This Is How To Choose The Right Bicycle Saddle

It’s important to ensure you have the right saddle for your bike and buttocks.


Aspen Henriksen |

Whether you’re a weekend warrior (ahem Cape Town Cycle Tour riders that plan on training a week before the event) or a pro, it’s important to ensure you have the right saddle for your bike and buttocks. 

Related: How To Train For A Stage Race Like The Cape Epic According To A World Champion

Note that there’s a wide range of saddles for different types of cycling. A road saddle is light and flexible, whilst mountain biking saddles are stronger and more durable. The cover material on a mountain biking saddle is far hardier and better suited to the rough and tumble of mountain biking.

Each person’s ischial tuberosity, more commonly known as sit bones, are positioned slightly differently. This makes finding the perfect saddle a challenge. Nils Hansen, owner of Woodstock Cycleworks, shared his advice for choosing a new saddle. “Test, feel and alter. A saddle can be ergonomically perfect but if not set up properly, it can be incredibly uncomfortable,” he told MH.  The longtime cyclist also notes that it’s helpful going into the store knowing what didn’t work for you in the past, too. Which will save you (and the salesman) a chunk of time.

Related: The Exact Training You Should Do To Ace The Cape Town Cycle Tour

Consider This Looking For The Right Saddle:

  • Base: The base of the saddle controls the shape and spring of the saddle. Different materials are used for specific purposes. Carbon bases (the Rolls Royce option) are lighter but more fragile too. Don’t be afraid to opt for the cheaper plastic options, which are also great quality. 
  • Grooves: These are holes found in some saddles. They’re designed to reduce pressure and heat around sensitive areas, which are an important component to look for when considering your new purchase. But be weary; grooves can cause the saddle to be more flexible and it may weaken over time.
  • Padding: There’s plenty of variation in the amount of padding in saddles. The more padding there is, the more movement there is. Although more padding does allow for better weight distribution, if one has direct pain from the saddle, it can cause discomfort and chaffing over an extended period of time.

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  • Flexibility: Flexibility is key when it comes to choosing the right saddle. Inflexibility causes you to move around a bit more on the bike, and for that reason, a rounder saddle is likely to be more comfortable. However, if you are a flexible person and have solid stability on the bike, a flat saddle will allow for more movement on the road. 
  • Width: Ladies tend to use a wider saddle whilst men are generally more comfortable on a narrower saddle.  Saddles come in various widths, and by measuring your sit bones at a bike shop it makes choosing the correct width for your saddle easier. Go to a Specialized store and ask to use their assometer to measure width of your sit bones, the measurements can be used to choose the correct width of a saddle.

Is the saddle you love worn out? No need to get a new one, rather opt to get it professionally re-covered.

Related: Make Mountain Biking Easier With 4 Tips From Todd Wells, Olympic Mountain Biker

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