A comfy saddle can make the difference between a dream ride and a nightmare; here we run through what to look for to find the best bike saddle for you
Having somewhere to perch your backside that is the perfect balance between support and comfort is the Holy Grail when sitting at a desk or lounging in front of the Tour de France highlights. It should be no different when you’re sitting on your bike. With a plethora of choice on offer, there will be a saddle that suits you, no matter the shape of one’s derriere.
We all have different-width ‘sit-bones’. The ischial tuberosities are the parts of your body designed to bear your seated weight. Most cases of saddle-related discomfort arise because the load is carried on the soft tissues between the sit bones rather than by the bones themselves.
Also bear in mind that the perceived width of your rear end has little to do with the actual bone structure. Good bike shops, and some brands, offer test ride programmes so you can try before you buy. Even the winning saddle in this test may not suit your shape.
Our pick of the best
What to look for
Checking saddles in a store can be a minefield but one thing not to get too obsessed about is the ‘squidge factor’. We have all done it, gone round, digging thumbs into saddles exclaiming how hard or soft they are. What you need to be aware of is that it’s the shape of the base that has more effect on the comfort — how well suited it is to your anatomy.
A channel or cut-out down the centre of the saddle is designed to relieve pressure on nerves to prevent the uncomfortable ‘numbness’ sensation that can occur when riding for a long time. If you do suffer with this, make sure any saddle you are considering includes this feature in some shape or form.
Saddle rails make up a large percentage of the weight of a saddle. While not the be-all and end-all, a lighter perch is something that you should consider and can have an effect on the ride of your bike. When you’re out of the saddle, extra mass swaying from side to side is never a good thing.