The benefits of riding cushions

The benefits of riding cushions

Bike Seat Cover vs Cushion

Seat covers and cushions for bicycles can fulfil several functions. They can protect your bicycle saddle from the weather. They can stop a damaged bicycle seat from enduring further wear and tear. They can keep your bottom dry.

And perhaps most importantly: they can make an uncomfortable ride much more comfortable!

Now, you may be interested in only one, or all of these benefits. But not every cover or cushion will fulfil all of these functions. So it’s important to know exactly what you need before you begin your search.

There a couple of important considerations that everyone needs to think about...

Firstly: cushioned covers are not generally waterproof. And waterproof covers are not generally cushioned. So which is a the priority for you?

Secondly: size is really important! So check your saddle size first to make sure you’re looking at covers that will fit your bike seat.


Don’t worry: I’ll break it all down here, so you know exactly what you need, before I recommend the right bike saddle cushion or cover for you.

Best Bike Seat Cushion

Most people looking for a bike saddle cover are probably after something to make their current ride bit more comfy! So let’s deal with this first.

The saddles that come with bikes aren’t always designed with comfort in mind. They’re usually either built for economy or speed.

And for beginner cyclists particularly (but also those of us that just have sensitive bottoms!), this can mean we can start to get sore after a little time in the saddle.

There are several things we can do to try an increase our comfort while we’re cycling. But slipping a cushioned cover over our existing bicycle saddle is probably one of the cheapest and most effective.

Gel vs Memory Foam

The padded material in a bike saddle cushion will either be gel or memory foam. Gel is softer and more comfortable, so it’s more popular with recreational cyclists.

Gel vs Memory Foam

Whereas foam is firmer and more supportive, so is preferred by road riders and heavier (>200 lb) cyclists.

Most of the cushioned bike saddle covers use gel padding, but there are foam filled cushions if you’d prefer something a little firmer.

Finding the right fit

You want a nice tight fit to avoid the bike saddle cushion sliding around while you’re riding. But, while bike seats come in all sorts of sizes, the cushions tend to come in just two sizes: narrow and wide!

However, within those two sizes there’s lots of variation.

Measuring a bike seat

So beyond working out whether your bike saddle is narrow (often used on road, hybrid, and mountain bikes) or wide (often used on heavy city bikes and some cruisers), it’s worth actually measuring your saddle to find a cover with the best fit.

I provide exact measurements of all the bike seat covers and cushions below to help you with this!

Best Narrow Bike Seat Cushion

The Zarco gel bike seat cover [Amazon] is one of the most popular cushioned models around. And for good reasons!

Zarco bike seat cushion

It measures 11” x 7.2” (28 x 18 cm), so it’s a cover for narrow bike seats. However there’s enough width there to fit the widest of narrow saddles!

It’s super easy to install. You just slip it over your bike seat, tighten the drawstring underneath according to the exact size of your saddle, and then tie the straps through your seat rails and around your seat post. This ensures a tight fit and no slipping while you’re riding.

Zarco cover on a bike

The Zarco contains a generous amount of gel padding which means your seat will be really soft and comfortable!

It comes in choice of 5 different colours (black, blue, red, green and purple). And you even get a waterproof cover, to keep it dry if you leave it out in the rain.

Best Bike Seat Cover

If you’re less interested in increasing comfort and more interested in protecting your existing bicycle seat from the weather or other wear and tear, then you probably don’t need a cushioned bike cover.

In fact cushioned covers are not generally waterproof. So they will definitely get a bit soggy in the rain!

Instead, a tough nylon saddle cover with a waterproof coating should do the job. These are especially useful if you have a Brooks (or other premium leather bike seat) that shouldn’t be exposed to water.

And the advantage of these saddle covers is that they’re much cheaper than the cushioned varieties!

Bike Seat Covers and Cushions Summary

Whether you’re looking for a way to make your ride more comfortable, or just after something to protect your saddle from the weather, a bike seat cover or cushion is a cost effective and practical solution.

The most important thing to get right is the size. Make sure you measure your bicycle saddle and then look for a cover of the appropriate dimensions.

If you want a cushioned cover, be aware that gel padding will be the softest, foam the firmest and a combination of both somewhere in between!

However, cushioned saddle covers are not waterproof. So if that’s your main concern, you’ll be better off with double layered, nylon cover with a polyurethane coating.

If you want this type of cover to last though, it’s best to try to think ahead, using them before it rains rather than regularly sitting on them to keep your bottom dry after it rains.

All bike seat covers and cushions can be washed in warm soapy water and then left to dry in the air. And the longer you spend sitting on them, the more often you should wash them!

Happy riding!

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