Best Bike Saddles

Updated September 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best bike saddles

The saddle is your primary point of contact on your bike and the most important component when it comes to comfort. Saddle designs vary based on the type of bike, and some may be designed specifically to accommodate male or female anatomy.

Casual cyclists should consider a seat with plenty of cushioning for a comfortable ride. If you have a road bike, you might opt for a model with a streamlined design that maximizes power transfer and stays comfortable over long distances. Mountain bikers use seats that allow for varied positions and have extra cushioning to absorb bumps and shocks. At the end of the day, every human body is different, and each one requires a saddle that feels most comfortable.

A bike saddle can be a significant investment, and it’s a part of your bike that you will get to know very well. To find the right bike saddle for your anatomy and riding style, and see some of our favorites, continue reading our buying guide.

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There’s no such thing as the ideal bike saddle. Everyone is shaped differently and has a different riding style.

Key considerations

Comfort

Comfort matters above all else when shopping for a bike saddle, but this is a characteristic that  comprises several aspects. Appropriate cushioning supports your sit bones (ischial tuberosity) while allowing for the right amount of power transfer to the pedals. A hollow or gap in the center of the saddle prevents pressure on your perineum (the spot between your sit bones). While there are guidelines for choosing a saddle for the type of riding you plan to do, it’s more about what feels right to you.

Saddles for men and women

Many, but not all, bike saddles are designed to accommodate the anatomical differences between men and women.

Male: Bike saddles tailored to males often have a narrower tail (the part that supports your sit bones) and may have a hollow along the nose or an opening in the center of the seat to relieve pressure in the perineal area.

Female: Bike saddles designed for females have a wider tail to accommodate wider sit bones and often have an opening in the center to relieve pressure in the perineal area.

Bike saddle types

Many bike saddles are crafted for a specific type of biking based on different cushioning and movement needs.

Comfort: These are saddles designed for commuters or casual riders who won’t be cycling for extended periods. They generally have more cushioning than other saddles.

Mountain: MTB, or mountain bike, saddles are narrower in design than comfort saddles and have less padding, though they have more padding in the tail area than road bike saddles.

Road: Though they’re designed for the longest rides, saddles for road bikes typically have a narrow, lightweight design and the least padding. Though these saddles are usually firm, even hard, many are comfortable on long rides.

Bike saddle features

Bike saddles vary in materials, which also affect your riding experience and overall comfort.

Materials

Cover: The cover of the bike saddle — the part that you come in contact with — is an important consideration. However, most manufacturers produce synthetic covers that are similar in their comfort and overall feel. Many touring bike saddles have a traditional leather cover. While leather can take some breaking in, it’s highly durable and can be the most comfortable option or long trips.

Cushioning: If there is any cushioning in the saddle, it’s usually made of foam or gel. Both are good options, but the foam is more likely to hold up over years of use due to its tendency to spring back after being compressed. Some touring and road bike saddles have no cushioning. While this may seem like a recipe for pain, these high-end saddles are often carefully molded for comfort over long rides. Beginners should consider a traditional cushioned saddle.

Hull: The hull is the main part of the saddle, the body that forms the overall shape. This part is usually made of plastic, but in high-end models it can be made of carbon fiber. Saddle shape is more important than its hull material, but this is still a factor to consider. Since this is the largest part of the saddle, it plays the biggest role in overall weight.

Rails: The saddle’s rails are the two bars that connect the saddle to the seat post. Most are made of chromoly steel, while more expensive and durable rails are made of titanium.

Bike saddle prices

Inexpensive: Bike saddles that cost $10 to $25 are generally made of less-expensive materials like plastic with gel cushioning. While they can work well for commuting or casual cycling, they aren’t usually designed for long rides and will likely become uncomfortable over time.

Mid-range: Saddles that cost $25 to $50 may be designed for a range of riding styles. Materials vary in quality, though you’ll find some carbon fiber saddles at the higher end of this range.

Expensive: Bike saddles that cost $50 to $100 are usually made of durable, lightweight, high-quality materials that are comfortable for longer rides. Leather and carbon fiber saddles are common in this range.

Tips

Finding the right bike saddle for you means considering not only the type of biking you plan to do but also your anatomy. You know your body best, and only you can tell whether a saddle is comfortable.

  • Test different saddles. See if your local bike shop has saddles you can try. This will give you an idea of what style suits you best and fits your anatomy.
  • Know your riding position. Your typical riding position should inform your decision when choosing a saddle. If you ride in a forward position, you will have different needs than someone who rides upright and rests their weight on their sit bones.
  • Know your sit bone width. Everyone is different, and just because you are male or female doesn’t mean you have sit bones of a particular width.
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Your bike saddle plays a large role in how long you can ride and the flexibility and reach of your legs.

FAQ

Q. Are carbon fiber saddles slippery?
A.
Yes, but that’s a feature, not a flaw. The slick surface allows you to move your legs freely and without chafing, but there is little chance you’ll slip off the saddle itself.

Q. Should I wear bike shorts if my saddle has cushioning?
A.
This is up to you, but in general bike shorts are a good investment for a long, comfortable ride. If you have well-padded shorts, you can opt for a saddle with less cushioning.

Q. Should I have a professional install my bike saddle?
A.
You can, but you probably have the skills (and tools) to do it yourself. The hardest part of installing a bike saddle is positioning it and angling it to fit your riding style. If you prefer riding upright, your saddle should be level or “nose up.” If you regularly ride in a forward position, the nose should be angled downward slightly. Experiment with different positions to find one that best suits you and your riding style.

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