The majority of cycling articles focusing on bike fit don’t fully address saddle fitting. Fitting a road bike saddle works best when you start with the right size bike, or at a minimum, a bicycle that is close enough to your correct size to be comfortable and efficient. Finding the best road bike saddle should focus primarily on the contact points between the cyclist and the saddle assuming that your bike fits you.
Don’t Compromise When Searching For Your Best Road Bike Saddle
Bicycles are symmetrical. The human body is not. A saddle that is not right for your body and butt can compromise your position on the bike as well as your comfort. One saddle may be great for one rider while being the worst option for the next. A general rule of thumb for saddles is that it fits when it disappears, meaning that you’ve forgotten all about your saddle and don’t even know it’s there.The only thing on your mind is the ride and the scenery.
An exception to this general rule of thumb is if you have been in the saddle all day for miles and miles. At this point, you’ll likely take note of your saddle. The thing is, if it didn’t fit, you wouldn’t have ridden this far.
The Finger Test
Changing a saddle can take up to 15 minutes per seat when choosing and testing saddles. This means that many cyclists skip the hassle and make a seat choice by pressing a finger into it, testing it’s firmness or lack of softness.
Another option widely employed is simply choosing a saddle based on the one that is most advertised. This might actually work for the majority of cyclists, as most high-end saddles are tested and proven to be comfortable for the wide majority of riders. This is more down to chance however. You get what you pay for, both in time spent deciding and money.
Gender or Not
Keep an open mind as you search for the best road bike saddle. Most bike shops start you out by indicating saddles that are specifically designed for men and women with most women’s saddles being wider towards the rear. But some men find that women specific saddles are actually really comfortable and ideal for them. At the same time, some women realize that a men’s saddle is the better choice for themselves also. Gender specific is worth taking a look at, but choose the saddle that’s the most comfortable for you.
A popular design for bike saddles includes a cutout in the center of the saddle to relieve unwanted pressure in sensitive areas. A good-fitting saddle may not need a cut out if the support is in the ideal area for you. It varies from person to person but in general, male or female, it means not too much pressure in the front or in the center of the saddle. A cutout design may prove the most comfortable but at the same time, don’t discount saddles without a cutout before trying them first. You might be surprised as to which feels best.
Saddle width has been a source of controversy for many years. A comprehensive study sums saddle width up like this:”Stresses within the perineum are reduced when saddles are sufficiently wide to support both ischial tuberosities”. (Your sit bones). You should find a saddle that is wide enough for your sit bones by measuring them and choosing the right width.
Back in the Saddle
With all that information fresh in your head, here are a few options for your best road bike saddle starting off with narrow and ranging toward wide.
This full carbon model is at the top of the list. It’s designed for cyclists looking for the lightest weight possible. It sports a completely free central channel, eagle-beak nose and raised design that gives these models an aerodynamic touch. They are suited for smaller sized people with narrow pelvises.
A good saddle for racing, and cycling in your free time. It’s a composite model with minimal padding. It relies on foamed elastomer padding where the ischial tuberosities (sit bones) and rear rest. The minimal padding also makes it particularly suited for thinner cyclists with narrow pelvises.
The Phenom Expert is designed with ‘adaptive edge’ construction. It allows the outer edge to conform to your body for a custom fit. Lightweight, stiff and efficient, this saddle features hollow titanium rails and the perfect amount of padding for those long grinds in the mountains.