Out of all the parts on a bicycle, it’s likely that no single component can affect your ride—positively or negatively—quite like the piece of plastic and foam that supports your bum. The right bike saddle makes the bike feel more like an extension of your body instead of a contraption that you are perched on top of. Pick the wrong one and each mile can be grim and painful.

But selecting the right bike seat can be tricky. Saddles are a very personal choice, one that is usually based on body shape, riding style, preference on how much or how little padding the saddle provides, and of course, comfort over the long haul. We’ve ridden enough miles on many different models to know which perform and feel the best for most cyclists and how to help you identify the right pick for you.

Best Bike Saddles

    The Expert: As someone who spends a lot of time riding the many different disciplines of cycling, I have put in my fair share of saddle time over 10-plus years of cycling. I’ve had the opportunity to ride all sorts of saddle shapes and sizes across just about every type of terrain out there. From multiday bikepacking trips and XC MTB racing to high-intensity twilight criteriums and 200-kilometer road rides, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) what makes a good saddle and what to look out for. Although finding the perfect saddle is different for everyone, I hope sharing some tips of what has worked for me and what has not will help you.

    What’s New in Bike Saddles

    These days, manufacturers are rethinking saddle shape and experimenting with 3D printing to optimize comfort. The trend toward short-nosed performance saddles, which originated with riders looking to optimize soft-tissue comfort while leaning forward on aero bars, is now reaching the mainstream. Why go short? Reducing the saddle length up front means you can ride the drop portion of your bar for longer periods. But the newest saddles aren’t just short; they’re also wider up front, allowing riders to shift forward without compromising power.

    Although the use of 3D printing is still limited, we see it as the future of saddle design. With an untold number of possibilities for shape, density, and zone-specific cushioning, the comfort afforded on a 3D-printed saddle is unmatched. Because the technology is still so new, many 3D-printed bike saddles currently on sale are exorbitantly expensive, but we are starting to see a few companies offer more reasonably priced models, such as the new Specialized Power Pro with Mirror, which was released this spring.

    saddle seats compilation
    Photos by Chris Pino

    Find the Right Fit

    Saddles come in various widths, and most manufacturers say that the right size supports a rider’s sit bones, the bony part of the pelvis where your butt and your leg join. The best way to find the right size saddle is to get a professional fit. “Every saddle manufacturer has a tool to measure sit bone width,” says Jeff Kerkove, head of marketing and customer experience at Ergon. “It’s not going to give you an exact measurement, but it’ll get you close.”

    If you don’t have access to get a saddle professionally fit or when buying one online, we suggest starting in the middle, width-wise. Most bike saddles come in two or more widths; starting in the middle of the range is a great way to find out what works for you. This usually works out to a seat in the neighborhood of 140 to 145 millimeters in width.

    Get a Bike Seat Designed for How You Ride

    In order to find a seat that works for you, it’s important to select the right style for the riding you will be doing. A road saddle is typically v-shaped, with a comparatively wider seating area and a longer nose. A cross-country mountain bike saddle has a similarly pronounced seating area but sometimes can be more t-shaped to let the rider move forward for aggressive climbs. Gravity, enduro, and trail saddles are v-shaped, with rounded edges and a shorter nose to make it easy to move around on the saddle without hooking the rider’s shorts. Women’s saddles usually have a shorter nose. Try a few different models designed for your discipline to see what works—and feels—best. Many local bike shops have a supply of test saddles so you can try a few before making a commitment.

    The Right Amount of Padding

    Performance saddles often have less padding to save weight, which is important for racers. Comfort bike seats are shaped like other saddles, but usually have thicker foam or added gel. For casual riders, extra padding can prevent sit bones from feeling bruised after a two-hour ride—but spending longer hours on an extra-padded saddle can actually cut off circulation. It’s all about finding the right amount of padding for your riding style and comfort level.

    Cutout or Not? How to Decide Between Bike Seats

    You don’t need a cutout, but most riders do prefer a saddle with a relief channel or a cutout that prevents pressure on soft tissue when they’re riding. Saddle channels are usually gender-specific—a man’s pelvis is v-shaped, whereas a woman’s is u-shaped—and account for anatomical differences in soft tissue. That said, there are some riders who find saddles with a cutout to be uncomfortable. Cyclists who are often moving around to different positions on the saddle tend to prefer a saddle with no cutout. And there are specific use cases, like cyclocross and MTB, where a cutout can make getting on and off the bike a bit more uncomfortable.

    specialized power mimic
    Designed for women, the Specialized Power Expert with Mimic is one of the most comfortable saddles we’ve tried—and it works for men, too.
    Trevor Raab

    How We Evaluate Bike Saddles

    Over the years, the Bicycling gear team and staff have tested many, many bike saddles. A recent survey asking the office for their favorites elicited about as many opinions as the number of people who responded. Because saddle fit is such a personal thing, we also consider user reviews to back up our recommendations and get as much feedback as possible. Any models we haven’t tested are often similar to bike seats we’ve had personal experience with, and we carefully vet them before recommending. For each contender, we consider riding style, weight, design and materials, performance, and cost. Here are the 10 best bike saddles for road racers, commuters, mountain bikers, and more.


    —PRESSURE RELIEF―

    Selle Royal Respiro Athletic

    Width: 159 mm
    Weight: 429 g
    Rails: Titanox

    selle royal
    Respiro Athletic
    Selle Royal amazon.com
    $59.99
    $46.73 (22% off)

    • Plenty of padding
    • Generous cutout

    • Heavy

    Ideal for shorter rides on bikes that put you in an upright position, the Respiro has a center groove that takes weight off your soft tissue and offers plenty of padding where it redistributes that pressure (your sit bones). The channel down the midline of the seat also allows for airflow through the area, keeping your nether regions from getting too sweaty. The Titanox seat rails are strong and lightweight, and the padded, cutaway design is suitable for both genders.


    —MOST AFFORDABLE—

    Planet Bike A.R.S. Classic

    Width: 165 mm (M), 160 mm (W)
    Weight: 407 g (M), 381 g (W)
    Rails: Steel

    A.R.S. Classic
    Planet Bike amazon.com
    $34.95

    • Affordable
    • Men’s and women’s options

    • Material isn’t highest quality

    An extremely affordable comfort saddle with firm foam padding and a pronounced relief channel, Planet Bike’s A.R.S. (that is, Anatomic Relief Saddle) is an upgrade for many budget bikes. The seat keeps riders’ sit bones from feeling bruised and gives the nether regions plenty of breathing room. The cover doesn’t feel as nice as those on saddles that are four times the price, but it does have abrasion-resistant patches to prevent excessive wear. And the saddle shape isn’t just for cruising. Riders felt like they could move around when they wanted to stand for a climb.

    Buy Men’s | Buy Women’s


    —BEST VALUE ALL-DISCIPLINE—

    Selle Italia Model X Green Superflow

    Width: 145 mm
    Weight: 315 g
    Rails: Carbon-iron steel alloy

    Model X Green Superflow
    Selle Italia amazon.com
    $50.24

    • Outstanding value for the money
    • Able to be recycled

    • A bit heavy

    The Model X Green Superflow blew us away. This $55 saddle rides like a saddle costing four times as much. The ride comfort, build quality, and overall feel of the saddle is unmatched at this price point. On the bike, it felt immediately comfortable with its short nose, 145-millimeter width, and generous relief cutout. It checks all the boxes for a modern short-nose road saddle with a cutout. Selle Italia has implemented a new manufacturing process that is entirely automated in order to make this saddle. The padding was supportive yet minimal, and combined with a decent amount of flex in the shell, we found this saddle to be great for spirited and longer road rides. The only downside being this saddle is a bit heavy.


    —BEST 3D-PRINTED SADDLE—

    Specialized S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror

    Width: 143 mm or 155 mm
    Weights: 190 g and 198 g
    Rails: Carbon

    S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror
    Specialized shopbikesupply.com
    $449.99

    • Works with wide range of body shapes
    • Supremely comfortable

    • Wildly expensive

    Specialized utilized the latest in 3D printing technology, which it calls Mirror, to upgrade its S-Works Romin EVO. The Romin not only boasts a 26 percent reduction in sit bone pressure, but also features the company’s body geometry cutout for increased blood flow. The sum of all this tech is a supremely comfortable saddle that should work for a wide range of anatomies. The Mirror technology also allows Specialized to tune the saddle in a way not feasible with a standard foam or gel saddle. The result is precise, firm support exactly where you need it balanced by soft cushion in areas that don’t require as much support. We are very excited for this technology to trickle down into more affordable saddles, like the new Specialized Power Pro with Mirror.

    Read Full Review


    —MAXIMUM RELIEF ROAD SADDLE―

    Prologo Dimension Tirox

    Width: 143 mm
    Weight: 202 g
    Rails: Tirox

    Dimension Tirox
    Prologo amazon.com
    $138.85
    $118.93 (14% off)

    • Lightweight
    • Dimension series offered at several build levels with budget-minded and exotic materials

    • Only available in one width

    The Dimension is just 245 millimeters long—about 35 millimeters shorter than Prologo’s other road saddles—to produce less pressure. It’s also a bit wider at 143 millimeters (Prologo’s standard road saddle is about 134 millimeters wide). Further pressure relief is provided by the cutout shell (PAS in Prologo terminology). The rear of the saddle, where the rider’s sit bones rest, belongs to Prologo’s “Semi-Round” category. This, unsurprisingly, falls between Prologo’s more curved “round” tail shape and its “flat” shape. Dual-density padding resides under the microfiber cover. Although Prologo does make a women’s-specific line of saddles, Elisa Barelli of Prologo’s marketing department explained that, due to the saddle’s shape and features, the Dimension is considered appropriate for both men’s and women’s anatomies.

    Read Full Review


    ―HIGH-PERFORMANCE ROAD SADDLE―

    Specialized Power Expert

    Width: 130 mm, 143 mm, 155 mm, or 168 mm
    Weight: 229 g (in 143-mm width)
    Rails: Titanium

    Power Expert
    Specialized backcountry.com
    $159.99

    • Wide range of applicable uses

    • Shape isn’t for everyone

    The Power Expert is a budget-friendly saddle in the larger Specialized Power family. Only the Power Comp ($140) is cheaper and features chromoly, not titanium, rails. The Expert has a short nose, a wide tail, and a center cutout. The claim is this shape enhances blood flow and relieves pressure on sensitive areas. We couldn’t test blood flow to determine the veracity of that claim, but our testers did find the saddle comfortable while riding road, gravel, and mountain bike trails. The minimal padding provided a firm pedaling platform that felt extremely efficient but not uncomfortable. However, this saddle, and others like it, work best for riders who don't like to shift around a lot while seated. Cyclists who prefer to move around on the saddle would be well-advised to steer clear of this one. The Power Expert comes in four widths: 130, 143, 155, and 168 millimeters (though the 130-millimeter model is currently sold out).


    —BEST WOMEN’S SADDLE―

    Specialized Power Expert with Mimic

    Width: 143 mm, 155 mm, or 168 mm
    Weight: 213 g, 214 g, and 216 g
    Rails: Titanium

    Power Expert with Mimic
    Specialized jensonusa.com
    $159.99

    • Mimic technology creates a more comfortable ride
    • Works for women and men

    • Heavier than competing saddles at this price point

    Short for biomimicry, Specialized’s Mimic technology conforms to a woman’s anatomy to promote a more comfortable ride. The company deploys Mimic on many of its saddles, and adding it the Power series earned praise from many testers—both women and men. Specialized filled the Power’s cutout with a flexible thermoplastic elastomer (TPU) “hammock” to prevent tissue from pushing through the opening and swelling (a painful problem for some women). It also incorporated three different foam densities: firm under the sit bones, memory cushion down the center, and soft on the nose, to provide better pressure distribution. The Power saddles with Mimic also feature an updated shape with tapered wings to minimize thigh rubbing. That should be good news for any riders who experience saddle pain on their rides. At the very least, Mimic provides one more option for riders seeking more comfort. And for some, it could be the solution they’ve been waiting for.

    Read Full Review

    Editors’ Note: This popular saddle can be hard to find and is currently on backorder at many retailers. We recommend being patient and checking several retailers, such as Competitive Cyclist, Mike’s Bikes, and Specialized’s website. You could also consider similar models like the Power Comp with Mimic.


    —AFFORDABLE MTB SADDLE―

    WTB Speed Steel

    Width: 145 mm
    Weight: 379 g
    Rails: Steel

    REI
    Speed Steel
    WTB rei.com
    $47.95

    • Wide range of uses

    • No cutout

    With all the out-of-saddle riding that happens on trails both uphill and down, a budget saddle might be all you need to have an awesome ride. This all-around off-road saddle is definitely that, but it’s also designed to be supportive when you’re seated, making it a good choice for gravel grinding as well as singletrack shredding. Unlike other more expensive saddles, the Speed Steel is available in only one size: medium. The steel rails damp chatter, providing a smoother ride through rough lines. A slight center depression redistributes pressure from soft tissue to sit bones.


    —BEST WOMEN’S MTB SADDLE—

    Ergon SM Sport Gel Women

    Width: 143 mm or 155 mm
    Weight: 285 g and 295 g
    Rails: Chromoly

    SM Sport Gel Women
    Ergon rei.com
    $99.95

    • Works with large range of anatomies

    • Wide rear of saddle might be too wide for some

    Ergon has a long history of producing great MTB saddles, and the SM Sport Gel for women is no different. The women’s-specific shape allows for comfort in all MTB disciplines. It features strategically placed gel inlays and a large cutout that gives pressure relief exactly where you need it. The flatter rear of the saddle allows for a large range of movement and seating positions while still remaining supportive. The SM Sport line was designed by women for women, and it shows. Our testers reported forgetting they were even sitting on a saddle, which is one of the highest compliments a saddle can have.


    —CLASSIC LEATHER—

    Brooks England B17

    Width: 175 mm
    Weight: 520 g
    Rails: Steel

    B17
    Brooks England backcountry.com
    $97.99

    • Will last a very long time
    • Proven design gets better with time

    • Leather requires some maintenance
    • Long break in period

    The Brooks B17 has been around for more than 100 years, which is a long time to perfect a product. It’s designed to wear in slowly over a few months—like all leather—but once it does, you’ll have a nearly custom-fit saddle that will last for the long haul (the company offers a 10-year warranty). The strong, durable steel rails help dampen road vibrations, and the wide rear and narrow nose offer the right dimensions for well-supported, unencumbered pedaling. Ladies, check out the B17 Short.


    How to Find a Comfortable Saddle, According to Expert Chris Pino

    BI: What’s your take on the ideal amount of padding in a saddle? Does it depend on the quality of your chamois?

    C.P: While a good chamois will definitely help, even a great chamois won’t make an uncomfortable saddle comfortable. In my experience, the higher your ride intensity is, the less padding you can get away with. More relaxed riding tends to have the rider sitting more upright, thus placing more weight on your sit bones. In that scenario, more padding will equal a more comfortable ride.

    BI: Seat cutout—yea or nay?

    C.P: In general, I prefer a cutout. For my body shape, I don’t experience any downsides to having a cutout. I think they offer a good amount of relief and even some weight reduction. They also afford the saddle more flex which makes the saddle conform to your body more. That said, there have been several saddles without cutouts that I’ve loved over the years. If you’re on the fence, I’d say try a saddle with a cutout.

    BI: Manufacturers often sell the same saddle with different materials used in the rails. How do these differences impact performance?

    C.P: I don’t think the rails affect saddle comfort a noticeable amount. A carbon rail might offer a tiny bit more dampening, but it will be very minor. I think the perceived benefit is that saddles with high-end rails often have other high-end materials in the construction that affect saddle comfort more.

    BI: We all like a deal, but when does it make sense to spend more than $150 on a bike seat?

    C.P: I firmly believe saddles are an item that should not be skimped on. Saddles are arguably the biggest factor when it comes to rider comfort. While spending $150-plus on a saddle can seem unnecessary, if that saddle allows you to ride for hours without any discomfort, I think it is well worth the investment. If you are really having trouble finding comfort on a saddle, it may be worth getting fit for a saddle or trying a newer 3D-printed saddle.