LAST UPDATED: October 24, 2019
Best Bike Saddles: Experience Maximum Riding Comfort
Maintain an aggressive and comfortable position on your bike with these bike saddles
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 24, 2019
A great bike saddle can alleviate riding fatigue and make your ride more enjoyable. It also reduces the pain that occurs when you ride on a seat with a width and size that doesn’t match the shape of your crotch area. Our buying guide will help you find the right bike saddle that fits your riding style and budget.
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Why Buy a Bike Saddle?
- Comfort. A new saddle offers more support for a comfortable ride. Sitting on a thin bike saddle, or one that has metal poking out may force you to cut your ride short.
- Navigate through tough terrain. You can find a bike saddle with gel padding that’s highly shock-absorbent and can protect you when riding through rugged terrain.
- Experience painless and fatigue-free rides. Getting the right bike seat for your riding style goes a long way in reducing rider fatigue and back pain. A well-cushioned saddle can also help prevent sores.
- Improve your riding posture. A high-quality bike saddle helps you distribute your weight evenly on the bike so that more pressure can be channeled to your hands and legs. That, combined with a well-adjusted seat post, helps you maintain the right riding position by taking most of the strain away from your back and bottom.
Types of Bike Saddles
Racing saddles have a sleeker profile that’s designed to force you to put more weight on your hands and feet and less on the seat. That way, you get better bike propelling power and full-body movement. They mostly have minimal padding, and some have cutouts to relieve pressure.
Mountain Bike Saddle
Mountain bike saddles are just as sleek as racing saddles but are more padded to increase comfort and maximize energy output when climbing steep slopes. They are also lightweight, have a downward slope, and are reinforced for durability. They are the best bicycle seats for mountain bikers and off-road cyclists.
Comfort saddles are heavily padded to enhance rider comfort during longer rides. They can either have gel or foam padding or a combination of both. They are designed to absorb shock and vibrations on the road and are the best road bike saddles. They also have a wider seat design to relieve back pressure and are more suited for the female anatomy.
selle ITALIA is an Italian bike saddle manufacturer with over 120 years of experience in the industry. The company makes stylish and ergonomically designed saddles for commuting, off-roading, gravel riding, and triathlons. It also designs bike accessories, such as leather handlebar grips and saddlebags. Some of its top-rated products are the selle ITALIA Diva Bicycle Saddle and the selle ITALIA Vintage Turbo saddle.
Planet Bike was founded in 1996 in Madison, Wis. It works to provide sustainable transportation solutions by providing bike accessories, such as bike computers, pumps, fenders, lights, saddles, and other service parts. It also designs biking apparel, such as cycling gloves, t-shirts, and socks. Some of its best-selling products include the Planet Bike A.R.S. Bicycle Saddle and the Planet Bike Turbo Bike Tail Light.
Brooks England is a United Kingdom-based company that manufactures and designs bike parts and accessories. Its product line includes bike saddles, helmets, pumps, bar tapes, and cycling bags. One of its best selling all-weather bike saddles is the Brooks England Cambium Bicycle Saddle.
Fizik was founded in 1996 as a bike accessory manufacturer. Some of its products include bike saddles, cycling shoes, and handlebar tapes. Its products help with daily road commutes, off-roading, and triathlons. One of its best-rated bike saddles is the Fizik Arione K:ium Bicycle Saddle.
Bike Saddle Pricing
- Under $50: Expect to find mostly comfort saddles within this price range that are best used for daily commuters or recreational riders. They are similar to the heavily-padded factory saddle that came with your bike, and most have a unisex design.
- $50 to $100: The saddles within this price range have a few extra frills to enhance rider comfort. Expect to find gender-specific models with anatomical cutouts, heavy-duty-rails, and reinforced seat covers.
- Over $100: If you get a product within this price range, you will most likely be paying for body shape and gender-specific frills. Most of the saddles are anatomically-friendly with lustrous leather covers. They also have wider aluminum rails.
Bike saddle covers are mostly made from lycra, leather, or vinyl. Lycra bike saddles feel soft and are breathable and waterproof but are slippery and fragile. Vinyl saddles are cheap and durable but are also slippery and not-so breathable. Leather covers are the best since they are appealing, comfortable, long-lasting, and non-slip. However, they are quite expensive.
The space between your sit bones will determine if you go for a wide or narrow saddle. If it’s too narrow, your bottom will hang over the sides and cause bottom pain. If it’s too wide, it may rub up against your inner thigh, and that can get painful, especially during the hot summer. Generally, since women have wider sit bones than men, they should ride on wider saddles. You should take a short trip to see if the saddle is the right shape for you.
Padding and Material
Saddle padding helps provide anatomic relief when cycling. The most common saddle padding is foam. It’s cheap and comfortable for most of its service life if the cyclist doesn’t always ride in an upright position. However, it can numb your bottom once it starts to thin. Gel is a better option for its long-term comfort and shock-absorbing qualities. It’s the best material for a racing seat.
Under all the padding, there’s a shell that forms the basic profile of the seat. It can be either made of plastic, aluminum, or a synthetic material. Aluminum seats are less prone to cracking or bending. Also, there are tensioned leather saddles that don’t have a shell but instead have a thick piece of leather that’s pulled and suspended like a hammock on a metal frame.
- Rails: The rails are on the underside of the saddle and attach to the seat clamp. The most sturdy rails are made of titanium. They offer better support. Some other options are die-cast aluminum and carbon rails.
- Cutouts: Older bike saddles didn’t have cutouts, but it’s a necessary improvement on newer bike saddles to cater to men’s crotch areas. It helps keep the crotch well ventilated and comfortable.
Best Bike Saddle Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Fizik Arione K:ium Bicycle Saddle is a great saddle for anyone who wants some flexibility in their riding style and freedom of movement. It’s designed with Wingflex Technology, meaning that the edges are narrower towards the inner thigh area to allow for a full range of leg motion. The saddle is also designed with a durable and flexible carbon-reinforced nylon shell that offers extra support to a racer who is leaning forward.
The edges are soft and smooth to make standing and climbing on tough terrain feel as natural as doing it on a smooth road. The saddle is flat from tip to tail and a bit longer than most racing saddles. That allows you to move back and forth completely unhindered when you switch from slow to full speed.
A major drawback of the saddle is that the narrow design may not feel comfortable or appealing for everyone. It may even feel painful for someone with a wide pelvic area due to minimal support to the sit bones. Also, it has a flat design that doesn’t provide dramatic pressure relief, and you may slide off the seat when going downhill.
The Planet Bike A.R.S. Bicycle Saddle is designed to offer a fatigue-free riding experience. The saddle is heavily padded to keep the rider’s sit bones from aching or getting bruised during long rides. Also, it has an anatomical cutout to give the crotch area enough breathing room. It also features a non-slip cover with abrasion-resistant patches to reduce friction wear.
Moreover, the saddle has a wider shape to give the rider enough room to move around in their seats during steep climbs or slopes. It’s also more heavily padded at the rear to provide back relief and extra support to the bottom. This saddle is a good option for a recreational or backpacking rider for taking leisurely rides in a park or on a trail.
However, despite being a comfortable saddle, the cover doesn’t feel as smooth and soft on the bottom compared to more expensive saddles. Also, being a budget bicycle seat, the foam padding may start to thin within a year and expose the reinforced carbon shell inside.
Most women will appreciate the anatomical relief offered by the selle ITALIA Diva Bicycle Saddle. It has large center cutouts to offer pressure relief and increased blood flow in the frontal soft tissue area to reduce numbness. What’s more, it has silicone gel inserts around the cutouts that provide extra padding for enhanced rider comfort.
It’s a stylish saddle with a full-grain leather cover that feels soft on the body. The saddle is also infused with breathable padding for extra support. The saddle structure is held together with a carbon composite shell with shock-absorbing elastomers that absorb vibrations on rough terrain. Finally, the underside has lightweight Tubular Vanox rails.
However, all the frills that come with this woman's saddle don’t come with a cheap price tag. It’s more expensive than most feminine bike saddles. Also, the saddle tip may rub uncomfortably against your inner thighs. It also feels too squishy, and that may not be appropriate for short races.
- If you want to adjust your seat, ask someone to help you loosen the clamp and tighten it as you remain seated on the bike with your feet on the pedals at the six and 12 o’clock positions. Alternatively, you can lean it against the wall and adjust it without worrying about tipping over.
- If you are particular about your saddle height, use an online saddle height calculator. It will help you get the best saddle height according to your height and leg length.
- Replace your saddle when it starts to wear out and expose the metal or when the memory foam thins too much. Also, if you notice that your bottom gets sore after a short distance, that’s a sign that you should replace the saddle.
Q: How high should a bike saddle be?
A: If you have no interest in building speed in your daily commutes, you can make the saddle slightly lower than the handlebars. Only make it low enough so your back is straightened out and so that you don’t put too much pressure on your knees. However, if want to build speed, your saddle should be extended so that the foot on the six o’clock pedal is fully extended. Take care not to raise it beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations, or it will break during your ride.
Q: Should my feet be able to touch the floor while I’m on a bike?
A: Yes, they should be able to for maximum stopping safety. When you sit on your saddle, the balls of your feet should touch the ground. If only your toes touch the ground, you either have a large bike or need to adjust the saddle height. Also, check your arm length. Ensure that you can comfortably reach the handlebars and work the brakes.
Q: What’s the best angle to tilt the saddle?
A: If the saddle nose is tilted down too much, you will slide off as you ride and put too much strain on your arms and shoulders. If you tilt the seat up too much, you may feel sore around your crotch. The saddle should ideally be parallel to the ground, but you can tilt it up or down slightly, depending on your comfort.
Our top pick is the Fizik Arione K:ium Bicycle Saddle. It’s one of the most comfortable bike seats on the market that promotes maximum pedaling power.
For a more affordable but comfortable option, consider the Planet Bike A.R.S. Bicycle Saddle.