In a month time I will be doing a two week tour in southern France. I was wondering which is the best kind of saddle for touring? I have a Specialized Tricross that came with a modern narrow and not so cushioned saddle with a hole down the middle (any idea what this is for?).

I also have a Brooks saddle B66 (with springs). Now, I love this saddle but I've been told that it is preferable to use one without springs and that is not so wide for longer rides. Exactly why I don't know...

Any idea, comments, etc very welcomed! Thanks!!

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    It should be pointed out that it's risky to switch saddles just before "the big ride" -- you need at least a week or two (ideally a month or more) to become acclimated to the saddle (and be sure it suits you) before a tour or long race. Jun 27, 2013 at 15:09

5 Answers 5


The best kind of saddle for touring is one which you find comfortable.

The cut-out is intended to relieve pressure from your soft bits leaving most of your weight on your sit-bones.

A very wide saddle might start to rub excessively inside your thigh on a long ride, while one with springs may be too bouncy at higher cadences and waste some of your effort.

A saddle is a personal choice and there is certainly no one ideal, "best" touring saddle for all people.

Given that you "love" your Brooks, I'd suggest looking at another Brooks (maybe a narrower one), or if you're confident it will be comfortable over longer distances, use your B66.


You need more than a couple of weeks to determine if a particular saddle is "comfortable." If you like the Brooks B-66, then by all means use it for the tour. All saddles, leather or not, must be "broken in" to some degree. Making sure your saddle heigth, fore and aft position to your knees being centered on the pedals at the right moment to keep your hips from swaying, and the tilt of the saddle, level or nose slightly up or down, is all important and can determine how your saddle "feels."

That cutout in the center of the saddle is to relieve pressure from your Perineum area while in the saddle. It also adds some ventilation and cooling for that area. Some people say this works while others don't notice any difference. To me, this cut out area would tend to weaken the solid structure of the saddle. Leather softens over the years if well cared for, and it seems to me this cut out area may change and get wider if it begins to be pulled towards the edges of the saddle.

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    I wouldn't say that all saddles need to be broken in. Its more-so that you need to be broken in for non-leather saddles.
    – Batman
    Oct 11, 2014 at 11:11
  • Brooks also makes a saddle with a center cutout that I've found quite comfortable, even compared to a split-style saddle. I've had mine for about ten years without any noticeable widening of the cutout. Before I switched to split/cutout saddles decades ago, I'd have some numbness or discomfort after a couple hours of strenuous riding.
    – Rich Moss
    Jan 28, 2021 at 21:37

Saddle width depends on: sitbone width, and riding position. Usually touring is done in a more upright position, which requires a wider saddle vs. the same person in a sporty position.

The hole in the middle is for your crotch. If that bone hits hard plastic/metal, it hurts a lot, and you cannot ride more.

The B66 is a good choice for touring, probably it has already the right width and crotch "valley" for your body geometry.

See my post here for more on width: Brooks leather saddle break in

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    +1 for mentioning different riding position for touring. Agree with @James Bradbury's answer (best = most comfortable for you), but I think you're right in that wider saddles (especially leather ones) have a bit more "give" in them for long rides. However, leg chafing can be an issue if the saddle is too wide between your thighs (also depends on Q-factor of cranks/pedals). Also, tilting the saddle back a little (nose up) may help relieve arm strain on long rides. Jul 1, 2014 at 8:45
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    You're right about chafing. Some models come with laces on the bottom part to make them narrower. One can also retrofit holes for laces with just a leather-punching tool.
    – olee22
    Jul 2, 2014 at 15:30

I have done many tours on a Brooks B17 and it has been great. That said, I agree with a previous post that says use the saddle that is comfortable to you.

Something you may not know is that many urban bike shops allow you to try a saddle on your own bike before you buy it. Many also have return policies on their saddles if you do buy it and bring it back in good condition. This is a great way to make a decision about non-leather saddles. Since leather saddles have a break in period before they feel great, they can be hard to judge so quickly. (Think about breaking in a baseball mitt or leather boots.)


My Terry seat with the hole in the middle saved me when I rode across the US.

  • 2
    Although this may theoretically answer the question, you should probably expand this answer to include "why" the seat saved you.
    – Gary.Ray
    Oct 12, 2014 at 18:10

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