How To Choose a Bike Seat
Is your bicycle seat damaged or beginning to feel uncomfortable and you're thinking of getting a new one? The role of a bicycle seat, also called a saddle, in providing comfort and making your ride enjoyable can not be overemphasized. Just as the riding style of every cyclist differs from the other, so does the bike saddle that works for them.
With all the numerous options available for bicycle seats, it's easy to make the wrong choice. And surprisingly, having the wrong saddle can affect your efficiency as a rider. Here are simple tips that can greatly help you make the right choice and steer you clear of bike seat complications.
Know The Type of Rider You Are
Do you love to stand up on the pedals while riding or you would rather sit and feel relaxed as you cycle? Whatever your riding style is, there's a seat for you. Although bike seats come in various designs, they can, however, be categorized under any of these (based on cycling styles)
If you enjoy sitting upright and balanced while pedaling your urban or commuter bike around the town, you should probably try saddles designed for recreational cyclers. Recreational Cycling saddles are usually wide and have a plush or padding. Some may also have springs and a short nose.
If you're a road cycler, you probably would be covering long distances. For this, long and narrow saddles have been effective as they enable you to apply maximum power on your pedals
Most mountain riders don't have a fixed cycling position. They alternate between standing on the pedals and crouching down on the bike in a tucked position. Mountain-specific saddles that have padding to support sitting are your best option here. Make sure you choose one that has a durable cover and also streamlined shape to enhance movement
For bikes used mainly to commute, saddles with some padding will do the job. Be careful not to go excessive with the padding and look out for good weather-resistant cover materials.
Saddles that provide cushioning for a better sitting position and have a fairly long and narrow nose are good for touring, especially for long-distance cycling.
Know Your Choice of Cushioning
From a broad perspective, there are two categories of saddles - performance saddles and cushioning saddles. Performance saddles have minimum cushioning and are long and narrow. They have minimal padding that allows maximum power transfer and are common with road bikes, touring bikes and mountain bikes. Cushioning saddles are relatively wider and can absorb road bumps with their plush padding and/or springs. Their noses are often very short and are common with recreational cycling and cruising.
One common mistake when making cushion choices is to assume that more cushion will provide more support. While this is true in some cases, with others, it only brings more discomfort as it makes your body sink into the saddle.
Do you want a Center Cutout?
Little things truly count, especially when it comes to bicycle seat design. If you've seen seats with a center cutout, you might have wondered why it's there. An easy way out is to assume it's there as a design. But, it does way more than that. The region between your sit bones is called the perineum. And, like other parts of the body, several nerves and arteries pass through it. When biking, you tend to put pressure on the perineum and prevent an inflow of fresh air which may cause discomfort if it continues for a while. That's where the centre cutout comes in. It reduces the pressure on the perineum and adequate airflow which translates to more convenience and comfortable cycling. Some riders who do not like to have a perineum cutout use saddles with a small indentation in it. Others however do not accommodate any. The centre cutout brings relief and makes several miles cycling less disturbing
Choose Your Preferred Saddle Material
Saddles come in various sizes and are made various materials. The type of material used can influence the saddles' weight, cost, "weatherproofness", break-in-time and its flex. If you're unsure about which saddle you want, simply pay attention to its rails and cover.
The Cover Materials
The cover can be made of any of these 3; cotton, leather and synthetic materials. And the rails can be from any of steel, titanium, alloy or carbon.
Cotton covers provide great comfort and help you take control while pedalling. They are designed with the intent of stretching and moving a little during cycling. A great benefit of cotton covers is that they require a shorter break-in period as compared to leather.
Majority of bike saddles are made of synthetic materials due to their low maintenance and lightweight. The shell, foam or gel padding and seat cover, you can find seats make entirely from synthetic materials. Another major advantage of synthetic materials that they require no break-in time. No wonder most riders opt for it.
Leather, which is a good material for a range of items like bags, shoes, and others, can be used for bike saddles. Some leather covers are stretched and allowed to suspend between the metal frame rails. On reaching a 200 miles break-in-period, the leather assumes your shape and weight. Moulding to fit your body and provide maximum comfort expected in saddles. One disadvantage of leather is that they are not waterproof, and may require extra cost to maintain.
The Rail Materials
The connection points between your bike and its saddle are the rails. The rails basically hold the bike's Seatpost and they usually extend from the nose of the saddle to the back of the saddle. Here are some of the materials used in making the rails and how they differ from another
Strong, heavy and reliable. If you're concerned about weight and looking for light rails, steel isn't your thing.
Alloys are lighter than steel and very strong material. But, not as light as titanium
Strong, very light but expensive. If cost isn't a concern, it's worth the extra bucks. An additional benefit of titanium is its ability to absorb vibrations.
Also very light and can be manipulated to absorb vibrations, like titanium. The downside, however, is that they are very expensive
The Right Saddle Size
From the chubby rider to the skinny one, everyone has a saddle size that works for them.
The simple trick to knowing which saddle fits your body is to find the one that supports your sit bones well enough. You wouldn't want to keep adjusting to find a comfortable spot while riding. The width of your saddle determines how comfortable it will be. But, be careful not to go for something too wide. Otherwise, you might end up getting one that causes rubbing and chaffing.
We'll use information from one of our favorite saddle manufacturers for this section, WTB. WTB now offers a complete line of saddles covering a full range of widths and padding thicknesses. However, even the most comfortable saddles require a fit procedure to ensure riders end up on their ideal saddle. The revolutionary WTB Fit Right System uses simple steps to guide riders towards the ideal saddle width and padding thickness that matches their physiology and riding position. Our goal is to provide riders with a saddle that fits so perfectly they forget it’s beneath them.
Saddle selection is more than choosing a cool looking bike saddle. Choosing the right saddle will give you so much more out of your bike riding experience. Find maximum comfort and perform your best whether you ride road, mountain, or commute through the city.
Thanks for reading our article on How To Choose a Bike Seat. If you have any questions or want gear recommendations drop us a line and we'll get you rolling!
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