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Choosing A Men's Saddle 

How to choose the best men's saddle for you

A properly fitting men’s bike saddle can make all the difference to your comfort and performance whilst riding. It is the key contact point between you and your bike and it will take over half your body weight. By using this saddle guide you’ll discover how to measure your sit bone width and choose the style for your riding so you ride longer, faster and in more comfort.

For female riders, please check out our in-depth women's specific saddle guide.

How to measure your sit bones

When sitting on a bike your weight should be resting on your sit bones (ischial tuberosites) and not your soft tissue.

Measuring your sit bones is very important when choosing a saddle. It will make the biggest difference to comfort as you ride.

Every person has a different sit bone width and it’s always best to get an accurate measurement so you buy the correct saddle. Fortunately, it’s easy to measure your sit bones by following the simple steps below.

  • Put a piece of cardboard or foil on a bench or seat
  • Sit down with your back straight
  • Elevate your feet off the ground
  • Stand up and mark where the two depressions are (your sit bones)
  • Measure the distance (mm) between the centre of these depressions.

This distance gives you your sit bone width. Now, add 20mm to this to get your optimal saddle width. The extra clearance is the distance between your sit bones and the edge of your saddle.

What saddle style is right for you?

After measuring your sit bones, you’ll want to consider the saddle style. Manufacturers make slight changes to the widths and profiles of saddles based on type of cycling they’re designed for.

Combine your optimal saddle width with the chart below to find the right saddle for the type of riding you’ll be doing.

Hybrid & mountain bike

Add 20mm to your optimum saddle width when riding a hybrid bikes and mountain bikes. When riding in an upright riding position this will give you improved support, and comfort.

Endurance road bike

Add 10mm to your optimum saddle width when riding long distances on your road bike. These bike saddles off a compromise between weight and comfort.

Road race bike

Don’t add any extra distance to your optimum saddle width. Performance is everything, extra width (and weight) isn’t needed as more of your body weight is through the nose of the saddle.

Bike Discipline

Hybrid

Mountain Bike

Endurance Road

Road Race

Extra width

+20mm

+20mm

+10mm

+0mm

Riding Position

Upright riding position

Upright riding position

Bent over riding position

Aggressive, low-down aero position

Width

Wide at the rear to support sit bones

Wide at rear to support sit bones

Slightly slimmer at rear as less body weight is directly on the saddle

Narrower width as even less body weight goes through the saddle

Padding

A good amount of padding to support more of your body weight

Durable padding for the rigours of off-roading.

Firm padding (not gel) that moulds to your anatomy

Minimal, firm padding to sacrifice a bit of comfort for performance

Usage

Ideal for short recreational rides

Ideal for recreation and trail riding

Long distance riding

Road racing & triathlon

Key features of men’s saddles

Padding:

Lots of padding doesn’t always translate into comfort. Gel saddles are great for short rides and upright riding. However, gel can be distorted by your weight over time and lose support in crucial areas. It can push gel into your soft tissue for a painful ride.

Saddles with firm padding (such as leather) can take more time to break in but will offer improved comfort in the long run.

Grooves / Cut Outs:

A common feature on saddles is the use of a pressure relief channel, or complete cut-away in the centre of the saddle. This helps keep optimum blood flow in those crucial areas.

Rails:

These are the bars underneath the saddle which clamp to the top of your seatpost. Most standard rails are made from aluminium or steel which is strong, however, premium options will be built from ultra-lightweight titanium or carbon fibre.

Synthetic vs leather saddle material

Two of the most common saddle cover materials are leather and synthetic leathers/plastics. 

Key features of synthetic and leather saddles 

Synthetic 

  • Lightweight
  • Weatherproof (plastics)
  • Cheaper
  • No break-in time needed

Leather

  • Very comfortable (after you break them in)
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Can be repaired if damaged

For road racers a plastic or lighter weight cover helps to shave extra grams off your weight. Synthetic bike saddles tend to be more weatherproof than their leather counterparts which is ideal for commuting and winter riding. Leather saddles are best used in endurance riding as no other material offers such comfort or durability.

Why saddle angle is important

Once you've bought your new saddle, getting the right angle is critical for enjoyment. A poorly angled saddle can damage soft tissue – not something you want.

Saddle tilted down

You'll put more pressure on your wrists and forearms (as your weight is shifted forwards). As you slide forward you also put more pressure on the pedals causing knee pain. 

Sitting on the narrow nose of a saddle really builds up pressure in your soft tissue.

Saddle tilted up

You'll experience lower back pain, and maybe strain in the neck. 

Your pelvis is angled backwards which puts greater pressure onto your lower back, not helped by the fact you'll be overstretching to reach the bars.

How to adjust your saddle

Your saddle should be neutral so that your sitting on the middle and not sliding forward or backward. Grab hold of a spirit level. Now use a 5mm allen key to loosen the clamps at the top of your seat post. Keep tweaking the angle until the spirit level is level.

If you find that the neutral position is not as comfortable as you would like, you can make small incremental changes until you find the best position for you.

Summary

Choosing the best men’s saddle for you doesn’t have to be a chore. By defining your optimal saddle width and choosing a saddle for your riding style you’ll find a perch that fits you.