Every cyclist knows that every single part of a bicycle deserves special attention and that a good-quality, well-chosen bicycle seat is vital for a comfortable ride. The seat can make a huge difference in how you enjoy your bike trip. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a new seat, you are facing quite a challenge. If you haven’t been through this before, aren’t a pro, or are a new cyclist, you may find it difficult to decide which bike saddle is a good choice and which one to buy.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Bike Saddle
Which bike saddle will be the most comfortable for you will only depend on you. But there are some things to ask yourself which can help you narrow down your options and help you find the perfect one for yourself. This is important because high-quality comfortable cycling saddles mean riding without pain and without saddle sores. Not only can these things negatively impact your experience, but can also affect your performance and even your wellbeing.
1. The Cushioning and the Shape
Thinking about the type of riding you do is one way to determine which type of seat you should be looking at. There are five main types of riding: recreational cycling, road cycling, mountain biking, bike touring and bike commuting. In essence, once you know how you ride you can decide on a bike seat based on the padding inside the bicycle saddle.
For road bikes, mountain bikes and touring bikes, you should get one with minimal cushioning, because they are the best choice when you need the best power transfer while pedalling. They are also designed for minimal chafing while you pedal, are generally narrower and longer.
For bikes for cruising or for recreational cycling, you should get one with more plush padding and optionally springs, which will absorb the bumps on the road during your ride. Generally, these types of bike seats are wide and often they come with a short nose.
There are also bike saddles that come without any padding, and while they are uncomfortable for some riders, others consider them more comfortable. Furthermore, you can also get a saddle pad that can provide you with additional cushioning.
There are two types of padding: gel and foam. Gel offers more comfort, which is why most riders prefer it. However, it gets compacted faster than foam, which springs back to shape. Furthermore, some foam seats are firmer than others, which means that there isn’t just one choice.
2. The Cover
Different cycling saddles are made with different materials which not only affect the quality and the cost of the seat but also things like how long it will take to break them in, the weight, the flex, the weather resistance, etc. Generally, the covers of the seats for bikes are made from synthetic materials, leather or cotton. The most popular choice amongst most riders are synthetic materials because they are lightweight, don’t require a break-in time and are very low maintenance.
3. The Size
Once you know the type of seat you are looking for choosing one is straightforward. However, aside from the cover material and the padding inside the seat, the comfort of your seat will be determined also by the size. This will determine how well it will support your sit bones. Cycling seats come in different widths, and finding the right one is also a crucial step since we all have different body types. And to determine the width of the cycle seat, you need to know the distance between your seat bones.
For Maximum Comfort
Once you’ve found the saddle you want to buy, you have to put it in the right position for maximum comfort and performance. First of all, you need to make sure that the nose of the saddle isn’t pointing too far up or down. For most riders, the best position of the saddle is horizontal. Of course, you can make some adjustments and it doesn’t have to be completely parallel to the ground, but don’t go too far up or down.
Furthermore, the seat should be positioned in a way that when you set the pedals in the horizontal position, the knee should be aligned over your forefoot, and if it’s too far back or too far forward you should position the seat. Because if the seat is too far back or forward it may cause you problems with your arms, your neck and your lower back.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid discomfort entirely. Of course, choosing the right high-quality cycling saddle suitable for your style of riding as well as positioning it the proper way is vital for your comfort while riding. Nevertheless, when you are on your bike for a long time some discomfort can occur even with the perfect saddle. However, there are some things you can try to do to avoid discomfort as much as possible, like standing up slightly on your pedals over bumps, as well as standing up briefly every 10 minutes or so.