Advice for beginner bike commuter

A little back story:
I used to ride my bike all the time when I was a kid, then I stopped. I went on a bike ride years later and my bum was so sore for about a week after it put me off and I haven’t been on a bike since.

Now, fast forward about 5 years, I’ve just got a new job. I don’t drive, my job is 4 miles away and there is no public transport that takes me there, so I decided to start commuting by bike. I bought a second hand bike which is coming at the weekend, and am going to order a helmet today. I already have lights. My question is, the second hand bike has a padded saddle. As comfy as this looks, I’ve heard this isn’t good in the long run?
I don’t want to be sore for weeks, because this is the only way I can get to work, and if I’m sore riding will suck!

So I need some advice. Should I get a non padded seat? If so, any advice on which one? (I’m in the UK). I know I’ll hurt, I haven’t ridden in years, but is there anything I can do to not hurt as much? Will I eventually get used to the saddle?
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Replies

  • HaleCry
    HaleCry Posts: 385 Member
    jtvtauo7ky19.jpeg

    This is the bike.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
    If I were you I’d take a few test drives on the weekend. Maybe go half the distance. See how you feel.

    Don’t find out on a work day when you have no options.
  • HaleCry
    HaleCry Posts: 385 Member
    My plan is to practice next week, haven’t got my start date yet so I’ll have time to rest it out. Just didn’t know whether to keep the padded seat, or get a new seat and cycle shorts with padding or something...
  • vollkornbloedchen
    vollkornbloedchen Posts: 2,243 Member
    For longer distances padded saddles literally are a "Pain in the a**".
    For 4 mile that would only be a problem in the beginning (first week) though.

    If you want to make sure get a saddle that suits the bone-width of your (as you called it) "bum".
    The bike-store in your neighbourhood should be able to help you here.
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,249 Member
    The secret to comfortable and efficient riding is a bike that fits. If you've got a local bike shop that does them it can be well worth the money. If you don't there are numerous sites and videos that will guide you through the basics.
  • garystrickland357
    garystrickland357 Posts: 598 Member
    Lot's of good advice so far. I wear a pants protector also to avoid accidental chain ring grease on my good clothes. https://amazon.com/Superior-Bike-Pant-Protector-Comfortable/dp/B00KEYJINM/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=cycling+pants+protector&qid=1550849991&s=gateway&sr=8-4
  • littlegreenparrot1
    littlegreenparrot1 Posts: 694 Member
    I know you mentioned you have lights, but you need to think about your other kit as well. My preference is to be lit up like a Christmas tree.
    High vis vest, reflective bands for arms/legs. Keep an eye on aldi/lidl, every so often they have this stuff.

    Also, you want to make sure your nice clean dry work clothes are in at least 1 plastic bag, inside your rucksack. It isn't necessarily as waterproof as you think it is in the pouring rain! Guess how I know....😂
  • lx1x
    lx1x Posts: 38,308 Member
    4 miles is not a long ride.. if you don't like the seat.. easy to change to what you like and find comfortable.
  • HaleCry
    HaleCry Posts: 385 Member
    Thanks everyone for your advice! 100% will take it all on board :)
  • SuzySunshine99
    SuzySunshine99 Posts: 2,983 Member
    The best safety advice is to always assume cars do not see you. People are distracted with all sorts of things when they are driving. My husband was hit by a car while on his bike. He swears the driver looked right at him. The driver later told the police she looked at him, but didn't "see" him. Always give cars the right-of-way, even if it should belong to you. Even if you are "right", the car will always win. I don't mean to be too negative or scare you, just a reminder to stay alert and be hyper-aware of your surroundings.
  • hypocacculus
    hypocacculus Posts: 68 Member
    edited February 2019
    I used to do a lot of commuting by bike and grew up cycling in London (and survived unscathed!).

    Saddles are like shoes, it all depends on the individual so you might find it OK. Having said that, what usually happens is that the squishy padding on the saddle fights for space with the squishy parts of you and wins, while your seatbones grind against the hard plastic shell underneath. And they are sweaty. The main criterion for a comfortable saddle is not it's softness but whether it is wide enough for your seat bones. You will never be comfortable on any saddle, even if it's made of gold infused unicorn hide and padded with jovian spider silk, if it's not supporting your seat bones properly. Many people, men and women alike, have seat bones that are wider than many standard saddles allow for.

    I know this because I've got wide seat bones and went through all sorts of agonies. You may have to resign yourself to trying several out, but last time I bought a saddle, one of our local shops was doing a try-before-you buy scheme. I eventually ended up with an old fashioned Brookes B67 leather saddle which is not soft, (or cheap) but wide enough to be comfy for me and I love it. When I got rid of my last bike, I kept the saddle. Brookes are a bit of a cult and people love or hate them.

    Even if your saddle is suitable for you, you may need to break yourself in a bit too. It doesn't take long though and 4 miles is not very far in cycling terms, unless it's up hill all the way.






  • sarabushby
    sarabushby Posts: 784 Member
    Chipping in my thoughts in addition to the excellent advice above ....
    1) don’t assume that because it hurts the first week it’s going to continue hurting. You really do get used to it such that you no longer notice any saddle pain. It’s bizarre but honestly true. Even if I have a few months off then go back to cycling I’ll be sore for 3-4 days after a ride but a week or two later there’ll be no pain at all. Weird. But true.
    2) if you get any soreness ‘down there’ look into chamois cream to use alongside your padded cycle shorts/tights. And/or use Drapolene nappy rash cream to stop any chafing. It’s amazing stuff. On a 4mile ride I’m assuming this won’t be an issue but just in case...
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    If you need to shop around, remember that REI offers one year returns on all products, including bike seats. If you're a member, they will have the receipt on your account. If you're not a member, you'll need to provide the receipt.
  • noblsheep
    noblsheep Posts: 584 Member
    Agreed with everything everybody said above. And must chime in and stress adjusting your saddle height correctly. I had mine too low for months and nobody told me otherwise. Went through all kinds of knee pain before I figured it out.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,379 Member
    Investigate alternative routes that might be a little longer, but fewer cars or major intersections. Assume no one is going to stop, no matter how well the pedestrian crossing is marked, or how many blinding flashing lights it has. I don’t know if you all have a “right on red” law, but I’ve learned from living in a “walkable” city that drivers have no concept of how either ROR or Mr. Ampfelmann (the little crosswalk signal guy) work. Apparently my neighbors think that the little green man means it’s OK to hit a pedestrian or biker, but just at that moment,
  • lx1x
    lx1x Posts: 38,308 Member
    Investigate alternative routes that might be a little longer, but fewer cars or major intersections. Assume no one is going to stop, no matter how well the pedestrian crossing is marked, or how many blinding flashing lights it has. I don’t know if you all have a “right on red” law, but I’ve learned from living in a “walkable” city that drivers have no concept of how either ROR or Mr. Ampfelmann (the little crosswalk signal guy) work. Apparently my neighbors think that the little green man means it’s OK to hit a pedestrian or biker, but just at that moment,

    The op is in UK (assuming you miss that lil detail..)😉

  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 7,379 Member
    lx1x wrote: »
    Investigate alternative routes that might be a little longer, but fewer cars or major intersections. Assume no one is going to stop, no matter how well the pedestrian crossing is marked, or how many blinding flashing lights it has. I don’t know if you all have a “right on red” law, but I’ve learned from living in a “walkable” city that drivers have no concept of how either ROR or Mr. Ampfelmann (the little crosswalk signal guy) work. Apparently my neighbors think that the little green man means it’s OK to hit a pedestrian or biker, but just at that moment,

    The op is in UK (assuming you miss that lil detail..)😉

    Nope, I got that. Was just there a couple of months ago. Can’t remember if they have right on red there. Or, guess it would be left on red, come to think of it, lol.

    My daughter lives in Münster, which is the second biggest bike city in Europe, or so she says. They have amazing separate (and beautifully landscaped and engineered) bike & pedestrian lanes everywhere, with their own set of signals. Even more elaborate than what I’ve seen in the Netherlands. Wonder if the US will ever go that route. Our little city is beginning the twenty year planning process of making us more bike and pedestrian friendly, but they just opened a fabulous new bike path that gets very little use so far. It’s a shame.
  • lx1x
    lx1x Posts: 38,308 Member
    Haha.. left on red.. 👍👍