Long Distance Riders - Descriptions, or better yet pics of most comfortable seat

Looking for the cummulative wisdom of long distance seat comfort.

I am on my third configuration in as many months. I know everyone raves about air saddles. Mine felt great for about 2 miles, then I hated it. It wasn’t as firm from side to side, so the seat base was killing the inside of my thighs. I also seamed to sink into the seat base and all the pressure was in one area. I gave up on it after rebuilding it several times.

I went to a KH with the removable cover. I actually liked the feel better than air, and never experienced the pain on the inside of my thighs. Still need to stand off the seat after a little while.

Today I rode 7 miles on my latest seat. It’s the new KH Gel saddle. It doesn’t seem like it would be all that comfortable, but it disperses the weight differently than the other two. Instead of all the pressure on one point in the middle between my legs, it actually seemed like it was putting the pressure on two places. Right on the bones that would be the seat of your butt. I have only ridden seven miles, so it will be hard to say that this is the Holly Grail of seats, but it may be the best for me. I’ll let you know after some longer rides this weekend.

I liked airseats for a little while, but then got sick of the floppiness and general thickness of it all. Now my preference is for low profile seats. Also, dont’ forget to take the handle into consideration, as most long distance riders use these to rest some of their weight on.

This is what I rode for 24hr record and for the AUT, one century ride, and my current preference:
It’s a cut-down KH seat (half thickness), with a fusion cover and KH carbon seatbase and a GB handle*. The handle makes a big difference in seat comfort- the better it takes your weight, the less pressure on your bottom. The GB handle does this reasonably well, but is absolutely useless for really steep climbing/descending- has even less leverage than a standard KH handle.

For my XC MUni I have the same set up but with the regular KH handle instead of GB (better leverage). I’ve ridden a 50km MTB race and a solo 24hr and a solo 12hr on this.

(*Yes, I know the bolts in the picture are too long but I’m too lazy to change them. It’s a zero maintenance seat as far as I’m concerned, so I’ve not had to take the cover back off for any reason.)

Any my thoughts on other seats I’ve tried:

Standard KH saddle: Too thick, good handle leverage but small platform- could be problematic if you have big hands. Non-fusion seat covers tend to fall apart. Flexy without a re-inforcement plate or carbon base. Oh, and heavy.
I rode this on my Cambodia unitour, and a century ride: not great, not terrible.

Miyata: Ouch Terrible handle for long distance. The longest distance I’ve ridden on this is about 30km, I used it for about a year. Did I mention…Ouch. That said, one of the AUT riders rode a standard miyata (but with a better Wyganowski handle) on the 900km Unitour. But still…ouch.

Miyata Airseat, Roach cover, airpillow, carbon seatbase: Airseats are comfy initially, but I don’t like it because it gives less control than a rigid seat. And most of all I hate big fat seats (like the standard KH), which is very common amongst the various airseats I’ve seen, unless you use a low profile cover. Also more maintenance required, risk of a flats. Some of the earlier covers are quite tacky and fall to pieces readily. Can cause chafing because of large profile. Still possible to get pressure points. The longest ride I’ve done on them is about 30km, I used it for about a year also.

Other seat set-ups I’ve briefly sat on:

KOXX and UDC gel- nice, low profile. I like these but haven’t spent a long time with them. They look exactly like my current MUni set-up except for the non-carbon base.

Scott Wallis carbon- these things are beautiful. As far as airseats go, they’re pretty good, but still a higher profile than I would prefer. The handle has more leverage than the standard KH handle, and with the V grip that’s all the handle you’ll need for cruising as well as climbing/descending. Super light. Fits bike seatposts with multiple angle adjustment without needing a rail adaptor to add weight/weakness/waste seatpost height if you’re short.

Wyganowski: Pros: Good for flat cruising, carting stuff, oodles of room for computer, GPS, bell, drink bottle, stereo, chips, beer etc. Cons: Climbing/descending leverage issues. Heavy. And do you really want to cart all that stuff around on a Unicycle?

Reeder: Pros: Good leverage, can rest weight on easily. Cons: Heavy

GB: Pros: good for cruising, has a bell/cyclecomputer mount. Cons: Poor leverage for climbing and decelerating, heavy

Deathgrip and V-grip: Pros: good leverage, super light, stable platform, sexy carbon. Cons: limited availability, cost

Standard KH handle: Pros: Good leverage, light, cheap, durable Cons: Not a huge platform, looks like you’re grabbing your crotch.

Miyata handle: Throw it away, this is not freestyle :stuck_out_tongue:

Hope that is useful.  Remember that everyone is different- best to try out various set-ups if you can first.

I agree with what is said here. For Coker long distance, I find air seats are not good.

I use a Miyata saddle, with a CF base and leather cover. I have modified the foam though. I have high density foam on the back and up the sides to about 3" from the front. So I have cut a T shape out of the saddle foam. This I then replace with a low density foam. I then add another 3/4" of soft foam to the top and then a 1/4" of super soft foam over the whole thing. It is slightly higher than a standard Miyiata saddle, but only slightly.

I have a handle on the front of my saddle as well, made by Joe and radically modified by me. It is as close to the miyata handle as I can get it; it has the computer on it, brake and V shaped bars for holding onto. It is connected to the seat post not the seat base and extends out the back to a rear handle/bumper (I like this, it is really useful). It also has the option for 2 bottle cages, one front and one back.


My favorite saddle for distance comfort on the Coker is a Miyata air conversion I did many years ago. It is an old-style Miyata, with a 12" tube for a single layer using the stock Miyata cover.

I did another Miyata conversion using a larger tube, a dogbone pillow and a Roach cover, but never really liked it for the reasons mentioned in previous posts. Too soft, too bulky, and reduced control.

I use a KH saddle on my 29er, decent saddle but I can’t stay on it all day like I can the old Miyata.


I use stock kh seats. They’ve got me thousands of miles. They do tend to die in some way requiring major surgery after a thousand miles or so, currently both mine have dodgy bolt fixes on them. When I get round to it I’ll move to a carbon fibre base and maybe cut down the foam a little.

I’ve not ridden airseats enough to be certain, probably only 20 or so miles, but they always seem really weird and wibbly wobbly to me. I don’t like them.

I did ride about 4000 miles over a couple of years on a viscount seat, which was surprisingly comfortable once I got used to it. One thing worth remembering is that whatever seat you use, you’re not going to know if it’s really comfortable until you’ve got a few hundred miles in. Riding time makes all the difference where seat comfort is concerned. You learn where to sit on the seat and smooth out your ride so you’re moving around less.


I’m not sure how qualified I am to comment as a “long distance” rider. Anything over 25 miles (40 km) is long to me, and I’ve never done more than 55 miles (88 km). However, I’m used to spending an hour at a time without dismounts, and I usually ride sitting down.

There seems to be to much emphasis on padding, and not enough on shaping. I think people have a preconception that soft = comfy.

I used a home made air seat for a few mile once. I found that if it had enough air in it to keep my sit bones off the hard bits of the seat, then it was too bouncy and I sacrificed some control of the uni. Hated it. It’s like a soft bed: comfortable in the shop, but you wouldn’t want to live with it.

As for deep foam, my simplistic view is this: if the foam is compressed by your weight until it has no further “give” in it, then it isn’t doing much good anyway. It might support your weight over a slightly bigger area, but not so you’d notice.

On my 51.7 mile ride last week, on my 28, I took my padded shorts off after 25+ painful miles. From this position of severe discomfort, I was able to ride another 25 miles (approx) on the standard Miyata, wearing only cycling tights with a double-thickness crotch area, but no padding. At the end of the second 25 miles, I was in no significant posterior discomfort. Conclusion: it wasn’t the padding, it was fitting the shape of the seat,a nd reducing friction, that made the difference.

Since then, I did about a 12 mile ride on Monday in the smae tights, no shorts, no problems.

Serious bicyclists don’t wear lots of padding, or have soft spongy seats. OK, so they can rest some weight on the bars, but we can do something similar.

So, comfortable clothing with no seams in the way, and plenty of freedom to position your bits, and a slim well shaped saddle is what works for me.

I found my original Air Saddle (Leather cover, Air Pillow and 20” tube) O.K. Discomfort would occur from pressure in the middle. I ended up modifying my Air Pillow by hand stitching through the cover between the inner tube. I then folded the pillow in half as instructed. I then stitched the two halves together. What this did was create an open area between the 2 tubes. The pressure that I had before is now completely gone. The saddle is extremely comfortable.

I’ve made a prototype of an air cushion using a 12” tube with a similar principle. I haven’t tested it yet. So I can’t say if the single layer of inner tube will provide enough cushion.

The picture included is of the 12” tube prototype.

cushion bottom view.jpg

That’s right. And a seat that’s comfortable for short and medium rides might not be the best for very long ones.

For me, the KH seats are the most comfortable off-the-shelf seats you can get. Deep, soft foam, great for most people in most riding situations. When you start doing long rides, you fall out of this category.

The major difference, as I see it, is when we do long rides we spend a lot more time in the saddle, without stopping or shifting around. When riding trails, I tend to stop a lot. When riding to work, ultimately I’d like to do the whole ride in one go (but usually have to stop for some lights).

However I become very aware of my crotch if I’ve been sitting and pedaling too long without shifting or moving around. This is because a soft saddle spreads your weight over a large area. The problem is it generally applies equal pressure to that entire area, including where the nerves and veins are.

The two most important factors in saddle comfort for us are, I believe, focusing rider weight onto the sit-bone area (and/or away from the rider’s centerline), and minimizing friction on the sides. If your saddle is too narrow, it can leave too little surface area to sit on. Too wide, and you get lots of friction on the sides.

Since the mid-1980s, I customized my Miyata seats to add and modify the foam. I would cut a channel out of the center, to make pressure ridges on each side, leaving less pressure on the centerline, where the important nerves & things are. Later with my early air seats, I ran a single layer of innertube in a pattern that left a gap up the center. These seemed to work well.

I haven’t tried the KH gel yet, but it sounds like it’s designed with the same idea in mind. I’ll have to get one to check it out!

BTW, my favorites are my various Miyata air seats (2 made by me, one by Chris Reeder and one from UDC), and my KH saddles. I think the KH are less suited to very long rides, but great for MUni and other activities.

I’m sure that most of you have seen this already, but for those that haven’t ever clicked on the other links on the front page of this site…

Here is the method I like for a Miyata airseat conversion:


I don’t use the gel pad that the author mentions as “optional”. Just the 12" inner tube and the original Miyata cover. That way it is no bulkier than a stock miyata, but I find the shape and padding to be just right for me. You do have to play around with air pressure a little bit to get it “just right.”


I do a different style of air seat with an air pillow on the bottom and a layer of foam on top. Details here. It gives the nice air supported suspension and softerness of an air seat with the firmness of a foam seat. I love it for muni. I’m still tweaking the seat for the Coker. Playing with different types and shapes of foam makes a difference for the Coker. I started with Miyata foam then changed to 80’s era Schwinn seat foam and now I’m going to try KH foam cut down to half height. I just got a KH Fusion seat to dismantle and I’ll experiment with the KH foam when I get my JC Coker back up and running. I think the KH foam will be just the trick for the seat, at least I hope so.

On the Coker the air seat it is more comfortable when the seat is firmer and not too cushy. If the seat is too soft it gets uncomfortable faster. I have to make sure I check the air in the seat at least occasionally to make sure it hasn’t gotten too soft. Choice of foam also makes a big difference as well as the shape of the foam. Trimming and sculpting the foam to fine tune the shape makes a difference. The shape of the seat cover also makes a big difference. The shape of the seat cover plays a big role in the final shape of the seat and the feel of the seat.

The problem with air seats is that they can be too soft for long rides. If the seat is too soft you can’t adjust your pressure points on the seat by adjusting how and where you sit on the seat. If you move to the back of the seat to alter the pressure points you’ll just sink in and the seat will bulge up so that you end up with the same pressure points or very nearly the same pressure points. So it gets to be difficult to alter the pressure points during a long ride. That’s why I like my Coker air seat to be more firm and it’s also why the foam layer is so important. I hope that the half height KH foam layer turns out to be better than what I currently have.

With an all foam seat that has a proper curvature and shape you should be able to move to different areas of the seat and alter your sitting style to alter the pressure points on your butt and crotch. That could allow you to sit longer even though the seat is less comfortable and cushy for shorter rides.

I’ll have to do some experimentation. It could turn out that a half height KH foam with no air pillow underneath is more comfortable for longer rides.

I’m currently a wimp when it comes to long distance times in the saddle. I need all the help I can get if I’m going to endure sitting on that saddle for so long. I need to somehow make my Coker saddle more long distance comfy.

So far I am liking the Gel for the long distance. It is definitely more firm form the start, but because the pressure seem to be in the sit bones, for the longer distances, it seems to be more tolerable. It really does not bother me in the middle of the crotch which was getting all the pressure previously.

My only concern is cracking this baby open to install my GB4 KH stiffener and GB4 Handle. I guess I could put the Fusion seat cover on, although it is made for the thicker foam. I am just having a problem destroying my third $50 seat for experimentation. :smiley: I can say that for distance the KH Fusion with air pillow is the worst configuration for me. I know One on One has come up with an interesting design that I may copy at some point in the future, so air may not be completely out of the question.

I use the KH fusion cover for my seat which has half thickness KH foam- it works well. In fact, it’s much easier to get it on that trying to wrestle it onto full thickness KH foam

Thought I’d bring this one around again with this picture of Scott Wallis’ seat added.