Cycling Pad Troubleshooting
Just because you have a big bottom, it doesn't mean you need a bigger pad or a bigger saddle, in fact sometimes too large a pad or saddle can be the cause of the problem
If you are struggling to find a comfortable pad or saddle, our advice might help you get to the bottom of the problem
About Your Sit Bones
Your sit bones or ischial tuberosity if you want to use their proper name, are the lower part of your pelvis. They help to support your weight when you sit.
If you sit up straight, you're balancing on your sit bones. In an ideal world we'd all sit up straight and probably have better backs as a result!
On your bike, your sit bones should carry the majority of your weight, even if you have a forward position. If your weight is on your soft tissue, this can cause a whole host of problems both on the bike and long term.
The female pelvis and therefore sit bones are wider than a males, but otherwise there is only a variation of a couple of centimetres from person to person and sit bone position isn't affected by your weight or bottom size.
What Does a Cycling Pad Do?
The job of a cycling pad or chamois is to support the parts of the body which come into contact with the bike saddle and to cushion the body and absorb shock.
Pads have varying densities of padding for the specific body areas. The densest padding is under the sit bones as this is the part of body which should have most of your weight going through it.
The rest of the pad varies depending on which part of the body it supports.
Male and Female Padding
You don't need to be a Gynaecologist to work out that there is no such thing as a unisex pad 👫
Pants on or Pants off?
Cycling pads are designed to go next to the skin so officially it's pants off but if you want to keep your pants on no one is judging you! 🩲
The benefit of pants off is that the fabric on the surface of a cycling pad is designed to wick and breath and it can do this more effectively if your under wear isn't in the way!
Most underwear tends to be cotton and because cotton holds onto moisture keeping your pants on, can make you more sweaty and uncomfortable
There's also more chance of chaffing with your pants on because you have an extra fabric layer than can 'move' as you pedal
If you've already got a good pair of shorts with a high density pad and you're still struggling, it may not be the pad that's the problem. Here are a few things you can try to improve your ride:
- If your padded shorts or leggings are uncomfortable it may be a fit issue and your item could be either too small or too big
- If you've bought your gear from Fat Lad, email us with your bust/chest, waist and hip measurements and your height and what size you are wearing and we can double check the sizing. If you can send us photos of you in the gear even better
- Measure your sit bones
- Check that you're an average human
- Here's a great instruction video by Selle
- Cross check your sit bone measurements against your padding. Your sit bones should be in contact with the two dense padded areas at the back of the pad
- Check your saddle
- People with big bottoms sometimes think they need a bigger saddle, but this isn't the case
- Your saddle should precisely fit your sit bones and shouldn't extend more than a cm or so beyond your sit bones as this puts stress on the wrong part of the body and can cause back issues and even more discomfort
- Your local bike shop should be able to help with saddles or these guys have a try before you buy scheme for Selle Saddles
- Saddles can be very expensive and don't always suit you so check out the 'as new' section on ebay or gumtree
- Consider a bike fit
- Although bike fit sounds like something for professional cyclists, it isn't
- Everyone can benefit from a good bike fit and if your saddle is the issue a good bike fitter will be able to help establish what you need
- A well set up cheap and cheerful bike is better than an expensive bike that's badly set up any day of the week so before you spend a load of money on different saddles, this may be a better option
- If your bike is badly set up, for example if you are having to reach for the handle bars and therefore are too far forward on your saddle, resting on your soft tissue rather than your sit bones, no amount of padding is going to make you comfortable on the bike
- All Bike Fits are NOT equal. Look for someone with experience, shop around, get recommendations and check out reviews before committing
- Remember the most expensive bike fit isn't always the best