If you’re considering a new bike seat (more properly known as a saddle), it’s likely because the one you’re currently riding on is uncomfortable. Comfort is a common issue, especially among new cyclists, and one solution is to get a new saddle that’s better suited to the type of riding you do and your body mechanics.
Choosing a new seat can be a daunting task, though. There are lots of options and comfort is often very subjective, which means the saddle that works for your friend won’t necessarily work for you. This article will help you understand how things like bike seat materials, cushioning, design and size, as well as the type of riding you do, can influence your choice of bike seat. If you’re headed to a bike shop, see if you can test ride a seat to check the comfort. Many stores, even if they don’t have the exact one you want to test, will have something comparable that you can try. While you’re riding, vary your position, ride quickly and more slowly and hit some bumps.
Consider the Type of Riding You Do
Bike seats are frequently placed into one of these five categories:
Recreational cycling: If you sit upright while pedaling a cruiser, urban or commuter bike and prefer short rides, try a saddle designed for recreational cycling. The saddles are often wide with plush padding and/or springs, and sometimes sport a short nose.
Road cycling: Are you racing or clocking significant road miles? Road cycling saddles tend to be long and narrow and have minimal padding for the best power transfer while pedaling.
Mountain biking: On mountain trails, you alternately stand up on the pedals, perch way back (sometimes just hovering over or even off your saddle) or crouch down in a tucked position. Because of these varied positions, you’ll want a mountain-specific saddle with padding for your sit bones, a durable cover and a streamlined shape that will aid your movement.
Bike touring: For long-distance riding, you’ll want a saddle that falls between a road and mountain saddle. Saddles for bike touring typically provide cushioning for your sit bones and a fairly long, narrow nose.
Bike commuting: A lot like saddles for road cycling and bike touring, saddles that are good for commuting have some padding, but generally not too much. Bike commuters who ride rain or shine may want to consider the weather resistance of the cover materials.