When choosing the proper bike saddle for your bike, it can seem overwhelming. There are so many shapes, sizes, and brands to pick from. Everyone is unique when it comes to the right saddle so here are some basics to help you understand the function of your cycling saddle so you can make an educated decision on what saddle works best for you.
The function of a bike saddle
What a saddle needs to do is to support your hips and allow pelvic rotation to occur. This pelvic rotation can vary to some extent, depending on the type of bike you are riding. A saddle should not put a lot of pressure on soft tissue.
The saddle selection also depends on where you are as a rider and where you are going to grow as a cyclist. When we go through a bike fit, we look at what’s going on, figure out where you are, and get a good history from you. Based on that we can make a saddle selection that you can grow into.
How to sit on a saddle
When you are sitting on a saddle, you have the ischium, tuberosity (that is the bony part of your butt), and your pubic symphysis. You DO NOT want to be sitting on your tuberosity or pubic symphysis. You want the saddle to support your ischium by rotating your pelvis forward.
Depending on the type of bike you are riding (road, mountain bike, triathlon), where you sit on the saddle will vary. If you are on an enduro bike, you’ll be sitting father back vs a triathlon bike where you’ll be sitting father forward. There are degrees of rotation and a lot of saddle options out there that will give you the ideal saddle position.
I often get asked about triathlon saddles. When you are sitting on a triathlon-specific saddle, the front part of your ischium is supported. But if you start to scoot forward and sit on the nose of the saddle, the pressure becomes acute. You want to sit back and rotate forward on these types of saddles. Once you experience the correct way to sit by rotating your pelvis forward, you won’t go back to the old way!
Saddles to avoid
Types of saddles you should avoid are thick gel saddles and gel covers. These saddles have less support for your hips and generally add more acute pressure in those soft tissue areas.
Here are the key takeaways on saddles:
- The saddle needs to support the hips
- The saddle should not put a lot of pressure on the soft tissue area
- Saddle selection can depend on riding style and cycling position
- Thick gel saddles are generally not good
- Gel covers are very bad
Need help with your saddle selection? Book a 3D Bike Fit with us today! (We offer virtual and in-person fits!) Learn how we can optimize your position, form, and make sure you are set up with your ideal saddle. Click here to learn more!
About Aaron Ross:
Aaron Ross has a long-standing career in the cycling industry. His 20+ year background includes being the Faster Wind Tunnel GM, managing wind tunnel operations for over 5 years. Aaron has extensive technical experience in aerodynamics and biomechanics, and he has considerable product development knowledge working with manufacturers, world-class athletes, and teams. When not helping athletes, Aaron can be found adventuring on his dirt bike.