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I’ve had a Brooks B68 for a few years now. It’s 205 mm wide; I have a fairly upright riding position; my back is about 25 degrees off the vertical.

Before choosing it I read the advice on the web which in general advocated measuring the distance between the seat bones then buying the narrowest saddle that ensured both seat bones were supported. If I’d followed that advice, I’d probably have bought a standard B17 – the best selling Brooks saddle.

My experience with other saddles had made me appreciate the buttock support of a wider saddle, so I chose a B68 and haven’t regretted it. Yet it seems I’m in a minority. Others in the group I ride with (we're fairly leisurely) have B17s. The B68 has been discontinued.

What have I missed by not choosing a B17? I’ve laced the nose of my B68 tightly, so I doubt that the saddle nose is significantly wider, if at all.

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Sit bone (i.e., ischial tuberosity) width is an important consideration, but it is only a starting point, rather than the complete answer. Your riding position also affects saddle width choice, with more upright postures being better supported by wider saddles.

Too wide only becomes a problem if you get chaffing or have problems getting behind the saddle for technical riding (e.g., cross-country mountain bike riding, without a dropper post - i.e., old school).

If the B68 is working for you then I wouldn't over think it. Conversely, I can tell you from personal experience the discomfort of a Brooks saddle that is too narrow. As the leather breaks in and you "sink" in a bit, you can start hitting the outer metal support frame with your sit bones. Adding some more leather tension can help, but it doesn't completely solve the issue (I had to sell the saddle).

Why B17 has become the defacto standard is probably partly because it is a good saddle that breaks in quickly, and partly it has to do with the underground lore that evolved around it. Sometimes its best not to meet our heros.

  • Thanks for responding I was hoping to provoke a bit more debate about the merits and demerits of the seemingly-unfashionable, wider, buttock-supporting saddles. But your somewhat sceptical assessment of the B17 has been well received and certainly not contradicted. I’ll take that as some confirmation of my own view. – justerman Feb 28 at 17:37
  • @justerman I didn’t intend to malign the B17, or narrower saddles (the Brooks saddle I still use is actually slightly narrower than a B17), just the idea that how the saddle looks is a primary consideration, or that we must follow saddle group-think. The B17 is a good saddle, that many like. That doesn’t mean it’s be right saddle for everyone. – Rider_X Feb 28 at 19:55
  • @justerman the typical experience is that most find their saddle uncomfortable, especially on longer rides. If you already find a saddle that works for you, you may have lucked out, so why change anything? – Rider_X Feb 28 at 19:57
  • Oh I noticed from your answer that you considered the B17 a good saddle. Sorry if “somewhat sceptical” overstates your view. As for me, my question was motivated by curiosity rather than any impulse to replace. – justerman Mar 1 at 8:11
  • I wonder what proportion do find their saddle uncomfortable. For a long time I rode a recumbent and sat on what could be described as a chair. Recumbent riders consider saddles to be the primary flaw in the otherwise excellent concept of the upright bike. – justerman Mar 1 at 8:18

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