We’ve all had that feeling. A few hours into our ride and the saddle seems to have morphed into cast iron or some other, equally unforgiving substance somewhere along the way. Our glutes beg for mercy. Cutting short our planned outing or workout seems a very real possibility, one that’s increasing with every minor shift of our weight on the saddle or every push on the pedals. At the very least, we know, tomorrow we’re going to suffer.
Why, we ask ourselves, hasn’t someone created something to make this all a little more comfortable? In this article we’re going to take a look at the cycling accessories that can do just that, reviewing a selection of products to find the best bike seat cushion available in 2017.
Why You Should Consider a Bike Cushion
It’s easy to think of seat cushions as optional, perhaps unnecessary add-ons. However, if you’re planning on putting in the miles, whether it be off-road or on, this small piece of equipment can make all the difference between a good day out and a bad one – and that’s not to mention the associated health-benefits and a cushion’s ability to provide a handy, much-appreciated foil to the motivation-kill that comes with an aching posterior.
The process of choosing a bike seat cushion, though, can be overwhelming and more than a little confusing. An online search yields almost 20,000 products, all complete with baffling terminology and varied specifications. Making the right choice of cushion from this vast range of options, however, is equally as imperative as choosing whether or not to use one in the first place.
Below we offer advice on how to navigate the glut and provide a series of reviews to help you select the best product to be kind to your behind in 2017 and, hopefully, for many years to come.
Let’s start with a look at what’s important and what you might wish to consider when buying.
Key Features To Consider When Buying a New Cushion
In addition to comfort, knowing the benefits of the material your cushion is made of and how this might affect the cushion’s performance can save the rider a lot of guesswork and trial and error before finding the right product.
What you need really depends on where you plan to use it, but some universally desirable traits include:
- A four-way stretch microfiber to prevent bunching and having to readjust your cushion throughout your cycle.
- Moisture wicking or breathability to ensure you stay dry even in sweaty conditions.
- Antibacterial properties: In the interests of hygiene, an antibacterial cover is important, particularly if you plan on longer rides or cycling in high temperatures. Even if you only plan on using your cushion on shorter rides or cycling in the gym, antibacterial properties will reduce the risk of infection and help to eliminate odors.
- Memory foam or high-quality, gel-based materials: Memory foam can mould itself to the users’ contours while riding, reducing the lumpy, squishy feel of some lower quality gel covers. High-quality gel products usually offer extra support in key, sensitive areas and are often a fraction softer than those made of memory foam.
- Durability: Some low-quality gels lose shape over time and a purchasing a cheaper item may lead to repurchasing just a few months down the line.
- Water resistance: For sweaty rides or rainy days, a waterproof or water-resistant cover or membrane can prevent your seat cushion becoming a soggy mush.
- Anti-slip capacity: Granules or particles on the underside of your seat cushion will prevent it sliding during your ride.
Outdoor or Indoor?
Knowing where a cushion is at its best can aid the decision process. While most products are suitable for use on both indoor and outdoor bikes, some perform better or are more suitable for either gym cycling or out in the elements.
A flat ride on paved surface or a half-hour gym workout might not require anything too special, but a full day out on the trails or on mixed terrain calls for something with a higher degree of shock absorption and better ergonomics in order to deal with all the bumps and blows you’re likely to encounter along the way.
Shape and Comfort
Ideally, a seat cushion should be anatomically-shaped to suit the rider’s anatomy instead of a flat wedge, and not of uniform density or thickness. A well-shaped cushion will have substantially more padding and higher density under the sit bones and be trimmer towards the front of the seat.
Thickness alone does not guarantee comfort, and often the chunkiest cushions offer less support than well-designed, ergonomically-minded products.
While added width may seem preferable to most users for additional support and comfort – especially true for women in most reviews – some seat cushions can be less malleable in molding to our natural contours and sitting position and the shape of the saddle itself.
Now we know what to look for, it’s time to analyze eight of the best performers out there in 2017.
TOP 8 Best Bike Seat Cushions
Zacro Gel Bike Seat
Material: Gel, anti-slip with attached drawstring to secure to seat.
Weight: 0.71 pounds
Best use: Indoor bikes
Specific Features: easy to install, provides comfort while riding with gel material, stays in place with drawstring, water-resistant, dust-resistant, durable, comes with a cover.
The Zacro Bike Seat is a great all-rounder offering extra-soft gel support, smart ergonomics and durable craftsmanship at a low price. Easy to mount and dismount, this cushion can be slipped on and off for transfer between bikes or for hand-washing. Its detachable waterproof and dust-resistant cover means it retains its performance out in the elements and won’t need to be dried out after every ride.
On the downside, some reviews stated that the gel padding hardened with time, meaning the cushion might have to be replaced if subject to frequent use. Others mentioned the dimensions (11” x 8” x 1.2”), stating that the cushion either did not fit snugly over their seat or was too small – check your sizing before you click ‘buy’. Sleek and inoffensive in appearance. Only comes in black.
Domain Cycling Premium Bike Gel Seat Cushion Cover
Material: Soft silicone gel and stretchy Lycra.
Weight: 0.45 pounds
Best Use: Indoor and outdoor bikes
Specific Features: non-slip underside keeps the cushion in place, fits snugly over seat, thin, lightweight, fits a majority of bike seats.
Although exceedingly popular amongst indoor users, the Premium Bike Seat Cushion Cover is not so well-reviewed by outdoor riders. Owing to its uniform thickness, it lacks the target-area support and a central well to adequately cushion and accommodate sensitive areas.
If choosing this cushion, bear in mind that it is rather narrow compared to others (10.5” x 7” x 1”) and also a fraction shorter. While certainly not bulky – and therefore very lightweight – its lack of padding could be a sticking point for more adventurous or extreme users. This product is not suitable for wide bike seats.
fitTek Gel Bike Seat Cushion
Material: Anti-skid, soft gel with wear-resistant Lycra.
Weight: 0.75 pounds
Best Use: Outdoor Bikes
Specific Features: fits most bikes, easy installation, ergonomic concave design for maximum comfort, reduces pressure points on sensitive areas of the body, drawstring keeps it in place, suitable for all ages and sexes.
The fitTek Bike Seat Cushion is another affordably-priced solution to the rider’s posterior woes. Boasting neat and tidy ergonomics, including a spacious central well or ‘relief zone’, it provides more of a custom-made feel than other cushions with unvarying levels of padding and support.
Its rear padding provides an adequate buffer for the sit bones and the tapered, slimmer front end’s reduction in bulk allows for free leg movement without compromising on comfort. Potential drawbacks are its tendency to slide on the seat over the first few rides and lack of wicking or a waterproof cover.
Large Bicycle Gel Seat Cover (Domain Cycling)
Material: A combination of both gel and foam for extra support. Non-slip underside to keep the cushion in place while you ride.
Weight: 1 pound
Best Use: Outdoor and gym bikes
Specific Features: underside is non-slip so cushion stays in place, gel and foam material, center recess for tailbone relief, fits even large bike seats, slight stiffness for support.
Lack of padding, a comparatively shallow central well and insubstantial sit bone support leave the Domain Cycling Seat Cover behind its competitors in terms of general performance and comfort.
That said, it offers a solid, reliable option to indoor users, particularly those who have a longer and wider than average saddle. Many reviewers bemoan the hardness of the gel but at present it is perhaps the best option on the market for larger seats.
Material: Breathable silica gel and memory foam. Anti-skid particles on underside and outer surface. Antibacterial outer.
Weight: 0.6 pounds
Best Use: Indoor and outdoor bikes
Specific Features: breathable material, silica gel, SSS memory foam, maintains shape, antibacterial, nontoxic, frictionless, shockproof, tool-free easy installation, non-slipping, anti-scratch.
The Daway A33 is a versatile, attractive option containing many features lacking in similarly priced products. Both stylish and functional, it ticks the boxes right across the board. The memory foam and gel combination ensures support and comfort and its non-anatomic design is compensated for by the memory foam’s ability to adjust to the rider’s unique shape and seating position.
Grey meshing in the ventilated areas and a lime-green logo add a splash of color to a black-heavy market and the antibacterial outer is an added bonus on the hygiene front. This cushion is not suitable for wide or large bike seats.
Acacia 3D Foam Saddle Cushion
Material: High-bounce memory foam with Lycra cover.
Weight: 0.02 pounds
Best Use: Indoor and outdoor bikes
Specific Features: reflective stripes for night riding, no-slide friction particles on the underside ensures the cushion sticks to your seat, high quality stitching and craftsmanship, available in five colours.
The Acacia 3D Saddle Cushion is marketed as ‘thick’ but a wide sample of reviewers differed with this opinion, lamenting the cover’s lack of protection and comfort. Although well-made, its 1.1 inch cushioning, shallow central relief-zone and lack of padding around the sit-bone area make this a better option for gentler rides than for anything requiring shock-absorption and a reliable buffer against the bumps.
The availability of different colors (black, blue, grey, orange, red) make it a more attractive option if appearance is a priority, while the reflective strip on the rear provides added visibility at night.
Kyson 3D Soft Gel Cover
Material: Gel base with breathable, durable, stretchy cover.
Weight: 0.5 pounds
Best Use: Indoor and outdoor bikes
Specific Features: anti-slip granules on the underside of the cover, dual gel pads, fist most bike seats, easy to install with adjustable string, ventilation through middle groove.
The Kyson 3D Cover is a safe middle-of-the-way option, reviewed favorably by both indoor and outdoor riders. Its durability, ergonomic design and breathability are attractive features that ensure it ticks all the boxes for a comfort-boosting cushion.
Mountain bikers and off-roaders may look for something containing a little more substance to the rear of the cushion, but if extreme is not your thing the Kyson will provide both adequate support and a reliable safeguard on more moderate rides. Sleek and minimalist, the grey mesh in the central well and around the edges adds a touch of style.
OUTERDO Gel Bike Saddle
Material: Listed as ‘gel’ by the manufacturer, several reviewers noted the Outerdo’s inner was more like a medium-density foam in feel and performance.
Best Use: Any outdoor bike.
Specific Features: available in five colours, rubber nylon outer body, shock-proof, lightweight, easy installation, easy to wash, breathable material, hollow design to promote air circulation, cushioning molds to the shape of your body,
While the Outerdo Bike Saddle requires a little more effort than the other items on review (it needs to be mounted on your post clamps), it offers a high-performing, functional, comfortable alternative to the standard bike-seat cushion. The steel mount-bars, moreover, can be attached to any standard post clamps within a matter of minutes (just be sure to check your post clamps are standard!).
The saddle’s central slit is an attractive feature, reducing pressure on the perineum and also providing airflow and breathability, meaning the rider is more likely to stay cool even on the sweatiest of rides. In spite of the question mark over its durability, the Outderdo is well-reviewed product that appears to have satisfied the requirements of all types of riders, from the off-road addict to the city commuter. Comes in a variety of colors: black and blue, black and red, black and yellow, black and green, black and white.
The bike seat cushion market offers a vast array of options and the decision-making process depends largely on how frequently and where you plan to use your cushion. However, there are a number of factors to take into consideration before buying and also a sizable differentiation between products in terms of both performance and quality levels…not all bike seat cushions are created equal.
If you know of any other great bike seat cushions or think we missed anything out, be kind to our behinds and let us know…!