This seems, at the outset, to be logical as the bony part of the sit bones will experience undue pressure when pressed against a minuscule surface area such as a bike saddle. The cycling industry hypothesis: if your bones are spaced further apart, you’ll require a wider saddle for a luxurious rear-cradling experience.
There are similar methods involving paper without the damp posterior result, but now that you feel uncomfortable, you’ve properly ingested this idea. Many suggest adding about 20 mm, as signified by the Road Bike Bros above, which would then land you on the ideal saddle.
It’s interesting to note that the Road Bike Bro measured 110 mm, added 20 mm, but choose a 145 mm width saddle which in his words, “provides more support and I find it more comfortable.” Before we move on to the effectiveness, take a moment to observe the sit bone measurement methods proposed by some powerhouses in the cycling industry.
To learn more, take a look at this video from Benefit founder and master bike fitter, Paul Swift. If you ever have the pleasure of talking to Paul or taking one of his bike fitting courses, this is his baseline level of passion and energy.
This does not incorporate the fact that in a more aggressive position, you’re also encountering more sensitive organs and tissue beyond the bones of the pelvis. In 2015 the Sell Royal Group in collaboration with the German Sport University in Cologne (to make it legit) performed a study(mostly to sell saddles) to discover the optimal shape saddle considering male and female differences and rider position.
They broke this down into 3 separate studies: sit bone width, gender differences, and optimal saddle shape. We will summarize the findings, but if you want more information about it, there was an excellent write-up constructed by Total Women’s Cycling or on the Scientist site.
The most interesting part of this study was this precious gem mentioned in their research, “Social (sit bone) distance varies according to riding position due to the v-shape pelvic anatomy. Gender and Shape Study: Although this does not connect specifically with sit bone measurement, it does impact our point about spine angle.
66 participants were tested using specific pressure mapping with 64 different sensors at the 30, 45, and 60-degree angles. This is likely debatable depending on the rider but certainly, individual preference and riding style will impact saddle comfort.
Considering that Sell’s line of the Scientist is based on the upright rider vs. the road, gravel, cross, mountain, TRI…etc. We are not inside the boardroom of intricate decisions of the Sell Royal juggernaut, but if they found significantly reduced pressure and gender differences at a higher spine angle, it makes sense that they would potentially avoid saddle selection that would disprove the sit bone width method.
Without being redundant (which means this is redundant), it’s clear that unless you are riding upright on your saddle, a sit bone width measurement and saddle selector tool based on that idea is likely irrelevant based on your spine angle, pelvic pressure, gender, and/or riding style. There’s no guarantee that a sit bone measurement based on the 90-degree riding position will provide you with a comfortable saddle.
There could be a comfort issue based on the external material of the saddle, the density, the type of foam used, your weight or the clothing you wear (we won’t go into this one here). There’s another company that offers a selection tool based on your flexibility but regardless of how or if you can touch your toes, that doesn’t tell you how the saddle feels after a 60-mile gravel ride.
As a result, your comfort on the saddle is based on how you feel pedaling vs. the static measure of your seat area. It just so happens (shameless plug) that the mastermind behind Benefit created a tool to make this process easy and efficient.
Many shops use this awesome tool so feel free to ask them when you call, e-mail, or shadily DM about testing new saddles. Yes, you can narrow down the choices with indoor testing but to truly discover the best saddle for you requires taking it for a ride.
As a result, you’ll want to test it in those conditions and in the volume and intensity you experience while regularly riding. Unfortunately, if you were hoping there was a correlation between measuring sit bone width and simple saddle selection you were wildly let down by this article.
At the end of the day, the goal is to enjoy cycling and an uncomfortable saddle likely will render that mission futile. One of the biggest mistakes new cyclists make is not investing in a chamois that fits her and her riding style.
Chamois are made to wick moisture, provide support for your sit bones and reduce chaffing. Generally, riding shorts with fewer seams will result in less chaffing.
Some of our favorite brands are: Petal Power, Chamois Butt’r Her’, and Donuts bliss. Improper fit on your bike could be the main reason for your saddle discomfort.
If your saddle is too high, too low, too far forward, too far back, not level, or if you are reaching too far to your handlebars, you could be experiencing pain as a result. Your bike shop fit technician will listen to your problems and help you find a solution.
If you have had a proper fit and employed the use of riding shorts and chamois cream, you need a new saddle. Although it may seem like a good idea to go to the bike shop and buy the squishiest saddle you can find to ease your sore bum, more padding is not usually the answer to your problems (and could actually cause MORE chaffing).
If you are training for a long ride, race or tour, the only way to condition your backside is to put in the miles. While you may have enough endurance to put in 50 miles on the first day, go slow at first to avoid discomfort and injury.
Most cases of saddle -related discomfort arise because the load is carried on the soft tissues between the sit bones rather than by the bones themselves. Also, bear in mind that the perceived width of your rear end has little to do with the actual bone structure.
Good bike shops, and some brands, offer test ride programs so you can try before you buy. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item.
Fiji’s latest saddle incorporates an innovative new construction process and aims to create a custom, fit-to-body feel. We found it provides excellent support and is durable, but the honeycomb design can be hard to clean dirt out of.
As great believers in ‘ saddle comfort is personal’, our Tech Ed gave it a spin and it was love at first sit, gaining a 10/10. The lightweight Fiji Antares R3 saddle provides a great balance of comfort and freedom of movement.
It’s another saddle that technically falls into the male camp, but our female tester found it really comfortable, so don’t rule it out for either sex, especially as there are two widths available. With a wide profile and sizable pressuring releasing cutout, this best suited to those who ride in an aggressive position, or spend a lot of time in the drops.
A short-nosed saddle which might feel a bit strange if the stubby genre is new to you, but we found the design incredibly comfortable. Since you’re encouraged to sit in a static position, the set up can take a little longer but it’s well worth the effort.
A weight weenie’s dream at 114g, this saddle will suit a rider who wants a flat, narrow saddle. Whatever your riding position, even aggressive on-the-nose styles, this saddle allows you to sit exactly how you wish without any obstruction or lack of comfort.
The length provides plenty of room for a rider to move around, but the width means it won’t suit everyone. Fabric offers low weight saddles, thanks to their unique method of gluing the padding and cover to the base.
A stubby saddle, a lot like the Specialized Power, the Pro Stealth has a wide pressure relief channel that suits riders who like to sit in an aggressive position and stay there. It’s a unisex option that comes in two widths and will suit time trial riders as well as regular roadies.
The rails of a saddle create a frame under the seating area that fits into the clamp at the top of your seat post. Entry-level saddles have steel rails, and the further up the price bar you move, the more you encounter manganese, titanium and carbon.
A slightly wider saddle with a curved profile, such as this Fabric Scoop, is often the choice of riders who sit more upright. The Fiji Ali ante and Specialized Troupe are also examples of saddles designed for a more upright position.
Specialized and Outrage both produce devices like this to measure your sit bones and these are often available to try in your local bike shop. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a barometer you could always improvise with some Play-Doh and a sheet of paper or a piece of cardboard.
It’s an important thing to remember is that a bigger derrière doesn’t necessarily mean you have bigger/wider sit bones … So you’ve measured your sit bones, you’re happy that your saddle is flat enough and the padding is good, but you still feel discomfort.
This can mean the rider has a forward rotated pelvis, with the sit bones typically up, off the saddle surface. Triathletes and time realists tend to favor special saddles that have effectively had the nose chopped off, like the Fiji Triton.