If you have ever ridden an outdoor bicycle, you would probably agree with my assessment that it’s not the most comfortable way of working out. Not just because of all the bumps in the road, but because of the miniature seats as well, which begin to feel really uncomfortable after a while. Also, you spend most of your time leaning forward towards the handlebars, which doesn’t exactly do wonders for your back.
Having said that, I have to point out that most people who switch to home exercise bikes (or use them in parallel with outdoor bikes) often overlook the importance of having the right seat. It should be precisely adjusted so that you don’t experience any discomfort, pain, or even chafing during prolonged workout sessions. Very few things beat a good cardio workout, but it’s not worth straining or even injuring yourself because of it.
Luckily, not only do you get to choose between several different types, such as upright, recumbent and indoor cycling bikes, but you also get the possibility of adjusting your bike of choice to fit your size. As I said, a good seating position is crucial, and I will guide you through the all the types of seating arrangements that can be found on exercise bikes. Let’s begin, shall we?
Recumbent Bike Seats
I want to start off with recumbent exercise bicycles, because they are the most visually striking of the bunch. When compared to traditional upright or indoor cycling bikes, they offer more back support for the user, whose body is in a reclined, more relaxed position. Since they provide additional support with their ergonomically designed bucket seats, they are especially useful for people with back problems, a fact that I was able to confirm myself after I experienced the same problems.
But, having a large, chair-like seat is not enough if it’s not positioned correctly. As a general rule of thumb, the seat should be set up so that your legs are at the same level or higher than your hips.
Also, your legs should never extend fully while you are pedalling. Your knees should always be slightly bent during the workout, roughly around 10 to 15 degrees, which I found to be the sweet spot. If you follow that rule, you won’t risk straining or overextending your joints, and you won’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of a go-cart either.
I neglected to mention the most obvious benefit of the seating position on a recumbent bike. That would be the fact that you no longer have to bend forward to reach the handlebars, since your hands will be free.
Upright Bike Seats
While less comfortable than those found on recumbent bicycles, the seats on upright exercise bikes are miles ahead of their outdoor bike counterparts, and feature generous foam padding and ergonomic design. However, you should pay attention to the dimensions of the seat, because it will constantly rub against your thighs if it’s too wide. Also, as is the case with recumbent bikes, you have to adjust your seat in order to feel the benefits.
First of all, you should consider the seat height, which should be at the same height as your hips. I usually find the right height by getting on the bike and pedaling. When fully extended, your knee should be slightly bent. We’re talking about a small angle, no more than ten degrees, otherwise it’s going to feel as cramped as the interior of a clown car.
After you’ve found the right height for yourself, it’s time to adjust the seat by sliding it either forward or backward until you find a comfortable position which won’t make you feel uncomfortable. Again, as a rule of thumb, your knees should be vertically aligned with your feet, otherwise you’re are going to strain your joint really fast.
Indoor Cycling Bike Seats
Indoor cycling bikes, or spinning bikes as they are also called, have seats that are quite similar to those on real bicycles, both in terms of shape, size and positioning.
The set-up which works best for me is to have my knee bent at an angle of about 30 degrees, while the pedal is perpendicular to the floor. Once the pedal becomes parallel with the surface, your knee cap should be aligned with the center of the pedal. Keep on sliding the seat forward or backward until you find the right position. It’s simple as that. As is the case with upright bicycles, the seats on spinning bikes can also be tilted to the front of back.
Good to Know
Now that you are aware of all the different types of seats, I have to emphasize yet again that finding the right seating position on an exercise bike, whatever the type, is crucial. If you fail to do that, the benefits of having a well-padded, ergonomically designed seat will be nullified, and your back will suffer for it. To avoid strain, pain, and injuries, follow this simple guide, and you will be able to work out and stay fit for a long time.