Bicycle Saddles – How to find your perfect bicycle saddle
We tend to spend a lot of time in our bicycle saddles. If you don’t like your saddle, then you ain’t going to like your ride either!
If you are new to mountain biking then some discomfort is expected with a new saddle but it shouldn’t last much longer than 3 or 4 days riding. It will help if you have the right saddle in the 1st place. Follow these tips and techniques to ensure your ride is as enjoyable as possible
Measure Your Sit Bones
The main indicator as to whether bicycle saddles will be comfortable is if they let you sit on your sit bones, instead of your butt muscles. Specialized have a foam covered body geometry indicator. It is made of memory foam, which you sit on and it’ll imprint your butt. This will allow them or you to measure your sit bone distance… you can then compare that measurement to the saddles’ width. Measuring your sit bones is a great place to start.
If you can’t find a local bike shop that has this nifty device (or if you are too embarrassed to have someone measure the size of your ass) then you can do it at home if you can get a hold of some memory foam. Alternatively, just get a clear bag of sand and sugar, sit on it like you would a bicycle saddle and then measure your sit bone distance.
What to Look for in a Saddle
The wider a saddle at the rear, the worse the mobility will be when hanging off the back (like on steep descents). This is an important consideration if you ride trails where you are often hanging over the back wheel
You should expect at least a year out of a decent saddle with regular riding. The major deteriorations are:
- Rips to the fabric
- Sagging of the structure
- Bending and flexing in the rails
So make sure you get a good quality, durable saddle, preferably with some sort of crash protection to protect the saddle’s material and read these bike saddle reviews to find out what is available
Test, Test and Test some more
The next step to finding bicycle saddles is to get our there and try them. All saddles are different so you just need to go to your bike shop and ask to try out a whole bunch of different saddles. You should find that most will be happy to help you unless they are really busy.
When you do purchase a bicycle saddle just remember that a saddle is like a pair of leather shoes – you need to give it a few weeks or month to ‘wear it in’. Trust me, this will make a big difference. If you give a saddle a chance, you will usually find that unless it is not suited to you, then after a month or so of riding you will hardly even notice it is there.
Get Some Padded Shorts
While you are getting a new saddle, I would recommend getting a pair of padded shorts or short inners. These nifty things will give you that little bit extra padding to ensure you are comfortable all day long
How about a Gel Cover?
A lot of people have also asked me about gel covers. My opinion is that they are a load of crap! Why? When you sit on it, your body weight moves the gel to the side and thus doesn’t increase comfort, BUT, you can actually have too much padding also. The extra padding can work it’s way into gaps and create areas of pressure which you don’t want, increasing overall pressure and pain.
Get the Height Right
When you have your brand new saddle make sure you set it up correctly. Your bicycle saddle should be parallel to the ground for optimal positioning.
Your bicycle saddles height is also critical. You should be able to stand with your heel on the furthest point of your pedal with your leg straight or carrying a very slight bend. It is important that your hips are straight when you test this. If you ride downhill this height should be lowered a little bit to improve mobility.
To help you decide on the correct saddle read reviews. I have conducted bike saddle reviews of 9 saddles under $200 to help you find a worthy saddle