Bike Saddle Types & Reviews

Bike Saddles are Personal

Road cycling is a deeply subjective pastime, but if there’s a single component that few people agree on it’s saddles.


The key reason is that everyone is physiologically different – what works for one person is very unlikely to work for another. Differences in the measurements of the sit bones ( Tuber ischiadicum) there are the most common reason why people will get on with one saddle or another, but there are a few other key reasons too:

Conditioning

Stronger, faster riders are more likely to get on with flatter and more rigid saddles compared to commuters and leisure riders.

Injuries

Hip or back injuries can have a big influence on what is more comfortable for you – especially over distance.

Wrong Shape

The Gutenberg editor uses blocks to create all types of content, replacing a half-dozen ways of customizing WordPress and aligning with open web initiatives.

Wrong Use

There are also saddles for specific purposes. The most obvious of these is saddles designed for trail mountain biking vs performance road cycling – but even within those definitions, there’s a wide variety.

giant-d-fuse-seatpost

How to Measure For Your Bike Saddle


There’s two options for this:

At Home / DIY

The tried and tested method for home bum measurement is a piece of cardboard – simply sit on it and you’ve got your measurements. Measure the tip to tip of your and you can use these dimensions to help you find the right saddle. You can also take the piece of cardboard into your local bike shop if you feel like brightening someone’s day.

There’s also a few other methods out there, including this ingenious playdoh technique we found whilst trawling the internet.

There are a few brands that provide fit and measurement guidance online. F’izik is a notable mention with their Body Concept (Snake, Chameleon and Bull based on flexibility and hip movement) and Shimano’s Pro brand also have a similar saddle picker.

In Store

Your local bike shop will also be able to help you with measurement. Some brands including Specialized and Shimano’s Pro sub-brand have specific machines and tools to help you get the most accurate measurement.

Bike & Saddle –  Fit & Measurement


The key reason is that everyone is physiologically different – what works for one person is very unlikely to work for another. Differences in the measurements of the sit bones ( Tuber ischiadicum) there are the most common reason why people will get on with one saddle or another, but there are a few other key reasons too:

If you do anything more strenuous than commuting and you’re changing the saddle for the first time, we’d recommend that you go a local bike shop that can help you get fit and setup. Depending on the brand and materials used, a new saddle may make quite a difference to your riding and performance and a bike fit will help maximise this.

There’s a couple of things to keep in mind when buying a new saddle:

Saddle Height

Saddle height or seatpost height is one of the most critical things to get right on your bike setup. Hitting the sweetspot will give you the most power output, provide the most comfort and avoid knee and hip injuries.

The traditional method – using heel to pedal at six o clock with leg straight – is not a bad baseline, but ignores a bunch of other factors. The can include crank length, leg strength and pedalling style. Most bike shops will help you measure your inseam and cleat position (if you use clip ins) to get a much better fit. Many also have specific sizing rigs – well worth it if you’re doing more than a commute.

Saddle Tilt

The tried and tested method for home bum measurement is a piece of cardboard – simply sit on it and you’ve got your measurements. Measure the tip to tip of your and you can use these dimensions to help you find the right saddle. You can also take the piece of cardboard into your local bike shop if you feel like brightening someone’s day.

Nearly all saddles will allow for a degree of tilt – moving the nose and rear of the saddle up and down.

For most people, a “neutral” tilt – that is the saddle being horizontal fore to aft – is going to provide the best mix of comfort and performance. Of course that isn’t true for everyone – many of our local riders prefer a slight tilt to the nose to reduce back pressure and provide more resistance for hard efforts.

Again, unless you’re certain on your preferences a good bike fit will help you get the most out of this.

There’s a great in depth video on the FastFitnessTips channel if you really want the ins and outs.

Saddle Fore/Aft Positioning

All saddles will be able to be slide back or forward in the seat clamp – most saddles will come with markings on the rails showing the degree of fore and aft adjustment.

The traditional and widely accepted view of how to get this setup for you is the Knee Over Pedal Spindle (KOPS) method. With the cranks horizontal, use a plumb line or spirit level to measure from the knee cap down – it should go straight through the spindle. If not, you know if you need to adjust fore or aft.

However, KOPS doesn’t account for many things including conditioning, injuries, pedalling style or torso size and shape. Another one for your friendly bike fitter if you’re doing more than moderate time on your bike.

Bike Saddle Parts


All saddles can be broken down into three key parts:

Saddle Shell

This is the structural part, or the “chassis” of the saddle. This provides the shape and support of the overall saddle. This can be made from a range of materials including plastics, nylons and other composites, carbon fibre and leather.

Saddle Rails

The rails help to provide structure to the saddle and connect the saddle to the seatpost. Rails can be made any mixture of metals and alloys or carbon fibre on performance saddles.

Saddle Cover

The cover is the layer on top of the saddle – this provides no functional quality but to provide extra comfort to the rider. Modern finishes are often synthetic and can include either foam or gel padding, although a riders comfort level is generally determined by the overall shape rather than the finish. Too much padding is generally a bad thing for most riders as it can prevent proper support. Investing in a good pair of bibs also helps with comfort!

Generally, traditional leather saddles (like those made by Brooks) will have no cover – the shape will conform to the rider over time. There are also carbon fibre saddles for weight weenies, hill climbers and sadists (such as those made by Scmolke) that will have no cover whatsoever.

The price of a saddle generally indexes pretty well to the brand and exoticness of the material used. Carbon shell and carbon rails? Expect to pay far more.

Saddle Shape


There are a huge amount of variety even within these definitions, but broadly there are two main shape types catering for different uses:

Racing / Performance

These saddles will tend be fairly narrow and slightly widening at the back – although saddles designed for TT and Tri tend to be fairly short. These designs have minimal padding to promote the best performance and power transfer.

Comfort & Cruiser

Tend to have shorter noses and are wide with heavy padding or cushioning. Designed for recreation riding.

Latest Saddle Reviews