There are many body types, and many saddle shapes available. Knowing what is the most comfortable bike saddle will depend on your body type, the type of cycling you are doing, and more. By the end of this guide you will know exactly what to look for when shopping for your next saddle.
Your saddle is the most important of the three touchpoints on your bike. If an uncomfortable saddle has ruined more than one ride then its time to make a change on your bike. The most comfortable bike saddles I’ve ever used have come from Ergon. (Check Out Ergon’s Amazon Store Here) Ergon sets the standard for comfort.
Lets first dive into what you should look for and what you should avoid when picking your saddle. From there we will talk about sizing. Finally, we will review a few alternatives to changing your saddle.
Comfortable Bike Saddles
Shopping for comfortable bike saddles is hard because what seems comfortable in the bike shop often times is not once installed on the bike. For example, gel saddles feel soft and great. If you ride longer because you are comfortable there will be more body heat and friction on the saddle. When gel saddles get warm the gel softens, which then causes your sit bones to sink deeper into the saddle causing more discomfort.
Avoiding gel at all costs is a must for most endurance cyclists. A commuter who spends less than 20 minutes at a time on the saddle will love gel saddles. Outside of commuters and those riding very short times and distances, gel saddles are something to avoid.
Something all cyclists should look for from their saddle is ventilation. A saddle that lets your soft tissue area breathe will not get as hot, and washout the heat there is less chaffing from friction. In addition to having good ventilation, the saddle material should be able to wick moisture away.
How To Size A Bike Saddle
The best way to determine your proper saddle size is through a fitting. Most bike shops will have tools and aids in the shop to help you size. For high performance race cyclists it will be worth it to pay for a professional fitting.
The rest of us can use the sit bone measuring aids provided at your bike shop. My local shop has a bench with gel in it. When you sit on the bench your sit bones leave an impression in the gel. Inside that impression is a color that indicates proper saddle width. The most interesting part of the experience when using for the first time was seeing the different saddle sizes for people that are seemingly the same size.
Men’s sit bone width averages 100-140mm while women’s sit bone width averages 110-150mm. Once you know your sit bone width you can simply add 20-40mm depending on the cycling discipline you ride to determine your overall saddle width. For example, an endurance cyclists with a 130mm sit bone width would be best suited on a saddle that is 160-170mm wide. That same cyclist racing time trials would want a TT saddle that is 150mm wide.
Once you know your measurements and cycling discipline you will know what is the most comfortable bike saddle for you. Once your comfortable, consider shifting your focus to safety. Accidents happen, and you can be prepared by reading this Best Bike Safety Accessories guide.
How To Get More Comfortable On A Bike
Once you have your saddle figured out, desiring more comfort on the bike is not uncommon. If you’ve got the perfect saddle but still want to know how to get more comfortable on a bike then you need to try cycling shorts. I was highly opposed to cycling shorts initially, but now I won’t ride without them.
The benefit of wearing cycling shorts comes from the chamois inside. The chamois is a padded area that is held perfectly in place by the shorts.info on chamois and cycling shorts. A good pair of cycling shorts ensures you have extra foam cushioning directly under your sit bones and the surrounding area. If you are worried about how they look, get a pair of mountain biking shorts with a chamois. They will be loose and baggy, rather than the skin tight LYCRA that road cycling shorts are made from.