Best Road Bike Saddles of 2018
Ultimate Guide on How to Choose A Bike Saddle
This saddle is one of three contact points between the bike and yourself and it takes a considerable amount of your body weight. So it’s hardly surprising to hear so many complaints about saddles and the discomfort people experience from them.
And to make things worse, in triathlon we like to use aero bars so we lean forward, put more pressure on some rather sensitive areas. But fortunately there are loads of saddles to choose from and all sorts of different sizes for different needs. But it can be a little overwhelming so here is our guide on which saddle to choose for triathlon. Right, before we dive into the numerous different styles of saddles, its probably worth noting that no saddle is going to feel like an armchair. Even the best suited saddle is still going to leave you with bouts of discomfort and pain from time to time.
But if it is repeatedly effecting your cycling and leaving you with pain and discomfort after your rides or even broken skin and sores, then you certainly should be replacing your saddle. So let’s run through the range and styles of saddles. Firstly let’s look at some traditional saddles that you typically find on your road bike, and I’ve actually pulled these off my own road bikes. So I’ve got the Fizik Arione and a Fizik Antares. Now the Arione is basically your classic road saddle.
It’s long, it’s flat, it’s narrow, basically allowing you to get into numerous positions along the length of the saddle for cruising, for climbing, for descending, tucking, you name it. But given that we tend to ride towards the front of the saddle when we’re in our aero bars, I personally wouldn’t opt for a saddle like this for my own tri bike do to the limited cushioning towards the front of the saddle. That said, I have seen numerous saddles like this on pro bikes so I wouldn’t completely rule it out. In fact, despite my own personal preferences, the idea of more cushioning for more comfort isn’t always the answer. If you’re doing long rides on an overly cushioned saddle, then the padding can actually become deformed and create uncomfortable pinch points.
So whilst it may work for some, don’t always assume that more cushioning means increased comfort. Then to take things a step further, we have the triathlon and tone chart specific saddles designed for that more forward position using the front third to two thirds of the saddle. And there is a wide range of these so I’m going to try and categorise them into three different styles. So firstly, we have this one from Prologo, the 0TT. It follows a relatively standard road saddle shape with the long nose but it does have this added padding to allow you to get into a more forward perch position on the front of the saddle and it does also feature some grip on the nose of the saddle so that you don’t slip or move whilst you’re in the aero position.
So if you do like a standard road saddle shape, this could be the one for you. Then there’s the cut out style saddle and the idea behind these is that this channel relieves pressure, particularly on your perineum when you’re tilting your hips around into a more aero dynamic and powerful position when you’re using your aero bars. Now this isn’t the best example cause it’s not a pure triathlon and TT specific saddle but they do follow a relatively similar design. And then we have the short nose option. They simply have a truncated nose, the logic being if the nose hurts then remove it.
Now ISM and Cobb have kind of owned this category but given their popularity with tri athletes, other brands have jumped on board. Now you may think that we should be looking to cyclers for these answers given that they spend all their time on one sport testing out all sorts of different products, so surely they use what’s best, but actually what we do as tri athletes is quite different. We could be spending up to four hours or more in the aero bars towards the front of the saddle perched on the end, so that really requires something quite specialist and quite different I’ve got to be honest, I don’t particularly like the look of these saddles but I always have one on my bike because I feel more comfortable, I can tilt my hips around, I’m more powerful, I’m more aggressive, I could just spend a lot more time in the aero bars when I’m using one of these. So really do go for what works for you, not what you like the look of.
But this category in itself opens up so many more doors. So first of all the ISM saddle with the split nose I guess you could call this an extreme version of the cut out saddle we were talking about earlier. Again, this allows you to get further forward on the saddle and perch yourself onto the end whilst titling your hips around into a more aggressive and aero dynamic position. Though it’s worth noting the width on this is noticeably wider than a standard road saddle.
If we take a look here you can see that. And that does cause a little bit of discomfort with some people. So they do now come in a range of different styles and shapes to suit most people. But my personal favourite when I was racing as a pro was the Cobb Jof 55. So it’s quite similar to the ISM in it’s split nose design but it’s got a slightly longer and thinner nose shape.
But the bit I really like about this saddle as well is actually the pro fall and the curvature on it so it allows you to sit further back in the saddle when you’re out of your aero bars on some of your training rides. Then we have something like the Mistica from Fizik It’s another stubby nosed design but without the split nose design as we’ve had on the last two saddles. Personally it’s not one that I’ve actually ridden on before but it’s meant to have a very similar profile to the Arione. So if we place them side by side you can see how similar they are there.
Place them on top. But it’s just got the nose chopped off and then a channel placed in to relieve the pressure. So it should have a relatively similar ride and feel to the ISM and the Cobb because of it’s shape. But one thing I do quite like about this is the bracket on the front here which allows you to rack the bike nice and easily in transition and it’s got another bracket on the back so that you can attach your water bottle cages and your CO2 canisters. Right, that has been a heck of a lot of saddles to think about and in my opinion without seeing or feeling a saddle, it’s very hard to make a decision on the right one for you.
I would suggest trying to head to a bike shop or to a bike fitter where sometimes they can do saddle fitting or alternatively you can often borrow saddles that you can try before you buy. Certainly being a case of try on error for myself, and as I’ve said already, everyone is different.
Tyler Corlis is a 25-year old Cyclist from Italy. He enjoys cycling and biking on a weekly basis, and has extensive experience in cycling for 100’s KMs across Europe.