There are no good or bad saddles. There is one that will fit you and the rest that won’t.
How do you find the one that fits you perfectly?
· You need a good bike fit. This may sound obvious coming from a bike fitter. But the saddle that would fit you best will still be uncomfortable if your position is wrong. If you can’t get a bike fit then make sure – at least – that your saddle is not too high.
· Test little or non-padded models from one brand. Then move on to the next brand and go through the same procedure. If can’t find one that is perfect and end up with one that is almost good, then – and only then – try a slightly more padded version of that same saddle.
· An ideal saddle will have uninterrupted and smooth contact along the bottom of your pelvis starting from the ischial tuberosity and along the pubic bone. If you feel random intrusions or points of contact then the saddle doesn’t fit you.
· Try the saddles at different angles – the nose pointed more up or down –before passing judgement.
· Beware that a saddle may initially feel like a good fit but still be rubbing on your thighs.
· Make sure the pedalling action remains smooth when sitting on the saddle. Saddles with wide rear-ends may push your hips forward with each pedal stroke and cause your upper body rock - especially if you have wide thighs.
· Once you have found a promising saddle, you need to go on a couple of longer rides at varying intensities to confirm that it is a match to your bottom.
How not to be misled when choosing a saddle?
· Never take a saddle recommendation seriously. One that is perfect for someone can easily give you hell.
· Ignore all formulas, rules and apps (!) that take your waist width or flexibility into account and give you a generic suggestion.
· Don’t waste time measuring your sit bones. You do not sit on them on the bike! At best they are the outmost points of your contact.
· Do not go for highly padded saddles. Padding will compensate very little for a saddle that does not fit. And if the shape of the saddle does actually fit then the padding will be rubbing and causing irritation on your private parts. A perfectly fitting saddle can be very hard but will still be very comfortable. (Triathletes not using padded cycling shorts are exceptions and would require slightly more padding).
· A saddle that “allows” you to move around is no good. You move around either because your position is compromised or the saddle is simply uncomfortable.
· Do not just sit on the different saddles. You need to pedal on them, preferably on your typical riding intensity.
· Short nosed (“TT saddles”) saddles are simply saddles that have their front ends chopped-off to get around the UCI rule of “a saddle should be at least 5cm behind the bottom bracket”. The very common mistake is to assume the rules are there to make you slower and then find a way to get around them. Very very very often you would not benefit from being that far forward anyway. If you consider a short nosed saddle than compare them to all the rest using same criteria mentioned above.
At Velodynamics testing saddles on the position simulator is free. We carry the whole range of SMP saddles and welcome you to bring all the saddles you can get a hold of. All our test saddles are available for an extended rental period.