Bike Seats: How to Choose What Is Right for Me

If you are considering a new bike saddle purchase, there are many important aspects to consider that will improve your comfort and allow you to be able to ride for longer periods than ever before.

Bike Seat Materials

Understanding the different materials that are used on the cover of the bike saddle will allow you to choose one that will work best for you, that is within your budget, in your preferred brand, and you will ultimately be pleased with your purchase.

The main materials used in the cover of a bicycle saddle include Lycra, Vinyl or Leather. Vinyl typically becomes more slippery than Lycra, but it is more durable. Lycra isn’t quite as durable as Vinyl, but it breathes better and so it isn’t as slippery after long rides. Leather is the most expensive type of material for bike seat covers available, because it is durable and breathes well, but it also requires special maintenance care that Vinyl and Lycra do not.

Size and Shape

Any bike rider, whether novice or experienced, knows that the size and the shape of a bicycle seat will affect the rider. While most bike saddles are in the same general shape a triangle they often have small differences that will affect the ride. The width of the saddle for any bike will have an effect on the rider: the wider the saddle, the more weight it can hold. However, long bike rides may result in chafing of the inner thighs if a wide saddle is used.

Not only is the width important, but any additional changes to the original shape can increase or harbor comfort as well. For example, bike seats that have a hole in the middle or front (usually this hole is covered with material) will create less pressure on the testicles. This works great for some men, but for others the fit is improper and may actually cause more pain while riding than a traditionally-built saddle.

Inside Materials

When you will be riding for long periods of time on your bicycle, it is only natural that a softer seat might be preferred. However, this will often lead to a higher cost with a relatively small benefit because a soft material may feel great for short rides, but for avid riders who spend a lot of time on their bikes, saddles with a stiffer inside stuffing (that doesn’t give) are often the most comfortable.

What to Look for

Since there are so many different types of bike saddles available, with wide ranges in prices, materials and styles, it can be hard to know which one is for you. One important detail is to consider what you have used in the past. If you had a good experience with a particular saddle in the past, consider purchasing the same saddle again, or one with similar characteristics. If you have yet to find that perfect aftermarket bicycle saddle, there are a few things you can do to help you choose. WTB saddles typically offer a good over all value for get and these saddles tend to fall in the mid range of quality. While Selle Italia saddles tend to be high quality light weight performance saddles.

  • Ask around: visiting biker forums online can often help you determine other people’s experiences with certain saddle features.
  • Read reviews: Product descriptions tell you about the saddle, but user reviews can help you see what users did or did not like about a certain bike saddle.
  • Notice other bikes: by seeing what types of saddles riders around you are using, you may be able to find one you like, particularly if you get to try it out.

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2 Responses to “Bike Seats: How to Choose What Is Right for Me”

  1. Edward says:

    I really do like the Lycra covering for saddles. They are more comfortable than vinyl, and I have never been able to justify the cost of a leather seat. That’s just me, I guess. I know a lot of riders prefer leather, because it lasts a long time and so it’s a good value in the long run. Maybe I will step up and buy a leather seat one of these days. But my Lycra seats last pretty good, so I’ll probably stick with them for now.

  2. Jessie says:

    I have always opted for vinyl saddle covers, for two reasons: One, I’m too cheap to shell out a lot of bucks for a leather one or even Lycra, and Two, I would go through a lot of seats anyway because I ride hard and I ride a lot. That’s why I also prefer a stiffer filling inside the saddle itself. It just feels better on those long rides.

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