Bike Seat for Commuting: Cruiser style or standard
What kind of seat do you use for commuting? Is it better to use a cruise style, with a wider back area? what are the disadvantages to this seat? aesthetics? cuts off circulation? causes numbness and pain down leg?
I think it depends on the bike. I ride a MTB for my commuter and I've had a bunch of seats on it and finally went back to the original seat that came on it. I put the same seats that my road bike had on it and it was not nearly as comfortable. I believe it's because it's the angle that I'm at. I finally went to the original and it's like sitting on a sofa. Similar to the one you have. I don't wear cycling shorts on my 16 mile commute either. That's a nice feature.
I'd say this boils down to personal preference, as a function of how you tend to ride. I have a 'standard' seat on my hybrid, which works for me since I tend to go as fast as I can on my commute and my seat gives ample room for my legs to move yet enough area to get my sit bones on it. Others who do a more leisurely ride might prefer the wider models.
I guess this is also a function of what kind of bike and bars you have, since that determines how upright/bent over you will be. Cruiser seat means a more upright sit position.
I have a Trek comfort bike, and the seat was one of the things I changed to make it functional for my 25 mile RT commute. For low speed riding with the kids I found the wide, sprung seat to be great. When you ride slow on a flat bar bike, all of your weight is on your butt and a wide seat is a good thing.
Once I started commuting and trying to ride at least 15mph I found that I needed to reset the adjustable stem far forward to lean me over and raise the seat to get the correct crank / butt geometry. This put me in a more forward efficient stance (still pretty upright compared to a road bike, but not a bad compromise really). Then the seat started to rub me the wrong way. I replaced it with a Serfas Cosmos. Works great.
I've been surprised how functional a commuter I could make out of a comfort bike. I still think about getting a touring bike instead, but I'm not sure that would make me all that much faster and I already have a functional bike.
As Threephi said, seat width is a function of position. The more upright you are, the more weight on your butt and the more support you need there in the form of a wider saddle. The more leaned forward you are, the more aerodynamic you become, the less weight on your butt (and more on your hands--and actually on your feet) and a narrower saddle becomes appropriate.
I have a fairly wide seat on my bike because I sit pretty upright. If I lean forward into more of a racing position I can feel the width get in the way.
So you need to assess what style of bike you have and your position. Too wide a seat can lead to leg problems if you are whacking the back of your legs constantly.
One other thing is softness. People often go for squishy, soft seats thinking they'll be more comfortable, and they are--for the first 15 minutes. Anything longer and soft seats usually become quite uncomfortable. Firmer seats allow you to rest on your sit bones, which are designed to support our weight. Soft seats let you sink in and put pressure on soft tissues--nerves and other delicate bits--and this will cause problems.
I am running a huge fat BMX seat on my urban mountain bike. It is padded and shaped like a a cruiser seat but is highly abrasion resistant.
It has been really comfortable on short trips, but now the weather here has fined up, I have been riding this bike all over town so have put the seat up about an inch. After an afternoon ride to nowhere on Sunday, my right leg and (ahem) butt cheek is painfully sore. A slightly more dropped position did nasty things to the blood flow in my leg, it seems.
I can't stand a heavily padded cruiser seat for a ride a decent length even on an upright cruiser bike. I had to replace the seat on my cruiser tandem with a Brooks B-67. Only on a crank forward bike like an Electra Townie is a wide padded seat going to be a good idea.
With the exception of recumbents bicycle seats are uncomfortable when you first start using them. Once you become accostumed to them you will probably want a little narrower and less padded seat than you firs thought. The B-67 is a great upright seat. It has springs to help smooth out the ride, is fairly wide and has the classic Brooks construction that makes all thier seat so comfortable.
I have a really cushy seat with springs on my beater and while it is comfortable for the first few minutes of riding, anything over 15 minutes is no fun. I think you HAVE to ride upright on these seats and you have to ride/pedal slowly to keep it comfortable. Anytime I try to get more aggressive (that is pedal faster) I find myself perched on the nose of the seat and that is way uncomfortable. Also my knees really hurt after riding for any length of time in that upright position at slow rpms.
On the other hand, my wife loves it and calls my Brooks seats 'instruments of torture'.
I've ridden lots of seats (Flite, Vettas, Rolls, Avocet, Serfa, WTB) but only the Brooks saddles hold up over time and get better with age. All others eventually wear out when the padding compresses and/or the plastic cracks.