Your weight certainly should not come in the way of your passion for biking. You will be glad to know that manufacturers engage in a lot of R&D to design bike components that can support your extra weight, and the seat of your bike is certainly at the top of this list. Even though the process of selecting a bike saddle that offers the optimum level of comfort might take up some time as you have to consider a lot of factors – it is not impossible to make a great choice.
Remember that you will have to balance all your weight on your sit bones on the saddle for the full length of your rides. This will build up unwanted pressure on the soft tissues between the bones, resulting in soreness and discomfort. Bike seats that are typically wide and have several features incorporated in their designs like adequate padding, proper ventilation, good suspension, easy mounting, convenient installation, and the correct saddle shape are ideal for overweight bikers. Their derriere will have adequate support so it is possible to ride comfortably. You would be able to get a wide comfortable bike seat by spending under $100 – whether you are looking for a replacement or upgrade. In this article, we will take you through why overweight riders should settle for bike seats that are designed to meet their requirements, the factors they need to consider to make such a choice, and some typical FAQs associated with the topic. We have also included a guide that will help you find your “optimal saddle width”.
➥ But not always wide bike seats are more comfortable. Extra-wide can cause rubbing and chafing while riding. Read this article to know more: Is a wide bike seat more comfortable?
Picture: Overweight riders will experience discomfort if the saddle is too narrow
I. Bike seats for overweight individuals/ Considering seat for heavy riders
An ill-fitting saddle will result in many headaches – especially if you are overweight. While soreness, saddle discomfort, and chaffing are some of the common issues that wrong saddles will bring up – cyclists may face other complications too.
Larger women may suffer from urethral compression which can result in inflammation and infections in their delicate areas. Guys who are overweight will complain of numbness due to their penile nerve undergoing compression that is not healthy.
With all these in your mind – chances are very low that you will be able to enjoy cycling. This is why you must select a saddle that will be able to support your extra weight and eliminate all other means of irritation. Manufacturers have therefore designed the following saddles especially for heavier riders:
They will offer significant support along with cushioning found in excess on several seat models. The design of cruiser bikes with upright handlebars ensure that more of the rider’s weight is supported by the seat. Since it is very less likely that you will pedal hard on a cruiser bike, heavy padding in the bike seats will keep you comfortable always.
These saddles have incorporated a design to facilitate pedaling while keeping you comfortable thanks to the surplus padding. Ideal for riding longer distances and can dampen the shocks/vibrations from the road with much ease.
The design will not restrict any movement, minimize chafing, and will allow you to take up a position that is towards the front end of the saddle so that you are shifting your weight load from the seat to the hands and feet. Focusing your weight on your hands.
II. Getting comfortable on a bike seat
Picture: Comfortable position on a bike saddle
For any cyclist, he/ she will need to adjust the seat size they have chosen to the cycling position that is most likely to be maintained on the saddle. This is more essential if you are an overweight cyclist. You may take professional help to set the saddle angle that is compatible with how you take up your seat on the bike. Keep in mind that the more time you spend on the saddle – the more likely it will experience perineum discomfort. This can also arise thanks to road bumps.
You can try the following to alleviate the comfort level on your bike seat:
- Get off the saddle for a short interval after every 10 minutes of riding.
- Look for a bike that is equipped with a complete configuration for suspension.
- Whenever you come across bumps on the road, lift yourself a little bit from the saddle – using
- your legs to absorb the maximum shock.
- You can try using a recumbent bike as they usually come with a back-rest.
III. Things to take into consideration
Cyclists who tip the weighing scale higher will find it challenging to get a bike seat that suits them if they do not have a guide that can be used as a reference. We have discussed the typical factors that they will need to consider so that they can get a bike saddle that keeps them comfy:
If you weigh more than an average cyclist, flat saddles will suit you better because you are most likely to spend less time moving on the seat – which is the case for an overweight rider. Someone more likely to shift around on the saddle will need saddles with round profiles while slightly curved saddles are ideal for intermediate riders.
Suspension in your bike seat is a must if you want to ride comfortably. Even though this is a very tiny component, your overall comfort will depend on the suspension too.
The suspension will help to dampen the impact on your body if the road conditions are adverse, which will reduce the load being exerted on the spine. The advantages will become pronounced while riding on rough trails. Typically, movable springs are used as suspension as they will allow you to level up the saddle while you are seated. These saddles are comfortable for all types of riders irrespective of their weight. Dual springs do a great job at absorbing shock. If the suspension is not suited to support your extra weight, you will find yourself rolling around on the seat frequently.
The nose of the seat
Whenever you are riding your bike, the saddle will surely rub against your thighs. This is more likely if you are riding for extended periods. Therefore, the smart thing to do would be to minimize this contact as much as possible.
Overweight riders will find that the gap between their thighs is smaller and therefore friction should concern them more. They should be looking for a bike seat that is using a narrow nose so that this friction can be minimized. However, keep in mind that a narrow nose on a bike seat will use a much smaller base. These saddles can create some discomfort because they will affect pressure distribution on the saddle when you are using it. Therefore you will need to consider these factors together and find the correct balance that works for you.
If you have medical concerns with your prostate, look for noseless saddles. This design will eliminate the pain you would be experiencing on standard saddles. Another way to deal with the friction would be to use shorts that have padding to minimize the friction.
Picture: Use a narrow nose to avoid chafing
The saddle base will determine how comfortable you are going to be while riding. The base will bear the whole weight of the rider’s body and deal with the pressure exerted by your “sit bones“. A spike in this pressure will make the seat uncomfortable. A wide saddle will present more surface area – which ultimately increases rider comfort. We can see how overweight riders will bike saddles that are wider than what is seen in average saddles so that the extra pressure can be distributed over the larger surface area of the seat. They can rest their larger rear end more comfortably.
However, the width has a direct effect on the nose. If the seat is too wide – it will cause rubbing or chaffing. It will become very difficult for you to enjoy cycling. Therefore you will need to find the perfect balance of a decent base and a nose that is just narrow enough. The base will combine with the material being used in the padding to keep you on the seat while you ride. The padding does a great job minimizing the pressure points on the saddle.
Picture: Male vs Female pelvic bones
The best way to find out your perfect saddle width is to measure how far your sit bones are. You can use the method illustrated below to do this:
- Get your hands on a measuring scale/tape and a cardboard piece. Find some crayons or chalk too.
- You need to place the cardboard on any strong level surface and sit on it to make an impression of your sit bones. Elevate your feet and mimic pedaling if possible.
- Stand up to check the impressions of your sit bones on the cardboard surface.
- Find out how far apart they are ( in mm). Use the center point of depression left by each bone as a reference.
- You will need to add 25-30mm to the measurement you have obtained in the previous step to get the “optimum saddle width”.
Take a look at how your bike seat has been mounted since this procedure will determine the effectiveness of your saddle. Avoid customizations that will drive up your cost or damage the mount that was offered with delivery. A positive side of using mountings is that they have a universal design so that the bikes and saddles are widely compatible.
The padding/cushioning in your bike seat will play a big part if you are overweight. Your derriere will have to provide more support during your rides. Therefore loom for a saddle that can offer cushion and support to eliminate soreness during the long rides. Gel-filled padding can be a great choice. The durability will work great for aged riders while offering excellent protection. Try to avoid materials that are too soft because, despite popular belief, they will not be as comfortable and long-lasting as hard padding. Feel the padding in your bike saddle with your fingers if possible before you make a purchase.
Picture: Use your hands to check the padding of your bike seat
If you weigh more, then your seat will have to withstand more pressure in a limited amount of time. So look for a seat that has more technical features even though the aesthetics are not so appealing.
Female riders who have a weight problem can use saddles that do not have any grooves or recession because they do not need space and ventilation on a saddle. Male riders, however, do not have the scope to do the same thing. A bike saddle that is recessed will help to reduce friction between the saddle and the perineum. This design will allow for more ventilation so that they are comfortable.
Many high-quality saddles use a hole that takes up the entire saddle structure. You may find it difficult to accommodate them on saddles that use heavy padding on relatively wide seat bases
Many entry-level riders do not consider this. However, if you are a pro or aged biker – a recessed seat should be your top priority. Riding for a longer duration will ultimately result in soreness and pain.
Often very little attention is given to the part the seat cover of the bike saddle plays to keep you comfortable. It will determine the durability of your bike seat. Additionally, the traction between your body and the saddle is affected by your saddle’s seat cover. The best covers will offer value for the money you will be spending on them. There are a lot of options in terms of material for your seat cover. Even though it is priced a little higher, leather is the best in terms of durability, comfort, and breathability. Authentic leather covers are handmade and require maintenance. This would be a small compromise for the service they will offer you. On the other hand, synthetic leather can be used too. However, these covers are slippery and you will have to get a wider seat to prevent slippage. If you find yourself biking in rain or conditions that are wet – go for a material that is water-resistant or waterproof, like vinyl. Fabric covers may not be durable while plastic covers will damage your spine and perineum.
A decent saddle cover will add aesthetic value as it will influence the outlook of your bike. Taking this into consideration, leather is again the ideal choice. Seat covers on the other hand use materials that have elastic properties that should keep you snug on the saddle and last a long time.
Picture: Leather bike saddles are very popular
You should get a bike saddle that can be installed by a wrench only so that you can avail yourself of the satisfaction of installing the bike seat by yourself. Avoid saddles that need specific wrenches for installation as you will need to seek the help of the store owner to install them. You may be charged for this installation. Therefore, the bike seats that can be installed easily are the best of the bunch.
Picture: Install a bike saddle by yourself for
A cut-out will sometimes make all the difference even if you are using a flat saddle and have measured your sit bones for your perfect saddle width. Relief channels and cut-outs are available in a variety of sizes and shapes that will help with stress relief on the softer tissues of your sensitive areas.
Relief channels are a substitute to cut-out along the whole surface of a bike seat. This design has gained much popularity in recent years. Men prefer the additional airflow and reduced pressure on softer tissues while the design will fare well for some women riders.
IV. Testing the durability of the seat
A saddle that uses foam is likely to break down with use by a heavy rider because the additional weight will exert extra pressure causing the foam to compress and wear out. If you prefer using a foam saddle still, just keep in mind that you will have to make replacements very often. On the opposite side of the spectrum, leather saddles will serve overweight riders well. They are very long-lasting and will model to the shape of the rider’s distinctive anatomy after the time needed to break-in the saddle. Another way to ensure durability would be to use long-lasting metals – like titanium or chromium.
V. Hard vs. Soft Saddles
You will come across many saddles that come with heavy padding and use comparatively large seat covers. Looks, however, are deceiving and chances are very high that these saddles will not be able to keep you comfortable. Both soft and hard bike seats offer different advantages. If you are planning to ride for a longer duration, hard saddles will work for you. If a soft seat is used instead, your sit bones will sink into the padding of the saddle – resulting in unwanted pressure and pain.
Many people like saddles that use full carbon while others prefer a little padding. At the end of the day, it comes down to preference.
Picture: Some bikers prefer very less padding in their bike seats
VI. When an oversized bike seat just isn’t enough
Even if you are not being able to enjoy a comfortable ride after getting a seat that is designed to deliver optimum, the following practices can be given a shot:
- Try to get your hands on a more comfortable handlebar. This might adjust your riding position that would minimize the thigh and back pain associated with riding. If you are heavy/ new to biking / an old-timer, handlebars that have a higher “rise” will help you to maintain a more upright position on your bike seat.
- Shop for some gloves and shorts that have padding so that the contact points on a bike saddle that support weight have some cushioning. These will get rid of the sore feeling and allow you to ride faster and longer.
- Invest in chamois cream or powder that has anti-chafing properties. They will prevent any clothing that is not suitable for biking from grounding up against your skin. Heavy cyclists will not feel comfortable when sweat will add to the weight of the clothing to make them heavy. Some products can work to absorb sweat so that it is no longer an issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why should I be considering a different bike saddle provided that I happen to be overweight?
Ans.: If you weigh more than normal, your bike seat will likely need to have special characteristics to support your extra weight and large derriere. This is because you are more prone to saddle soreness and riding discomfort than an average weighted cyclist. Your bike saddle has to support more weight over ( lost likely ) a shorter duration. Therefore, to enjoy a good riding session on your bike without any discomfort in your seat area – you have to look for saddles that are specially designed to meet your needs. For heavy women, a saddle that does not fit them well is likely to cause urethral compressions in addition to inflammation and infections in their delicate areas. Overweight men who are using a saddle that does not fit them correctly nay compress their penile nerve on the seat.
Picture: Bike saddles for overweight bikers
Q2. Would a full bike seat be comfier for me if I happen to be overweight?
Ans.: Unfortunately this is not the case. Comfort level for narrow and full saddles depends on your riding purpose. Full seats will offer more comfort than narrow ones if you are looking to ride casually. Even though narrower seats ( e.g. saddles used on racing bikes ) do not look comfortable, they generate minimum friction. Perfect for athletes who need a racing saddle or cyclists who need something comfortable for their joints.
Q3. Why are some of the bike seats that are designed for overweight riders have cutouts & hollow designs?
Ans.: Saddles that have been designed keeping overweight riders in mind usually have a center cutout or centerline cutaway so that the pressure that is exerted on the perineum decreases. These designs help to increase the flow of blood to the sensitive areas by getting rid of any stiffness in the bike seat. Even if you are overweight, you can take up a forward position that facilitates pelvic rotation without putting the softer tissues under unwanted pressure for longer durations.
Picture: Saddle cut-out will favor overweight bikers
Q4. How much would a comfy bike seat for an overweight individual cost me?
Ans.: Like all the other components of a bike, the seats are also available over a wide array of prices. Consider yourself to be very lucky if you can get a comfortable bike seat for the right price. The features of an expensive and reasonably priced saddle design may be similar – so you need to put in some thought before going for the one that costs more. On the other hand, setting for saddles that are priced low may leave you with discomfort and numbness, and in extreme cases lead to a crash. For the same brand, try to compare the qualities of saddles that are priced higher to those available at moderate prices. Typically, you will have to spend between $15- $100 to get a saddle that will be able to support your extra weight and keep away the soreness or pain. If you have just started biking, look for those in the $15 -$30 range. Remember that your main focus should be the comfort and not the price.
Q5. Since I am overweight, should I be going for a wider saddle?
Ans.: Whenever you are hunting for the perfect bike seat, saddle width should be at the top of your list. The ideal width of a bike saddle should be enough to place your sit bones on it without any discomfort. This is why you will find that saddles that have been designed specifically for women are wider so that their widely spaced ischial bones can be accommodated on them. If you are overweight, your bike saddle needs to be even wider so that your backside has sufficient support. Do not go so wide that the saddle causes chafing or excessive rubbing. If you plan to ride and pedal for longer durations, your saddle needs to have a thinner profile and should not be obtrusive.
Q6. How does riding style affect saddle choice?
Ans.: Bike racing or long uphill climbs at the edge of the seat will need saddles where the nose is flat and wide – on a flat saddle profile. On the other hand, if you are more likely to stay upright without shuffling too much in the seat – a curved saddle profile that offers a little extra width is ideal for you.
For overweight bikers, getting on the bike as much as they can be quite effective to get rid of the extra weight. If they have the most comfortable bike seat under their bottom, the experience becomes fulfilling. We hope that this article will be able to both guide and encourage you to make the correct saddle choice. Buy the wide seat, get it installed, and fly off from your ranks.