Bicycle saddles – they come with your bike and most people don’t think much about them
Bicycle saddles can be a game-changer when you find a seat that fits your body! Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking for a new bicycle saddle.
Type of Riding
Saddles are typically broken up into the following five categories depending on the shape, cushion, and material.
Recreational – these saddles are often wide and plush! Think of the seat you typically see on a cruiser bike.
Road Cycling – these tend to be long and narrow and typically have the least amount of padding. That is to ensure you get the most power transfer while you pedal.
Mountain Biking – these saddles have padding for your sit bones, a durable cover in case they hit some rocks, and a streamlined shape so it doesn’t get in your way when you alternate between sitting and standing.
Touring – saddles for these long rides will fall somewhere between a mountain bike and road cycling saddle. It will have padding for your sit bones, and a long, narrow nose.
Commuting – these saddles are similar to road cycling and bike touring – they have some padding, but not too much. Those who ride during rain and shine should consider saddles with a weather-resistant cover material.
When it comes to cushioning, there are two very broad categories for saddles – performance and cushioning. Performance saddles are usually long and narrow, with minimum padding, while cushioning saddles are wide and plush with padding or springs to absorb the bumps. More cushion doesn’t always mean a more comfortable ride. Minimal cushioning can cause less chafing while pedaling and too much padding can cause discomfort and pressure points as your body sinks into the cushion.
Yes, bike saddles come in different sizes to accommodate all body types. There are even specific saddles for women and men, to accommodate different hip-width and location of sit bones. You want a saddle that is wide enough for good support, but not so wide that it chafes. You can measure the width of your sit bones to get a general idea if a saddle is wide enough for you, but you’ll never really know for sure until you get in some ride time.
Some saddles come with a center cut out. This is to alleviate pressure on your perineum. A ton of nerves and arteries flow through this area and can cause you discomfort. Some riders find a cutout relieves their pressure point in this area, others see no change.
These are the connection points from your saddle to your bike. You typically see two parallel rails run from the nose of the saddle to the rear of the saddle. The metal you see can be made of the following materials, which affect price, weight, strength, and flexibility.
Steel – this a strong reliable material, but is the heaviest of the three. If you’re concerned about weight, look at other options.
Alloy – these are lighter than the steel option and are very strong. They are a mid-price for rail material.
Titanium – this one does a great job of absorbing vibrations and it is a very light and strong material. The only downside is it is expensive.
Carbon – this material also has a very lightweight and can be designed to absorb some vibrations, but carbon is also on the expensive side for saddle rail material.
The great or frustrating thing about bicycle saddles is they come in lots of shapes and sizes to fit all kinds of body types. So, just because your buddy has a saddle that works for them, doesn’t mean it will be good for your body or riding style. Your saddle is one of the few touchpoints on your bike, so make sure you get one that fits you properly. If you’re looking for a new saddle, contact us! We can help you pinpoint some saddles to try that might be the perfect fit!