How to Choose and Fit a Bicycle Saddle

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How to Choose and Fit a Bicycle Saddle

For any rider's comfort, the right bicycle saddle is the single most important feature of a bike. It must be selected for the kind of bicycle and type of riding. Different kinds of saddles are better for recreation, performance, or racing. With the right choice, riders can keep going longer without discomfort.


Bike Saddle Basics

Most riders are concerned about three components of bicycle seats: the shell, padding, and cover. Covers are made from synthetic materials, leather, or leather with Kevlar reinforcement. Various kinds of padding may provide comfort. The shell is often hard plastic but sometimes carbon fibre. Broader saddles with more padding suit upright "cruiser" riders but weigh more. The narrow shapes of specialised saddles for fast, long-distance, or hill riders provide more freedom of movement, so pedalling is more efficient, and it is easier for riders to reposition themselves on irregular terrain. The central groove in many contemporary seats reduces pressure on hip joints and nearby nerves, preventing numbness on long rides.


Fitting the Saddle

The right saddle is just wide enough to cushion the "sit bones", the two pressure points felt when sitting on a kerb, without excess width between them if the rider slides forward. Some people may reposition any saddle to an unusual tilt to accommodate their body shape and riding style. Using a bicycle seat cover to adjust fit is tricky in urban areas, riders say, since covers are sometimes stolen if not always taken indoors. Some riders recommend buying used saddles and expecting to resell what does not fit, since it can be hard to know what works until after several rides.


Road Bikes and Commuter Bikes

Road bicycle saddles have less cushioning to add less weight over the long haul. Some riders value traditional leather bicycle saddles because the seat conforms to the rider over time, providing a custom fit. Others prefer some foam padding, or they wear padded cycling shorts and use a carbon fibre seat. Road-bike riders choose saddles such as the Brooks B17, Selle Italia, and Fizik Aliante. In addition, commuter favourites include the Charge Spoon, Terry Liberator, Fizik Vitesse, and San Marco Regal. Gel bicycle saddles are appropriate for commuters.


Mountain Bikes, BMX Bikes, and Hybrids

Mountain bikers like the Selle Italia Max Flite among others. Hybrid bikes combine features of road bikes and mountain bikes to create a single multi-purpose bike. Hybrid riders are charged-up about the Charge Spoon and the Madison Prime, while BMX bikers join the mountain bikers in their passion for the Selle Italia Max Flite.

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