Written By Daniel Rika
Published Jan. 16, 2020

No matter what kind of riding you do, it should be fun and as pain free as possible. Still, some cyclists will stick with a saddle that causes some discomfort simply because they think that’s just the life of a bicyclist. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right saddle, you can ride comfortably for hours.

While new riders may get a little sore at first, the body eventually adjusts, particularly if you use the best bike saddle designed for touring, commuting, racing, mountain biking, or recreational riding. Check out our buyer’s guide below to find the best bike saddle for whatever type of riding you do.

The Best Bike Saddle

Brooks England has been making its standard bike seat for over a century. It’s made of pure vegetable tanned leather, which is very durable and will break in nicely the more you use it. It also features powder-coated steel rails and tubular steel rivets and comes with a leather care kit.

While the seat may feel hard at first, it molds to your rear over time. The super smooth finish means there is little to zero friction no matter what kind of shorts you’re wearing. However, one of the drawbacks is that during the break-in period, it is not particularly comfortable. Also, you shouldn’t get the seat wet, and you need to get the angle right or you’ll slide back and forth a lot.

Key Features
  • Handmade in England
  • Vegetable tanned leather
  • Steel rails
  • Leather care kit included
Specification
  • Brand Brooks England
  • Model B17
  • Weight 1.01 pounds
PROS

Molds to your body over time

Little to no friction

Durable

CONS

May be uncomfortable before you break it in

Seat should not get wet since it’s leather

You may slide around if you’re not sitting at the right angle

The versatile Volt is WTB’s most popular mountain bike saddle. It’s designed for speed and comfort when riding on trails, gravel, or cross country. It has subtle curves and a medium-thick padding. The upward curved tail and gentle nose drop give you something to push against when you’re pedaling, whether you ride on the back of your saddle or move forward as you climb up a trail.

The center “love channel” is efficient and the shell is flexible, which makes it ideal for trail riders. Your rear won’t slip on it, yet it’s easy to move around on in more technical spots. However, while it’s good for mountain biking and touring, it’s not intended for road biking. It’s also a little hard compared to older models, and for some people there’s only one comfortable sitting position.

Key Features
  • Cromoly rails
  • Flex-tuned shell
  • Seat width: 135 mm, 142 mm, 150 mm
  • Seat length: 260 mm
Specification
  • Brand WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes)
  • Model Volt
  • Weight 10.4 ounces
PROS

Designed for speed and comfort

Efficient and flexible

Ideal for trail riders

CONS

Not great for road riding

A little hard

May not be comfortable in multiple positions

This comfortable and versatile saddle features a large anatomic recess area that’s designed to reduce pressure on soft tissue areas when you’re riding in a forward position. It’s made with lightweight oval carbon rails for durability.  The smooth PU cover also reduces friction with shorts for a sustained pedal stroke. The saddle includes EVA foam padding for comfort and a wide nose for stability and powerful pedaling.

While the saddle is comfortable for many people, it’s not for everyone. For some, it may not be comfortable when you settle back on the rear of the saddle, and even adjustments may not work to increase the comfort. In addition, the PRO Stealth saddle is very pricey compared to many of its competitors.

Key Features
  • Width: 142 or 152 mm
  • Length: 255 mm           
  • Carbon fiber rails
  • Carbon reinforced polymer shell
Specification
  • Brand PRO
  • Model Stealth
  • Weight 1.1 pounds
PROS

Reduces pressure on soft tissue areas

Durable

Wide nose fosters stability and powerful pedaling

CONS

Rear of saddle not comfortable for some

Adjustments may not increase comfort

Expensive

The Selle SMP Well bike saddle is geared towards beginner road racers and mountain bikers. It features a free central channel that promotes blood circulation and an eagle-beak nose that provides great support during heavy pedaling. The size of the saddle is designed to equally distribute weight for comfort while promoting performance.

One downside is that the saddle is intended for thin people with medium-wide pelvises, so larger riders will have to look elsewhere for a comfortable saddle. Also, it’s slightly padded, which may feel odd to serious bikers. Also, since the nose is so steep, it may catch on items such as the waist belt of a hydration pack.

Key Features
  • Made in Italy
  • Length: 280 mm
  • Width: 144 mm
  • Stainless steel tube frame
Specification
  • Brand Selle SMP
  • Model The Well
  • Weight 10.6 ounces
PROS

Great support during heavy pedaling

Promotes blood circulation

Designed for comfort and performance

CONS

Designed for thin people with medium-wide pelvises only

Padding may feel odd to some riders

Steep nose may cause logistical issues

The SLR Lady Flow L saddle is designed to accommodate the female anatomy and is ideal for women who have sit bones that are slightly further apart. The padding mutes road noise, and the 275 mm length allows you to move around comfortably, whether in a deep aero position or sitting upright. The large center cutout relieves pressure on sensitive parts, allowing you to ride longer.

Also, the durable Fibra-Tek microfiber cover takes the pain out of high-frequency vibrations on rough roads. However, the saddle may not be comfortable on long hauls for some riders, and it may take a little while to get used to its firmness. Also, some riders have complained that it hurts their sit bones, and the saddle must be positioned correctly for comfort.

Key Features
  • Made in Italy
  • Width: 145 mm
  • Fibrate microfiber cover       
  • Length: 275 mm
Specification
  • Brand Selle
  • Model SLR Lady Flow
  • Weight 9.9 ounces
PROS

Padding mutes road noise

Relieves pressure on sensitive parts

Microfiber cover dampens high-frequency vibrations

CONS

Accurate positioning is essential for comfort

May not be comfortable on long hauls

May hurt some riders’ sit bones

This men’s road saddle from Fizik is designed for riders known as “bulls”, who have a rigid spine and minimal flexibility in their lower back. This saddle provides increased curvature and support due to its shape. It features braided carbon rails with a Kevlar base and is compatible with integrated clip systems. It’s comfortable and durable, and the replaceable plastic scuff guards on the sides prevent abrasion when you lean your bike against a wall or post.

While the saddle is lightweight and well-constructed, it’s not intended for all types of riding, such as trail riding. Also, it’s a little pricey and it doesn’t have a cutout, which some people prefer.

Key Features
  • Handmade in Italy
  • Width: 140 mm
  • Length: 265 mm
  • K:ium rails and carbon reinforced nylon shell
Specification
  • Brand Fizik
  • Model 7018SWSA49A62
  • Weight 1.2 pounds
PROS

Great for riders with minimal spine flexibility

Comfortable and durable

Lightweight

CONS

Not suitable for all types of riding

Pricey

Doesn’t feature a cutout design

The A.R.S. in the Planet Bike Classic stands for “anatomic relief saddle.” It features a full-length center recess for anatomic relief and a soft padding with a flex support base for comfort. The soft top cover is made with abrasion-resistant side material. The saddle is designed for both long and short rides and evenly distributes weight to eliminate pressure on the sit bones.

The saddle is a great value for what it provides and can be used for exercise bikes as well as outdoor bikes. However, it absorbs water when it gets wet and is not intended for the serious biker. Also, the mounting rails are short and may not adjust forward and back enough. The seat is also not particularly durable and may fall apart within a short period of time.

Key Features
  • Foam padding with flexible base
  • Length: 270 mm
  • Width: 165 mm           
  • Lycra cover
Specification
  • Brand Planet Bike
  • Model 5000-1
  • Weight 14.6 ounces
PROS

Very comfortable

Eliminates pressure on sit bones

Ideal for outdoor bikes as well as exercise bikes

CONS

Not intended for serious riders

Absorbs water when wet

Not very durable and may easily fall apart

Best Bike Saddle Buying Guide & FAQ

If your body hurts every time you go for a ride, then something’s not right, and your seat probably has a lot to do with it. Bike saddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and with a little bit of research, you can find the right one to suit your body and riding style. There are several features you need to look into before purchasing a saddle, and once you narrow down the right saddle, you’ll be able to ride long distances much more comfortably.

In the review below, we include the types of popular seats as well as some tips to follow when you’re riding or looking for a new saddle for your bike. We also include some frequently asked questions that will aid in your research.

The Advantages of Owning a Bike Saddle

As you know by now, not all bike saddles are the same. Each make and model is very specific in its purpose. Some brands are designed for racers whose priorities are speed and power. Other brands are less performance-driven and more geared towards riders who simply want to ride around the block with their kids in their neighborhood. Still, other saddles are intended for people who love to hit the trails at their local park.

No matter what kind of cycling you do, the best bike saddle will make the ride more comfortable and efficient. And if you focus on a high-quality product, it will last a long time and ensure that you get your money’s worth. A new bike saddle can completely transform your ride, prevent chafing, and absorb road bumps. It will make the sport much more enjoyable, particularly if you have had problems in the past with an uncomfortable saddle.

Benefits

  • Certain saddles are designed for maximum power and minimal chafing, particularly if you’re aiming for performance.
  • If you’re a recreational rider, a wider seat with a lot of padding and springs will absorb impact and make the ride more comfortable.
  • Better-quality bike saddles will be more durable and long-lasting, saving you money in the long run.

Popular Types of Bike Saddles

The type of bike saddle you need is largely based on the style of riding you do. If you love hitting the trails with your friends and riding over rocks and mud, you’ll need a different saddle than someone who enters professional racing competitions on a regular basis. Here is a look at some of the different saddles for bicycles.

Road Saddle

If you are a racer, you will likely opt for a saddle that is long and narrow with minimal padding so that it can provide the best performance while you’re pedaling. If you tend to do a lot of long-distance riding, you’ll also need a saddle that is rather long with a narrow nose, but it will be something that is in between a road saddle and MTB saddle.

If you tend to do a lot of commuting on your bike, it may help to have a little bit of padding, but not a lot. Also, you have to take into consideration the material of the saddle so that it can withstand a variety of weather conditions.

MTB or Mountain Bike Saddle

When you’re riding on mountain trails, your position is much different than if you’re riding on the road. Often you may stand up on your pedals to avoid large impacts or lean back and even hover over the saddle. Alternatively, you may end up crouching down on your bike to avoid overhanging branches.

Since you ride in so many different positions on a mountain bike, you’ll need a saddle that can accommodate these changes. The best saddle is one that’s specifically designed for mountain biking that has padding for your sit bones as well as a durable cover and a shape that won’t hamper any movement.

Women’s Saddle

Many bike saddles are gender specific because a man’s pelvis is V-shaped and a woman’s is U-shaped. Women usually have wider hips than men, so a bike saddle should accommodate this trait. A women’s bike saddle is usually wider and flatter with a cutout. While the padding is usually thicker than other saddles, it can vary depending on the brand.

There are many companies that make women-specific saddles; however, some brands don’t distinguish the gender when promoting their products. Also, a woman’s saddle may not necessarily feel more comfortable than one marketed towards men, so it’s good to do your research before settling on one.

What to Look for When Buying a Bike Saddle

Whether you race, ride on rocky terrain, or enjoy short circuits around your neighborhood, you need the right saddle for your bike. You also need to consider a saddle’s various features before making a purchase. Saddles come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are designed slightly differently, depending on their purpose.

  • Size

The most important feature to consider when looking for the best bike saddle is the fit. Also, you have to keep in mind that the best bike saddle for women will be different than the best bike saddle for men. Saddles come in a variety of different widths and lengths. The width is important because it coincides with the rider’s sit bones. This is the bony area on your pelvis where the rear and legs come together.

To get the best fit, some saddle manufacturers provide a special tool to measure the width of your sit bones. While it may not provide a perfect measurement, it will be fairly close and will aid you in finding the best size for your bottom.

  • Shape

When it comes to comfort, one of a saddle’s most vital elements is its shape. You can purchase a bike saddle in several different shapes, and they’re designed to work with those who ride in a variety of positions. Some saddles are very narrow and flat and are geared towards those who are more aggressive and prefer to ride in a lower position.

There are also saddles that are slightly wider and are designed for those who sit more upright when they ride. So, before you purchase a saddle, determine what type of rider you are so the shape matches your riding style.

  • Padding

The amount of padding you need on your saddle depends on the type of riding you do. For example, racers need a performance saddle that doesn’t have a lot of padding because that can increase the weight of the bike. If you’re looking for comfort, you can find a saddle that’s shaped like other types of saddles, but is designed with thick foam or gel.

If you only ride your bike occasionally, you may want a saddle with extra padding so your sit bones don’t feel bruised after riding for a few hours. However, if you spend a long time on your bike, too much padding can decrease circulation.

  • Cutouts

When you’re shopping for the best bike saddles, you’ll notice that some feature cutouts and others don’t. A cutout isn’t necessary, but it can be useful. The cutout is a pressure relief channel that protects your soft tissue areas when you’re riding. When you’re in a riding position for a certain amount of time, it can be painful if you don’t have the right seat. This can be related to flexibility and natural pelvic tilt.

Many believe a cutout works well if you have pelvic problems. However, a cutout doesn’t work or fit for everybody. Ultimately, you have to test the saddle to see if it works for your body and physiology.

  • Rails

The seat post of your bike clamps on to the rails of your saddle, which are located underneath the saddle itself. Most saddles are standardized to fit any decent quality bicycle. Carbon rails are the highest quality, followed by titanium, manganese, and steel, which are the cheapest.

The lighter the rails, the more expensive they are, and carbon is the go-to material for serious riders. Carbon and titanium are better than steel because they are more forgiving, which makes them more comfortable. While they may provide different levels of performance, both steel and carbon rails are typically the same shape.

  • Material

You’ll notice that bike saddles are made from all types of materials. If you’re a racer, you’ll likely opt for a Lycra seat, which is soft and durable when it comes to certain weather conditions, such as rain. Other seats are made out of leather, which is an option that many nostalgic riders choose. Leather seats are also very long-lasting and can be very comfortable once they’re worn in.

Another option is gel. Gel saddles are generally more padded than other types of seats, but they can still be quite slim and have the same profile as racing seats. Mountain bikers often choose gel seats for comfort.

Tips for Buying and Using a Bike Saddle

When it comes to bike saddles, everything from riding position to riding style must be considered before you click the “Buy Now” button on Amazon or give the store clerk your credit card. After you purchase the saddle, there are several things you need to do before you hop on your bike and ride to work or hit that trail you’ve been mapping out.

For optimal comfort, you need to correctly position the rails and the angle of the saddle. You also need to break in the saddle and use a special protectant if it’s made of leather. Follow our tips below to ensure your new saddle provides the best performance possible.

  • Make sure the saddle is correctly positioned on the rails so it doesn’t cause any discomfort.
  • Overall comfort while riding is also dictated by the type of shorts you wear, so make sure you choose the proper clothing.
  • If you decide to purchase a leather saddle, make sure to use a leather protector to make sure it holds up against various weather conditions.
  • Many bike saddles require a break-in period and can take a while to feel comfortable, so be patient.
  • Look for items with a good return policy so you can try the saddle and swap it out if it doesn’t feel comfortable.

Best Bike Saddle FAQ:

At this point you know a lot about bike saddles, but you may still have some questions about the best way to use one. The number-one priority is comfort, and how you adjust the saddle largely dictates how it feels on your sit bones. If you don’t properly position the saddle on your bike, it can cause a lot of discomfort.

Q: Why are some bike saddles uncomfortable?

It depends on the rider. Typically, the problem is due to the saddle being the incorrect width in relation to the size of the rider’s sit bones.

Q: How do I adjust a bike saddle?

Loosen the screws on the seat clamp, and slide the seat back and forth and up and down until you find the proper position.

Q: What’s the best way to sit on a bike saddle?

That depends on the style of riding you do. The seating position will be different depending on whether you ride recreationally, on trails, or in a road race.

Our Top Pick

Our pick for the best bike saddle is the Brooks England B17 bike saddle. The company has been making bicycling saddles, bags, and accessories since 1866. The handmade leather bike seat is long-lasting and molds to your body over time. It has an ultra-smooth surface that eliminates friction, and it comes with a leather care kit so you can make sure it’s protected in inclement weather.

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