Bicycle riders can’t afford to keep using a saddle that’s literally a pain in the butt. They need the most comfortable bicycle seat to stay free from distraction and injury while cycling as a hobby or for sports.
Moreover, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to bike seats.
Choosing the best bike saddle will mainly depend on two things: the type of riding you do and your physiology or body mechanics. Some people ride bikes for recreation only, while others do it for commuting or to stay fit. Meanwhile, physiology refers to the level of your core strength, flexibility, soft tissue distribution, and sit bone width.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the features you should look for when choosing the best bike seat.
Bike saddles vary, depending on your purpose for biking or riding. The general types of bike seats are:
These seats are designed for cruising/leisurely rides. They’re generally wide, soft seats with thick padding and springs that can cushion or absorb shocks from bumpy roads.
These seats are narrower and have less padding than comfort saddles.
These seats are firm and lightweight to suit long-distance road rides. They have the least amount of padding.
The cushioning used for bicycle seats can be any of the following:
Gel cushioning provides the most comfort and is usually used on recreational bikes.
Foam cushioning offers more support than gel cushioning for long-distance riders, particularly those weighing over 200 pounds.
Memory foam is recommended for long-distance rides since it conforms to the user’s weight and distributes it across the entire surface of the saddle. Memory foam reduces pressure by as much as 50%.
Some riders prefer a “custom fit” seat with just leather or cotton covers and no cushioning because they stay cooler, a plus for long rides.
Saddle pads are put on top of the saddle for extra cushioning. But experts say that no padding can correct any saddle that’s not fit to your body.
Synthetic covers are the most popular among the majority of riders because they’re lightweight and don’t take time to mold to your weight and shape. Cotton covers require a short break-in period. They’re comfortable to use as they stretch and move while you ride. Leather saddles require the longest break-in period, around 200 miles, and highest maintenance.
A road bike seat with back support or rest that has the right width and height is necessary for bike riders who:
The best way to know whether you need a wide, extra wide, or oversized saddle is to measure the distance between your sit bones. Then add between zero to four centimeters, depending on your regular biking posture or sitting position (plus 4cm for upright; plus 3cm for slightly bent forward; plus 2cm for moderate; plus 1cm for stretched; and 0 for triathlon).
The sit bone distance among males averages 100 to 140 millimeters. Among women, it averages 110 to 150 millimeters. Trivia: The distance between your sit bones is equal to the width of your wrist.
Your bicycle seat should be appropriate to your age and gender.
The recommended seat width for riders aged 60 and above is from 8 to 12 inches. They must be comfort saddles with extra gel padding to ensure ease when biking. Horseshoe-shaped or nose-less saddles, as well as seats with a deep trench in the middle, are good for senior riders.
When it comes to gender, women would usually need a saddle with a wider rear to support their pelvis. The distance between the women’s sit bones is normally wider than those of men. Moreover, a “cutout” or a hole in the center of the seat is preferred by some female riders so there can be less pressure on the soft tissue of their external genitalia. The same thing goes for men: cutouts and grooves always reduce pressure when riding.
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Unlike the Sunlite Cloud-9 saddle mentioned earlier, this 3.2-pound bike seat features a universal, cruiser design that can be installed on any standard seat post.
It also differs from the second item in this list because it is a wider saddle, 10.5 inches across, with no central groove. Its dual-density gel foam and chrome spring coils can absorb the shock and impact from uneven trails. The materials of the bike seat are well-constructed; so no need to think about getting a duplicate soon because of wear and tear.
The Sunlite Cloud-9 also comes with a weatherproof Lycra cover. Plus, with its durable seating, you can go ahead with your errands without worrying much about the weather.
The Prologo Scratch 2 is a round-shaped seat that makes use of Ergo Shape Design technology. The center of the saddle is designed in a way to give more space to the cyclist’s legs, resulting in better pedaling and core stability. It causes less friction between the saddle and the rider’s quadriceps.
Meanwhile, you’ll find a dent at the rear of the seat that follows the shape of your lower back. Overall, the saddle shape aids in the natural rotation of the pelvis. It measures 11 inches by 5.2 inches (also available in 5.6 inches) and weighs 0.6 pounds.
Prologo’s Scratch 2, which comes in black or white, has “active density” light foam padding and a microfiber cover.
The saddle’s rails are made of Tirox light-alloy steel that is traction and torsion-resistant. Scratch 2 also features a monocoque carbon fiber base.
This Giddy Up! saddle is made of memory foam and covered with high-quality, waterproof synthetic leather. It also has a dual shock-absorbing ball for suspension, further easing the pressure on the rider when going through rough roads.
Giddy Up! ensures riders’ safety by including protective measures in the saddle itself. The bike seat comes with a battery-operated LED tail light, making it safer for you to navigate your way through roads at night. In addition to this, Giddy Up! has a reflective band for you to wear.
The nearly two-pound saddle with universal fit measures 11 inches x 8.3 inches by 4.3 inches. And as an extra perk, Giddy Up! is waterproof, so you shouldn’t have to worry about any water damage during your rides.
This saddle is Planet Bike’s classic design, which has foam cushioning and a central channel or recess with cutout. It also has a weather-resistant Lycra cover with abrasion-resistant side material.
Planet Bike’s seat for men offers protection against excessive sweating, sore muscles, and discomfort. Its SuperSoft padding allows for breathability and optimum airflow.
The seat has steel rails and a chrome coil that can ease the impact of bumpy roads on your tailbone and lower back. Because of its sporty and ergonomic design, you can also place it over your exercise bike for maximum comfort. Its flexible base serves as an extra measure against chafing.
Planet Bike’s bicycle saddle weighs 0.8 pounds and measures 9.8 x 6.2 inches.
The Sunlite Cloud-9 saddle uses memory foam cushioning with a “soft touch” black vinyl cover. It features a vented cutout that allows better airflow. With Cloud-9’s ergonomic design, it aims to evenly distribute your weight across the saddle so you can have comfortable and worry-free bike rides.
Meanwhile, its steel rails and elastomer suspension absorb shock from rough road surfaces. Their technology lets you bike confidently in bumpy pavements.
Sunlite refers to this two-pound saddle as “sofa-sized” because it is its largest bike seat at 11.5 inches (width) by 12.5 inches (length). The Sunlite Cloud-9 saddle approximately weighs 3.8 pounds. With its custom fit, the Sunlite saddle offers its riders reduced pressure and fatigue, even in long travels.
The Serfas FS-243 features Infinite Comfort System technology, which combines layers of closed-cell foam, microfiber, and gel. Its Lycra cover stretches like a second skin, producing less friction between the rider and the seat.
It also features a deep-groove design, which reduces pressure on the neurovascular or soft tissues. The halves rotate independently with the rider, resulting in less friction. Meanwhile, the base of the saddle is made of a flexible, rubber-like material, which is friendly to your sit bones.
The FS-243 also has rear spring suspension and steel rails. It’s 7 inches wide, 10.8 inches long, and weighs 1.8 pounds. The FS-243 is designed to reduce pressure using its two-step system, ensuring both comfort and protection for its riders.
We consider this the best road bike saddle for long rides because:
First, position the bike on a level surface. Then, bring out other tools such as a wrench and yardstick.
Place the yardstick on top of the seat to ensure that it is level or angle is neutral (nose isn’t tilted downward or upward).
Use the wrench to remove the bolts from the old seat. Then, take the new seat, and align its rails on the bike frame. Insert the bolts before adjusting the seat based on the height and angle appropriate to your riding position.
Make sure that the seat is centered on its rails over the seatpost. Finally, torque the bolts to secure the seat to the main frame.
First, mount your bike. Then, put your heels on the pedals and rotate them backward. Once one of your legs reaches the six o’clock position, check if that entire leg is completely straight and that your hips don’t rock left and right to reach the pedal. If you lose contact with the pedal, then the saddle is too high. But if your knee is still bent, then the saddle is too low.
You can apply strong, consistent pressure on your pedals through every stroke when your saddle is angled correctly. You make adjustments by using the saddle clamp on the seat post or by loosening the bolts under the saddle.
You should ideally aim for a flat saddle or make it parallel to flat ground. Pointing the nose upward can cause pain in the genital area, lower back, and neck. Meanwhile, a tilted down nose may cause soreness in the knees, forearms, and wrists.