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When I first decided to get back into riding, I looked high and low for a bike that would support my weight. Finding a bike as a big guy wasn’t easy, but I finally managed to find one with a frame rated for over 350 pounds (read about the bike here). The first time I rode it, however, stands out clearly in my mind. No, the bike didn’t break…but it felt like my butt did.
While the bike was perfect for my weight, the seat certainly wasn’t. By the time I got home, I felt like I had been trying to sit on a sharp rock instead of a padded seat. Since I didn’t feel up to doing much walking the next day, I decided to spend my time searching out the most comfortable bike seat for overweight riders. After all, the strongest bike in the world is worthless if it’s too miserable to ride!
If you’re not heavy, you might be inclined to think that a bike seat for overweight people is the same as a bike seat for anyone else. Understandable…but incorrect. While I may have more “posterior padding” that the average person, I also have a lot more weight that needs to rest on any seat that I sit on. So while a normal (small) seat might work well for someone under 200 pounds, resting an extra hundred or two hundred pounds on a seat the same size is a recipe for problems. So what makes a seat comfortable for plus-size people?
Before we get to that, however, I know you might be in a hurry. Maybe you took a bike ride yesterday and don’t really care what makes a seat good, you just want the best one that will ease your pain. In that case, here are our top 5 recommendations:
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What makes a good plus size bike seat?
As a big guy, I always have to be concerned about the products I buy. The days where I could just purchase a product off the shelf without checking the weight capacity and reading reviews passed me by when I was in my 20’s. So when I started my search for the perfect bike saddle, I was looking for the same things I want in every product: I want it to do the job well, I want it to do the job for a long time, and I want to get it for a great price.
To do the job well, a bike seat must have a few distinct differences when compared to your average bike seat. There are two main schools of thought here: make the seat wider or make the seat softer. I say, “Why not both?” However, I do believe that the more effective option of the two is to simply make the seat wider so I can rest my weight over a greater area. After all, an extra 3/8″ of padding on an already padded seat isn’t going to make a huge difference. For this reason I also avoided seat covers in this review (padding that simply attaches to your existing seat).
So, we need a wider seat with a bit of extra padding.
Now, if we want our seat to do the job for more than a few weekends of casual riding, we need to make some strategic choices. We have to consider the type of covering the seat has (fabric, leather, vinyl, or plastic), we need to know how strong the mounts are, and we need to choose a type of padding that will rebound well and not compress over time. Simple enough.
The absolute king of durability would be a seat with a leather covering, a 500 lb capacity, and memory foam over high density foam padding. We might have to make some concessions in the interest of price, but that’s the start we’ll be aiming for.
Speaking of price, what is a fair price to pay for comfort? In my case, I paid $550 for my bike and, since it was not usable, I was more than willing to pay a significant amount to save the situation. Luckily, I found that there are tons of excellent options under $50. To suit every rider, I did my best to find extra wide comfort seats at every price point.
While those three items served as the basis of my search, there were several more deciding factors which we’ll talk more about below.
Well enough of that, let’s talk about the best seats that I found!
Top Choice: An Extra Wide Bike Seat for Big Bottoms
The Daway C20 is our top choice for many reasons, not the least of which is: it is twice as wide as a normal bike seat! Gone are the days where you have to choose which butt cheek to sit on when you get on your bike, you can use both!
While this seat has many great features, here are the highlights (and if you’re tired of reading, I included them in picture form below as well…)
Extra Wide Frame with Thick Foam: This seat is squishy and comfortable enough that you might as well be pedaling your sofa down the road. Daway found the perfect balance with foam that leaves everything well cushioned, while allowing you to stay firm in the saddle and not feel like you’re wobbling around.
Suspension Springs: As a heavy person, it’s hard to find a bike with suspension built for your weight. Most heavy people do as I did and end up buying a bike with either no suspension, or a bike with front suspension only. If you are riding a hardtail bike, the extra inch of bounce you now have in your seat will make a world of difference for your bum and your back.
Ventilation Channel: This was huge for me. Most companies that make plus size bike seats don’t bother adding a middle channel. While I understand that it is much more difficult to add one, it makes a world of difference for the rider. It reduces sweat, makes your ride more comfortable since your “parts” don’t feel like they’re on a board, and lightens the seat.
Waterproof Covering: For some reason, many companies seem to think that the best bike seat for overweight riders should be covered in spandex or other breathable material. Unfortunately, anything but a waterproof covering will leave the foam in your seat able to soak up as much water as it comes in contact with. But what if you store your bike indoors or live somewhere without much rain? Well, your sweat is water. Believe me, you want a waterproof saddle so it doesn’t soak up the sweat from your nether regions and harbor it.
Universal Fit: Whatever you have that needs a plus size bike seat, this will fit on it. As an added bonus, it comes with everything you need to install it!
Who shouldn’t get this seat? If you’re into riding fast, this might not be the best seat for you. It is not an aggressive seat meant for racing, but rather one that is made for commutes and easy riding. Also, if you are over 500 pounds (the weight capacity of this seat) you might want to give it a pass. However, if slow and steady is more your style, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re elderly, have a fat bum, or just want more comfort, this is the seat for you!
Second widest bike seat for big guys and gals
If you’ve ever felt like you were in danger of slipping off the back of your bike seat, the FITO Cruiser might be an answer to your prayers. Not only is it extra wide, but it has a back ridge which well gently cradle your posterior and keep you in place.
In addition to the ridge, this is the most “cruiser-specific” seat we tested, both in looks and function. The style of the seat does not lend itself to the hunched over, frenzied type of riding associated with racing, but if you want to get around in comfort, you can’t get luckier than with this seat!
Some of the highlights include:
- Extra padding with spring suspension ensure you’ll never feel bumps in your bum.
- High quality synthetic leather keeps your seat dry which, in turn, will keep your seat dry.
- Universal Clamp allows installation on almost any type of bike: mountain bikes, cruisers, street bikes, etc.
- If the black doesn’t do it for you, it’s available in multiple colors!
Widest bike seat for serious riding
This seat is a bit of a different animal than the other seats we’ve reviewed, but that is why it earned a spot in the top five! This is the narrowest (but still wide) seat we tried out and the most serious of the bunch. It has all the usual features that you would expect in a quality bike seat, but with two huge advantages over others: it is the most aggressive seat in this review, and is also the most budget-conscious.
If you ride to get somewhere (work, school, etc.) or are cycling to lose weight, you want a seat that is both built for your body and designed to let you ride as efficiently as possible. The problem with most extra wide seats is that they force you to sit totally upright and limit your leg movement. That is fine for casual riding, but doesn’t allow you to utilize all your leg strength. This seat angles you forward at a more efficient angle for riding, so you should see a drastic difference if you are switching to this seat from a cruiser style extra wide bike seat.
An additional advantage of this seat is that there isn’t much nose. Let’s face it, if you’re a big and heavy person, there isn’t much space between your thighs. You want a wide seat under your bum, not between your thighs where it will chafe with every pedal stroke. The almost non-existent nose here allows you to lean forward to pedal while still avoiding that discomfort.
The Most Comfortable Bike Seat for Overweight Riders
Since we included an aggressive seat, this one had to make it into the pack as well. It’s wide enough to be a tractor seat, but if you’re looking for nothing but comfort, it is an excellent choice.
This seat is a favorite of short distance cruisers and e-bikes, as it provides the ultimate in comfort even though it is a bit restrictive for pedaling. It has all the usual benefits of being extra padded, waterproof, etc. – but if you have an extra wide bum, this is the seat you need.
Also on my mind…
It probably became obvious as you were reading that we had to use many more criteria than our original three to decide the winner here. Some other things we took into consideration include:
- Suspension. While it doesn’t change the world, every little bit of suspension you can add to your bike will make it that much more comfortable. While adding springs does make it slightly more complicated to install, it’s typically worth it in the end.
- Seat Nose. As we mentioned above, seats with large noses don’t fit well between the thighs of big guys and gals and can cause chafing and annoyance.
- Aesthetic/Style. Style is important. I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to ride a bike that I like the look of!
- Cover Compatibility. While I’m not a fan of bike seat covers (they are just band-aids for a real problem…your seat) I tried to choose seats that were close enough to a traditional shape that, if you wanted, you could find a cover that would fit.
While there were some other, smaller, items I thought about, those cover most of it and should be more than enough that you could decide on your own seat if none of the ones I tested are quite right for you!
When a plus size bike seat isn’t enough…
When even the most comfortable bike seat isn’t quite enough to get you riding, there are some things you can do to make your biking experience more enjoyable. Here are three of the easiest:
- Get a more comfortable handlebar. A change in riding position is enough to alleviate a lot of back and thigh pain that people get while riding. If you are elderly, obese, or simply new to riding, then getting handlebars with a higher “rise” will allow you to sit in a more upright position.
- Invest in padded clothing (shorts & gloves). The spots that support your weight on your bike are obviously the most likely to get sore. Getting some padded pants and gloves will cushion your weight, allowing you to ride farther and faster than before.
- Get a chamois cream or anti-chafing powder. If I ride too far in non-cycling clothing (jeans or slacks for example), I start to feel like my pants are literally being ground into my backside. The combination of my weight and sweat don’t make for an enjoyable time. Adding a product to soak up the sweat (such as Anti-Monkey Butt (Amazon link) ) will allow you to ride more comfortably and avoid the sweat issue.
So get on your bike and ride!
I hope this article was effective, not only in getting the most comfortable seat for you as an overweight rider, but in getting you back on your bike and more comfortable than ever. Whatever reason you’re riding, don’t forget to have fun. Be safe out there!