A very big part of riding a bike is staying comfortable. It helps you ride for long periods, and you can explore further afield and go on more adventures. There are many ways to achieve this, including having the correct bike seat.
Bike seats come in many shapes and sizes and, in recent years, have changed a lot. We don’t see many traditional designs of bike seats coming out. We have short seats, twin nose seats, extra wide seats, and even 3D-printed seats.
We are often asked here at Bike Test Reviews whether you should use a wide or a narrow bike seat. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know. Here’s what we will be speaking about:
- What Is A Wide Bike Seat?
- What Is A Narrow Bike Seat?
- Comparisons Between Wide And Narrow Bike Seats
- Which Is For You, A Wide Or Narrow Bike Seat?
What Is A Wide Bike Seat?
When companies refer to a wide bike seat, they are referring to a seat where you sit on your sit bones. They come in all different styles, you have some made for comfort and commuting and others that are designed for racing.
They have become very popular in recent years, and many cyclists have had great success with them. I myself have been using wide-performance saddles for around the past 8 years. They have made me much more comfortable, and I see the benefits of using them.
A good example of a wide racing seat is the PRO Stealth. It’s lightweight and sporty and offers a wide base, the largest version being 142mm. A good example of a wide commuting seat is the Dripex Bike Seat.
What Is A Narrow Bike Seat?
A narrow bike seat, in many cyclist’s opinions, is a seat that looks a little bit more traditional. They are long and narrow, and instead of pressuring the sit bones, they go more into the undercarriage.
For many years, cyclists have been using these, and many people get a lot of success when using them as far as comfort goes. You have lots of options for bike seats when it comes to narrow seats, and they typically come on bikes as standard.
A good example of a narrow racing bike seat is the Specialized Romin EVO Expert. A good example of a narrow bike seat for commuting could be the Zhiqiu. Although narrow, it still offers a lot of comfort.
Comparisons Between Wide And Narrow Bike Seats
When it comes to the difference between wide and narrow bike seats, there’s lots to speak about. In the real world, here’s what I have found in the many years of riding both. Obviously, these are my findings, and the experience can differ for other riders.
Wide seats and narrow seats have very different pressure points. A wide seat will put pressure on your sit bones and the area behind you.
A narrow seat will sit more into the undercarriage and put more pressure there.
When it comes to rider positioning, I have found that for endurance riding or commuting where you are sitting more upright, you might prefer a wide saddle. For many cyclists, this offers much more comfort than being on the sit bones.
For more aggressive positions, some cyclists find the narrow saddle much better. This means you can lean forward more, and the saddle slots better into the undercarriage of the body.
Although this isn’t always the case, some people prefer a wide saddle for this.
The designs of wide and narrow seats are very different. Wide seats are generally short and stubby. They are often referred to as stubby saddles because of this. Narrow saddles are generally much longer and thinner.
Many men and women find a wider seat more comfortable than a narrow seat. A wide seat accommodates a wider pelvis better and avoids putting too much pressure on sensitive areas. A narrower bike seat can apply more pressure and cause pain and numbness.
Which Is For You, A Wide Or Narrow Bike Seat?
When it comes to recommending bike seats, it can be very challenging as every person is different, and some will be better with certain saddles over others.
Here’s how I recommend finding out if a wide or narrow bike seat is best for you.
The first option would be to go to a bike fitter. This is a professional who will be able to watch you ride and advise you on what saddle you should be using.
They will also have you set up so you ride the saddle in the correct position too. This is the best method by far.
If you go to a bike shop, they will quite often have pressure testers for saddles. This is where you sit on a small panel, and it tells you how wide your sit bones are and can recommend a saddle for you.
You can even do homemade versions of this with cardboard. This, in my opinion, is the second-best method.
The last thing you can do is test yourself. Try using a wide and a narrow seat and see what works for you.
You will have to try a few different bike seats and for a few rides each. Eventually, you will find something that works for you. This method is very time-consuming, but you will find something eventually.
A Final Note
Finding the correct bike seat for you can be very challenging. We are all built very differently and require slightly differently shaped bike seats.
I can highly recommend if you are not getting on with a narrow bike seat, a wide one could be the solution. Thanks for taking the time to read our article.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.