Your saddle is arguably the most important component on your bike. Like that other key to comfort, your shorts, if it's doing its job properly you'll never notice it, but if it isn't — ouch! It’s your main contact point with the bicycle, and for some of us even subtle variations between two similar bike saddle designs can lead to one of them crossing fine line between comfortable perch and instrument of torture.
Saddles are the most individual bike component; you may have to try several before finding the one that's just right for you
As well as it needing to fit your undercarriage, you should choose a saddle with an eye on your riding position; the more upright you sit, the wider your saddle is likely to need to be
Women almost universally are more comfortable on saddles that have some sort of centre section that relieves pressure on the soft tissues of the vulva; look for either a cut-out or softer area
It takes a while to adjust to any new saddle; give it several short-to-medium-length rides before you decide
Good modern saddles start from around £30, but you can spend a heck of a lot more in pursuit of low weight
For a lot of people the saddle they get with their bike works just fine. Every component on a complete bike has to contribute to meeting a price point, but bike manufacturers aren't stupid; they may spec a generic product but it is one designed to work for as many people as possible. And for a lot of us the saddle our bike was born with works just fine.
However, if it doesn't or you want to drop some weight from your bike, or pep up its looks with a new saddle you'll need to find the right one. If it ain't broke though you may want to consider whether you really want to fix it before you start looking for another. It's no surprise that pros, couriers, expedition riders — indeed anyone who spends a lot of time on a bike — takes the same favoured saddle from bike to bike. And you don't necessarily need the most high tech bike saddle to be comfortable or go fast — the Tour de France has been won on £25 saddles.
If you do need a different saddle though you are faced with a bewildering choice. Bike saddles come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes to suit every type of riding from racing, touring, commuting and leisure cycling.
While this huge choice means there’s a saddle to suit every bum, it does make knowing just where to start a touch tricky when you're faced with a choice of potentially hundreds of options.
If you're going to find the best bike saddle, you need to narrow things down - and that's the aim of this guide.
The critical part of choosing the right bike saddle is finding a shape that fits your body and suits your riding style. Generally speaking, the more stretched out your riding position and the faster you ride, the narrower the saddle you need. And the more upright your position and the slower you ride, the wider the saddle needs to be. When you're stretched out, you place less weight on the saddle, but when you sit upright, the saddle has to support more of your weight. That's why race bikes have very thin saddles, and Boris bikes have extremely wide saddles.
Manufacturers are getting better at helping you to choose the right bike saddle. Most have their own system of narrowing the choice, either by deciding what type of cyclist you are — usually by your range of flexibility and your position on the bike — or using a fit system that measures the distance between your sit bones, to pair you with the saddle that best matches your anatomy.
A good bike saddle should support the sit bones, not the entire bum. It’s where your sit bones contact the saddle that is key, a saddle needs to provide adequate support in these two areas. That’s why many saddles are offered in different widths, reflecting the difference in people's anatomy. Some manufacturers offer up to three widths to suit the range of variance. The nose of the saddle supports some of the cyclist’s weight too. Oh, one thing to remember here is that just because you have a bigger bottom it doesn't necessarily follow that you have wider sit bones.
Bike saddle shapes largely fall into several camps. Some are flat, some are rounded, some have scooped backs, some are narrow, others much wider. You can narrow down the choice by deciding what style of riding you do. A saddle that is too wide can lead to chafing, and one too narrow can feel like you’re sitting on a knife.
Generally, thinner saddles with minimal padding are more suited to racers with deep, stretched riding positions, down in the drops and crouched low over the handlebars. Such a position means you’re not sitting with all your weight on the saddle; you actually put very little load on the saddle when riding in such a position.
For touring cyclists saddles with a wider shape are favoured, as you don't adopt such an aggressive position when putting the miles in on tour as you do when racing. For long days in the saddle, and day after day, you need the highest level of comfort possible, and leather saddles are regularly the first choice. They're very durable too, and usually last years longer than saddles made from synthetic foam padding.
For more leisurely riding where an upright position is adopted, more of your weight will be concentrated through the saddle. A wider saddle with more support and extra padding will be the preferred choice here.
You can get saddles aimed at road racing, triathlon, touring, commuting, mountain biking, and they all take different approaches with shapes and padding. This does help narrow down the choice. There are some saddles that are favoured by different groups of cyclists, and there are some that seem to straddle the different camps. The Charge Spoon is one such saddle that leaps to mind as being particularly well suited to British bums, whether road racing, touring or mountain biking.
The type of materials used to construct a saddle range from plastic bases and steel rails on entry-level models to entire moulded carbon fibre bases and rails on the very expensive models. The more you spend, the lighter the materials used, so if weight is a key priority for you, you need to start saving up. Lightweight saddles are those in the 200g region.
If comfort is important to you, then steer clear of carbon rails as hollow titanium rails can often provide additional flex to absorb some of the vibrations that pass through the frame into the seatpost. We’re even seeing many professional racers choose these saddles over the very top-end models.
The base of the saddle is an area where a manufacturer can design in extra flex, to allow the saddle to subtly deform upon impacts. Some have holes or different materials in key places that allow the foam to expand through the hole, or the base to flex in a controlled manner.
The saddle cover can be made from synthetic leather like Lorica or real leather, and there’s many other materials manufacturers might use. Some add perforations and Kevlar edges to prevent wear and tear taking its toll. Time trial saddles often have a grippy material along the nose to stop the cyclist slipping back and forth, and we’re starting to see such materials make a presence on road saddles, as with Prologo’s CPC saddle.
Leather saddles have a single piece of leather that is tensioned on a metal frame, so it’s essentially suspended like a hammock, and provides plenty of give that can prove very comfortable on longer rides. They need more looking after than regular saddles, and sometimes need breaking in. The leather needs proofing, and you need to be careful in wet weather, as they don’t much like the rain; that's why you most often find them on mudguard-equipped touring bicycles. Brooks is the name most associated with leather saddles but they aren't the only maker out there. Spa Cycles do a well regarded, and well priced, range of leather saddles that possibly require more breaking in than a Brooks, but not that much more.
A fascinating recent development is the Brooks Cambium range of saddles, which use similar construction techniques to Brooks' leather saddles, but with modern materials. Instead of a sheet of leather across the ends of the rails, Brooks has come up with a combination of vulcanised natural rubber, cotton canvas and structural textile for the top.
This top is inherently flexible, like a worn leather Brooks or a new one with the tension backed off slightly, and it moves slightly as you pedal. It's a design we like a lot.
Most saddles use some form of foam padding, but the amount of padding used and the density can vary a lot. Racier saddles often have less padding, while saddles for commuting and leisure cyclists will have deeper and softer padding, to cushion the ride. However if you ride fast, or for long distances too much padding might not be your friend as it can move, pinch or chafe rather than supporting your sit bones.
It’s easy to think a saddle with very firm padding is going to be uncomfortable, but once you get used to them they can be a lot more comfortable than softly cushioned saddles for riding of the fast variety. Because you lean forward, you perch on the saddle rather than sit on it, so you can get away with less padding. Strategically placed gel inserts are another frequent solution to providing comfort.
In 1997 a study by Dr. Irwin Goldstein put the cat among the pigeons, claiming reduced blood flow cause by saddle pressure could lead to erectile disfunction in men and cause permanent reproductive failure. A load of nonsense it may be, but the story produced a lot of concern, and the saddle with the hole in the middle suddenly became very popular. Step forward Specialized in 1998 who produced their first Body Geometry saddle, with a cutaway channel claimed to restore the blood flow and so prevent numbness.
In fact the idea is not new. The first saddle with a hole was actually born as early as 1903, and Georgena Terry produced the first modern example for women in 1992. It also has to be said that the claims for saddles with channels in them are hedged with all sorts of caveats.
For instance there is no agreement that decreased blood flow, or even numbness will cause erectile dysfunction in men or genital numbness in women. And even proponents of channels and holes agree that there is another simple cure: stand up and any decreased blood flow to your bits will immediately resolve itself.
Even if decreased blood flow does cause a problem depending how you are plumbed down there the amount of difference between a normal saddle and one with a channel may be minimal to non-existent. In the interests of science our editor Tony once had his organ wired up to measure the difference in blood flow between his usual saddle and one with a channel in it. For him at least it turned out there was no difference.
So cutaways and channels are not for everyone. You only need look at the bikes of the professionals to see that many quite happily cycle many thousands of kilometres a year with little side effect, so there’s a lot more to comfort than just adding the channel. They do work for some people though, indeed some swear by them. It’s a case of trying different saddles and seeing what works for you.
If you have particular urological or prostate problems it may well be worth looking at a saddle with a hole or channel or cutaway, and there are plenty to choose from. Or you might even take things a stage further and looking at something with a drop nose, like a Selle SMP or even a noseless saddle like the ISM Adamo Racing saddle pictured above,
Saddle padding doesn't last forever, particularly on performance saddles. After a while the padding isn't really doing any padding anymore because it has become permanently squashed by the millions of times your bottom has compressed it. The more performance-oriented a saddle and the less actual padding it has, the more time limited its lifespan. Many top end performance saddles have an expected lifespan of a couple of seasons if used the way they are intended.
Most manufacturers now have a large choice of women-specific saddles to recognise the differences in anatomy. Many women do get on just fine with men's saddles, just as many women happily ride men's bikes, but generally women have wider sit bones so there’s a choice of suitable wider saddles to suit. That said, looking at some saddle ranges, there’s still a much smaller choice for women than men, something which needs addressing.
Georgena Terry developed a reputation for comfortable saddles aimed specifically at women, in doing so pioneering the first women’s specific designed products. She produced a saddle for women in 1992 with a cutaway section, a design she later expanded to men’s saddles.
Ideally, you want to try a saddle on your bike before parting with your money, and a few saddle manufacturers recognise the problem of spending a lot of cash on an untested saddle. Some then offer try before you buy schemes, where you can run a saddle for a desired amount of time to decide if it’s right for you. That can save you collecting a large pile of saddles in your shed as you enter the quest for the ultimate saddle.
As important as picking the right saddle, ensuring you have the saddle at the correct height and distance from the handlebars is also very important. Sometimes, you can have the right saddle, but you’re not sitting on it correctly, which can be a case of it being too far forward or backwards. If you find yourself wriggling about on your saddle a lot when riding, it could be a sign it’s not correctly positioned.
We’d recommend getting a professional bike fit, and there are many available these days. They’ll assess your level of flexibility, physical limitations and your cycling goals, and ensure you’re correctly fitted on the bike. The bike needs to fit you, not the body fitting the bike.
Blending 3D-print technology with a tried and tested shape yields a lightweight and comfortable performance saddle. The Fizik Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive saddle is expensive, yes, but for those who like the Antares shape, the high-tech construction has some real benefits.
The construction allows for more cushioning to be engineered into the bits that you are in contact with. The honeycomb-like structure includes the outer layer that you can see, plus the airspace underneath it, which takes the place of more traditional saddle fillers. That doesn't mean it feels like a sofa, but it's able to mould and depress really effectively when it needs to, and in all the key directions too.
The Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive combines the latest construction technology to produce a saddle that's comfortable and light. It'll cost you a fair amount, and you don't get carbon rails for your money, but as long as the shape fits you it could be a great upgrade.
The Selle Italia Novus Boost Evo Kit Carbonio Superflow saddle not only has a very long name but is now one of tester Stu’s favourite short style race saddles. He says: ‘It's stiff where it needs to be and isn't where you don't want it to be. The padding is a bit thicker than I normally like, but when paired with the carbon hull and rails it works brilliantly.”
“Rather than a flat saddle, I like one that has a bit of a curve in it – or 'waved', as Selle Italia calls it. I tend not to move around on a saddle that much, and spend much of my time seated even when climbing. The upwardly curved rear section of the Novus gives me something to push against, and the short nose (the saddle is just 245mm long) allows me to bend over onto the drops.”
“Overall, I found the shape and the comfort levels of the Novus Boost Evo great, and if money was no object then I'd happily choose this for all of my rides, long or short.”
The Selle Italia Flite Boost Kit Carbonio is a short saddle that's perfect for fast rides. It offers a decent level of comfort that's better suited to shorter outings, and is reasonably light at 182g, if not weight-weenie level, so you might consider looking elsewhere if that's important to you. As you might expect from an expert Italian saddle manufacturer, it's a very high quality saddle that would look stunning on your Sunday best.
The padding isn't too thin (unlike the classic Flite), but it is quite firm. The Carbo Keramic (carbon fibre with a ceramic coating) rails are also quite stiff, with little flex when you push down on the saddle by hand with a good amount of force.
In theory, you would expect this to be a stiff and unforgiving saddle, but that's not the case. Granted, it does feel a little firm from the moment you sit on it, but you get used to it, and at no point did I feel any discomfort build during any of my test rides. The carbon rails do a good job of absorbing buzz from the road, and their stiffness means you're not going to be bobbing about when you're pedalling hard.
Even with a relatively modest cutout, there's no numbness either. The Superflow version, with its cutout channel, is meant to be better suited to riders wanting to get lower down in the drops. Although I found no discomfort with the standard version, which is designed for those with a lower pelvic rotation, according to the idmatch fit system on Selle Italia's site I should be on a Superflow, which offers better pressure relief for those with a higher pelvic rotation. The standard Flite Boost might be a better choice if your riding position is racy but a little less extreme on the spectrum of tilt.
At just 197g, the Selle Italia SLR Lady Superflow Saddle is a seriously lightweight option aimed at female riders looking for high performance, which it delivers alongside decent levels of comfort despite its overtly firm character.
It's available in two widths, S (130mm) and L (145mm) – both are 248mm in length – and is made with a smooth synthetic Fibra-Tek cover, gel padding and TI316 7mm diameter steel rails.
It's an undeniably firm seat, and those who appreciate extra padding under the sit bones may want to look elsewhere, but I found that the flared section flexed nicely in use, and without diminishing the power transfer when I put some effort in.
The shape shows just how much experience Selle Italia has in producing a good saddle. The smooth, contoured structure gives incredible support to the sit bones, and yet no pressure at all on sensitive areas.
The Fabric Scoop Elite Shallow is a chromoly-railed saddle with three shapes to suit riding style. The shallow style here is a very comfortable, well constructed saddle which bench marks what a decent saddle should be.
Sat on chromoly steel rails, this 142mm wide, 282mm long saddle uses a plastic base that gives a really good amount of flex for comfort. It never feels too flexy, either.
The soft foam padding gets a waterproof covering that's smooth and easy to move on, but not so smooth you slide around while pedalling hard. It's also easy to clean.
It may not be the lightest thing out there at a claimed 266g, but for the price you probably won't mind – the Fabric Scoop Elite Shallow is an excellent saddle for most riders, offering a great blend of comfort, ruggedness and performance.
Giant's Fleet SLR saddle is great for getting low at the front of the bike while staying comfortable at the back. The large central cutout and stubby design are very well shaped, and the price is good too.
Shortened saddles are becoming a common sight on road race bikes, as they can really help with aggressive positions. The Fleet SLR features a central cutout, a wide, short nose, carbon rails and contouring to help you stay comfy when riding head down.
The shape of the Fleet SLR really works (at least for tester Liam – we all know it's very personal). The rear section is supportive, the cutout offers excellent pressure relief and the swooping drop from back to front is brilliant when hammering along. You feel well supported and free to push forward.
Giant's Fleet SL saddle is a very good choice for occasional racers looking for more comfort when riding in an aero position. The saddle features firm padding but there's a little flex in the base along with a large central cutout, and I found it to be very comfortable, especially as the miles ticked up. The weight is good, but the price is a little higher than the competition.
Tester Liam writes: "I favour a rather long and low bike setup, so I find these types of saddles to be very comfortable; when shunted forward, they place more of the supportive rear part of the saddle under me. The Fleet SL does this really well and I've really liked my time spent on it.
"My testing has included as much variation in types of riding as possible, from flat-out efforts to lazy spins through the lanes. I've fitted this to my race bikes and also popped it on my cyclo-cross bike to test out a slightly more upright position. It was comfortable on both types, so I wouldn't pigeon-hole this saddle for race bikes only."
The Bontrager Aeolus Comp is a unisex shorty saddle with a large cutout that's designed to take the pressure off soft tissues in an aero position – which it does very well. It's comfortable for both long road rides and short, intense turbo sessions thanks to its well judged level of padding and flexible shell. As the entry-level Aeolus saddle in a range of three, the price is competitively low.
Shorty or 'boost' saddles are increasingly popular because they make holding an aero position more comfortable by eliminating the traditional longer nose that can put pressure on soft tissues for both men and women. The penalty, however, is that they have to be set up exactly right because shuffle space is reduced. In addition, because you're more 'locked' in position they have to fit your sit bones more precisely.
The Aeolus Comp's shape looks simple but it's very effective. The sit bones are well supported on flat sections either side of the cutout, while the nose, which is wider than the noses of other shorty saddles such as the Selle Itala SLR Boost Superflow, lets you perch on it in a stem-chewing situation in more comfort than Selle Italia's SLR shape does, maximising available space. And the semicircle of padding at the tip, which closes off the cutout channel, cleverly stops you from sliding too far forward.
Fabric's Line S Pro Flat saddle is a stubby saddle that performs brilliantly in aggressive aero positions. The short nose with generous padding makes it easy to tuck down in the drops for long periods of time. A nylon base and soft padding create a lot of give that help to isolate you from road buzz, though the soft feel won't be for everyone. This is one for time trial, triathlon and slammed race bikes.
The 9x7mm carbon rails help to bring this saddle in at a respectable 186g, and also help kill road buzz – though it feels that more of the impressive comfort over rough roads comes from the soft padding.
The saddle looks very smart and is finished neatly, with the waterproof microfibre upper bonded straight to the nylon base. It's well put together and I had no issues with wear.
The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow is the ultimate statement saddle. Engineered in partnership with an F1 constructor, it is a carbon fibre chassis for your sit bones that's jaw-droppingly expensive, breathtakingly light, beautifully finished and actually surprisingly comfortable.
It looks a million dollars and certainly the SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow could be the most expensive saddle we've ever seen. Costing £439.99, its weight of 119g makes it £3.70 a gram. Not only is it gloriously expensive but Selle Italia also claims it is "the most futuristic full carbon saddle of all time." Teaming up with Dallara, an Italian company that makes composite products for F1 cars, the saddle features Suspension Link Movement technology for a more comfortable ride and a ridiculously low weight.
Fabric's Line-S Race Flat saddle will appeal to performance-focused riders looking for a stable, supportive design for fast riding – the Flat in the name means flat-out. Its stumpy length and wide, slightly-sloped rear encourage an efficient fixed position, while the full-length channel relieves pressure. Mostly, it works extremely well, but the angular channel sides can occasionally irritate and there's no real wiggle-room to ease pressure on long rides.
I have always used long-nosed saddles and had, until now, never got on with shorter, wider ones. I've been pleasantly surprised by the Line-S, though. The full-length channel means I can get into a low position, stay there and experience no soft tissue discomfort from pressure.
I managed rides of up to 2.5 hours at a tempo pace and the saddle stayed comfortable throughout, fixed though I was in position. This position allowed me to put down power efficiently and effectively.
Saddle adjustment is critical too, but no matter what I did, anything longer than 2.5hrs and I was wanting to shuffle about a bit more. The shape doesn't really allow it, though.
Specialized's S-Works Power with Mirror saddle is a new 3D-printed design with a honeycomb structure that offers a superb level of comfort, although you do have to pay handsomely for it.
Specialized has partnered with Californian company Carbon (link is external) in the development of this saddle. Carbon "has pioneered a way to 3D print from liquid polymer using a beam of light" (Specialized's words) and has software to construct highly complex shapes with this process.
You only have to glance at the Mirror saddle – which gets its name because it "perfectly reflects your anatomy", according to Specialized – to see that it's very different from the norm. There's nothing particularly unusual about the carbon composite rails or about the carbon base with a cutaway centre, but rather than foam on top of that, you get a 3D-printed polymer lattice. It looks a little like the inside of a beehive – minus the bees, obvs. I can't say I counted them myself but the matrix apparently consists of 14,000 struts and 7,799 nodes (intersections between those struts).
I've used this saddle loads over the past three months – short rides, long rides, road, gravel – and it has never disappointed. It feels comfortable at the start of a ride and it still feels comfortable hours later. Very little road buzz gets through and there's enough shock absorption to take the edge off any bigger hits that come your way. The textured surface is a little more grippy than most too, helping to keep you in position.
The Fabric Scoop Race Shallow is a well-made, supremely comfortable saddle, with a non-slip surface and shock-absorbing titanium rails, and comes at an excellent price.
The Scoop has been around a fair few years now and has a well-deserved reputation for being a very comfortable saddle for smashing out the miles. This titanium-railed version continues the theme, impressing with its levels of comfort, build quality and value.
The titanium rails gave a slightly sprung effect, so that any potholes or rough surfaces felt slightly damped. At no point during testing did I feel that it had been a harsh ride.
I also really like the non-slip surface formed by the Fabric logo. When you pick a position, you stay stuck to it – to move backwards and forwards you have to rise up and move, rather than slide. I tested it on some of the really steep climbs around Bath – some over 30% – and found it really good for seated climbing. On descents, or fast cornering too – as long as a small patch of your posterior is on the saddle – you stay in position.
The Prologo Dimension 143 CPC Tirox is a saddle for people who know exactly where they want to sit and want to be kept there. It's short, fairly wide and surprisingly comfortable, delivering an excellent, unobtrusive ride feel without fuss or gimmicks.
At 245mm long, the Dimension 143 CPC Tirox is significantly shorter than your typical performance saddle, so it won't suit riders who like to slide backwards and forwards a lot; there's basically nowhere to slide to. That's standard for short saddles, though, and the good news is that the position that the Dimension provides is really very comfortable indeed.
As well as limiting your freedom to move around by its shape, this version of the Dimension saddle is topped with sections of Prologo's Connect Power Control (CPC) material. Prologo claims CPC provides 'vibration absorbing, grip and position stability' and a whole lot more, but it's obvious when you use a CPC saddle that the main thing it does is grab you by the Lycra and keep you in place.
The Fabric Line Race Shallow saddle is a bit of a classic. Though it's been around for a few years now, it's still one of the best all-round performing saddles out there: comfortable on long rides, suitable for a range of riding styles, with subtle styling that looks great on any bike.
What you're getting here is a reasonably lightweight saddle with titanium rails for £75, which actually isn't a huge amount of money when you look around at what else offers the same – and a full-length pressure relief channel.
Most importantly, it's really very comfy. Okay, saddle comfort is personal, but I never thought I could be swayed away from the Charge Spoon saddle that I've been perched on for the last 15 years – it just seemed to suit me for some reason – but this is just as lovely a place to rest my backside, if not even more so. Despite there being quite a minimal level of padding, the combination of flexy titanium rails and the channel along the centre did a great job of cushioning me nicely.
The Selle Royal Float Athletic uses memory foam cushioning to offer a really well-supported and comfortable ride. While it won't necessarily be lusted over by fast road riders, for anybody who wants a little extra luxury, it's very good.
The problem with highly padded saddles is that you can't always legislate for where that padding goes, and it can end up restricting movement and even cause chafing. In truth, probably the best thing you can do to improve comfort is to buy good padded shorts and spend a sensible and regular amount of time in the saddle to build up your tolerance.
However, Selle Royal thinks it also has another answer. Its Float range of saddles uses Slow Fit memory foam which moulds itself to adapt to the shape of the body's contact points. This, Selle Royal says, "creates more uniform pressure distribution while maintaining effective support". This 'Athletic' model is the most svelte of the Float range (although, svelte-ness is all relative).
The Float Athletic's on-road performance is very good. The memory foam cushioning works a treat and offers a very comfortable base without ever feeling overtly soft or squidgy. Support is good across the width of the saddle and even the pressure-relieving channel does its job.
Cadex has created something pretty special with its Boost saddle: a seat that seems to be able to deliver on comfort and stiffness at exactly the same time thanks to its construction and design. The only downside to its short length is that you might not have enough fore and aft adjustment.
The Cadex brand was revived by bike behemoth Giant back in 2019 and carries a range of products like this Boost saddle. A carbon fibre-railed saddle with a carbon fibre base isn't that unheard of, but Cadex has gone about its design a little differently.
Rather than just plugging the rails into the base, Cadex has designed a two-piece frame where the rail section continues around the front and rear. At the rear the rails come up right to the back of the saddle, unlike most traditionally railed saddles where they finish beneath the sit bones. Cadex says its design means that the rail connection isn't positioned under a rider's direct contact point, therefore reducing pressure.
Tester Stu found that out on the road "it does seem to work very well, as the upper of the saddle feels firm from a performance point of view but absorbs a lot of the high frequency road vibration coming from below. Initially it feels like a hard saddle, and I was a bit apprehensive about how I was going to get on with it on long rides, but on three to four-hour jaunts I had no issues whatsoever, especially after a couple of rides on it and it had kind of settled to my shape."
Specialized's Women's Romin Evo Pro with MIMIC is a performance-orientated saddle that offers comfort and support for any kind of road ride. Fans of the company's Oura saddle are likely to be satisfied by this replacement: it's light, stiff and looks at home on any road racing bike.
Like many of Specialized's saddles, the Romin Evo Pro comes in three different widths – 143mm, 155mm and 168mm. Specialized recommends determining your size using a saddle width measuring tool, something likely available in one of its concept stores.
Tester Emma was impressed from the moment she first rode the Romin Evo Pro. She wrote: "It's the first time I have used a saddle without a cutout that hasn't caused any form of irritation or pain. There wasn't even any mild discomfort on the first few rides; the transition from Oura to Romin was completely seamless for me. Whether I was doing longer endurance rides or shorter, more intense efforts, slipping to the nose of the saddle, I felt one hundred per cent comfortable and supported. There is a little flex in the upper, sufficient to damp heavy vibrations and big hits."
The Cycles Berthoud Soulor leather saddle is beautifully made and well worth the relatively modest time it takes to bed in because, once moulded, it's like it was custom made for your backside.
The Soulor is the sportiest saddle in the Cycles Berthoud range. Brooks' Swallow is probably its closest comparator, although the Soulor is slightly narrower. It comes in four different finishes, all with stainless steel rails. There's also a titanium-railed sibling, the Galibier, if you can justify the extra £30-odd.
The Soulor is a vegetable-tanned, pre-softened cow-hide saddle, which is joined to the steel rails via Torx bolts. Theoretically, this means it can be stripped and rebuilt, say in the event of damaging or seeking to upgrade the rails.
It took about 200 miles of riding and treating to break in after which it was nigh-on formed to tester shaun's shape, so only felt in the most positive sense.
Tune's Skyracer saddle is a featherweight carbon saddle that provides surprising comfort. The cutout works well to relieve pressure and tester Liam was happy to use it for longer hill climb training sessions. The price does make it an expensive way to save weight, though.
Tune's Skyracer uses a bare carbon construction that will please the weight weenies. At 66g it beats many of the hill climb favourites and the max rider weight of 100kg is impressive. It's also more comfortable than it looks, though you probably still wouldn't want to do long road rides on it.
The Prologo Scratch 2 134 Tirox provides excellent comfort straight out of the box, and that doesn't change whether out on a five-hour road ride or a jaunt on the gravel. It has a curved shape from front to rear, dipping in the middle, and this really works. The upwardly swooping tail end gives something to push against should you want to whack the power out, but for the rest of the time the narrow nose and rounded edges offer plenty of clearance for hip rotation during the pedalling motion.
The Power Arc Expert is Specialized's successor to the Power Expert saddle which we found to provide reliable comfort and support even on all-day rides. Available in a range of widths to accommodate different sit bones, and with a cutout to relieve pressure, it's one you really can ride for hours without any issues.
The Astute Star Lite is a superbly made saddle that offers a high level of comfort, especially when you're in a low and aggressive riding position.
The carbon fibre-reinforced nylon shell has a cutaway centre to reduce pressure on the perineum – as you'll find on many other saddles – and on top of that you get tri-density memory foam padding.
The padding towards the back of the saddle is quite firm to support your sit bones, and more squashy at the front to cosset your soft tissue. It immediately moulds to your body shape to provide a load of comfort without any areas of high pressure. The cover is made from Italian microfibre that's easily wiped clean after a wet ride.
Charge describes the Fabric Scoop Gel as a 'comfort' design, and it ticks all the boxes: it's comfortable, well made, attractive and a fair price.
It's aimed at leisure, commuter and off-road riders who adopt an upright position, so has large gel inserts covering the three pressure points – the nose and wings – plus a V-shaped central channel to alleviate pressure on your bits. It's a unisex design, as are all Fabric saddles, but is particularly suited to women with wider sit bones.
The Bontrager Montrose Pro saddle looks great and is very well put together. It sits on the right side of the weight scale and it was very comfortable for me in its intended race-position use. Available in black or white, featuring a carbon reinforced shell and oversized full carbon 7x9mm rails it's offered in 128mm, 138mm and 148mm widths, all of which are 270mm long. Weights range from 160g to 172g.
Fabric's ALM Ultimate saddle is an extremely lightweight saddle that's beautifully made. It's best suited to those who like a firm feel and don't mind paying a premium price.
When your bum forst encounters the ALM it's a little surprising just how firm it feels. The 'ultra-light PU foam' padding is quite thin and there's not masses of give in the 'aerospace UD carbon fibre' base or the carbon-fibre rails. Don't get us wrong, it's not solid, but it isn't soft either.
The Brooks Cambium C13 is the latest model in the English brand's excursion into non-traditional materials for its saddles. There's no leather or chromed steel at all here, replaced by the vulcanised natural rubber and cotton top surface previously seen in the original Cambium models, and – what's this? – a full carbon fibre structure underneath. It's very well made (in Italy, not Birmingham, unlike the majority of the range) and there's no breaking-in period, unlike the leather models.
A supremely comfortable saddle with innovative shock absorption built in, the Morgaw Trian is designed for comfort, and our tester thought it perhaps the most comfortable saddle he had ever used. It seems that the shock absorbers are what have really made it comfortable. Morgaw is a saddle company from Slovakia that began as a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. The idea behind it came from Martin Moravcik and Slawek Gawlik, two ex-pro mountain bikers who wanted to make a new kind of saddle.
Rather than simply having the rails mounted onto the base of the saddle, they mount through shock absorbers in order to lessen the impact of bumps in the road. It is meant to protect your spine as this is naturally where the shocks radiate.
Proof that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a comfortable saddle, for just £40 this is a super-comfortable performance saddle with pressure-relieving channel.
It's based on Charge's popular Scoop but the foam padding is partitioned down the middle. The unique construction method means Fabric has been able to retain a full base, so you're protected from road spray (many saddles have a hole) and no reinforcement is needed of the foam padding, which means it can be lighter.
If the three-figure price of a Brooks Swift is a bit rich for your blood, this very similar own-brand seat from Harrogate touring specialist Spa Cycles is a very acceptable substitute. It's made from thick Australian leather with shiny chromed steel rails; very handsome.
Our tester found it comfortable even for 15-hour rides. For hard-core randonneurs on a budget or leather saddle virgins who want to try one without breaking the bank the Aire is just about perfect.
The Selle Italia Diva saddle is one of the most widely rider-recommended women's saddles and it's easy to see why. It's comfortable, flexible, light and it even looks good too.
This is a superior quality design offering superb comfort for all styles of bike and ride. An excellent women's saddle.
The Rido R-Lt saddle is a reasonably lightweight performance choice that's built specifically to avoid numbness. This is a brilliant saddle. It does what Rido claim with regards to comfort plus the shape and fit are spot on. It is low profile enough to be taken seriously as a race saddle and at only 230g it isn't going to add any unnecessary weight to your race bike.
Specialized's Body Geometry Ruby Expert saddle is one of those rare beasts, a lightweight women's specific performance saddle that's available in a choice of widths including a properly narrow 130mm to suit your style of riding and just as importantly your sit bones too.
The cushioning is placed exactly where you need it to support your sit bones, effectively alleviating any discomfort or feeling of pressure. It's a super light, firm but comfortably supportive road saddle with width fittings to suit most riders.
What do you get if you combine the classic Brooks 'hammock' saddle design with thoroughly modern materials? You get the supremely comfortable Cambium C17. It's not the lightest saddle around, but f you value comfort over weight, then the Brooks Cambium C17 should be on your list of saddles you must try, and soon.
Scoop saddles are is available in three shapes: flat, shallow and radius. Though there isn't much padding in the Fabric Scoop Pro Flat, there is loads of flex in the one-piece base and it's this flex that really provides the core of the comfort. The carbon rails do provide a surprising amount of flex, but their shape and size isn't compatible with a lot of seat post clamps, so the best advice is to check your seat post is compatible; you might need to change clamp or post.
The real beauty of the Fabric Scoop is the construction. The waterproof microfibre cover isn't stitched or stapled into place, it's moulded to a one-piece nylon base. It's really very impressive and if you get the chance to fondle one in your bike shop you really should, it's a marvellous bit of design.
On the surface the Rivet Independence is a traditional leather saddle, but it has a modern twist in the form of a composite resin frame. anyone who fancies trying a leather saddle would do well to try the Independence.
The Independence shares the quality construction and thick leather of Rivet's Pearl saddle, along with the all-important tension plate underneath, which prevent the saddle from splaying. Where it differs significantly from the other saddles in the range is the composite resin frame (complete with bag loops). This sturdy plastic helps to keep the weight down.
After a short acclimatisation period our tester's backside and the saddle were in complete harmony. Anyone who fancies trying a leather saddle would do well to try the Independence.
The Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Saddle is an incredibly light and very stiff design that allows for a really strong transfer of power.
Weight is the biggest selling point of this saddle, and Selle San Marco has really pulled out all the stops in cutting down excess, it comes in at just 112.1g.
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David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.