Cycling is an amazing sport that offers a huge range of benefits. It can help you lose weight, get fitter, build core strength, and is even excellent on the joints. It has greatly grown in popularity over the years and continues to gain a larger audience. One of the best things about cycling compared to other sports is that you can ride a bike for a long period of time without too much discomfort.
One question we get asked often at BikeTestReviews is about equipment and one component, in particular, the bike saddle. Finding the right saddle for you can be very challenging, and you will hear many cyclists tell you that what they are using is the best because it works for them.
In this article, we want to tell you about how to find the most comfortable seats for your bike and recommend some that could be the perfect solution.
Not all Saddles work for everyone
Before we start speaking about saddles, the first thing to mention is that not one saddle will work for everyone. There are so many on the market because we are all made differently and generally have different behinds.
Many people’s bone structure is different, you have different levels of skin sensitivity, people sit on saddles in slightly different ways, and some people require more support in places where others don’t.
So when your friend says they have the perfect saddle for you because it works well for them, I wouldn’t be surprised if you start getting pain. Getting the right saddle for you can take time, and you might have to try many different saddles.
What happens if I keep using a saddle which isn’t right?
Surprisingly this is a question we are often asked. When you complain about your saddle, many cyclists will just say it will take time to get used to. We agree there’s an element of that, but if you have used it for twenty hours or more and you’re still struggling, it might be worth looking for some other saddles.
Many issues can arise if you use the incorrect saddle for too long, such as irritation, cuts, and bruising. In worst-case scenarios, it can actually lead to infection, which can eventually end up needing surgery.
Cycling should be a pleasant experience, and you shouldn’t feel discomfort within the first few hours of riding at least. You can expect discomfort when riding for longer than three hours, as it’s not a natural position.
What makes a comfortable saddle, and how do we pick them?
When it comes to picking our most comfortable saddles, it can be challenging because not every saddle will work for everyone. You need to be a little more particular. Here’s what we look for when searching.
Shape and design
The first thing is the shape and design. We look for a saddle in which the shape looks correct to be comfortable. We look at general straight saddles and even look for wide sit bone saddles too.
Using a reputable brand is very important to us. The difference between a well known brand and a cheap brand could be thousands of hours of research and development.
When it comes to padding, we look for saddles with a good amount of padding in the right places. We also take into consideration the quality and materials for longevity.
Saddles are more flexible than you might think. Some are made to have a certain amount of flexibility to increase the level of comfort, and it’s something we look for.
When it comes to a saddle, user recommendations are important. If 95% of people say a saddle works for them, then there’s a good chance others will also find the same. We have a look into the highest-rated saddles to pass on the good recommendations.
Top 5 Most Comfortable Saddles
Brooks Cambium ($130)
Brooks is one of the older saddle manufacturers, and they are known as some of the best available. A classic Brooks saddle used to be made of leather and would take months to wear, but it was worth it as you would never need another bike saddle.
In modern times they have gone in a different direction. The new Cambium, which comes in many different sizes, is made of Vulcan rubber and waterproof nylon. It offers incredible flexibility, which creates a very comfortable surface for your behind.
They are the choice of many long-distance cyclists, and although they may not be the lightest saddle available, they are incredibly fun to ride and offer support that many other saddles cannot get anywhere near.
- Looks Excellent
- It comes in many sizes
- Incredible flexibility
- Not the lightest
ISM PN 1.1 ($180)
ISM is a big name when it comes to bike saddles and has had incredible success with the PN range. The PN is a saddle referred to as a no nose saddle. It’s a very unique looking saddle, and although it might not be the prettiest thing, it works for many riders.
It has a large cutout at the front and is designed to help blood flood in the area where you sit on the saddle. The narrow design offers great hamstring clearance and gives the rider a lot of freedom to move around the saddle.
We commonly see this used on bikes where people are either riding long distances or in very aggressive positions, like when it comes to time trial racing. They offer a few different types in the PN range. The 1.1 is one of their more padded options.
- Excellent for blood flow
- It comes in many sizes
- Great for aggressive riding positions
- Looks a bit too unique for some
Bontrager Verse Short Comp ($90)
Short saddles have become very popular in recent years. Saddles like the Specialized Power and the Pro Stealth showed how good a stubby saddle could be for comfort, looks, and weight saving.
The short saddle was originally designed to help riders get much lower while leaning further forward. The shorter, wider saddle reduces pressure peaks and ensures your sitting on the Ischial bones.
We like the Bontrager Verse because it’s very lightweight, is well padded, has flexible wings to remove pelvic rotation, and comes in multiple widths. It also is excellent value for money.
- Flexible Wings
- Multiple sizes
- Looks great and very minimal
- Feel quite different from a typical straight saddle
If you’re struggling to find a saddle that works for you, you might want to start thinking completely out of the box and go for a Schwinn Comfort. The Schwinn Comfort isn’t like many other saddles and doesn’t at all resemble one.
The incredibly wide 9-inch saddle is very supportive and spreads the pressure. It’s like sitting on a normal seat. This saddle doesn’t come with a nose, but Schwinn they do make other versions that do.
The Comfort doesn’t come without its drawbacks. It doesn’t look sporty, it’s pretty heavy, and it can feel a bit awkward to ride if your saddle isn’t the correct height. It’s incredibly comfortable, and we understand why people turn to this saddle.
- Very Comfortable
- Easy to move around on
- Great padding
- Very wide
- It looks a bit awful
- Weighs a lot
Ergon SFC 3 Fitness Saddle ($59)
Ergon is a great supplier of cycling accessories, and we feel their saddles don’t get the credit they deserve. The SFC 3 Fitness Saddle is an excellent example of what they can make. Not only is it very comfortable, but it looks fantastic and has an incredible design.
Its ergonomic design evenly distributes the pressure along your backside. It has a large seated rear area, and they have also added gel pads inside the foam for extra comfort. It has a recessed channel in the center to relieve pressure from more sensitive parts, which, unlike other saddles, is much better than a standard cutout.
The Ergon SFC 3 is a great saddle if you want comfort without coming away from a typical saddle design. It’s not the lightest saddle at roughly 380g, but it ticks every other box for us, and coming in at only $59 is incredible value for money.
- Looks great
- Great value for money
- Well designed
- Gel-padded foam inserts
- Not the lightest
How to find the perfect saddle for you
Suppose you want to find the perfect saddle for you. In that case, we recommend going to a bike fitter, preferably one with the correct tools for saddle imprint measuring and someone who has a lot of experience and comes highly recommended.
The drawback of doing it this way is it can become very costly as the bike bit can be $300+ alone without the cost of a new saddle, and it will also take multiple hours to complete.
We hope you enjoyed reading our list of the most comfortable saddles. We have been lucky enough to test a lot of saddles over our time reviewing bike gear and felt these all offered something very special and would have the most chance of being your perfect saddle.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.