The most common discomfort riders experience is saddle pain or saddle sore. This is why it’s important to get a bike seat that fits you perfectly. Just like shoes, a bicycle seat is a personal-fit item that is best tried on for size. So, here are some helpful tips on how to choose bicycle saddle for you to have a more comfortable and enjoyable ride.
There are different saddle shapes available in the market today that suit many body types. Female sit bones are generally wider than those of males. So female-specific bike seats are wider. Putting gender aside, a saddle that is too wide will rub and chafe your skin, while one that is too narrow will not be able to give you enough support. Also, the profile of saddles varies: some are flatter with squarish sides when viewed from the front, while other have a steady curve and are more round. It is best to measure the width of your sit bone for you to know the saddle width that is most suitable for the natural contour of your buttocks.
SHELL AND CUTOUT DESIGN
The hard and structural shell is made from molded plastic which is usually nylon. The shell determines how the saddle flexes and gives under a cyclist’s weight. If you want a lighter type of saddle, ask if carbon fiber is mixed with the plastic. The carbon fiber also makes the seat a bit more flexible. If you are really going for speed, ask for a sports model that has an all-carbon shell. Many shells have grooves or slots through the saddle’s nose which provide more comfort. Bike seats with such holes work best for around 80% of riders by moving the strain away from the soft tissue and toward the sit bones.
This is what gives a bike seat its squish. The most commonly used padding materials are urethane foam with polymer gels. These gels have a rubbery and flesh-like consistency that can provide a nice feel to many. Different padding materials are are sometimes used on a single saddle to add comfort for those who ride at high-pressure areas. Take note that more padding does not automatically mean more comfort. Some padding is necessary to help distribute the pressure point over a bigger area. But when your padding is overly thick, it can be deformed and move to places where you do not want pressure, like between your sit bones. If you prefer not to have any padding, there are fly weight saddles without padding.
Many years ago almost all bike seats were made from inexpensive, heavy, and chrome-plated carbon steel. When titanium was introduced, things lightened up. It is the most preferred material for most high-end bicycle seats. Chro-moly which is a strong and light steel (often in hollow tubular form) is also common. Carbon fiber is also found in the rails of some expensive seats, where it’s usually wrapped in aluminum to make it more sturdy. A few bike manufacturers use a beam system or proprietary monorail with a dedicated seat.
The smooth outer skin of saddle can be leather, synthetic leather, or a variety of plastics and fabrics. Some are perforated with little holes to add bit of friction. These simple features keep you from sliding around and off your seat. Some off-road bike seats have reinforced corners to increase durability during a fall. Color options let you ride with style, but if you want to hide fading, black is best.
This video will give you more tips on how to choose bicycle saddle for a road bike.
Watch this video to learn how to choose bicycle saddle cover material.
Watch this video to learn how to choose bicycle saddle shape.