Here at Bike Shop Girl we realized long ago that finding the right saddle is a very personal, unique and often the hardest part of bike riding. This is Part I of our on going Saddle Talk, I welcome all comments, questions and feedback on this subject. Our Intro was a short and sweet piece from about two weeks back, now let’s get talking!
There are many different TYPES of saddles. I could possibly take the leap and say there are as many TYPES of saddles as there are types of bicycles.
Glancing quickly over at Bontrager, WTB and Terry Bicycles here are the basic types of saddles these large companies design, stock and feel confident enough in the amount of people needing to buy them.
InForm “racer type” series
Sport series with designed padding and cut out
Approved series is your basic
Commuter series has weather resistant material and gel
Boulevard series, a hybrid style
Suburbia series, wider than above for less distance
Cruiser series, belongs on your beach bike or a tractor
Women’s All Around
With all these saddles where do you start? Let me try to put it in more basic terms…
The length of time you’ll be spending on the saddle is important, but also working up the mileage slowly is important. My rear is used to sitting on something hard, so sitting on a harder saddle is more comfortable to me as I don’t sink into it after 2 hours on the bike like I would on a more padded seat.
Soft, wide saddles are for the recreational rider that normally owns a Cruiser or Comfort Hybrid of some sort. Their trip distance will be <10 miles and at a slower pace. The width can cause chafing as it pushing your legs apart, and the padding can break down with age. If you are spending more continuous time on the saddle you may start sinking down into the padding and your soft tissues will be holding you up instead of your sit bones. If your distance or time picks up look for a narrower, slightly denser padded, seat.
Firmer, recreational saddles are the most popular when it comes to family and mountain bikes. Normally they will have a well positioned split in the middle towards rear of the seat. The padding is dense so you won’t sink in for awhile, but as you push your mileage make sure this saddle doesn’t sag in the middle like a hammock.
Light, firm, performance saddles are where most women find the most fight when trying to find the right one. Part of this is fitting and the woman’s anatomy and soft tissue areas. As we try to get less upright and rock forward we push our soft tissues into the front of the seat. Finding the seat that feels comfortable in the back but doesn’t make painful issues is hard. Every woman is made different and the woman that is looking for this level of saddle probably rides a lot and wants to be aggressive in their fitting.
Make sure a shop takes time to situate the seat to your liking. The cut out should eliminate many aches from the front, soft, tissues. The wider, firmer, area in the back should be contacting your sit bones comfortably with no seams or stitching.
Next up in our series I will be talking about the new way of thinking on measuring your sit bones to aid in finding the right seat.