Bike Saddles | Gear to Splurge On

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Bike Saddles | Gear to Splurge On

Let’s face it—if you aren’t comfortable on the bike, you aren’t going to go very far or very fast. Other than bike fit, your seat is one of the biggest factors that determines exactly how comfortable your ride will be.

The right bike saddle can improve your pedaling efficiency, reduce numbness and pain and, in some cases, help you produce a bit more power when time trialing or heading up steep climbs.

Choosing the right seat can be difficult since we’re all a little different anatomically. The perfect seat for one person can be disastrous for another. While the only true way to find the best saddle is to test as many as possible, there are factors you should consider that can help you to narrow the selection.

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE SADDLE CHOICE

Here are four things to think about when shopping for a bike saddle:

  • Cycling discipline: Are you a commuter, mountain biker or a road rider? Most saddles are made for a specific discipline.
  • Style of riding: If long, casual weekend rides are your thing, avoid super lightweight saddles that are made for aggressive riding positions.
  • Comfort versus weight: Lightweight saddles are more expensive because of the material used to make the rails. If you don’t need a racing saddle, avoid titanium or carbon rails that cut down on weight but raise the price. Opt for a seat with steel rails or another material made for long-distance comfort instead.
  • Men’s versus women’s: Because of the differences in the anatomy of the pelvis, a seat that’s built for a guy probably won’t be all that comfortable for a woman. Look for gender-specific saddles.

SADDLE ANATOMY

While you don’t need to go too deep into technology, you should understand some of the basic differences between saddles to make the right choice. Here’s a simple breakdown of what you should be looking for:

  • Width: Narrower saddles are for stretched out, aggressive riding positions common in road-racing cyclists. Wider saddles, on the other hand, are better for slower riding and more upright positions.
  • Sit bones: While it can be tricky to figure out, the shape and size of the saddle should match your sit bones. If it’s too narrow, it won’t provide adequate support and could cause circulation issues.
  • Rails: Carbon and titanium rails raise the price of saddles, but also reduce weight. Look for steel rails if comfort is your thing.
  • Padding and cutouts: Fast or long-distance cyclists need saddles with minimal padding to reduce chafing and offer maximum support for your sit bones. Commuters and recreational cyclists should opt for more padding. If you’ve had problems with numbness or pain, a center cutout can help take pressure off sensitive spots.

SADDLE UPGRADES

While saddle choice is still very objective, these saddles are worth considering when upgrading from your stock bike seat to a more comfortable or faster saddle.

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