How To Determine The Best Seat For Your Bike

During the summer months, when the weather is finally nice and comfortable, there’s nothing better than taking a bike ride. In the spring of 2017, 66.21 million people in the United States had gone cycling in the last 12 months.

There are roughly one billion bicycles in the world-about twice as many as motor vehicles-and more than 100 million bicycles are manufactured each year. That means there’s a lot of bicyclists outdoors no matter where you go.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, having the right tools is essential. Perhaps no piece of equipment is as important as the saddle or bike seat. It can be a challenge finding the right saddle, but putting in the effort is worth it because if you’re comfortable, you’ll want to ride more. Saddle comfort is subjective, but you want to try them out and see what works best.

When picking a saddle or bike seat, you want to consider several things. One is the type of riding you’re doing:

  • For your normal everyday riding, a cushioning bike seat might be best. It’s got plenty of padding and provides a rider plenty of comfort.
  • If you’re into road biking, try looking for a performance saddle. This saddle is narrower and doesn’t have much padding since not much of the average rider’s weight rests on the bones used in sitting. Riding in the tucked position doesn’t require much padding either since you’re trying to maximize power and minimize chafing.
  • If you’re a mountain bike enthusiast, bike seats that are mountain-specific are preferred. This provides plenty of padding, a streamlined shape and a durable cover.

Once you’ve determined what type of riding you’re doing, you’ll want to consider different types of bike seat cushioning:

  • Foam cushioning easily springs back to shape and is a preferred material for road riders. It doesn’t compact as quickly as gel cushioning does and you can choose from bike seats with different degrees of foam firmness.
  • Gel cushioning conforms to a rider’s body and offers arguably the most comfort of any bike seat cushioning. If you’re a casual rider, this is the preferred type of bike seat to get since you’ll want something comfortable for rides around the neighborhood. One thing to keep in mind though is that gel compacts quicker than foam does.
  • Another option is a saddle pad, which can be placed over bike seats for some extra cushioning. It does offer comfort, but it probably won’t be as contained as a regular bike seat and may not give you comfort in areas where you’re wanting it.

Whether you’re looking at leather bike saddles, carbon saddles or some other type, you want to look at these three things before you buy a bike seat:

  • The price: There are a lot of different bike seats to choose from and they vary in price. As a general rule, the price on bike seats goes up as the materials improve and the weight goes down. Also, if you’re buying something that’s customized, the price will reflect that.
  • The rails: For novice riders, the rails are the two posts that connect bike seats to the seat post. On general use bikes, the rails are usually made of chromoly, but performance bikes usually have titanium rails for their strength and flexibility.
  • Testing: The best way to determine if a bike seat really works or gives you the comfort you’re looking for is to test it out. You can always visit a bike shop, buy a seat that looks like it might work well and test it out. Even if a shop doesn’t have exactly what you’re look for, chances are it will have something very similar.

Armed with the right saddle, you’ll not only enjoy your bike rides, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve got the right piece of essential equipment to provide comfort and stability.

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