It takes only one ride on the wrong bicycle seat to demonstrate irrefutably that a good bicycle seat is paramount to regular bicycle riding. Even the shortest, smoothest ride can be painful and joyless if you bicycle has a bad seat on it.
What differentiates a good seat from a bad seat? It will differ between any two people, and it will differ especially between men and women. Our anatomies in the lower torso are made for strikingly different purposes, and it's pretty safe to venture that none of them include bike riding! Truth be told, the perfect bicycle seat has not yet been created. There are, however, some seats that are markedly better than others.
The biggest mistake made by occasional riders, particularly senior cyclists, is to opt for a bicycle seat that is bigger and better cushioned. Stop right there! Bigger seats are the wrong way to go, for anyone. Bigger seats increase friction and contact. All they will do is to broaden the area of your discomfort. Go for a smaller seat. The aim is to decrease the contact area between your derriere and the bicycle seat, not increase it!
As for cushioning, here you have some leeway. There are some very comfortable, stream-lined bicycle seats out there now, especially those made with the bumps of mountain bike riding in mind, or for the hybrid bicycles so popular with urban riders. Here, you can combine a svelte seat with some very nice and unobtrusive cushioning that will be positioned right where you need it: under your right and left buttocks' contact points. There is absolutely no good reason to have cushioning under your entire derriere.
Today, there are a lot of bicycle seat designs intended to account for the anatomical differences in men and women. The most important is that the flare of a woman's seat is just a little bit wider to allow those contact points and their cushioning to hit where a woman's anatomy requires it, but there are also bicycle seats made with various openings in the middle to decrease painful prolonged contact with male or female genitalia.
Whatever you decide might be a good option for you, try out a bicycle seat before committing to purchase. Shop at a good bike shop. Our staff know a lot, and most will allow you to return it if you need to take it home to try it on your own bike. You really can't know if it’s the right bicycle seat of you don’t try it.
Andy & Darren