Finding the right saddle for your road bike can relieve you of pain and make your rides more enjoyable. Often the cause of saddle related pain is due to the width and shape of the saddle not matching the sit bones of the user.
No two people are built the same so it is impossible to recommend a saddle that will suit everyone.
The best we can do is explain everything that you need to think about when it comes to choosing a saddle and then give you a selection of the best road bike saddles available.
Best Road Bike Saddles
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Bike Saddles For 2019
- Fabric Line Race Bike Seat
- Fizik Aliante Gamma K:ium Road Bicycle Saddle
- Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow Women’s Bicycle Saddle
- Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow Bicycle Saddle
- Prologo Scratch 2 PAS Tirox Road Bike Saddle
Bike Seat Reviews
The narrow nose allows you to pedal with your knees close together in an aerodynamic stance and by opting for a deep groove rather than a fully cut out section, Fabric ensure that there is no excess flex.
You do not have to be an endurance rider to enjoy the comfort of this saddle though. The rails are lightweight titanium alloy and the cover is durable waterproof microfiber. Overall I would say this is the best road bike saddle.
This saddle is intended for riders who ride with a low position and have narrow sit bones. Think Bradley Wiggins (he uses this saddle).
The Arione is quite long, allowing the user to shift their weight during a ride. Wingflex technology allows the saddle to flex for comfort while still ensuring maximum power gets transferred to the pedals.
The price is a bit higher compared to the Fabric Line reviewed above but this is offset by the quality of the construction and clip for saddle bags and lights. The “Kium” alloy of the rails is lighter than titanium while maintaining the same strength.
The seat has enough flex while providing stiffness to be among the most comfortable road bike seats you can buy.
Women’s model: Fi’zi:k Luce Manganese Saddle – Women’s
This high quality women’s specific saddle is lightweight, features a leather cover and is flexible for comfort.
Often women’s components and clothing are excessively pink and pretty, but the Diva contents itself with modest feminine styling.
The large central cut out improves blood flow and the width is relatively wide. Serious road racers may want to try something narrower.
The Diva provides all round comfort for short and long rides so is a great choice for all but very serious racers.
The Tekno sits at the top end of the road bike seat spectrum and is designed for low, aerodynamic racing in the drops. A wide cut out through almost the length of the saddle.
A synthetic cover complements the carbon base and carbo-keramic oval rails (make sure your seat post clamps are compatible) to make this a seriously lightweight option.
The only place where it is not light is on your wallet but you are paying for a serious piece of equipment that will help you stay comfortable and fast. While not cheap, its certainly a top contender for the best road bike seat.
Another great choice for endurance riding. The dropped nose is intended to reduce pressure while still providing support.
The carbon base has a slight flex and padding provides support where it is needed, while pressure is reduced by the groove. It may feel firm, but the padding is there making it one of the most comfortable road bike saddles in its price range.
The profile is fairly rounded and this may not suit everyone (similarly, the nose may not be ideal for all users) but if it does fit, you will be very happy with the Scratch 2.
Road Bike Saddle Comparison Table
|Road Bike Saddle||Weight||Size||Rails||Rating|
|Fabric Line Race Bike Seat||11 ounces||270 x 134mm||Titanium alloy||5.0 / 5.0|
|Fizik Aliante Gamma||9.1 ounces||265 x 142mm||K:ium Rails||4.9 / 5.0|
|Selle Italia Diva Women's Saddle||9.3 ounces||152 x 270mm||Tubular Vanox||4.3 / 5.0|
|Selle Italia SLR Tekno||4.0 ounces||131 x 275 mm||Carbon rails||3.2 / 5.0|
|Prologo Scratch 2 PAS Tirox||7.3 ounces||134 x 147mm||Ti-Rox alloy steel||5.0 / 5.0|
How to Choose the Best Road Bike Saddle
- Anatomy of a Bike Saddle
- Cut Out
- Seat Cover
- FAQs For Bike Seats
- Tips For Picking Out a Bike Seat
Even twins do not have exactly the same butts. Bear this in mind when reading any saddle reviews because it is highly unlikely that the reviewer has a similar anatomy to yours.
Whether a saddle fits and is comfortable or not is a very personal assessment and no one can tell you that any one saddle is the one for you.
Anatomy of a Bike Saddle
Cover: The top of the bike saddle is a cover, commonly made of leather or synthetic leather.
Padding: In between the cover the internal support shell may be some padding to provide some support. Serious road saddles will have little or no padding. Saddles with thick padding are not any more comfortable over long distances as the padding eventually compresses and can no longer provide any support.
Width and Shape: This is determined by the shell. This is usually made of plastic or carbon fiber, the latter being lighter but more expensive.
Neither is necessarily more comfortable that the other but many people like the stylish look and feel of real leather. Avoid covers that have seams on top as these can be a point that will rub.
Rails: Holding the whole thing to the seat post are two rails. These are made of alloy or titanium to save weight.
The further apart your sit bones are, the wider the saddle needs to be. Probably. This is not an absolute rule but following it can help get you on the right track.
To measure your sit bone width, sit on a piece of corrugated cardboard and measure the distance between the middle of each depression.
The nose of a saddle also supports some weight, especially when climbing. Some saddles even have a lowered nose to reduce pressure but still provide support. A longer saddle will give you the ability to shift your position more than a shorter saddle.
There is usually very minimal padding in a road bike seat. Thick padding will not prevent soreness but some foam or gel in the right place can help reduce pressure or support your sit bones.
You may have noticed the best road saddles have a groove or hole cut down the middle. This is to reduce pressure on sensitive areas and increase blood flow to prevent numbness. Look for this feature in a bike seat if you are experiencing numbness.
Most modern-day saddles you’ll find use man-made materials, although you’ll occasionally find genuine leather on the more pricey models. The most important aspect here, is to make sure that all seams, panels, and more aren’t going to chafe. In addition, you need it to be extra durable. We’ll admit that we’re more partial to leather, due to the durability, smoothness, and ability to mold.
Some covers have perforations and Kevlar edges to make sure they can handle a good amount of wear-and-tear. Some saddles even add in some grippy material along the nose to make sure you’re not sliding all over the place.
This part of the saddle controls the essential shape of the model, as well as its springiness. You’re going to find quite a bit of variability throughout manufacturers. The width and length will differ, and the overall design will look different. All-carbon shells are ideal due to durability and their light weight, but they’re also the most expensive.
The rails are essentially a frame on the under part of the saddle, which is connected to your bike through the seat post. A huge factor in the price of a saddle is the rails, and they do vary widely, depending on the material they’re made out of. The lighter they are, generally the more they go up in price. Entry-level models are often made of steel. From there, you’ll go up to manganese, titanium, and on the top we have carbon.
In terms of comfort, titanium rails often provide additional flex which works to absorb a good amount of road vibrations that transfer through the frame and into the seat post. While they’re not on the higher-end, they are quite comfy.
FAQs For Bike Seats
Q: What causes saddle discomfort?
A: Of course this will vary between riders, but oftentimes, it has to do with riders using one that is either too wide or too narrow. The ischial tuberosities are the parts of us which were made to bear our weight when seated. You may experience saddle discomfort when this load is carried by our soft tissues between our sit bones instead of by the actual bones. In addition, it comes down to personal preference.
Q: How can I measure my sit bones?
A: Plenty of bike shops out there have a measuring device that you can sit on, and are made of memory foam. Once you sit, it will leave an impression in foam, which is then measured. Generally, you’ll want to have the saddle width be your sit bone width, plus 2 centimeters.
If you don’t have the ability to go to a shop and get measured, you can also do this with play-doh, however, we recommend the former if you can.
Q: What if I’m “in-between” sizes?
A: Typically, you can go bigger/wider than what is recommended and you’ll often still be comfortable. However, if you go thinner than what you should, you can start to experience pressure and/or discomfort. If in doubt, go wider!
Q: Shouldn’t I just get a gel-padded seat?
A: You definitely could. Maybe for the first few minutes it would feel nice and plush. However, it’s ultimately going to get compacted and feel just like non-padded seats would. If you really want to go for comfort (and who doesn’t?) then you should look into leather saddles, which will form to your personal weight and shape.
Tips For Picking Out A Bike Seat
Tip #1: If you’re experiencing discomfort, first check the height and angle
If you’ve bought a saddle with the correct width and everything else fits your needs but it’s still uncomfortable, check these two factors out. If the saddle is too high, it can cause you to shift your weight from side-to-side. This movement irritates your perineal area. You can usually adjust this with an Allen/Hex Key. Others feature a quick-release lever.
The angle can be adjusted through the seat clamp. Simply loosen it up, and tilt it accordingly. If it’s already flat and it’s not comfortable, give it a slightly forward tilt.
Tip #2: Women don’t have to just opt for WSDs (women-only design)
These were made for a good reason, though, and you may want to look into these models. As women, we typically have wider hips. With that, it’s often more comfortable to have a saddle which accommodates this factor.
The main difference between these is that they have wider and flatter top with a cutout. Padding will vary, but is typically more than you’d find on “regular” saddles. Again, don’t feel like you have to go with these, as they may not be more comfortable, and many models don’t come in women’s-specific versions.
Tip #3: If you can swing it, try out a leather saddle
Why? Because leather is eventually going to mold to the shape of your body after a while of you riding it. They’re not cheap by any means, but they do last exceptionally long, and the comfort is worth it to many.
#4: If you do have a leather saddle, make sure to use a leather protector
As you probably know, leather doesn’t do well in the elements. To help with this, use a leather protector specifically made for this purpose. They don’t often cost much, and you don’t have to apply it all the time, so it’s not even that time-consuming.
#5: Ride your bike as much as you can once you get your new saddle
How to Find the Perfect Bike Saddle
So we have already established that everyone is different. With that in mind and knowledge about your individual needs, you can find a saddle that matches your needs.
You may need to test several before you find the right one. Make sure to test a saddle for long enough as a new one requires several rides to break in. If you can, borrow one from a friend that is already broken in.
I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best road bike saddle to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a bike seat I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.
Have fun and enjoy the ride!