Sunlite seat covers, It has a special ortho-seat engineering. It is ergonomically structured to ease tail bone and back pain — it promotes proper spine alignment.
Recumbent exercise bikes are one of the best innovations witnessed by the fitness industry. The comfort and support they provide for the body are unmatched. They are also excellent training equipment for cardiovascular and lower body exercises. Brimming with many perks and benefits, recumbent exercise bikes are a crowd favourite until soreness, numbness and chafing rear their ugly heads. I know it is somewhat ironic that an exercise bike favoured for its reclining comfortability can produce such discomfort, but I guess no one, not even a machine, is perfect. Sitting on rock-solid saddles for prolonged periods, setting the handlebars lower than standard, wearing the wrong workout gear and maintaining the incorrect cycling posture are some of the issues that lead to recumbent exercise bike discomfort.
The good news is you can easily combat these issues by adopting good-quality lycra shorts, gel seat covers, adjusting the bike seat, setting the handlebars at a high position and maintaining proper body alignment. As an extra tip, you should always splash some water or moisture on your nether regions immediately after a spinning session. You can take a shower or use cleansing wipes. Keeping these parts of your body clean helps keep germs and other harmful elements at bay, thus minimizing your risk of getting saddle sores. Additionally, change into clean, breathable pants or underwear for good measure. Hopefully, my expert-approved tips will make your recumbent exercise bike more comfortable and enjoyable!