Many people underestimate the importance of a bike saddle. Most of the time, people are too focused on the tires or pedals; though they’re important, they overlook this essential component. The bike saddle is fundamentally what connects your body to the bike.
If your seat isn’t supportive and comfortable, it can not only cause you pain but it can also change the way you ride your bike. So, if you’re planning to go on a bike trip, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid bike saddle. Let’s not waste any more time – here’s the guide to finding the best road bike saddle.
Why is a bike saddle important?
As we said before, a bike saddle is more than just a place where you sit during your ride. It’s one of the three places where your body touches the bike (pedals, handlebars and saddle). It also takes the most bodyweight while riding, gives you control over your bike, and places you in proper riding position. Without a saddle, well, you wouldn’t be lasting long on your bike.
Types of saddles
Let’s take a look at some of the types of saddles available.
Racing saddles are designed to provide you maximum movement while reducing chafing. These saddles are specifically designed to shift your body forward so that your body weight is distributed mostly on your hands and feet as opposed to the seat. They’re thinner, lighter and firmer than cruiser or comfort saddles.
Newer racing saddles are now designed to help protect your reproductive organs and relieve pressure from both male and female parts.
Cruiser saddles provide riders with extra comfort due to their extra cushioning.
Cruiser saddles are typically used on casual bikes, because of the difference of weight distribution – most of your weight will be placed on your seat.
Comfort saddles range in a wide variety of padding but are ideally made to make pedaling easier. They can be used for long distance rides since they’re designed to absorb shock and vibrations from the road.
You can also find women-specific saddles which are designed with a wider seat, a shorter nose and center relief.
Feature of a saddle
Before you go out and buy a saddle, you need to know the features of a saddle.
- Shell: The shell is essentially the shape of the saddle. It’s either made of plastic, nylon, leather or carbon fiber. If you’ll be doing long distance riding, then you should invest in a leather seat. Leather is known to be the most comfortable because it shapes itself to the rider, thus, giving you a fitted seat. It is pricier than plastic and less water resistant, however, it’s worth it.
- Suspension: Depending on the type of riding you’ll be doing, you’ll want to see if your saddle comes with springs or elastomers. These suspension components can be built into some saddles which act to absorb vibrations. If you’re doing off-road riding, then you’ll want to make sure your saddle comes with suspensions.
- Cutouts or grooves: You’ll notice that some saddles have cutouts or a hole in the center of the saddle. This wasn’t done accidentally. These cutouts and grooves are designed to alleviate pressure and reduce heat around your veins and nerves.
- Cover: Most saddles come with a cover that’s a padding which goes over the shell. It can be made of gel, fabric, leather or foam. You can also buy extra padding to put overtop of your saddle, however, it’s likely not to make too much of a difference. For comfort, try adjusting your saddle. If that doesn’t work, try another saddle.
- Rails: The rails are what connects the saddle to your bike. They run under your saddle and can be made of aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, steel or magnesium. Some of the newer bikes on the market have the rails integrated into the shell. However, the rails do not make too much of a difference on the way your bike functions. If you’re going off-roading, perhaps invest in rails that are more durable, such as steel.
- Extra details: Some bikes will come with extra details that are nice to have but aren’t necessarily a requirement. Some will come with plastic bumpers, built-in mounts for tail lights, saddle packs or reinforced corners. Now, you can live without these touches, however, some riders do appreciate these features.
Tips when looking for a bike saddle
Now that you know what features to look out for when looking for your bike saddle, here are some helpful tips that’ll make your search for your saddle easier.
- Invest in a saddle: Don’t be shy to invest some money into getting yourself a high-quality saddle. High-quality saddles typically have rails made of carbon fiber, steel or titanium. This means they’ll be able to take abuse and you won’t have to worry about replacing them any time soon.
- Avoid plastic: If you want to have a comfortable saddle, then avoid plastic saddles without covering. You’ll be thankful that you purchased a saddle with padding if you’ve ever been on a plastic saddle.
- Foam or gel saddles: Foam and gel covered saddles are currently the most popular types of saddles on the market. If you’re doing long distance riding then we recommend leather, however, for short distances foam and gel are ideal. Gel covered saddles are a bit soft than foam, however, they both offer great support.
- Get a saddle designed for you: If you’re a woman, purchase a female saddle. It’s designed specifically for the female anatomy and has a wider seat and shorter nose. Since men and women are physically built differently, getting a saddle that’s designed for you will help you in the long run.
Now that you have some tips on what to look out for when buying a bike saddle, it’s time that we showed you the top eight bike saddles on the market. Let’s take a look!
Top Product Reviews
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 3 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, durable, carbon fiber rails
Best use: Road biking
The great thing about the Fabric Scoop Pro is it’s simplistic yet efficient design. The Pro is made with carbon fibers and a nylon base, so it’s highly durable and can withstand a beating. This saddle is also designed to fit everyone and in reality, it does.
You’ll be able to use this saddle on mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, road bikes and cruisers. However, the cool part about this saddle is that you have two base materials to choose from: nylon or carbon fiber. Either material makes the saddle lightweight and comfortable.
The Fabric Pro is also made with carbon fiber rails, which give the saddle lightweight and firm. You have also three shapes of the saddle to choose from: flat, shallow, and radius. Each saddle varies based on your body type. Regardless of the shape of the saddle you choose from, they all feature polyurethane foam cushioning and a waterproof microfiber shell fabric covering.
Related: The Fabric Scoop Elite Saddle is designed more towards high-performance biking. So, if you’re doing touring or racing, this is an ideal option for you. It’s versatile, durable and provides riders with flexibility.
Selle San Marco has a saddle called the Era Saddle which is lightweight and designed for riders who are frequent cyclists. It’s made with a flexible feathered tongue and vibration damping elastomers.
Weight: 33 ounces
Dimensions: 3.93 x 7 x 10.9 inches
Specific features: Designed for men, versatile, money back guarantee
Best use: Road biking and touring
If you’re looking for a men-specific saddle, well then Bikeroo Saddle is a great option. Because it’s designed specifically for men, it focuses on central pressure-relief, providing you extra comfort and boosts performance. The deep center cutout and hollow core will help remove the pressure and give you extra comfort.
With the perfect blend of padding and stiffness, the Bikeroo saddle works at giving its riders support and efficiency. Many riders complain that they’re unable to use their saddle for other bikes, leaving them having to buy another seat saddle. However, if you’re looking for a saddle with versatility, you’ll be able to mount this saddle as a mountain bike or road bike seat.
Related: Another great saddle that’s also very fair in price is the AllOut Inspired bike seat. It’s firm, so you’ll be able to enjoy a ride of comfort and durability. In addition, it’s designed to fit everyone – women, men, and children. So, it’s a very versatile seat and is suitable for anyone who has a bike.
Specific features: Twin Flex technology
Best use: Road biking
If you’re a serious cyclist, then you’ll want to invest in your saddle. The Fizik Aliante Gamma is not a cheap saddle, however, it’s worth every penny. This saddle is the best of the best. Handmade in Italy, this is a high-performance saddle designed for riders with a rigid spine and want minimal flex in their lower back. It comes with braided carbon fiber rails with a Kevlar base.
The design is extremely sleek and simplistic, yet, is highly durable and designed to give the rider maximum support. An exceptional choice if you’re looking to spend above the average price for a saddle.
Related: If you’re a fan of Fizik, however, need something a little lower in price, we understand. Though it’s still slightly higher in price than the average saddle, the Gobi XM Gamma is another great pick from the Fizik company. Very thin and narrow in size, however, this is made to boost your performance. It’s also handmade in Italy and has a killer design.
Specific features: Easy installation, shockproof, superior firmness
Best use: Road biking
The Outerdo MTB Gel Saddle is a sleek and trendy saddle. However, don’t assume that it’s just for looks. In fact, it’s actually a great saddle that provides riders with exceptional shockproof and firmness. It’s lightweight and the get cushions your body from any impact, making it great for long distance cycling. It’s shaped to fit the human body and the hollow core helps improve breathability, airflow and comfort.
The nice part about this saddle is that it’s easy to install on any bike and it’s usable for both men and women. This saddle is designed to have you spending less time in discomfort and worrying about your position and more time focusing on the ride ahead of you.
Related: Another option from the Outerdo company is the hollow mountain bike saddle, which is more designed for mountain bike riding. It’s made of polyurethane, leather and steel so this saddle will be able to take abuse. It’s lightweight and breathable design makes it a favorite among riders.
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Specific features: Anatomically designed, abrasion-resistant, long-distance biking
Best use: Road biking
The A.R.S Saddle actually stands for Anatomic Relief Saddle. This means, if you’re looking for comfort, Planet Bike A.R.S. Saddle is the one to choose. It’s a men’s saddle specifically built to provide maximum support and comfort through its perfect fit. The soft top cover is also abrasion-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about chafing while you’re on the road.
Many riders have issues with numbness and serious pain while riding, due to their saddle. However, the A.R.S. will be able to withstand all the bumps you ride over. You can use this saddle for road bikes, cruisers and mountain bikes.
The gel pads are specifically designed to give you cushion on your pressure points while the full-length center recess removes pressure away from vulnerable parts of your body. With this saddle, you can still ride your bike without having to worry about the pain.
Related: The Zacro Gel Saddle is another good option and also is decent in price. It’s made with PU and dual-density gel foam padding for extra comfort while the carbon steel suspensions help in eliminating bumps and vibrations. This saddle can be used on road bikes, however, is more for cruisers and mountain bikes.
Specific features: Durability tested, high-performance riding, lightweight
Best use: Road biking
The WTB Speed Comp Saddle is ideal for road, recreational, commuter and mountain biking – what we’re trying to say is that it’s highly versatile. So, if you have a couple bikes that you alternate, then this saddle will work for any of them. The saddle is made keeping in mind the level of discomfort that bikers usually have with their saddles. So, they decided to fight this and create a saddle which has ultimate comfort and durability.
It’s made with a soft-shell base and a sleek shape that’ll fit snug on your body. The rails are made of titanium, so they’re highly durable and can pack a punch. Overall, for the price, you get a great saddle.
Related: If you’re looking for a unisex saddle, the Y-zone Extra Comfort Saddle is a great option and it’s inexpensive. It’s made of neoprene, gel and urethane that’ll provide you with a comfy ride. It also is designed with a deep center relief zone that helps to eliminate pressure in sensitive areas.
The Superteam Saddle is also another great option for road cycling. It’s extremely lightweight and made of carbon fiber, so if you want a smooth and cushy ride, you won’t go wrong with this pick.
Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 4 inches
Specific features: Leather, shapes to your body, long distance biking
Best use: Road biking
Brooks England is one of the most classic bike companies around. They’ve been around since 1866 and have created some of the most classic saddles in the industry. So, if you’re looking for a classic road biking saddle, Brooks B17 Saddle is the one. It’s definitely a little more in price than the average saddle, however, the craftsmanship in their saddles are incomparable.
Made of leather, the B17 saddle molds to your body over time, providing you with a perfect and individualized fit. The rails are made of steel and have exceptional absorption to any bumps and vibrations you encounter. The wide tail and abrupt taper help support your pedaling and reduce abrasion.
Related: If you’re into a classic look, you can also try out Origin8 Classique Sport leather saddle. It’s truly classic in design and style, made with top grain leather and polished stainless steel rails. The true classic touch is in the riveted top with side stitching. You really get the English vibe when looking at this saddle.
Weight: 33 ounces
Specific features: Central cutout channel, eagle-beak nose, carbon fiber shell
Best use: Road biking
The Selle SMP Cycling Saddle is highly durable as it’s made of smp vacuum tech and soft polyurethane padding for comfort. It’s also designed with nylon 12 and filled with a carbon fiber shell that has anatomically made cutouts to relieve pressure from vulnerable areas. The steel rails add extra durability and support to the saddle.
This saddle is designed to ensure you better blood flow, performance boosting, even distribution of weight and pressure alleviation. Plus, the design itself is very sleek and simplistic, which is what you want in a road biking saddle.
Related: Another saddle from Selle is the Selle Italia SLR Superflow. This saddle is really ideal for those who are frequent road cyclists and want to invest a chunk of money in a reputable saddle. This saddle is very well-known for its durability and high-performance.
Now that you know what types of saddles are available and what to look for in a road biking saddle, it’s time that you went out and gave some a test drive. Test out the saddles we mentioned above in the review. They’re the best on the market, so we know one of these will suit your needs. Don’t be shy to give them a test drive and see if they fit right.
Let us know in the comments below which one you liked the most!