24.8 miles. That’s the distance of an Olympic biking stage. That is a long distance (and time) to go in a bike saddle. Couple that with the fact that your posterior isn’t exactly the strongest part of your body, and you will agree with me that it is best to have the most comfortable bicycle seat for such long-distance cycling.
Having a bad bike seat is actually like having a bad bed. You’ll definitely feel the effects when you come down.
And that is why you need to be serious about getting the best saddle for your bike.
With the many bike seat designs and sizes available, it can be quite a confusing task choosing the right bike seat that will be able to accommodate you comfortably and at the same time enhance your performance.
Don’t despair though, and don’t pick a bike seat blindly. There are certain factors you need to consider in order to get that bike seat that you’ll be happy with.
Things to Consider When Looking for a Bike Saddle
I know what you’re probably thinking: “If it looks cool, it’s good enough.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Looks alone can’t determine if a bike seat will be kind enough to your rear end to give you a good race.
Here are a few pointers on choosing the best bike saddle for those long marathon rides.
1. Saddle Width
When it comes to bike seats, “one size fits” all doesn’t work so well. People come in all shapes and sizes, and for you to get the right saddle, you need to get one that comfortably accommodates the width of your rump. To do this, you have to experiment with a number of bike seats (in the bike shop, of course) until you find the perfect one.
2. Saddle Shape
The shape of your saddle must accommodate the shape of your rear and the size of your seat bones. The seat bones are the bones in your pelvis that come directly in contact with the saddle. When it comes to speed and performance, the more stretched out you are on your bike, the faster you will go.
For you to achieve the best stretched-out riding position, you will need a narrower saddle. But don’t just go for the narrowest saddle in the bike shop just because you want to maximize your speed. You have to reach a comfortable compromise between a narrow saddle and the shape and size of your bum.
3. Angle of Tilt
Bike seats have different angles that are determined by design and make. Though the differences may be subtle, they have a big impact on the angle of your spine while riding. Although adjusting the angle on the seat mounting is possible, you will still make sure that the angles on the saddle itself are friendly to your body.
4. Proper Padding
Bike saddles have different amounts of padding depending on the type of riding you will be doing. For leisure riding, your bike seat will have more padding in the form of either a gel or thicker foam. For performance riding, bike seats have less padding so as to shave off weight.
But despite the reduced padding, you should look for a bike seat that is lightweight but provides enough padding to offer you support on those long races.
5. Personal Fit
A bike saddle, like many things in life, ultimately comes down to one thing – personal fit and preference. What you may deem to be the perfect saddle may be a torture rack to someone else. When it comes to fit, you just have to give a few bike seats a try and compare how they feel.
Fortunately, some companies have programs where you can try a saddle before you make a final purchase. Take them up on their offer and try a few before you settle on one.
Fitting Your Bike Saddle
Once you have purchased your bike saddle, you have to take extra care in the way you fit it. It’s not a matter of plug and play, especially if you are fitting a completely different design seat compared to the previous one. A different bike saddle will have different height/tilt and fore-aft position relative to the rails compared to your previous saddle.
This can significantly affect your positioning and comfort when you mount your bike. The best solution, if you are not comfortable doing it yourself, is to have a professional fit the saddle for you. Once you have your saddle fixed on your bike, ride it around a bit to make sure everything is okay.
(As you shop around for a new bike seat, why don’t you also keep in mind getting your bike a tool kit. Here’s our post on the essential tools you’ll need to have in your bike tool kit.)