Newbie Tip: Picking the Right Saddle
Just take a walk through your local bike shop, or scan your favorite cycling catalog and you will find at least fifty different types of saddles. There are huge cushy ones with giant springs and little sayings like, “super soft…ahhh,” on the back. There are also tiny saddles that are hard as a rock, but which one is the right one for you? Picking a saddle is much like picking a bike, you have to find one that is right for you, but you also need to keep a few things in mind before you test one out.
First off, you will notice that the regular cyclers call them “saddles,” not “seats.” This is because you sit on seats, but saddles are meant to only carry some of the load. This brings us to our first myth. Just because it is huge, and has tons of gel, or big springs, doesn’t mean that it belongs on your road bike. The most important feature to look for in a saddle is the width. You want a saddle that will distribute your weight between your sit bones. If you buy a big wide seat, you are going to be spending most of your time ON your sit bones, and eventually, they will hurt. Many of the premium saddles actually form to you sit bones to efficiently spread the weight.
Now lets dig back into that catalog and take a look at a few options that I recommend.
Brooks Leather Saddle: There is almost a Brooks Saddle Cult in the cycling community. Many Brooks nuts wouldn’t bike without one. They are great because the leather tends to mold itself to you over time, making them more comfortable the older they get. The bad part is that they are pretty heavy, and they run anywhere from $100 to $300.
Fizik Arione: This is my personal favorite, as it is the saddle on my bike. They are great because they have little wings that slowly bend over time to help fit to your sit bones. This is why you should never buy a used saddle off of eBaY. The downside to the Arione is, once again, the price. They have come down in price lately, but are still about $100.
Selle San Marco Rever Profile Saddle: If you give the Fizik a try and it just doesn’t suit you, this one probably will. They are great because the tail of the saddle is slightly lifted to give you support on those nasty hill climbs. They also have NANOFLEX mounting rails that are supposed to absorb a small amount of shock during your ride. The Rever will set you back an even more hefty $170 or so, but you can’t put a price on a good saddle.
Those are just a few of many great saddles out there. Like I said earlier, finding the right saddle for you is just like finding your first road bike. You have to try them out to find the one that fits you. Many bike shops offer a return policy, which will allow you to test the saddle for a couple rides to see if it is meant for you. Take note that some of the saddles do have a break in period, so it may seem a bit uncomfortable at first (especially the Brooks), but will fit better over time. One last tip would be to make sure you are in good biking shape before you go looking for saddles. Tired legs means you will spend more time on the saddle, and you might blame it on the saddle, when it could have just been that you were sitting too much!