One of the major selling points of fat bikes is the fact that they are pretty comfortable overall to ride. Whether it be the low tire pressure or the wide, fat tires themselves, people appreciate a nice, leisurely ride just as much as a true time trial.
Of course, a bike can have all the components that contribute to being a comfortable ride, but if the seat is not comfortable, it’s not gonna make any difference. Getting the right fat bike saddle is essential to completing the perfect set up.
Fat bike saddles come in many shapes and sizes, and every person will want something slightly different. Find the right fit, and a fat bike instantly feels that much better.
A Breakdown of Fat Bike Riding
Different bikes use different types of saddles, and it is essential to get the right one for fat biking. Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to know just what type of saddle a fat bike rider should be looking for, generally speaking.
Fat bike seats tend to be very similar to mountain bike seats. It is a bit of a hybrid between a purely recreational bike, and road cycling. That is why the typical fat bike saddle has some padding on it to support a person’s sit bones, but still streamlined enough for some performance.
Depending on how competitive a fat bike rider is, they can go up and down on the level of cushioning. A fat bike rider rarely goes with something as narrow and as minimally padded as a road bike saddle.
When riding a fat bike, most riders are not always going to be in the saddle at all times. That’s why it can’t be too long, because a person should be able to quickly get out of their seat to paddle in certain positions. Not having that flexibility is going to limit a person’s usage of a fat bike.
Performance vs. Cushion Saddles
There are two very broad types of fat bike saddles for people to choose from. Those who are constantly looking for a hard workout and pushing the pace will want something more on the performance side. If it is all about having the most comfortable ride, cushioned saddles are the way to go.
Besides being able to go a little faster on a performance saddle, the other major advantage is that the shape cuts down on the chances of chaffing occurring. This is a major issue for a lot of fat bike riders, especially when making a transition to a new bike. If a thicker, more cushioned saddle is causing a lot of chaffing, it might be time to slim down a bit and go with a performance-type model.
As for cushioned saddles, they feel a lot more comfortable as soon as a person sits on them for the first time. They are mainly meant for leisurely rides, but it doesn’t mean that a person can’t push the pace a little bit with this type of saddle. A lot of older people will go with this type of saddle if they have any type of pain when they are riding their bike.
It’s important to make sure that the cushioning is still firm enough that a person isn’t sinking into the seat. That can lead to more health issues instead of helping things.
If cushioning is the route a person wants to take, that usually comes down to choosing between gel and foam. A gel is usually considered more for casual riders, because it has the most amount of comfort. Foam might not be as comfortable, but it provides a firmness to it that allows people to ride comfortably.
For a well-rounded saddle, going with foam cushioning is the best way to go. It is the closest thing to a hybrid model that most people will find.
Will a Fat Bike Saddle With a Center Cut Out Feel More Comfortable?
Chances are, most people have seen a bike seat with a cut out in the center. This isn’t so much a style, as it is a functional option that many people swear by. The goal of the cut out is to significantly reduce the pressure on the perineum.
Not only is it under less pressure, but there is some airflow coming in through the seat as well. It can get very warm and sweaty down there during long rides, so every bit of additional airflow helps.
This is more of a common type of seat on road bikes, but some fat bike riders enjoy this as well. There just isn’t the same amount of pressure on most people when they are riding since they are in and out of the saddle a lot.
If possible, try this type of set up out if pain seems to be a bit problematic in that area. Some people might not notice any difference at all, while others will find it so much more comfortable that they will never use anything else again.
Breaking Down the Different Seat Covers on a Fat Bike
The vast majority of fat bike seats have covers made of either synthetic materials, or leather. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but more often than not, people are looking to pick one of these options.
Synthetic materials make a great cover option, mainly because they are so customizable for any type of rider. The materials can mold to a person’s body, and if treated properly, they can last a long time. There is no initial break-in when first using the saddle, and most people love it from the very beginning.
Leather is a more old-school option, so since fat bikes are relatively new, the seat cover options aren’t quite as prevalent. Leather takes time to break-in, which is why so many companies moved away from this type of seat. It is also not nearly as durable, as water and sweat can damage a seat if treated properly.
It’s not all negative with leather though, as once it breaks in properly, many feel like it provides a superior fit. It also has a more premium look and feel to it that many find attractive.
Since fat bike riding can often take a person places that have less than ideal conditions, it is really hard to justify a leather cover unless a person is dead set on it. Synthetic materials are just built to handle more things that are on their way.
What Type of Impact do Saddle Rails Make on Comfort?
A comfortable seat is only going to do so much if the saddle rails are less than ideal. Most fat bikes do a pretty good job of having solid saddle rails, but there are certain materials people should look out for if they are looking for the most comfortable ride possible.
Steel and alloy are both cheaper options that a lot of fat bikes use. They are really strong and durable, but they don’t do the best job of absorbing vibrations and smoothing out the ride. That’s why if comfort is the main concern, going with titanium or carbon is the better option.
The drawback of both of these materials is the fact that they are expensive. Carbon seems to be the more common material used on fat bikes, but both do a great job adding a great final touch to any bike. Generally speaking, the more carbon on a fat bike, the smoother and more comfortable the ride will be.
If upgrading the saddle rails is not enough, look into an upgraded saddle stem, or even a full-suspension bike. These are both going to reduce vibrations so that people have a ride that is that much more enjoyable. This only problem with these upgrades is it becomes increasingly more and more expensive to make comfort upgrades.
Getting the Perfect Fit With Any Saddle
A comfortable saddle works best if it is properly adjusted for each individual. A saddle can be made of the softest, most comfortable material in the world, but if the seat is too high or too low, a person won’t be able to overcome that.
A saddle that is too high will shift a person’s weight from side to side, and that can irritate the sitting area very quickly. If it’s too low, there is a higher chance of chafing and other irritating issues along the way.
What is the ideal position for a comfortable ride? Most strive to have a slight bend in the knee when pedaling. Never get to the point where the leg feel stressed or locked out to pedal properly.
Trying Out Seats at a Store
It’s very tempting to always want to shop online and take care of everything without leaving the home, but if possible, try out different seat options in a store for comparison this is especially true for people who are new to riding, because it might not be that easy to tell what the main differences are.
Remember that trying something out at a store does not mean that it is impossible to still not ultimately purchase online. There are a lot of great deals out there for people to consider, and some well-respected companies as well.
If for some reason a person absolutely can’t find any suitable fat bike seats in a local store, there is also the option to order online and even try it out a little bit at home.
A person should never use the seat and take it outside unless the company says that’s allowed. Instead, try it out simply by playing around with it a bit with touch and even sitting on it while still in the packaging. It’s not going to be the same exact set up for a perfect comparison, but at least a person gets a slightly better idea.
What if the Saddle Becomes Uncomfortable During the Ride?
To overcome an uncomfortable ride, there are ways to feel a little better. Even a perfect saddle can start to feel a little uncomfortable after hours and hours in the saddle. That’s why the most common suggestion is to simply stand up on the petals and stretch out a bit. Most fat bike riders do this anyway depending on their location, but if it’s a pretty flat ride, some people forget to stretch out.
Another option is to invest in padded bike shorts to provide even more cushioning. The shorts will not only support the common sit areas, but they help to reduce friction as well.
Finally, be aware of upcoming hazards that could be problematic. For example, if there is a noticeable bump in the terrain ahead, prepare for impact. That means standing up slightly out of the saddle, slowing down a bit or making other adjustments. By being aware of what is around, a ride will be much more comfortable.
Is it Easy to Upgrade a Fat Bike Seat for More Comfort?
With all this knowledge available now, many might be wondering if it’s easy to upgrade a bike seat. Thanks to the rise in online sales, it is easier than ever to make some changes for the better. Many people are completely sold on making a pretty easy upgrade that encourages riding longer and more frequently.
It’s also so easy now to switch out a seat that many people can do it from the comfort of their home. It saves a lot of time and money to do this instead of having to go to a local bike shop. While they will be able to assist if needed, more often than not people do the entire replacement themselves. With the right tools, it only takes a few minutes to completely switch out a seat for a new one.
Even the most expensive seats are still a small investment for a big difference. Some people truly don’t realize just how many seat options are out there to help riders feel as comfortable as ever. Just make sure to do a little bit of homework on what type of seat fits writing goals, and go from there.
Remember, fat bikes are different than any other type of bike out there. Picking the wrong seat will make people question whether they have the right fat bike in general. Switching out the seat could potentially save a person from thinking they need to replace their entire setup for one reason or another.