February 18, 2021
Buying a Bike Saddle? Here’s What to Look For
Cycling is up there with one of the best activities for building strength and stamina. It has a plethora of health benefits and can be a great community-based exercise. It is a sport that can be utilized by most abilities and is fun and invigorating, leading to positivity and happiness. It’s no surprise then that cyclists get very serious about their sport and endeavor to invest in all the right gear for maximum effect.
Whether you’re a beginner, advanced, or ‘Tour De France’ quality cyclist, investing in a good quality bike with customized parts should be a priority. The saddle is a crucial part of a cycle and can make the difference between a comfortable or bumpy ride. For a man, choosing the right saddle can save a substantial amount of pain occurring in his body’s most sensitive part from restricting blood flow and nerve compression. So, what should you look for in a saddle?
With cycling, size really is important! The right size seat will ensure that you don’t slip off or have to carry extra weight from the saddle. It also cuts down the potential for serious injury, so for avid cyclists traveling long distances investing in a custom-fitted saddle is a great long-term option. The science behind the importance of correct saddle sizing is to enable the rider to sit on the bony structure of our posterior rather than the soft tissue. The sit bones on our pelvis help us feel comfortable when seated, unlike the soft tissue, which can compress nerves.
It’s useful to try different sizes to find the most suitable for your specific shape. Before choosing your saddle, measure the width between your sit bones. Many cycle shops will have tools to do this. The general idea is; the further apart your seat bones, the wider your saddle needs to be.
Understanding your flexibility is also important in choosing the most appropriate saddle because it will determine how upright you sit on your bike. You can test this by doing a few exercises. See if you can reach your toes whilst lying on your back and keeping your leg straight. Then try bringing your knees to your chest; this should determine how flexible you are and show how you will position yourself on the bike when riding. With this information, you will be able to choose what saddle will serve you the best.
If you are mostly going to be riding in the city and adopting an upright position, then a flat saddle is the best choice. It’s also suitable for fast riding as you can alter the saddle position when needed. Waved saddles are raised at the back, slope down then flatten out. This saddle is suitable for riders who like to remain in the same position when rising and want to feel fully supported.
Ensuring your seat is in the right position is essential for preventing potential injury. It’s useful to go to a professional bike shop and let them adjust it for you to get this right.
Because a bicycle seat is designed to support your entire body choosing a material that won’t irritate your skin is crucial for a smooth ride. Chafing and rubbing can occur when cycling long distances and is distracting and painful; this is primarily a problem with a synthetic material that can often have seams or sticky bits that can be irritating. Although the most expensive, a Leather saddle is more durable than other materials and much better for the skin. It’s also cool in the summer. Once worn in, just like a new pair of shoes, leather molds to the body and is the superior material for comfort.
If you’re on a budget and leather is out of your price range, what are the best alternatives? Most synthetic materials are water-resistant, but not all. If you cycle in all weather, make sure you choose a saddle that will not absorb moisture, making your ride troublesome. Saddles with foam padding are lightweight and spring back after use.
Saddles with gel padding are an excellent choice for beginners as they provide comfort straight away. They mold to the body immediately without the need for ‘breaking in’; however, over time, they tend to become ‘compacted’ and are heavier than the foam alternative.
There are many other factors to consider when choosing the right bike for your needs. Selecting a pro bicycle fit is an excellent option if cycling takes up a large part of your life, you will be assessed for flexibility and asked to use a machine or bike to identify your riding habits. It’s well worth investing the extra effort so you get the perfect fit. Whatever saddle you choose, I am sure it will bring you many happy hours of riding. Stay, safe cyclists.