If you just get into cycling, riding for an hour or more can give you sores not just in the legs, but also in the bums. Sore legs are understandable, but sore bums can ruin the enjoyment of cycling.
That’s why having the right saddle is a must.
Depending on the price level of your bike, the saddle that your bike came equipped with may not be good enough for you. So, a saddle upgrade is often necessary for new cyclists.
Choosing the most comfortable bike seat is not hard, you just need time because there are tons of different saddle options out there. It all narrows down to your personal preference and fit, and what type of rider you are.
This article reflects on the most comfortable bike saddles and the essential factors to consider before picking your bike saddle.
How We Choose These Saddles
There are many saddle options for road bikes out there. So how do we choose which ones to recommend?
Obviously, we can’t try every saddle out there. Thankfully, most saddles are actually quite similar. In general, they are separated into three types:
- Long-nosed saddle
- Short-nosed saddle
- Lightweight saddle
The third type might not be for you, but for weight weenies out there we want to recommend you something lightweight without sacrificing too much comfort.
From there, we go to some of the most popular saddle brands like Fizik, Fabric, Selle Italia, Specialized, Prologo, and more, then gather people’s opinions on these saddles. Finally, we gave them a try on the road to have an actual review to write about.
That said, here is our top selection for the most comfortable bike seats.
Most Comfortable Bike Saddles
To get a road saddle that you feel comfortable riding on depends entirely on you. So, before buying any bike saddle, ensure you measure the size, test it and check if it addresses all your concerns. Let’s look at some of the most comfortable bike saddles in the market today.
Most Comfortable Overall: Fizik Antares Versus Evo Adaptive
The Fizik Antares Versus Evo Adaptive saddles are well-designed for a vast variety of bike riders shapes. This makes it among the top most popular bike saddles.
It has adaptive 3D printed padding. As a result, it’s the most comfortable road saddle that provides excellent support to places that need it most, especially during long rides. Its design and cushioning are perfect for pressure relief, and the rail length is good enough to give you an ample amount of adjustment.
Fizik Antares Versus Evo Adaptive is available in three different levels. All have the same comfortable padding, just different rail materials. The different rail materials might have a small impact to comfort, but it shouldn’t matter that much.
The only practical difference is weight and price.
Here’s the difference:
- Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive: Carbon shell and rails. Weight is 168-171g, Price $399.99
- Fizik Antares Versus Evo R1 Adaptive: Reinforced nylon shell and carbon rails. Weight is 180-83g, Price $299.99
- Fizik Antares Versus Evo R3 Adaptive: Reinforced nylon shell and steel rails. Weight is 217-220g, Price $259.99
00 is the lightest and most expensive option out of the three. For most people, R1 is best for the money because the carbon rails are considerably lighter than steel and will give you a more comfortable ride, and the price difference is not that big.
Also, R3 is not that cheap either, and if you are willing to spend that much money on a saddle anyway why not spend just a bit more.
- The most comfortable saddle we’ve ever tried, it’s that good
- Provides good support when putting down some power
- Great for long distance riding and still quite good for short and high effort riding
- The top level 00 is expensive but not very lightweight
- The cheapest R3 is still expensive
- The honeycomb design can trap dirt inside
- Not sure about durability of the design in the long term
Popular Choice: Specialized Power
Specialized was the first brand to get into the short-nosed saddle game with its Power saddle. They have been the most popular saddle since.
The specialized power bike saddles are specially designed to optimize the performance of cyclists’ power. The short-nosed saddles are perfect for aggressive riders.
It can help you adjust your body posture effectively and relieve pressure on your perineum. This will enable you to ride longer, faster, and more comfortably. The design also allows for excellent blood flow, eliminating pain on the sit bones.
There are twelve Specialized Power saddle types in total, each with different rail materials, padding materials, and shapes. It can be confusing to choose the right one for you, so let us explain the “nomenclature” used by Specialized:
- Comp: The Power Comp saddle use Cr-Mo (steel) material for the rail. This is the cheapest and heaviest one out of all the Specialized Power saddles.
- Expert and Pro: One level above Comp, Expert saddles use titanium rails to reduce weight and absorb more vibration. Pro use the same rails but usually have different padding material which we explain below.
- S-Works: S-Works Power saddle use carbon rails to reduce even more weight. This is the lightest Special Power saddle at just 151g.
So far, these three levels of saddles use the same type of padding, the only difference is thickness. Comp the thickest and S-Works with the least amount of padding.
But that’s not everything. On the website, you can also find Power saddles with different padding shapes and materials. Reading the sales copy jargon will only add to your confusion because they are so vague, but here are the gist using normal human language:
- MIMIC: If a saddle has MIMIC in its name, that means the padding feels softer than normal
- Mirror: The Mirror padding is made of 3D printed material (just like Fizik Adaptive saddle). Using 3D printer allows them to fine-tune the different level of softness in different spots on the saddle. Much more expensive but more people also find it more comfortable.
- Elaston: The padding is made of expanded foam that doesn’t fatigue as quickly, so they might be more comfortable for longer rides
- Arc: Power Arc saddles are more curved towards the edge. Curved saddles can feel better for people with higher flexibility, but people with low flexibility might not like it because they make you feel “locked” in place.
- A large arrange of options with different price, shape, and padding
- It’s a very popular saddle liked by many people. Chances are, it might fit you too.
- Some Power saddle types are available in three different widths (most saddles only have two sizes)
- They don’t do a good job at explaining in a straightforward way, which might make a lot of people confused
- Fore-aft adjustment is very limited
- Very expensive, just like other Specialized products
For Aggressive Position: PRO Stealth
PRO Stealth is designed to improve power output by optimizing the rider’s position on the bicycle. It has a large pressure relief channel making it the most comfortable bike saddle for the riders who use an aggressive, forward position.
PRO Stealth is specialized to allow you to ride longer, faster, and further. Designed for the casual or professional cyclist and helps reduce chafing, especially if riding for long-distance.
PRO Stealth has a broad nose and a wide cutout making it excellent for pressure relief on sensitive areas.
The Stealth comes in several levels:
- Stealth Sport saddle: The cheapest and heaviest option with CRMO (steel) rails at 267g
- Stealth saddle: Slightly lighter with stainless-steel rails at 205g
- Stealth Carbon saddle: Same shell material but with carbon rails at 172g
- Stealth Superlight saddle: The most expensive option with carbon shell and carbon rails at 145g
There are also Curved Stealth saddles that are more curved on the sides than the original. Curved saddles can feel better for people with high flexibility.
- Wide pressure relief channel
- The shell is very stiff even on the lowest level. Stiff shells are more comfortable when you use more power on the pedals
- Great for short, fast ride where you’re always in aggressive position
- The top level Stealth Superlight saddle is decently lightweight
- Flat surface allow you to move around on the saddle
- The wider nose may rub your inner thighs and uncomfortable for longer rides
- Different rail placement than other short-nosed saddles. The rail is farther in the back, so if you clamp it right in the middle, your Stealth saddle is placed more forward than other saddles
- The wings of the flat Stealth saddle might be too flat and chafe the back of your thighs during the downpedal
Most Comfortable Super Lightweight Saddle: Berk Lupina
If you’re a weight weenie looking for a super lightweight saddle, Berk Lupina handmade saddle is your answer.
It comes in two widths, 132mm and 150mm, and a length of 275mm. Padded and unpadded.
Unpadded saddles might sound uncomfortable, but Berk Lupina is not bad at all as long as you use decent pair of bibs. Some people swear by how good it is shaped that they actually prefer it over other padded saddles.
Give this saddle a try if you have the chance, you might actually like it.
The 132mm saddle weighs 79g, while the 150mm weighs 84g. This saddle might not be for everyone, but it offers enough comfort for weight weenies out there.
If you’re not ready to go unpadded, they also have a “padded” version with a little extra weight. Written in quotation marks, because the padding is super thin that some people might still consider it unpadded anyway.
- Super lightweight at only 79-84g
- Great warranty. Berk himself will send you a replacement if you break it
- Surprisingly comfortable (although not everyone might fit)
- Slow customer service. They are a small startup company.
- Not good for non-skinny riders. Weight limit is 100kg including saddle bag and accessories, but even a rider above 80kg or 175lbs will probably find it uncomfortable
- Flexy shell
- Unpadded saddle is a bit slippery, especially when wet
Most Comfortable Lightweight Short-nosed Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow
If an unpadded long-nosed saddle is not for you, then this one might.
The Selle Italia SLR Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow has a carbon shell with Carbon/Keramic rails, making it lighter, stronger, and more comfortable. This saddle is famous for its low weight —130mm size tips the scale at 122g only.
It comes with nice, firm padding to reduce discomfort, especially during long rides. In addition, the saddle has a large anatomic flow cutout that eases the pressure to sensitive parts, leaving you comfortable.
- The large cutout helps to relieve pressure, eliminating irritation and numbness in the nether regions
- Super light for a padded saddle that feel just like a normal saddle
- Stiff carbon shell
- The cost is high, over $400
- Very narrow fore-aft adjustment
- Cutout hole might be too big for some people
Best Value: Bontrager Aeolus Comp
If you’re looking for the most affordable and comfortable road saddle, look no more. You can quickly get the Bontrager Aeolus Comp saddle at a price of $100.
Bontrager Aeolus saddle is available in three price levels: Comp, Elite, and Pro.
The Aeolus Comp is especially good because it comes with such a low price for a high-quality and well-thought saddle.
The saddle is made with synthetic material for the cover, foam cushioning, same as their Pro-level saddle, just a little bit thicker, and a steel rail instead of carbon. It’s made to maximize performance and comfortability. The perfect full cutout will ensure proper ventilation and reduced heat. Also, the cutout relieves pressure on the soft tissues, allowing for a powerful riding position.
The Comp saddle has thicker padding than the Pro, so while I personally prefer the Pro myself, the Comp is so close behind that spending extra is not worth it unless you really care about the weight.
The Bontrager Aeolus Comp comes in two dimensions:
- 145 MM: 250 x 145mm, 286g
- 155 MM: 250 x 155 mm, 289g
Most saddles, even the best ones from this list have very narrow fore-aft adjustments. Not Bontrager Aeolus, I’m glad to inform you that this saddle has a satisfyingly wide adjustment range.
Not all short-nosed saddles are great for long-distance riding because of their wide profile, but Bontrager Aeolus is nicely curved around the wings that they don’t feel uncomfortable even on more than 100km rides.
- Wide fore-aft adjustment, great if you’re not sure about your fit just yet
- Comfortable in an aggressive position and long distance riding
- Very cheap for a saddle with this quality
- Not the lightest saddle, not even at this price level
- Nose might be too wide for some, but not as wide as PRO Stealth
Choosing the Right BIcycle Seat For You
Selecting a bike saddle gets easier if you know your riding style and your own body. Let’s now answer some questions to help you choose the right saddle.
Do You Ride Long Distances or Short and Fast?
Bike saddle designs are highly dependent on the distance to be covered and the speed at which the rider rides the bike.
It’s hard to find the perfect saddle if you don’t know what kind of riding you will be doing most of the time. Knowing the speed you use and the distance you cover per day will significantly help you choose the perfect saddle.
Bike Saddles For Long Distance
If you’re planning to ride mostly long distances, the long and narrow nose can be better. The long nose has more support and gives you stability.
Some riders prefer short-nosed saddles even for long distances. Claiming that it gives you more pressure relief. The truth is, short-nosed saddles can be more comfortable because they generally have larger cutouts, not because they are short. We’ll talk more about this later.
In short, make sure to choose saddles with good-sized pressure relief.
Additionally, the padding of long-distance saddles shouldn’t be too thick and squishy because in the long period they can deform and increase pressure on the perineum.
Looking at the saddles listed above, Fizik Antares might be the right saddle for you if you prefer long-distance riding. If you’re turned down by the price, they also have non-3D printed versions that are cheaper but use the same shape.
PRO Stealth is our least favorite long-distance saddle because its wide-nose might chafe your thighs during repeated pedaling action.
Bike Saddles For Short Distance, Intense Ride
For short distance and intense rides like a criterium, hill climb events, or just a ride around the block, we recommend a short nose saddle with a wider sitting area like the PRO Stealth or Bontrager Aeolus. The wide cutouts and wide nose are great if you want to adopt the more aggressive riding position.
The Specialized S-Works Power is also an excellent choice for intense rides. But make sure not to choose the soft padding option like the MIMIC technology.
Do Men and Women Need Different Saddles?
Theoretically, men and women can’t optimally use the same saddle. This is because women’s pelvic areas are slightly wider than men’s. Therefore, a wider saddle is required for the women to support the sit bones adequately.
However, you don’t have to choose a gender-specific saddle because most brands have two or more width selections.
Nowadays, there aren’t really women or men-specific saddles. Ladies can use men’s saddles and vice versa as long as they are wide enough. In general, men can use wider saddles (even though narrower is probably more preferable) but women might not be able to use a narrower saddle. That’s why wide saddles are often labeled as for women.
What’s the Right Saddle Width for You?
How do I know my saddle width? This is a common question because most performance-oriented saddles have two or more size variants. The narrower is 130-145mm and the wider is sometimes up to 160mm.
Extra-wide saddles are popular among casual riders and people who are new to cycling. But wider isn’t better for road cycling. The wider a saddle is, the more your moving body parts will be in unnecessary contact with the saddle, causing chafed skin. Saddles need to only support your sit bones and the area around them.
Most men probably need the narrower saddle because they have narrower sit bones than women. That’s a general rule of thumb, but not always the case. Small-figured women might need a narrower saddle, and some men might need a wider saddle.
Saddle width can have a huge influence on your endurance, speed, and comfort level during the ride. So getting the actual width is crucial.
A good way to know your saddle width is by measuring the sit bone width. This can be done in bicycle shops or at home. Bicycle shops use devices like giant peanuts or gel pads to take your sit bone measurements.
- Sit on the device.
- You can imitate your riding style for the best capture of your width.
- Your sit bones will leave an impression on the device.
- Measure the distance from center to center of the impression
- Add an allowance of 25mm to your measurement for the saddle to be a perfect size.
You can also take your measurement at home on cardboard while sitting on a stool or stairs. After a minute or two, mark the center of the two indented spots quickly with a pen before they return to normal, and then measure the width. Add 15 to 30mm, that’s the right saddle size for you.
Should You Buy Long vs. Short-Nosed Saddle?
I’ve mentioned a few times about the two types of road bike saddle earlier, now let’s go in-depth about each type.
This is what most people think of when they think of a bike saddle. The nose is long and narrow, while the rear of the saddle is wide and flat.
The “problem” with long-nosed saddles is that you can’t sit on the nose, so they are practically useless. This is not a problem by itself, but the UCI has a rule that basically says the tip of the saddle should be at least 5cm behind the bottom bracket. This is to prevent riders from setting their saddle too far forward (it’s a weird rule, like many other rules created by UCI).
Since you don’t sit on the nose, these days saddle manufacturers remove 2cm from the unused tip of the saddle so racers can sit more forward.
Some people say that the long nose is putting excessive stress on sensitive tissues. If you think about it, this reasoning doesn’t actually make sense. If you can’t sit on it, it’s not actually creating any problem.
So, short-nosed saddles were invented and have become increasingly popular.
But long-nosed saddle is not actually worse than short-nosed saddles. We’ll see why in a moment.
Short-nosed saddles typically have wider rear and a wider nose than long-nosed saddles. This allows the nose to actually be sit-able and riders to feel more “planted” when sitting on the back.
So, are short-nosed saddles better?
There is no straight answer. Saddle problems are not caused by the saddle itself but usually by the excessive reach as a result of the bike being too long. Short-nosed saddles make you feel more comfortable simply because it allows you to sit further forward and effectively reduce the reach of your bicycle.
Sitting further forward and reducing reach also means that you’re sitting more upright, your hips open up and relax, which allows for better blood flow through the area and reduces pressure on your perineal region.
So this is actually a bike fit problem, not a long-nose saddle problem.
Also, typical short-nosed saddles have bigger cutouts because they are wider in the rear part.
If you’ve been struggling with traditional saddle issues, sure, try short-nosed saddles and see if they will solve your problem.
However, short-nosed saddles aren’t always better.
Short-nosed saddles are made to be wider than long-nosed saddles to allow riders to sit further forward and compensate for the lack of stability provided by the extra nose length, so if you have narrow sit bones, short-nosed saddles may not be comfortable for you. They can chafe the inner and back parts of your thighs during long rides.
In short, long-nosed saddles may feel better on longer rides.
Is Thick and Soft Padding Better?
Padding is important, but do you need thick cushioning on your saddle?
It depends on the type of riding. If you’re a road cyclist who wears bibs during a ride, a performance saddle with minimal, firm padding is better.
For commuting, softer and thicker padding can be better because when you ride off-road you need more protection against a harsher surface. Also, in commuting, you probably don’t wear padded shorts.
Mountain bikes or off-road saddles are similar to road bikes but with slightly more padding.
Thick and soft cushioning may feel nice at the first contact, but the more you ride, the more they deform and create pressure on your soft tissues. Also, soft and thick padding will have a bigger contact surface with your skin and doesn’t circulate air well, accumulating excessive sweat and causing chafed skin.
However, for a road bike and outdoor exercise bike, firm padding is usually more ergonomic.
Why You Should Never Use a Padded/Gel/Foam Seat Cover
If your bike seat is uncomfortable, you may think of buying a padded seat cover. But is it good?
Not at all.
While plush and comfy, the seat cover might put a strain on the perineum, especially on long rides. In addition, the pressure causes blood vessels to constrict, resulting in inadequate blood flow.
If you wear padded seat coverings for an extended period, you may get soreness, numbness, or pain in the nether region.
Also, loose covers may keep shifting and can interfere with your performance or restrict your riding position.
The only reason to buy a seat cover is when you need to use your training or racing road bike for a short commute when you don’t wear padded shorts. Even then, if you’re used to riding a road bike already, you’re probably fine without the seat cover at all for short rides
Is Pressure Relief Cutout Necessary?
One of the most common complaints about riders is discomfort due to their saddles. This is mainly attributed to the pressure exerted on the soft tissues in the perineal region.
The purpose of a cutout is to relieve pressure on the perineum caused by the saddle.
Studies show that a cutout is an effective way of reducing pressure. Additionally, they make the seat breathable by allowing airflow. This helps reduce heat and sweating hence making the seat comfortable. This is another reason not to use a seat cover.
Although more people prefer having a cutout, there are riders who don’t need cutouts or can’t get comfortable with one. They are usually riders with smaller hips or people with some extra skins around the bottom area that may get pinched in the cutout hole.
If you are one of those people, try saddles with pressure relief that doesn’t make an open hole cutout like Specialized Power MIMIC or saddles without any kind of pressure relief like Fizik Antares (without Evo).
How to Make Your Existing Saddle More Comfortable
If you look at it, most saddles are actually pretty similar. Your existing saddle might not be too far different from the ones listed in this article, and it is possible that your saddle is not actually uncomfortable.
Here are some tips you can do to make your saddle more comfortable.
Tips for Making Your Saddle More Comfortable
- Reduce the reach of your bike by swapping to a shorter stem or a handlebar with shorter reach. If you feel too stretched out on the bike, this is something you need to address first before getting a new saddle.
- Move your saddle backward until you feel balanced on the bike, not falling forwards
- Use bike shorts with a better padding
- Adjust the angle of your saddle by tilting it forward or backward
- Ensure the saddle’s height is correct. Setting the saddle slightly lower than optimal is actually safer and better than having your saddle set slightly too high. If you’re not sure, just lower the saddle—you will know if it’s too low.
How to Set Your Saddle Height and Angle Correctly
One of the most common causes of saddle discomfort is actually not caused by the saddle itself. They are caused by the saddle not being appropriately adjusted. Even the most expensive saddle will never be comfortable if it’s not set up correctly.
How to Set Your Seat Post or Saddle Height
The easiest way to get a starting point for saddle height is by using your heel.
- While sitting on your bike wearing your usual cycling outfit and shoes, place one of your heels on the center of the pedal.
- Try pedalling forwards and backwards with only your heel
- If your knee is bent at around 6 o’clock pedal position, it means the seat is low. If you lose contact with your pedal, it means the saddle is too high.
- If you can just rotate the pedal with a straight leg without rocking your hips, that is close to the right height.
Once you set the starting point, you can try to find the perfect fit by adjusting your saddle about 3mm up and then pedaling normally for 5 minutes. If you repeat this step a few times, at some point you will notice that you lose some control when one of your feet is at the bottom stroke, your pedaling feels more like pushing in rhythm instead of a nice circular movement.
When that happens, lower your seat 3-5mm once and you’re set.
How to Set Your Saddle Tilt
Some saddles have their own recommendation, but here’s general guidance:
If you have a flat surface, long-nosed saddle, your saddle should be at 0 degrees or at most tilted 2 degrees nose down if you ride in an aggressive position.
If your saddle is curved, try tilting down so that the difference between the two highest points of your saddle is at most 2 degrees nose down.
If you tilt your saddle too much, you’ll end up sliding off the seat and this will put more pressure on your hands.