12 Best Road Bike Saddles in 2018
If you are an avid cyclist and the weather is nice, you want to stay out on the road as much as possible. However, a day in the saddle can leave you sore in all the wrong places if you don’t have the right seat for the job.
Being comfortable not only makes the ride more enjoyable, but also improves your pedaling performance. A poor fitting saddle can lead to chaffing, saddle sores, and even poor blood flow or numbness.
In this guide we will tell you what makes a good road bike saddle, and offer you our picks for the top 12 best road bike saddles available.
Top 12 Road Bike Saddles Ultimate Table
|1. Fizik Arione K:ium Rails Road Bicycle Saddle||Race||Carbon Reinforced Nylon/ Synthetic||4.8|
|2. WTB Rocket Race Saddle||Race||Nylon/ Synthetic||4.8|
|3. Brooks Saddles England C15 Cambium Carved Saddle||Race||Vulcanized Rubber/ Cambium Cotton||4.7|
|4. Selle SMP Extra Cycling Saddle||Comfort||Carbon Fiber/ Synthetic||4.6|
|5. ISM Adamo Road Saddle||TT||Nylon/ Synthetic||4.6|
|6. Fizik Aliante Gamma K:ium Rails Road Bicycle Saddle||Race||Carbon Fiber Reinforced Nylon/ Synthetic Leather||4.6|
|7. Charge Spoon Saddle Brown Cromo Rails||Sport||Nylon/ Leather||4.6|
|8. RockBros Saddle||Sport||Nylon/ Synthetic Leather||4.5|
|9. Selle Italia Q-Bik SE Saddle||Comfort||Nylon/ Microfiber||4.5|
|10. Serfas Dual Density Men’s Bicycle Saddle with Cutout||Comfort||Nylon/ Lycra||4.4|
|11. Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow Women’s Bicycle Saddle||Women’s Comfort||Nylon/ Leather||4.3|
|12. SMP TRK Mens Saddle||Sport||Carbon Fiber infused Nylon/ Leather||4.3|
The Right Saddle for You
Without a good saddle under you, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get out and ride. The idea of saddle sores, rubbing in sensitive areas, and numbness for the rest of the day are reason enough to avoid going out for long weekend joy rides.
However, all those issues can be alleviated when you find a good saddle. With the right shape, flex, and materials a saddle can feel so good you won’t even remember it used to be an issue.
The Shape to Escape
To rid yourself of unwanted pain in your private area you must find a saddle that fits you the right way. Many people new to the cycling world think that the more cushioning you have, the more comfortable you will be. This just isn’t the case.
Bulky saddles can cut off circulation and limit mobility, which results in numbness and early fatigue in your legs. Far more important than cushioning is the actual shape of the saddle. It’s important to find a saddle that doesn’t create any hot spots or pressure points.
- Race – A race oriented road saddle it usually narrow and stiff. The shape provides a range of positions for the rider as they apply power to the pedals. For example; if you’re in a race or fast group ride, it’s common to tuck into an aggressive position, sitting on the nose of the saddle to put as much power into each pedal stroke as possible and allow for a more aerodynamic position. However, when the road tilts up on a long climb you want to work into the back-end of the saddle and sit up to allow your core to work and lungs to expand more easily.
- Sport – Sport saddles are also narrow, but provide a bit more cushioning for everyday training and long hours on the road.
- Comfort – If endurance riding is your thing, and you spend countless hours on the road, it isn’t a bad idea to go with something that provides more cushioning and less mobility. Aggressive riding becomes less important and finding a saddle that allows you to sit comfortably in the same position for a long time takes precedent.
- TT – Time trialing and triathlon racing are specific types of road riding. These disciplines force you to adopt a very tight tuck that creates as little wind resistance as possible. In doing so the rider needs to be right on the nose of the saddle. Most common race shapes have too long of a nose, and that’s why saddle manufacturers have taken on a stumpy version of the common shape to allow for more comfort in the aggressive position.
Let the Shell Be Your Guide
As mentioned earlier, many tend to think that all the cushioning and shock absorption takes place in the padding, which can lead to a bulky saddle. However, much of the roads vibrations are absorbed in the saddles shell, which has to be flexible but also stiff enough to put the power down.
In a way, it’s comparable to a trampoline. Too stiff and you can’t jump hard enough for the springy return, but too soft and you sink to the ground, losing all your energy. Saddle manufacturers have spent years finding the perfect materials and density to give a comfortable flex ratio that absorbs small bumps in the road, yet still allows riders to push hard while seated.
- Carbon Fiber – It’s no surprise that the favorite material in the industry works great as a strong flexible shell in the saddle. Carbon fiber can be molded into many shapes and is lightweight, stiff, and absorbent of road vibrations.
- Nylon – The dense plastic based material known as Nylon is the cost effective alternative to carbon fiber. It’s slightly heavier, but when the right amount is used it can provide just as good of flex to stiffness ratio as its expensive counterpart.
- Vulcanized Rubber – It’s not common to use a stiff compound of rubber as the shell, but a handful of manufacturers have taken it on with great results. Weight is lost, but comfort is gained with this material.
Chaffing and pulling at sensitive skin is extremely uncomfortable. So, choosing a cover material is quite important. In addition, some fabrics last longer than others which can be the deciding factor for many bargain hunters.
- Leather – The real deal provides the best feel. Leather is breathable, strong, and over time molds to your body shape. It can, however, get sticky if you are someone who moves around in the saddle a lot.
- Synthetic Leather – The engineered substitute has surpassed leather in many ways when it comes to saddles. It is still breathable and can take a beating, but is a bit more slippery, which is great for those that move around in the saddle and don’t want any pulling or bunching.
- Softer Fabrics – Cambium, Microfiber, and Lycra are also sometimes used in saddles. They are more breathable and softer than other options, but that also makes them more susceptible to wear and tear over the course of their lifespan.
Top 5 Best Road Bike Saddle Reviews
Fizik is a huge name when it comes to bicycle saddles. They are highly acclaimed among professionals and weekend warriors alike.
The Arione is a line of saddle directed towards the avid rider who requires something that feels good in many positions. Its long shape and flex-wing technology at the tail of the saddle provides comfort through every inch of its shape.
Whether you are on the nose grinding at the front of the peloton, or trying to stay relaxed on a bumpy road, it provides cushioning and excellent mobility that doesn’t cut-off any circulation or create hot spots. The Arione’s diverse fit and quality construction make it the best road bike saddle on the market.
The materials used in the Race Rocket could be considered budget minded when you look at many others on the list. But WTB are always on top of their game when it comes to shape and comfort.
With a name like Race Rocket, it seems clear what the saddle is designed for. But when side-by-side with the Fizik Arione, WTB’s creation looks more like a comfort saddle. There is a lot of padding used, but the shape of the Race Rocket still allows for plenty of mobility.
With the growing interest of gravel road racing and training, the WTB Race Rocket may be the perfect saddle to tackle aggressive riding over bumpy roads and gravel. Not to mention WTB gives a wide range of sizes, so you are sure to find the size that fits you best.
Brooks is best known for their comfortable, classy, leather saddles that are hand crafted in England. They’re often so beautiful it seems a shame that they are hidden by your butt on rides.
The C15 Cambium is no exception to the company’s beauty; however, it’s made with unique materials compared to their other products. The vulcanized rubber shell and cambium cotton cover stand out on our list.
Though it’s not conventional in construction, the C15 performs extremely well and provides excellent comfort without being too flexy or soft. Its narrow, race oriented design makes it a good saddle for aggressive riding, but being that it’s less stiff than others, it’s a great seat for long rides and day after day use as well.
The cambium cover is water proof, but we are concerned with the longevity of the material after heavy use and weather exposure. If you have a nice bike that you keep inside and want a classy saddle with comfort to boot, the C15 Cambium is a great option.
Selle SMP are famous for their “eagle beak” design, where the nose of the saddle slopes down. For those that move around a lot in the saddle the Extra may not be the ideal choice, but with its carbon fiber shell, and comfort level padding it is hard to pass up if you are looking to stay comfortable for long days on the bike.
The middle slit and sloping design alleviate pressure points, while the extra padding and slightly wider shape absorb all the bumps in the road. Though it isn’t designed to be pencil thin, the Extra allows plenty of leg mobility, creating efficient pedal strokes all day long.
Those that fit the saddle well rave about it, but as you already know, every rider has a unique fit. If you ride often and don’t move around much on the bike it’s definitely worth a try.
The Adamo stands out with its time trial oriented design. For those new to the idea of a time trial saddle it hardly looks like there is any room to sit. However, its unique design is focused on keeping riders comfortable while in an aggressive aero tuck needed for time trialing and triathlon racing.
The shape locks riders onto the front of the saddle, so once you have fine-tuned your seat and handlebar positions you will feel like you could stay there all day. The Adamo’s double-nose allows for plenty of flex, but can take a while to get right and avoid unwanted pressure points.
We wouldn’t recommend this saddle for regular road riding, but it’s a must try if you like long hard efforts and want to stay locked into an aggressive tucked position.