Finding the “Goldie Locks” of saddles is cycling’s search for the Holy Grail; elusive and expensive. This struggle is real and can easily result in too much time wasted, money spent, and more than your fair share of uncomfortable rides. Hopefully, the knowledge I’ve gained in my years as a cyclist will provide a higher level of success and satisfaction when deciding which saddle to buy.
During a recent ride with a new saddle, I gradually noticed that I was coasting every chance I could because the saddle was causing some pretty brutal discomfort. Now, since there is no point in cycling if you don’t want to pedal, I subsequently ruled out that saddle as a fit for me. To be fair I cannot make a blanket statement saying this particular saddle is no good, because, look at us; we are all structured just differently enough to allow for slight changes in saddle design and construction to make a big difference. The perfect porridge for you may or may not be the same as that for your friend. Saddle choice is a bit of a guessing game, but you can still posses some basic tools to narrow the field of choices considerably.
What’s The Difference:
The biggest question we have flying around the office is, “What is the difference between women’s specific saddles and men’s saddles? Are you sure they didn’t just make it pink?” I laugh to myself because we have a common phrase tossed around here in the bike industry regarding women’s specific cycling gear, “shrink it and pink it.” Offensive? Yes, but there is a valid reason for women to select a women’s specific saddle beyond taking size and color into consideration.
The width of your saddle is probably the most important piece of information you need when selecting a new saddle. You want your body weight to be resting on your sit bones, which makes finding your width the first step of the process. The video down below explains how to use this sit bone width information to find the right width saddle for you.
“So, why do you need your weight resting on your sit bones?” This is a question that I asked Barrett Henson, our certified Body Geometry Fit specialist. He said that having weight resting on the soft tissue area will cause numbness. This numbness is not a good sign ladies; because of what it can lead to. Numbness means there is no blood flow, and when there is no blood flow scar tissue can develop, and when scar tissue develops this can then cause lack of sensation in the soft tissue area. Any more elaboration and I think I will be blushing.
This difference may even go unnoticed by most people. The length of a women’s specific saddle is shorter than a men’s saddle. Women, structurally, have flatter but wider pelvic bones, which makes a long saddle unnecessary even when riding on the nose. Women’s specific bikes are known for having a shorter top tube due to women having a shorter torso and longer legs than men. So if a men’s saddle gets put on a women’s bike the saddle will then be taking up a little too much length on the already shorter top tube. No matter what kind of bike you have the shorter length will ultimately feel better, allow for more stand-over room when stopped at a light, and more clearance when climbing.
Now begins the real search. Once you have your width dialed in for optimum comfort, you are ready to choose which cut-out, or lack of cut-out, is best for you. The difference with the women’s specific cut out is the more oval shape and the rounded edges. You will notice that the shape of a men’s saddle is more straight with rigid edges.
Now that you know how women’s cut-outs differ from men’s cut-outs, we can move onto the large variety of cut-outs within the women’s specific category. There are many different ways to tackle the cut-out conundrum. Some saddles, like the Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow, have a rather large cut-out to relieve pressure in the soft tissue areas and transfer pressure to the sit bones. There are also some, like the Fizik Vitesse saddle, that have no cutout down the middle of the saddle, relying instead on precise ergonomic shape and foam density to distribute pressure comfortably and provide adequate support. Those are two polar opposites with many options in between that play off of both those schools of thought.
As cyclists ourselves, we understand the frustration in spending hundreds of dollars only to amass a collection of saddles that are not-quite-right. In order to spare you the same fate, Art’s has a 30-day return policy for saddles. Buy it, ride it, and if it doesn’t work out in a month, send it back for credit towards the next one. We want to make sure you’re comfortable on your bike, and sometimes that takes trying out a few saddles.
The important thing is to find a saddle that will get you out on your bike more often. So find the saddle that will keep you pedaling!