I'm 250 lbs and have been riding for about three months now to lose weight. During my rides I always feel like I am sliding forward on my seat. Because of this I never feel like I'm sitting on my seat and whenever I rest I usually end up supporting myself by standing on one pedal or the other.

Because of this (I think) my hands and feet go numb. This happens about 20 minutes into my ride. Different types of terrain don't seem to matter. Then it becomes a game of shaking out my hands and feet to get the blow flow back until the end of the ride which is usually an hour. I'm getting to the point where I am ready to increase my ride duration, but the pain in my feet and hands concern me. I initially thought it was just my body getting used to the bike, but now I'm not so sure.

I've tried moving my seat forward and backwards with the same result. I've tried adjusting the nose of my seat upwards, but it caused a worse pain in a much more delicate area. I have bought gloves with thick padding which helped a little, but not much. I went to my local bike shop and bought the pedals and shoes. The new shoes caused me even more pain than the sneakers I had been wearing. The shop owner asked me to pedal on my bike for a while so he could watch me and he didn't see anything abnormal thought he is not a fit specialist.

My last hope is to go to a specialist for a real bike fit, I'm just anxious about spending more money for them to tell me I've been riding the wrong bike, wrong shoes, wrong seat. Everyone I talk to gives me the look like they don't have any idea what I'm talking about when I mention it. Could it be that I am just that out of shape?

Edit for additional information:

I'm 5'11 and I'm riding a specialized 56cm road bike (pic). I do wear bike shorts and I have gotten over the initial saddle soreness phase and my sit bones don't have any discomfort compared to my feet and hands. I ride currently with my saddle horizontal. I get the sensation that my sit bones want to slide forward and straddle the skinnier part of the seat. I have tried just going a long with it during one ride, sliding forward. This resulted in my tailbone being extremely sore for a week.

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    250 lbs depends a lot on muscle mass and height and stuff. But, your symptoms are pretty consistent with a too narrow saddle and possibly too low handlebar height. You can measure your sitbones and compare to the saddle width you have, and see if its appropriate based on manufacturer recommendations. But I'd try to borrow a wider one and see if you can make it less bad. At the extreme end, a granny saddle might be a good starting point. Also, try bringing your handlebars a s high as they can go and see if that makes you more comfortable.
    – Batman
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 1:46
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    It will probably be helpful if you could tell us how tall you are and what bike you have, including what size it is. Hopefully a size miss-match can be ruled out. There are some fairly simple steps for setting seat height and for-aft position, and your posture on the bike can possibly be modified with a different stem to get some pressure off of your hands. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 1:54
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    It's fairly likely that the handlebar is too low. Unfortunately, bikes are typically sold with the handlebar too low, because that looks "meaner" in the showroom. And the "new" style handlebar stem doesn't allow height to be adjusted very much without buying new bits to raise it. This is one major reason why many bikes are ROPA -- "ridden once -- put away". If the manufacturers were at all honest they would take steps to fix this. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 3:11
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    Is your saddle slick? Some saddles are a bit more grippy that can help. But it does sound like a fit issue.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 3:45
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    While changing some fit issues will likely help (continuing to fine-tune saddle position: tilt, fore-aft, height; raising and bringing handlebars closer; etc) here are two more thoughts. I'm also 250+ and I notice hand numbness much more now than when I was in better shape. If you can work on increasing your core strength (abs and back) you won't have to support so much weight with your hands. Second, it's actually fairly natural to creep forward on your saddle while you ride. You just have to continually push yourself back a bit to stay on your sit bones. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


I'm a similar weight to you and your description is very familiar. I'm almost certain that your saddle is angled down too far. If angling it up enough to stop you slipping causes it to put uncomfortable pressure on your perineum then you probably need a different saddle.

Some people are fine with whatever comes with the bike but I've tried maybe 10 saddles at this point and haven't found one that works well for me. On the bright side, I'm slowly understanding what works and what doesn't.

I'm overweight and it sounds like you are too from your question? I think the extra fat causes issues with the saddle putting pressure on the soft tissues. It also means that gravity is pulling you harder into the saddle.

My poor solution for a long time was to buy a really wide saddle, point it upwards slightly and tilt my pelvis back/arch my back to keep the nose from putting too much pressure on my perineum. This isn't very comfortable though and it seemed to be hard to put out much power. I've recently switched to a bike with a more leant-forward riding position and, while it is great in a number of ways, my old solution absolutely doesn't work.

Here's what I'm looking for in a saddle:

  1. Width - One thing that is immediately obvious to me is that regular width saddles are too narrow. This should be to do with the spacing of the parts of your pelvis that you sit on (and your riding position) rather than having anything to do with weight/fat. I am pretty broadly built so this might not apply to you.

  2. Quantity and softness of padding - Hard, thin padding is better. Lots of soft, squishy padding causes issues with chaffing and when you sink into it, it rises up and puts pressure on your soft bits. I think if you are overweight you need harder padding than normal since you are already more prone to issues with chaffing and because you will sink into it more than a lighter person. Also, I'd rather have bruised bones than a numb penis. Annoyingly, harder saddles are almost always narrower.

  3. Get one with a cutout - Some people like cutouts and some don't but I suspect they are necessary if one is overweight. They can have their own problems though as they can concentrate the pressure along the edges.

  4. Shape - This is really important but it is unfortunately impossible to give recommendations since it is very personal.

Trying out saddles is difficult. Some bike shops have loaner saddles but such places are rare. If you know any cyclists then ask them to led you any spare saddles they have, and ask them to see if their friends have any spare saddles. Even if none of these are comfortable they should give you a better idea of what works and what doesn't.

Extra thoughts:

  • What kind of seatpost do you have? Some use notches/teeth to hold the saddle angle and in my experience the adjustment on these can be too coarse: one position is too far pointed down but one tooth up is too far pointed up. If you have a seatpost like this that might be the issue as the angle adjustment needed on a saddle is pretty subtle.
  • "Everyone I talk to gives me the look like they don't have any idea what I'm talking about when I mention it. Could it be that I am just that out of shape?" From bitter experience I know that if your issues are being caused by being overweight then someone who is not overweight probably cannot comprehend it and many will write it off as "not a real problem" even if they are otherwise an expert. I would look for advice from other people in the same boat as you.
  • From your question I've made the assumption that you are overweight (as opposed to being muscular) but I don't know if this is actually the case. If you are a bodybuilder than some of what I've said holds and some doesn't.

The good news is that you do not have a bike that is obviously the wrong size for your height. Perhaps you got a bike with a somewhat more aggressive riding position than you are ready for but this can be remedied.

Please be reassured you are not alone in what you are experiencing - I've personally suffered from hand and foot pain and had the annoying feeling of wanting to slide forward on the saddle.

There are some adjustments that can be made to your bike, and some riding techniques you can use to stave off pain. Things will also likely improve as you get into better shape and get more used to riding the bike.

What is probably going on is that your riding position is too aggressive. The bars are too far forward and low for you which makes you lean too far forward. This puts more of your weight onto your arms and hence puts pressure on your hands. You can't pull the bars back so you want to slide forward on the saddle to sit more upright.

Things you can do to your bike to get a better fit:

  1. Start by ensuring your seat height and fore-aft position are correct. There are numerous resources available on the web for this. I personally find the Global Cycling Network's YouTube videos to be accessible and informative. Try this one for starters

    (also talks about handlebar position).

  2. Adjust the position of the handlebars

    • You can try flipping your stem. Most stems fitted on drop bar bikes have an approximate 6° offset angle and are mounted with the stem body 'drooping'. The stem can be reversed to bring the bars up a little (about 20mm for a 100mm stem - it does not sound like much but it makes a difference). There are numerous how-to web pages and YouTube videos if you want to do this yourself.

    • If flipping the stem is not enough, stems in varying lengths and offset angles are available. A basic stem costing approximately $30 US will be perfectly good.

You didn't complain of sit bone soreness, but might want to contemplate a wider saddle as @Batman suggested in his/her comment.

Some riding techniques you can try:

  • When riding vary the position of your hands on the bars, move between the hoods and tops.

  • Work on pedaling technique. With cycling shoes that clip into the pedals (which you imply you have) you 'turn circles' with your feet rather than just pushing down each pedal stroke. If my feet get numb I exaggerate this, deliberately pulling up on each back pedal stroke which allows blood to flow into the soles of my feet.

Some other things that will help:

  • Do exercises to strengthen your core and back. This will allow your body to take more of your weight and get it off of your hands.

  • Ride with a group. Lots of bike shops (In the USA at least) do regular group rides at all levels. I find I am more motivated when riding in a group and the social aspect makes me forget aches and pains somewhat.

Hope this helps and good luck to you.

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