Are Bike Saddles Universal? Compatibility Tips & Tricks
The Bike saddle is an essential part of a bike. It's important to go for one that’s comfortable and suits your riding style. Bike saddles come in different sizes, materials, and shapes to support different body weights and types. A commonly asked question, whether you're a new rider thinking of getting a bike for the first time or an experienced rider thinking of getting a replacement saddle, is “are bike saddles universal?”
Most bike saddles are universal and interchangeable. However, adult bike seats cannot be changed with child bike saddles or custom saddles. To find a bike seat replacement, count the rails, ensure the rail width is the same as the old seat, and double-check that the seat post will fit.
While most bike saddles like these are universal, there are certain factors you need to consider, as explained in this article by ISM, when choosing a saddle for a new bike or replacement seat. For example, bike saddles can come in lots of different types of materials, including leather, foam, or cotton. If you need help choosing the right mountain bike saddle material, be sure to check out our article.
The cushioning, the saddle rails, the saddle size, and the design are all factors you need to consider. It's also important to think about the type of riding you’ll do, whether it's recreational cycling, bike touring, mountain biking, or road cycling. This video tutorial by Worldwide Cyclery explains the different types of saddles and what makes them unique.
Are All Bike Saddles Interchangeable?
Yes, most adult bike saddles are interchangeable and can be used for different bikes. The main reason is that most brands that produce these bikes figured out that one-size-fits-all saddles are the most cost-effective.
Most off-the-shelf adult bike saddles are interchangeable. However, off-the-shelf bike seats cannot easily replace custom bike seats, and adult bike seats are incompatible with child bike seats.
Although most adult bike saddles like these are interchangeable, there are some exceptions, like racing bikes, dirt jump bikes, and other types of custom bikes that are made with specifications that may not fit into other saddles. Children's bikes like these are also not universal and can not be interchanged, since the seat needs to be significantly smaller to fit children at different stages of growth.
List of Bike Saddles That Are Not Universal
Although most bike saddles are universal, certain saddles can not be interchanged. Some bikes are specialized bikes with custom-made saddles.
Adult bike saddles that are not universal include older bike models, racing bikes, and BMX saddles. Child bike seats cannot be interchanged because they’re made for different stages of a child’s development.
Adult vs. Child Bike Seats
There are a few exceptions of adult bike seats that can not be interchanged. Older bike models sometimes cannot be interchanged because they were produced before saddle size was standardized. Others are more specialized, like racing bikes and BMX bike saddles, such as this VELO BMX gel bicycle saddle and this GT vantage pivotal saddle. Another custom-made bike saddle is this MELD-body customized road bike saddle.
On the other hand, all child bike saddles can not be interchanged. Research has shown that they come in different shapes and sizes so kids can be more comfortable with a more pleasant riding experience. Some good examples of child-size saddles are this kid's saddle and this kid's bike saddle. This Velo Junior saddle which measures 205mm in length, 152mm in width, and 50mm in height is another good example. These bike saddles are very comfortable and come in a variety of colors.
Make sure to read our related article explaining the differences between road versus mountain bike saddles and how to choose the right one.
Off-the-Shelf vs. Custom Bike Seats
Largely, all off-the-shelf bike saddles are made with similar features and a railing system which makes them universal. Some off-the-shelf saddles that are interchangeable are this Bluewind bike seat, this IPOW comfort bike seat, and this Serfas E-gel cruiser bicycle saddle.
Most custom bike saddles are made in one size and can not be interchanged with just any other off-the-shelf bicycle saddle. Some offer premium qualities, like a more comfortable or easier ride. Good examples are this Reform Seyrom Custom-Molded Saddle and this Meld saddle, which is designed to fit the rider's anatomy explained in this article by MELD.
Other Types of Bike Seats That Cannot Be Interchanged
Some common examples of bike seats that can not be interchanged are BMX bikes and racing bikes.
Below is a more detailed list of bike saddles that can not be interchanged:
|Type of Bike Seat||Can Be Replaced With||Cannot Be Replaced With|
|Off-the-shelf adult mountain bike saddle||Off-the-shelf adult mountain bike saddle||Child-size saddles, custom adult saddles|
|Child-size saddles||Child-size saddle||Touring saddle, road saddle, comfort saddle, off-the-shelf adult saddle, BMX saddle|
|BMX saddles||BMX saddles||Touring saddle, child-size saddle, road saddle, off-the-shelf adult saddle|
|Touring saddle||Touring saddle, road saddle, comfort saddle, off-the-shelf adult saddles||Child-size saddle|
|Comfort saddle||Touring saddle, road saddle, comfort saddle, off-the-shelf adult saddles||Child-size saddle|
|Road saddle||Touring saddle, road saddle, comfort saddle, off-the-shelf adult saddles||Child-size saddle|
Similarly, you might be interested in knowing the differences between a road bike and a mountain bike seat post. If so, make sure to take a look at that article too. If you need help figuring out the right saddle for your bike, be sure to read our tips for choosing a mountain bike saddle.
Bicycle Seat Dimensions
Universal bicycle saddles have two seat rails and 44 millimeters rail width. Some other bicycle seat types have single, pivot seat rails with varying rail widths. Others include pivotal or tripod rails.
See the chart below for different types of bicycle seat types and examples.
|Bike Seat Type||Number of Rails||Rail Width||Example Product||Approximate Price|
|Universal or Standard||2||44 mm||Tonbux Comfortable bike seat||~$20|
|Single||1||22mm||Brooks B67 Single rail saddle||~$150|
|Pivotal||2 semicircular rails||25.4mm||Velo BMX gel bicycle saddle||~$30|
|Tripod||1 tripod rail||76.2mm||Sunday 2022 Blueprint Bmx bike (comes with tripod saddle)||~$360|
To learn more about different saddle prices, check out our mountain bike saddle price guide. Similarly, you might find interest in learning what to do if your mountain bike handlebar keeps twisting. Make sure you check out our related article to find out more.
How to Find a Bike Seat Replacement - How Do I Know if a Bike Seat Will Fit My Bike?
Most bike saddles are universal and can be interchanged. They come with a dual rail mouth that would fit on any off-the-shelf adult bike seat post. However, you should still check the width of your new saddle and the number of rails to be sure that your new saddle will fit your bike effectively. Do this by counting the rails and measuring the rail width to ensure you purchase a seat that fits. Our tips for choosing a mountain bike saddle rail size are sure to give you a plethora of additional information. Be sure to check it out.
To find a replacement bike seat that will fit a bicycle, count the rails, match the rail width with the seat post adapter, and buy a shim for the seat post if needed.
And if you’re struggling with discomfort while cycling, check out our guide on how to reduce mountain bike saddle pain to get to the root of the issue.
Follow these simple steps to find a replacement bike seat to fit your bicycle:
Step 1. Check the Number of Rails
While most bike saddles have a dual rail mount for the seat post, some saddles utilize a single rail, tripod, and pivotal mounting systems for the seat post. Before you pick a new saddle, you need to check the rails to make sure the rails on your new saddle and the old one are the same.
Step 2. Match the Rail Width with the Seat Post Adapter
44 mm is the accepted width between two rails in a dual rail system. If your bike requires a different type of rail system, then this measurement would not work for you. So you need to measure the rail width of your new saddle and match it with the seat post adapter of your replacement saddle.
The rail width has to be compatible with the seat post of your mountain bike.
Step 3. If Necessary, Buy a Shim for the Seat Post
The main purpose of a shim like this is to adjust different seat posts. If the new seat does not fit onto the tube on your bike, you can purchase a shim to make it fit. The shim increases the width of your seat post to accommodate your seat. Note that a shim can only be used if the replacement seat post is too small for the bike seat post tube. A shim is a cheap way to install different seats on your bike, but try to get the right size for your seat post.
You might find more information in our guide to mountain bike seat replacement, so be sure to check out that related article too.
How to Use Adapters for Seat Rails to Install a Bike Seat Replacement
An adapter may be necessary if the number of rails on a replacement saddle doesn’t match your old saddle. Adapters enable seats with different numbers of saddle rails to be used interchangeably.
Although most adapters are universal and can be interchanged, measure the inner diameter of your rail to double-check that it matches the adapter.
The adapter like this consists of three main parts: the clamps, the center assembly, and a shaft. To install the adapter, place the center assembly in the saddle rail. Make sure it's facing the back and clamp it on. Then, place the shaft across the center assembly, use the nuts to screw on the outer clamp, and use a multitool like this to tighten them.
There are different types of adapters used for different saddles, so make sure you buy the one that’s right for your bike.
Are Wide Bicycle Seats and Narrow Bicycle Seats Interchangeable?
The width of the bicycle seat doesn’t determine whether or not the bicycle seat is interchangeable. As long as the number and width of the new saddle’s rails are the same, they can be interchanged.
Wide bicycle seats and narrow bicycle seats are interchangeable if the number of seat rails and the width of the seat rails are the same as the new seat.
Are Bike Seat Covers Universal?
BIke seat covers are usually made to fit a specific seat but some are made and sold to be used on any bike saddle. One would therefore assume that seat covers are universal but what about a seat cover that has been made for a narrow bike seat?
Bike seat covers are not universal because a narrow cover won’t fit over a wide saddle.
Seat covers are usually not expensive and come in various designs to suit your taste and riding purpose, like these Zacro bike seat covers. You should ensure the bicycle saddle and the saddle cover match in size.
Are Bike Seat Posts Universal?
BIke seat posts are mostly the same size with a standard diameter, although custom-made bikes and other special types of bikes may not have exactly the same diameter.
Bike seat posts are universal because although seat posts come in different diameters, most off-the-shelf adult bikes use the same types of seat posts with the same diameter of 7.2mm.
There are exceptions as the posts used for custom-made bikes do not follow this rule and use a different type of post with a unique diameter. Another handy option is a seat dropper post, as discussed in our mountain bike seat dropper repair guide, which allows you to change the height of your seat to suit various types of riding and terrain