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 to accommodate discomfort.
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 huge variation 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, it’s well worth a read before you make your purchase.
What causes saddle discomfort?
Discomfort in the saddle varies between riders. But it often arises from a rider settling themselves down on a saddle that is not the correct width.
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.
Our pick of the best bike saddles
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Specialized Power Saddle
Read more: Specialized S-Works Power Saddle review
Designed to be wide and short, the Power saddle from Specialized will suit a rider who chooses to adopt an aggressive position in the drops. The short length means it’s also ideal for people who tend to stay in one position on the bike. It’s got minimal padding, and comfort is provided by the pressure relief channel.
Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Open saddle
A weight weenies dream at 114g, this saddle will suit a rider who wants a flat, narrow saddle which is comfortable even on longer rides.
Fizik Arione Saddle
Read more: Fizik Arione Saddle review
Fizik are famous for catogorising 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
Read more: Fabric Scoop bike saddle review
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 whilst the Shallow versions suit more endurance orientated riders and the Radius is ideal for those in an upright position.
Pro Stealth saddle
Read more: 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.
Selle Italia SLR Tekno Saddle
Read more: Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow Saddle
Selle Italia claim that this is the ‘dream saddle of any athlete’ – quite a confident claim! It’s an incredibly light option, and the cut out channel runs almost the entire length of the saddle – making it a good option for those who are often in the drops.
Bontrager Montrose Elite saddle
Read more: Bontrager Montrose Elite saddle review
A multi purpose saddle that’s suited to everything from racing to touring or mountain biking, this is a fairly wide option with a pressure relief channel and long rails to allow for plenty of adjustment.
Prologo Scratch 2 PAS Tirox saddle
Read more: Prologo Scratch 2 PAS Tirox saddle review
We rated this saddle as a great option for those planning long, endurance miles. Multi-density foam provides comfort, whilst a pressure relief channel reduces compression. A slight drop at the nose felt great in the drops for our tester, but won’t suit everyone.