An uncomfortable bike saddle can turn cycling into a miserable experience – and can even lead to long term injuries if you find you’re sitting strangely in search of comfort.
The ‘perfect perch’ varies dramatically from one cyclist to the next – and is determined by a number of factors: anatomical differences, riding style, discipline and everything in between.
The big variance in what riders need means that there’s a huge amount of choice on offer. It’s finding the one that actually suits you which is the problem.
We’ve got a detailed guide to choosing the right saddle for you here, and it’s well worth a read before you make your purchase.
What causes saddle discomfort?
Discomfort in the saddle varies between riders, but is often the result of a saddle that is too narrow.
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 programs so you can try before you buy.
Watch: Electric bike buying guide
Our pick of the best cycling saddles
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Fizik Adaptive 00 VS EVO saddle
Read more: Fizik Adaptive 00 VS EVO saddle review
Fizik’s latest saddle incorporates an innovative new construction process and aims to create a custom, fit-to-body feel.
We found it provides excellent support and is durable, but the honeycomb design can be hard to clean dirt out of.
Specialized Romin Evo Pro Saddle
Read more: Specialized Romin Evo Pro Saddle review
Traditionally marketed as a men’s saddle meant that the Specialized Romin Evo Pro Saddle has only had chance to serve one side of the cycling population.
As great believers in ‘saddle comfort is personal’, our Tech Ed gave it a spin and it was love at first sit, gaining a 10/10.
Supacaz Ti Ignite saddle
Read More: Supacaz Ti Ignite Saddle
The Ignite is Supacaz’s take on the modern short and stubby saddle. It’s not as truncated as other ‘short’ saddles and still has a fairly classic shape and proportions.
Our tester found it one of the best in terms of all-around comfort and loved the loud colorways. But it doesn’t come cheap.
Fizik Antares R3 Saddle
Read more: Fizik Antares R3 saddle review
The lightweight Fizik Antares R3 saddle provides a great balance of comfort and freedom of movement. The use of more affordable materials mirrors the fit of high-end versions without the sky-high price tag.
It’s another saddle that technically falls into the male camp, but our female tester found it really comfortable, so don’t rule it out for either sex, especially as there are two widths available.
Specialized Power saddle
Read more: Specialized S-Words Power Saddle review
The Specialized Power was the saddle that kicked off the short and stubby trend that has since seen just about every saddle brand launch their own version.
With a wide profile and sizable pressuring releasing cutout, this best suited to those who ride in an aggressive position, or spend a lot of time in the drops. The MIMIC range, designed to alleviate soft tissue pressure some female riders experience when using saddles with large cutouts, has proved extremely popular among male riders too.
Fizik Tempo Argo R1 saddle
Read more: Fizik Tempo Argo R1 saddle
A short-nosed saddle which might feel a bit strange if the stubby genre is new to you, but we found the design incredibly comfortable.
Since you’re encouraged to sit in a static position, the set up can take a little longer but it’s well worth the effort. There’s not many saddles that we’ve sat upon that offered us so much comfort.
Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Open saddle
A weight weenie’s dream at 114g, this saddle will suit a rider who wants a flat, narrow saddle. Whatever your riding position, even aggressive on-the-nose styles, this saddle allows you to sit exactly how you wish without any obstruction or lack of comfort.
It’s not totally perfect – such lightweight has to compensate in at least something, right? – but it remains comfortable even on longer riders.
Fizik Arione Saddle
Fizik are famous for categorizing their saddles based upon flexibility and riding style. The Arione is suited to flexible riders and is quite a narrow perch.
The length provides plenty of room for a rider to move around, but the width means it won’t suit everyone.
Fabric Scoop Flat Pro Saddle
Fabric offers low weight saddles, thanks to their unique method of gluing the padding and cover to the base.
Their perches come in several styles: the Flat models are ideal for those who sit in a more aggressive position; the Shallow versions suit more endurance orientated riders; and the Radius is ideal for those in an upright position.
Pro Stealth saddle
A stubby saddle, a lot like the Specialized Power, the Pro Stealth has a wide pressure relief channel that suits riders who like to sit in an aggressive position and stay there.
It’s a unisex option that comes in two widths and will suit time trial riders as well as regular roadies. Versatile.