There is no part of your bike where the individual fit is as important as the bike saddle. Everyone is different, of course, and that doesn't just apply to personality. Every body also has its own characteristics, and a bicycle saddle must fit these perfectly, otherwise it quickly becomes uncomfortable on the road.
If your saddle ISN'T the right one for you....
... does it pinch or pinch
... does it make you feel asleep or numb
... does your backside hurt
... does it put too much pressure on your tailbone or pubic bone
... does your back possibly hurt
... are you contorting yourself to compensate for the uncomfortable sitting posture
... at worst, it delivers sore spots
... you don't actually feel like getting on your bike
If any of this applies to you and your bike saddle, you should definitely do something about it!
A bike saddle that fits you well
... feels good
... can be ridden comfortably on shorter trips without special bike shorts
... does not pinch, pinch or chafe
... allows (days of) long pedaling without uncomfortable friction
... feels like it's not actually there
Bike saddles are swapped out pretty quickly for more comfort
Don't feel completely comfortable when you're on your bike? Fortunately, there's a very simple solution: nothing on a bike can be replaced as quickly as the saddle.
And how do I find a comfortable bike saddle?
You have three options for finding a seat that fits you:
- Just buy any saddle, or rather, a bike with any saddle. Every bike comes with a saddle, you can give that a chance first and test it for a while. If you're lucky, it'll fit you well. If not, you should change it.
- Find out what the optimal saddle for you should look like by bike fitting . You can either have this done professionally or easily do it yourself with our little guide below .
- Try before you buy - test your way through all the bike saddles you can find. Take all your friends' and colleagues' bikes for a spin and compare the saddles. Or order several saddles and do the comparison test that way and decide on the best of them at your leisure.
The quick way to answer:
There are many unisex bicycle saddles today that are suitable for both men and women, but many models remain women's saddles or men's saddles. Women tend to have a wider pelvis, the ischial tuberosities are further apart, and the pubic arch is lower.
Women's saddles are therefore slightly wider and the "nose" is lower than the rear. In addition, many women's saddles have relief openings designed to protect delicate tissue. Men's bicycle saddles are narrower and longer than most women's saddles.
It may be that a woman is perfectly comfortable on a women's bicycle saddle . It may also be that a men's saddle fits men perfectly may, but it doesn't have to! Manufacturers like SQLab have been researching what the perfect saddle for a bike should look like for years. In doing so, studies have shown that it's not so much the gender-specific design that matters, but that the width of the saddle is crucial to riding comfort, and the lowered "nose" is equally comfortable for all bikers.
Conclusion: Whether you're a man or a woman, buy a bike saddle that fits the spacing of your ischial tuberosities. See below for instructions on how to do this.
Saddles for children's bikes
Children's bikes come with colorful unisex saddles that most kids love to ride on. But if your kid keeps complaining about his saddle, you should take it seriously. Maybe he'll feel more comfortable on a different seat. It would be a shame if your offspring gradually lost the fun of riding a bike just because of an unsuitable saddle, wouldn't it?
Do I need to buy a bike saddle specifically for my mountain bike, road bike or touring bike?
Of course, there are bike saddles for every type of bike, so specific saddles for mountain bikes, road bikes and so on. And of course manufacturers have thought of something when designing their bike seats. But if you ride a mountain bike and a wide city bike saddle feels best, then by all means, put that saddle on your bike! If you can pedal for hours on a narrow road bike saddle on a touring bike without pain, then you should. It doesn't matter what a bike saddle is actually built for, what matters is that you like it!
Race bike saddles
You pedal for hours on end. Fast. Uniformly. If you don't want your thighs to look more like mincemeat after an extensive training session, you need a saddle that won't chafe. That's why road bike saddles are narrow. As always when it comes to road bikes, the main consideration here is weight.
Race bike saddles are
- but usually longer
- suitable for the far forward leaning seating position.
- not flexible or sprung
- fi'zi:k and SQLab supply our road bike saddles
Especially on a trekking bike it is especially important that the saddle fits you perfectly, after all you want to enjoy the ride and at best for several days. Therefore, the pressure on a touring saddle must be optimally distributed. It should also allow for different seating positions. Then you can ride more or less upright on the road and thus extend your riding time by varying the seat. Many touring saddles have extra cushioning.
Here's another tip: If you're planning a long bike ride, make sure you try your saddle out extensively beforehand. There is nothing more annoying than having to turn back because the saddle was the wrong one!
Trekking saddles are
- suitable for hours of enjoyable pedalling.
- padded, flexible and sprung
- suitable for an upright to moderate-sporty sitting position.
- allow for changing seating positions.
- here at BMO, you can find trekking saddles from SQLab, Brooks or Selle Royal
Saddle for Gravel Bikes
Saddles for gravel bikes are somewhere in the middle between road bike saddles and trekking saddles. Depending on your needs, they allow for fast riding or leisurely bike-packing. You can ride a touring saddle or a road bike saddle on the Gravel, just as you like.
Mountain bike saddle
Depending on how you ride, on a mountain bike it just doesn't matter that your saddle fits you perfectly. Slopestylers, freeriders, trail bikers, etc. are on the pedals anyway when the going gets hot. Here, it's much more important that a dropper post you get the saddle out of the way in time. That said, of course, it can't hurt to have a bike saddle that fits you well. For marathon bikers or cross country riders, it's a different story altogether. The more time you spend actually sitting, the more accurate you should take your saddle fitting.
Mountain bike saddles are
- offer good support
- have moderate cushioning
- for a stretched riding posture, there are narrow MTB saddles.
- for an upright riding posture, there are wider MTB saddles.
- we have MTB saddles from Fabric, Fi'zi:k or SQLab
City bike saddles
Most city bikes have saddles that are completely designed for comfort. They are wide and softly padded. Many have additional suspension built in. You can also fit a classic leather saddle to a city bike or a Hollendrad, especially on a retro bike or an urban bike these saddles are the absolute eye-catcher!
City bike saddles are
Saddles for e-bikes
The same rules apply to e-bikes as to other bikes. You don need a special e-bike saddle. There are e-touring bikes, e-city bikes, e-race bikes or e-MTBs. Pick a saddle to match the division of your e-bike.
Width, length, steps, holes - a bike saddle can take many forms
There's a saddle to fit every butt, you may just have to do some searching for it. To help you know what to look for, here's a list of the features that define saddles
A bicycle saddle for an upright riding position tends to be wide, because more weight rests on the buttocks in an upright seat. In an elongated riding position, a lot of weight is carried by the hands, and the pelvis is also tilted further forward. A narrower bicycle saddle is better suited to this riding position. A longer saddle nose allows you to slide a little forward and thus to vary your riding position. Whether a longer or a shorter saddle is more comfortable for you is difficult to predict, only trying it out helps!
- Bicycle saddles with relief openings, hollows, recesses.
Many saddles have hollows or cutouts that are designed to relieve pressure on the tissues. If you want to ride one of these saddles, you should do some extensive test rides. While some bikers never want to give up their saddle with a relief opening, others find this design extremely uncomfortable. A recess in the saddle can lead to an unpleasant increase in pressure on the remaining surface. Since the load has to be distributed over a smaller area, problems in the seat area can be exacerbated.
Manufacturers that make ergonomic bike saddles now offer models with the nose much lower than the rear end. Sometimes there is even a proper step visible between the rear and the front. This takes a lot of pressure off the pubic bone area and is comfortable to ride for both men and women. By the way, if you tilt the saddle a bit forward, it has the same effect, at least as far as pressure distribution is concerned. However, this way you might slide forward on the tilted saddle and thus the pressure ends up again in places where it doesn't belong.
A saddle should normally be mounted so that it is horizontal to the ground. But if this distributes the pressure awkwardly, the saddle can be tilted slightly. But really slightly, because if you slide forward or backward when the tilt is too steep, you'll be uncomfortable again.
Here, it's not the weight of the saddle that matters, but your weight. Bicycle saddles are slightly flexible, so they cushion uneven ground. This flex depends on the weight on the saddle, depending on the model. If you are too light, the material will not react. If you're too heavy, you're constantly pushing through the saddle. In the specifications of the saddles here in the online shop you will find a note if a saddle is meant for a certain weight class
Sporty or comfort?
Many manufacturers divide their saddles into different "difficulty levels". There are then divisions such as athletic, sporty, racing, relaxed or comfort. Generally, you can assume a simple rule of thumb: the sportier a saddle is, the less emphasis is placed on comfort. This means that a saddle for MTB racers or pro racing bikes won't have much padding or suspension, while a comfort saddle for a city bike or touring bike will be much more comfortable.
Bike fitting - find the perfect fit
You need nothing more for your personal saddle fitting than a piece of corrugated cardboard, a pencil, a ruler and a sturdy chair. Your pants shouldn't be too thick or they'll distort the results.
- Lay the cardboard on the chair and sit on it. Now all you have to do is jerk your pelvis back and forth a bit so that the two ischial bones leave an imprint in the cardboard.
- Now you can mark the center of the two impressions with the pencil.
- Measure the distance between the marked points with the ruler, now you know the distance of your ischial tuberosities.
- Now take a close look at your seat position . This works best if you're passing a storefront window. The steeper you sit, the narrower your saddle should be.
- Your nose is almost stuck to the stem? Find a saddle the width you just measured.
- You sit so upright that your spine is (almost) vertical? Then add 4 cm to the measured length.
- Your sitting position is somewhere in between? Depending on how low you sit, add 1 to 3 cm to the distance between your ischial tuberosities, and you'll know what width saddle to buy.
The best material for bike saddles
Plastic is durable, can be molded into any shape, it's lightweight and requires little maintenance. It is also weatherproof, making it an ideal material for a saddle. There are bicycle saddles with covers made of plastic, and the pads inside are also made of synthetic foam.
Leather-core saddles are classics; they're durable and have plenty of style. However, they do need some attention. A new leather saddle needs to be broken in, that way it will adjust to your body and then be comfortable to ride. Rain and wetness, on the other hand, usually don't like leather saddles; a protective cover and good leather care will prolong their life.
There are also many bicycle saddles with a cover made of leather.
Many saddles score points for having a soft gel pad. This can make the saddle very comfortable. Some bikers, however, find the somewhat "spongy" feel that the flexible gel pad delivers takes some getting used to.
Carbon, titanium, aluminum, steel
Every saddle has a substructure, it's the only way to keep it in shape. For lightweight road bike saddles, the substructure is made of carbon or aluminum. Rugged MTB saddles use heavier but durable titanium or steel.
By the way, red, blue, beige or green - the color of your saddle doesn't really matter. At best, you're so comfortable on your bike that the saddle is very rarely seen anyway, because you're mostly sitting on it. But of course, you can buy bike saddles in all sorts of colors and designs to make your bike a total work of art that catches the eye.
But surely a soft saddle on a bike is comfortable, right?
A soft saddle is no guarantee of a comfortable seat! The thick padding causes many cyclists to slide in all sorts of directions, this may distribute the pressure awkwardly and the saddle will pinch and hurt despite the supposedly comfortable cushion.
The saddle alone does not make a seat comfortable
You need some accessories for your bike's saddle, otherwise it won't work!
The saddle is held in place by a seatpost so the position of your bike saddle is flexible in height. With a curved seatpost, you can shift your saddle a few inches towards the rear wheel, making a huge difference to the comfort of your seat. You can also change the angle of the saddle.
Mountain bikes in particular often use vario posts or dropper posts which are seat posts that can be conveniently adjusted in height. Often this works simply by pushing a button directly from the handlebars.
A saddle clamp fixes the seatpost to the bike. You can buy seat clamps in many different colours, they are available tool-free with a quick release or with a screw, in which case you need a suitable Torx, Allen or hexagon key. You can find them at Bicycle Tools. Here in the shop you can buy saddle clamps in different inner diameters, because they have to fit your seat post.
Should it just pinch and squeeze on any saddle, you have another option to increase your comfort. Many biking shorts have a seat pad. This padding can be made of foam, and high-quality pants even have a soft gel insert that minimizes friction. So you improve your fit tremendously. There are also special creams that protect the skin.
By the way
If your new saddle feels strange at first, give yourself a few days to get used to it. Your body reacts to unfamiliar pressure points with resistance at first, but gets used to it after a while. However, if you have permanent problems, a new saddle for your bike is due.