Why Do Some Bike Seats Have Holes in Them?

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When you’re shopping for a new bicycle and comparing bikes, one thing that might jump out at you is the shape and construction of the seat, also known as the saddle. Some of them feature a large hole or canal in the middle, as well as relief on the front.

Why do some bike seats have holes in them? And do you need this type of saddle?

Bike seat with a hole in the middle

We’ll explain why that hole is there on some seats and not others. Then, we’ll look at who it’s designed to fit, in order to help you figure out whether or not it’s something you should try.

The Purpose of the Hole in a Bike Seat

Comfort is the main purpose—really the only purpose—of the hole, canal, or relief that you see in many bike seats. As seasoned cyclists know, having a comfortable saddle is an absolute must when you’re on long (and short) rides. The hole in a bike seat takes pressure off the delicate tissues in the perineum, and provides better air circulation and ventilation. The latter goes beyond a comfort issue and may even be a health measure for people with certain conditions.

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People have different body types, even those who routinely participate in the same sport. That’s why cycling ergonomics are so important. Not all cyclists wear the same clothing when riding, so it only makes sense that their saddles might also differ.

A saddle with a hole in the middle is designed for redistribution of weight. Weight will be held on a smaller surface area with these saddles. It won’t be ideal for some, but it may also take the pressure off of soft tissue and provide a great deal of comfort for others.

Who Should Use a Bike Seat with a Hole in it?

Chances are, if you’re looking at a seat with a long groove in the middle or a hole in the center, you’re looking at a woman’s bicycle. This has to do with the typical shape of a woman’s pelvis. Most women have a forward-rotated pelvis, and this particular shape is meant to accommodate that bone structure. The relief allows free movement of the thighs without chafing.

Groove or canal down the middle of an old bike seat
Sometimes it isn’t a hole, but a groove down the middle. And sometimes you just need a new bike seat!

In addition, these types of saddles are common on bikes designed for longer or harder rides. You often won’t see them on cruisers, but instead on road or mountain bikes—especially more expensive models made for professionals or serious amateurs.

Do You Need This Type of Seat?

Your sex isn’t the only factor in determining whether or not you should be use one of these types of seats. Even though women are more likely to need it, some men also have a more narrow pelvic structure and benefit from it. Likewise, some women have a wider pelvic bone structure and the increased pressure from having less surface area may do more harm than good.

It also has to do with preference. Even some cyclists with very narrow bone structures do not prefer a narrow seat for a variety of reasons. The only way to know for sure which is best for your needs is to try out different options.

Luckily, seats are one of the most adjustable and adaptable parts of the bicycle. While they aren’t exactly inexpensive, you have the ability to try a different size or shape saddle if the one that came with your bicycle or that you’re currently using is uncomfortable.

It’s a process, but once you find the right shape, you’ll enjoy your rides so much more!