Bicycle saddles were invented in Elyria, Ohio, 1892 to support the back and buttocks of the rider.
Today, bicycle seats hold the same purpose, but with one addition, i.e., they serve as a fashion accessory as well. Over the years, bicycle seats have come in many designs, shapes, and colors, improving the look and feel of the bike.
A bicycle saddle needs to be comfortable. Additionally, it should also suit your body size and personal style. When you sit on a bicycle seat, you should feel at ease.
Since bicycle saddles come in so many types, it’s only fair, at this point, to discuss them with you; so that you face no trouble while choosing a bike with a saddle that fits your comfort level and suits your riding style.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the bike saddles, we got you covered:
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- 1 1. Racing Saddles
- 2 2. Comfort Saddles
- 3 3. Cruiser Saddles
- 4 4. Mountain Bike Saddles
- 5 5. Suspension Saddles
- 6 6. Gel Saddles
- 7 7. Cutaway Saddles
- 8 8. No-Nose Saddles
- 9 9. Gender-Specific Saddles
- 10 10. Leather Saddles
- 11 Tips for Buying the Right Saddle
- 12 Conclusion
1. Racing Saddles
Racing saddles usually have a flat front and back and longer flaps. This design is exclusive to racing saddles to ensure the rider gets optimum comfort and freedom of movement.
These saddles are hard yet lightweight. Racers bend low to avoid harsh wind when racing at maximum speed. They put their weight forward, which is effectively facilitated by a rocky saddle. When it comes to weight, racing saddles have to be lightweight.
There’s no two ways about it. A light saddle is needed for increased speed. The lighter the saddle, the speedier the racer can be. To ensure saddles don’t weigh too much, manufacturers use low weight synthetic material.
Note a racing saddle tends to lack the nose, which aids the rider a lot as the sharp edge front can bother many riders – both men and women. Before you purchase a racing saddle, do not be afraid to try a few models. Look for optimum fit and comfort because only then will you find a perfect racing saddle for you.
2. Comfort Saddles
As the name suggests, comfort saddles are designed for maximum comfort. They are an ideal choice for your bike to ensure your morning commute or recreational ride is utterly comfortable.
These saddles are soft and flexible, relieving pressure off delicate tissues. The padding is designed in such a way that it absorbs shocks and keeps you safe and happy for long rides.
Comfort saddles are often chosen by bikers who have to travel for long or frequently for hours. For instance, using this saddle is ideal if you have to commute to work, and it takes you forever to reach your office.
A comfort saddle will provide you the protection against bumpy roads and trails. It is perfect for female bikers as the saddle has a small nose and a relief cutout in the center.
3. Cruiser Saddles
Cruiser saddles are another most common type of bike saddles out there.
Cruising literally means light pedaling and an easy voyage, and this is exactly what cruiser saddles aim to offer. They are well-cushioned and amply supported from both ends, making them perfectly comfortable saddles.
The most impressive feature of these saddles is their design. They are wider and broader than comfort saddles and thus offer more support and comfort to the biker.
That said, cruiser saddles tend to have a relatively thick nose that may put a great deal of pressure on your body’s sensitive part. However, this may only be an issue if you cycle for long. Cruiser saddles can provide maximum comfort as long as they are used to cover short distances.
One of the most common types of cruiser saddles is the banana saddles.
Usually found on kids’ bicycles, banana saddles take on a curved shape similar to bananas. They start wide and curved upward (like a banana). These seats are usually found on a wheelie – bikes with a long seat (such as a banana seat) with a strut and tall handlebars.
Banana seats were first invented by the Schwinn company in 1963. These seats feel extremely comfortable especially when they are facilitated with extra padding.
Since they are long, wide, and cushiony, bikers do not feel the hardness of the metal when they put pressure on the seat. Banana seats may not be as popular today as they were back in the 1960s, but they are a major part of kids’ vintage bicycles!
4. Mountain Bike Saddles
Mountain bike saddles are specially designed for mountain biking. As you may know, mountain biking can be pretty rough and tough. The biker often has to stand up on pedals and crouch down in a tucked position or hover off the saddles.
Due to these different positions, you need a special kind of saddle that is easy on your sit bones and is structured to assist your varied movements; and mountain bike saddles are perfect for such adventures.
Mountain bike saddles come in many shapes and designs. For someone who’s into rugged biking should look for bikes with an indestructible saddle cover, and there’s nothing is more durable than enduring leather.
Mountain bikes with traditional leather seats are superior in every way. Plus, look for a mountain bike saddle with a wide nose for varying seat positions and supporting sensitive organs.
The classic (and ideal) design to look for in mountain bike saddles is flared wings depressed center, and a rounded nose.
Whichever saddle you choose, make sure it’s hard as it helps avoid common cycling injuries such as knee pain, neck/back pain, numbness, urogenital problems, and the likes.
5. Suspension Saddles
The number one reason for which suspension saddles were made was to eliminate acute body or muscle pain, and owing to their upgraded technology, they do not let the biker suffers from pain and aches.
Suspension seat posts are manufactured to prolong ease and comfort throughout the ride. They come in handy during long bumpy terrains as they absorb shock instantly and prevent lower back injuries.
Suspension saddles are reliable for long-term bike traveling. For example, if you want to have a tour around on your bike, a suspension seat post is what you should go for.
The best thing is that it is affordable and easy to install. You can use it for all types of bikes, from gravel bikes to touring bikes to handrails and lots more.
There are three main types of suspension saddles. Let’s look at each one separately:
Elastomer Suspension Seat posts
These suspension seat posts come with a hard rubber wrapped around hinges and linkages. Because of this, when a bike hits a bump, the rider doesn’t feel the thuds because the rubber compresses them well.
These seats are simple but effective at the same time. However, one con of the suspension seat post is that the rubber elastomer may eventually wear out – depending on how frequently you use the bike.
Therefore, it’s best to carry a spare with you in time of an emergency tire change.
Coil Spring Suspension Seat posts
Coil spring suspension seats are comparatively newer to the market.
They feature a stanchion tube set system and a coiled metal spring that helps to alleviate pressure. One of the downsides of these seat posts is they come with soft coils that may get damaged during a hardcore ride.
Air Dropper Suspension Seat posts
Air dropper suspension seat posts are the newest of all. Anyone who gets accustomed to using this seat post can’t go back to the old ways. Yes, it’s that good!
The seat post is capable of withstanding a lot of forces. However, it’s important to look after the seat post so that it never fails to disappoint you.
What makes an air dropper seat post so special is its flexibility. It allows riders to quickly adjust to their seat height – lower it or increase it – when biking along. The seat post functions with the help of a handlebar or a lever.
For example, if you want to lower your seat, you will push your weight down on the seat and push the lever, and the seat will go down. Air dropper saddles are versatile, too.
They allow efficient and comfortable pedaling in all types of terrain. Because of this, most mountain bikers prefer air dropper suspension seat posts.
6. Gel Saddles
Get seats are perfect for recreational riders who may want to cover short distances. These seats feel soft and nice when new. And they continue to be safe and pleasant during the entire shelf life. However, once they passed their lifetime, you may want to look for a new one.
Please note that gel seats are not ideal for riding bicycles on unreliable terrains. They may end up making you sore, numb, and prone to physical injuries.
The soft and squishy saddle is a good option for smooth roads and for moderate biking time and length. But if you want to ride bikes for professional purposes, gel saddles fall short in many ways. A serious biker may find way better alternatives than gel saddles.
7. Cutaway Saddles
As the name suggests, cutaway saddles have a prominent cutout carved in the center. Does this pierced-in-the-middle design serve any function?
Of course, it does!
Experts suggest that cutout seats help reduce pressure on sensitive body parts, making it ideal for serious cyclists. With this saddle, bikers can easily achieve their milestones without suffering from any injury or accident.
You can find the cutaway design in many saddles, including mountain saddles, gel saddles, and others. It is not just exclusive to cutaway saddles.
8. No-Nose Saddles
Also known as noseless saddles, no-nose saddles lack the narrow front. Different cycles feature different kinds of noses; some have wide fronts, while others are super narrow. However, some bikes are specially designed with no nose.
The purpose of such bicycles is to aid comfort to bikers who find the nose bothersome. Even though a nose helps support your thighs and body weight, they can annoy some riders – both men and women.
For such people, no-nose saddles are a satisfactory alternative. Noseless saddles take the pressure off from the most sensitive organ and offer comfort throughout the ride.
According to research, traditional bicycles put 25 – 40% of your body’s weight on the nerves and blood vessels down there. However, a noseless saddle transfers the weight toward the sit bones. This helps keep blood oxygen levels to stay normal and your energy level all-time high.
9. Gender-Specific Saddles
This may seem a novel idea, but there was a time when it wasn’t. Today, gender-specific saddles are very much available. Men and women have different needs and comfort levels with regard to saddles.
For instance, generally, men prefer saddles that are long and narrow while women prefer short and wider saddles.
All manufacturers offer saddles specifically designed for men and women. That said, there’s nothing wrong for men to use a saddle for women and vice versa. It all comes down to your personal choice.
In fact, you can make changes to a saddle, too. For instance, if you want your saddle to be softer, you can ask the manufacturer to customize the seat by adding extra padding.
You can also make the bike more comfortable by fine-tuning the height of the saddle. Make sure the seat is not too low or too high. Keep in mind that a high saddle can cause IT syndrome, which can cause 15% of knee pain among cyclists.
10. Leather Saddles
Leather saddles are of premium quality. They are the best for all kinds of riders. If you are looking for bike seats that last a lifetime, look no further than leather saddles. They are designed to relieve perineal discomfort and to alleviate weight for optimum performance.
Most serious cyclists prefer leather saddles because they don’t disappoint. They are firm and stiff to the point that they bear all kinds of biking pressures with super ease.
Tips for Buying the Right Saddle
Finding the best saddle is crucial for a satisfying biking experience. If you’re not sure how to find the perfect saddle for your bike, follow our tips below:
Look for a Saddle with the Right Shape
As you may have noticed by now, saddles come in different types. Each type offers a unique shape, too. And since no two people are the same, you should find a saddle that suits your body size.
Generally, women feel more comfortable on a wide seat. If you’re one of them, you should look for a saddle that has a wide shape. If you’re not sure what suits you, sit on different saddles to see which one you find best.
Note Your Flexibility and Position
When looking for a bike, take account of your preferred position and your flexibility. Can your hands reach forward easily? If so, you are flexible. A slightly-curved saddle will work just fine for you.
If you’re not so flexible, you should go for rounded saddles. Check out saddles that allow maximum movements. How comfortable you are will depend on your biking position. For instance, some riders prefer bending forward while riding while others like to bike with an upright position.
Know the Width of Your Sit Bones
As you probably know, saddles come in varying widths. The saddle’s width is dependent upon the overall distance between your sit bones. Measure this to find out which saddle will be best for you.
It’s very simple to measure the distance between your sit bones. Many professional bike shops have the right measuring tools that can assist you.
Check the Saddle at the Right Height
You may have found the perfect saddle for your bike, but if you haven’t set it up at the right height, you won’t feel comfortable at all. This is why it’s important to always place the saddle at the correct height.
If you’re not sure about the perfect saddle height for yourself, you can always take a professional’s help who can guide you. While determining the right height, make sure your saddle is horizontal. It should not be too high or too low, or else it may cause back pain, or worse, a back injury.
Many riders do not realize this, but choosing the right saddle is all about what fits/suits you or makes you feel comfortable. With our list of the different types of bikes saddles, you won’t be left without answers when you’re looking for the perfect saddle for yourself.
If you haven’t tried cycling before, we recommend you to sit on a saddle first and try cycling a few times to better evaluate your comfort. Also, don’t forget to follow our tips for buying the right saddle to guarantee a perfect biking experience!
Last Updated on May 7, 2021 by Matthew Carpenter