When it comes to bicycles, one of the most important parts is the saddle. It is a key area that supports the cyclist and provides comfort when cycling. Because of this, many cyclists strive to get saddles that are best suited to their body and their needs.
When choosing the right saddle, there are several key things, such as the structure, type, length of the nose, and width, that you must consider. Choosing a saddle with the right width to support you is essential to your comfort when cycling.
To help you in this area, we have curated all the important things and questions regarding the width of a saddle in this article. There are also special recommendations on the most comfortable seats and tips on how to make your saddle more comfortable.
Is a Wide Bike Seat More Comfortable?
It is important that you know that when it comes to bicycles and saddles and how they provide comfort to cyclists, it is not a one-size-fits-all. Wider bike seats are generally more comfortable, yes, but there are many cyclists who would disagree.
Width is also generally not advised for some bikes like road bikes. Many professional cyclists who value efficiency and performance over comfort also generally prefer narrow saddles in their bikes.
Regardless, this does not dispute that for a majority of cyclists, wider is better.
How Wide Should Your Bike Saddle Be?
The appropriate width of your bike saddle is relative to the width of your sit bones. The space between your pelvic sit bones is what determines how wide your saddle should be to provide support and comfort.
So, the first thing you should do when picking a saddle for your bike is to check the width of your sit bones. Many stores offer you this service, or you can do it yourself too. There is no general width measurement as everyone has different bone structures. However, the more common sit bone width according to broad measurements is 120mm for men and 135mm for women.
When you have gotten this measurement, you can then choose a saddle that is wide enough to accommodate the width. This will ensure that you have adequate support and comfort when cycling. Most saddles are made with an extra 10mm more than your sit bone width on each side; this is to ensure that you’re firmly placed on the seat.
The standard width of most bike saddles is 138 to 144mm, and wider saddles are usually made with a width above 150mm.
Wide Vs. Narrow Bike Seat
|Wide Bike Seats||Narrow Bike Seats|
|Support Feature||Wide bike saddles put the cyclist in an upright riding position, and this places their weight on the wider parts of the sit bones.||Narrow saddles allow for a lower and more aggressive riding posture that places the cyclist’s weight on the inner part of the sit bones or the pubic bone.|
|Advantages||– It relieves pressure put on the thighs and pelvis and provides more comfort for cyclists.|
– It is preferable for cyclists who use their bikes for casual purposes as it protects against chafing and gives maximum support to the pelvis.
|– A narrow saddle can reduce the interference of the thighs and the seat, preventing rubbing and chafing.|
– It increases efficiency and allows for more leg movement for professional cyclists who cycle competitively.
|Disadvantages||– It reduces the movement of the legs, which causes slower pedaling.|
– If the saddle is too wide, it can cause rubbing and chafing in the thighs.
|– Are generally uncomfortable for novice cyclists and casual cyclists.|
– If the saddle is too narrow, the sit bones extend over the sides, and weight is placed on the genitals, causing discomfort and pain.
What Happens If Your Bike Saddle Is Too Wide?
We have recommended that you get wider saddles, but is there such a thing as too wide? The answer is yes, you can have a saddle that is too wide for you, and this can cause discomfort, just like if your saddle was too narrow.
A too-narrow saddle would force your sit bones to carry your weight and put a strain on your body, while a too-wide saddle would allow for too much space on the saddle, which can lead to friction and chafing on your inner thigh, especially in cyclists who are on the road a lot.
It can also lead to reduced performance and efficiency when cycling. This is why it is advised that your saddle not be more than 10 to 12mm over your sit bone width.
How Do You Know If Your Saddle Is Too Wide?
If your saddle is too wide, then there are three major signs that you will notice. These include:
1- Discomfort During Cycling
Your body will always send signals when there is something wrong, so if you are uncomfortable pedaling on your wide saddle, then it might be that the width is too much.
2- Friction and Chafing in the Thighs
An overly wide saddle will make your thighs rub against the excess sides of the seat. This will cause friction on the thighs and chafing if it is not immediately addressed. It can be a very uncomfortable and painful experience for the cyclist.
3- Pedal Efficiency and Aerodynamics Are Reduced
The extra-wide saddle will affect your pedaling motion, slowing you down and affecting your efficiency. The aerodynamics will also suffer because there is increased contact, and it affects air resistance.
What to Look For in a Comfortable Bike Seat
Here are three things that you should keep in mind when shopping for a comfortable bike saddle, apart from the appropriate width:
There are different types of padding available for bike saddles. The most common are foam and gel, which both offer a level of comfort to the cyclist. You need to decide which supports you more and helps you feel more comfortable so that you can select a saddle with ample amounts of padding.
When it comes to saddles, many cyclists say that simplicity is key. This means that you should go for saddles that have simple, aerodynamic designs, such as cut-out or no cut-out saddles, noseless or long-nosed saddles, etc. These will provide all the support and comfort you need.
3- Saddle Rails
These are commonly made of steel, titanium, alloy, or carbon. They are vital to the cyclist’s comfort because they are the connectors between the bike and the saddle, and they help the saddles to support the cyclist’s weight. Stronger saddle rails mean better support, and this means increased comfort.
How to Make Your Bike Seat More Comfortable?
You’ve bought a bike, and the saddle is very uncomfortable, but you either don’t want to break the bank by getting a new one or go through the stress of replacing it.
For whatever reason, it is fine because you don’t need to. You can fix that comfort issues and improve your bike seat by yourself, and for cheaper costs.
Here are some steps you can take:
1- Level your saddle- Many cyclists have shared that a level saddle is more comfortable for them and puts less strain and pressure on their bodies. You can easily level yours with a carpenters bubble.
2- Tilt the nose or tail- As popular as a level saddle is, so also is the advice to tilt the nose or tail of your saddle to a preferable angle. It’s common for cyclists to angle one end of their saddle downwards slightly to give them better positioning and comfort.
3- Correct your saddle height- A major issue that many cyclists aren’t aware of that causes them pain and discomfort is incorrect saddle height. You can adjust the height of your saddle at any bike mechanic or shop for very affordable prices.
4- Get a saddle cover- If your saddle is hard and uncomfortable, a quick fix could be a saddle cover, either memory foam or gel. Both types are very efficient and will make your saddle experience a lot more comfortable.
5- Bib shorts- One of the most affordable fixes to an uncomfortable saddle experience is bib shorts. They fit snug on you, support your thighs and protect you from chafing and discomfort on your saddle.
6- You can also tilt your bike saddle to the left or right a little bit to change how you are positioned on it. Or, you can shift your saddle a bit forward or backward on its rails so that you have easier reach and better positioning.
Some Comfortable Bike Seats For Different Categories Of People
1- For Overweight people
The best and most comfortable bike seat for people of this category who want to get into cycling either as a form of exercise, for transport, or for any other reason is the LINGMAI Comfortable Exercise Bike seat.
This saddle is very big and wide to provide extra support to the pelvis of big people, whether the bike being used is a stationary bike, road bike, hybrid bike, or mountain bike.
The extra-wide design, the thick padding of the seat, and the dual spring suspension in the saddle ensure that the cyclist has adequate support and comfort.
2- For Ladies
The most comfortable bike saddle for women is the TERRY Cite X Bike Women’s saddle. This saddle comes from a brand dedicated to producing bike saddles that make cycling an enjoyable and comfortable experience for women.
This saddle has a complete cutaway at the nose for ventilation during cycling, sculpted foam to properly support women’s sit bones and relieve pressure against the pelvis soft tissues.
It also has steel rails, a padded foam cover, and a synthetic vinyl top to provide comfort while cycling.
3- For Long Rides
The Bikeroo oversized bike seat is the most comfortable bike saddle for cyclists who go on regular long rides. It has a standard rails mount that makes it compatible with any type of bike, whether exercise, road, or Peloton.
It also has extra foam padding, wide cushioning, elastomer springs, and a steel spring suspension that helps it support the cyclist’s pelvis, distribute the pressure evenly, absorb shock from the bike, and provide comfort to the cyclist.
4- For Seniors
The most comfortable saddle for this category of people is the DAWAY Softer Than Racer Bike Seat. This saddle is extra wide in design and has a PU foam padded cover to provide maximum comfort for the cyclist.
It is the best saddle for seniors because of its comfort and its high shock-absorbing capacity. This is due to a shockproof absorbing suspension and an anti-vibration rubber ball that works in tandem with the steel support rails of the saddle.
No matter the type of cycling you do, your saddle has to be of the best quality. It has to support you properly and make you feel very comfortable on your bike. There is so little information on wide saddles and the cyclist’s comfort, and that is what this article delved into. With all the information here, you can turn your cycling experience around for the better.
The primary thing to do to ensure your comfort is to get a saddle of the right width. Do this by getting your sit bone width measured by a good bike store or mechanic, and stick to a saddle within the recommended width.
You can also try out our tips to make your bike saddle more comfortable and see the impact it’ll have on your comfort and your cycling experience as a whole.