Best Road Bike Saddles in 2017 – Most Definitive Guide & Reviews

Best Road Bike Saddles

When it comes to the sport of biking, there are several things that most people think about when buying a bike: size, the number of speeds, and shape of the frame. However, one of the most important aspects of a bicycle is the saddle on which you sit.

If you’re a competitive cyclist, the seat you ride on will be one of the most crucial components as it is the piece you will be in constant contact with the entire time. Although the basic design of a road bike saddle is pretty much the same for different brands and models.

In this article, I’ll go over these considerations, as well as offer a list of best road bike saddle units in 2017 that you can consider.

9 ​Best Road Bike Saddle - Comparison

Buying Road Bike Saddle - Things to Consider

There are some important distinctions you have to consider when choosing the best road bike saddle for your needs.

Shape

Depending on what form of cycling you will be doing, such as mountain biking or road biking, your saddle’s shape will need to reflect the type of wear and tear placed upon it.

Before choosing the right seat for you, make sure to look at ones that are ideal for your type of biking.

  • Mountain bikes typically have more padding overall and are made of tougher material. The reason for this is that the shape better absorbs bumps as you’re riding. Additionally, the sturdy material is meant to withstand crashes and added abuse.
  • Competitive bicycles typically are shaped to have more padding in the front, as most riders sit forward when riding. Racing saddles are also shaped a bit more aerodynamically, so as to minimize drag.

Regardless of the type of biking you will be doing, it’s important to get a seat shape that is designed for your gender. Females tend to have a wider space in the pelvic area, so female seats are shaped wider to accommodate them.

Shell Design

For a long time, the shell of a bike saddle was pretty basic and didn’t feature any cutouts or adjustments. Thankfully, these days’ saddles are equipped with some handy ergonomic design features to add comfort to your ride.

  • Some shells have areas that are cut out in the middle. The reason for the grooves is to reduce the amount of heat retained in the seat, as well as help to shift pressure away from the biker’s pelvic bones.
  • Another function of the saddle’s shell is to move and adjust to the rider’s gait. Depending on the material, the shell will either be more rigid or flexible. While there are benefits to each type of material, it’s best to try the saddle out first to see how it feels for you.

Padding

The padding of the saddle is probably the most important aspect of its design, right after the shape. Depending on your riding style, the amount of padding, as well as where it’s placed on the seat, will determine your overall comfort level.

The padding itself may be made of a particular type of gel or foam, but some saddles even utilize both for added comfort. However, it’s important to know that more padding doesn’t always mean a softer ride.

Depending on the material, as well as how you sit, extra padding may shift and bunch up in different areas, which can lead to discomfort over time. The best way to make sure that the seat’s pads are right for you is to test it first.

Rails

The rails that connect the seat to the bicycle can be hugely important when it comes to determining the best saddle for you.

While most rails used to be made of carbon steel, these days there are multiple options, such as carbon fiber and titanium. The construction of the rail is designed for the type of riding you will be doing.

  • Mountain bikes usually use carbon fiber or similarly robust materials, so as to better absorb the impacts of rough terrain.
  • Racing bikes typically have titanium or other light metals to reduce the bike’s overall weight, making it faster.

Covering

Finally, the last component of your bike’s saddle is the covering. Whether it’s genuine cowhide or a newer synthetic material, the covering over your seat can help determine your comfort level. 

Some materials are designed to breathe better, which can help reduce the amount of sweat you generate while riding. Chafing is another issue that riders have to deal with, so some covers are designed to help minimize the effect of chafing.

Finally, the covering can determine how much grip a seat has, which will help keep you seated firmly. Smoother materials may have you sliding back and forth on the saddle, which can be a significant problem.

Other materials are made to maximize grip, holding you in one place easily. Aesthetics can also play a role as it will ultimately come down to personal preference when choosing a covering for your bike saddle.

As with most equipment, you will ultimately want to try out different models before choosing the best road bike seat for you. While it may look comfortable and have all the right specs, the saddle may be uncomfortable to you in practice, so always test drive before you buy.

Our Best Road Bike Saddle Picks - Reviews

Now that we’ve covered the main aspects of choosing the best road bike saddle, here is a list of some of the top-rated saddles on the market today.

I looked at the size, shape, and material of these saddles to determine what type of riding they are best suited for, as well as the gait of the rider.

Planet Bike Men’s Anatomic Relief Saddle

Editor Rating:

​As its name would suggest, the Planet Bike Men’s ARS is designed to be as comfortable as possible. This one is our # 1 pick as the most comfortable road bike saddle available on the market.

This saddle isn’t necessarily designed for a particular type of riding, but its size 

(10.5” long by 6.25” wide at the base) means that it isn’t ideal for racing bikes. However, if you are a casual biker or mountain biker, this seat could make long rides much easier on the posterior. This one is our # 1 pick in the list of best road bike saddles for long rides.

Feature at a glance

  • Gel inserts provide plush padding throughout
  • Deep groove in the center helps relieve pressure
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • May be too wide for smaller riders
Planet Bike 5020 Men’s ARS

Editor Rating:

Another ARS model from Planet Bike, the 5020 is almost identical to the standard ARS saddle, but it utilizes different gel padding for added comfort.

This model is also a bit smaller than the standard ARS, so it may be better for racing bikers although it’s still not ideal.

The other significant difference between the 5020 and the standard model is that the 5020 is covered in suede. Whether or not this is a benefit depends on how you feel about suede.

Feature at a glance

  • Patented groove down the center relives pressure
  • Extra gel inserts provide extra padding
  • Smaller to accommodate racing bikers
Fizik Tundra M3 Saddle

Editor Rating:

As far as sleek, sporty saddles go, the Fizik Tundra M3 Saddle is about as light and stylish as they come. It has a very smooth, narrow frame that supports you in either rough or easy terrain.

The M5 comes with Manganese rails, making them light but sturdy. According to Fi’z:k, this saddle fits into their Spine Concept Guideline, meaning that it is perfect for people who rest most of their weight on the pelvic bones.

Feature at a glance

  • Light and very chic design
  • Robust and sturdy construction
  • Designed to be as comfortable as possible
  • When riding, you barely feel it
Selle Italia Max SLR Gel Flow Vanox

Editor Rating:

In our first of Selle Italia’s saddles, the SLR is designed with men in mind, which is apparent as soon as you look at it.

A wide cutout in the middle (referred to as an anatomical cutout) means that men’s sensitive parts don’t get squished on the seat.

The contouring, coupled with the gel padding that forms to your figure, means the SLR is a fantastic saddle for casual and competitive biking.

Feature at a glance

  • Gel padding conforms to body
  • Wide cutout helps alleviate pinching and squishing
  • Ergonomic design makes it feel like nothing is there
Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

Editor Rating:

The comparison between the Selle Italia SLR and the Diva are like comparing apples to slightly smaller apples.

All of the benefits of the SLR are present on the Diva model, but the most noticeable difference is the size of the “anatomical cutout”.

On the men’s version, the cutout is relatively huge. On the Diva, it’s much more refined and slender. It’s unclear how much of this is purely design aesthetics and how much is functional, but otherwise, the construction is pretty much the same as the SLR.

Feature at a glance

  • Vanox tube rail
  • It weighs 265 grams
  • Its dimensions are 265 mm x 160mm
  • Shell made of rylsan and nylon N6
ISM Adamo Road Saddle

Editor Rating:

Of all the saddles on this list, the ISM Adamo stands out from the rest, mostly because of its unique design.

While most bike seats are a single piece that is wide at the back and tapered in the front, the Adamo looks like a pair of tongs with a wide bottom.

For this reason, the Adamo provides exceptional comfort when riding, especially for those who ride towards the front, like competitive cyclers.

Feature at a glance

  • Sleek, ergonomic design
  • Rails are made of Chromoly, making them sturdy but light
  • One year warranty
Serfas Men's Performance RX Bicycle Saddle

Editor Rating:

Looking at the Serfas saddle, it almost seems like they welded two smaller saddles together. The seat is perfectly symmetrical, with a nice hollow groove in the middle.

This cutout helps relieve pressure evenly as you ride, making it more comfortable for longer trips.

Additionally, the amount of padding is generous, but it is focused towards the rear, making this seat ideal for casual users or anyone who sits at the back.

Feature at a glance

  • Extra padding for comfort
  • Long, deep groove helps relieve pressure
  • Designed for back-sitters
Serfas RX-921L RoadMTB Comfort RX Saddle

Editor Rating:

Like with the Selle Italia, the differences between the Serfas RX-921L is pretty negligible.

The biggest distinction between the two is the fact that the RX-921 model is shorter, making it further ideal for long trips sitting at the rear of the seat.

While the RX could work both as a racer and a long-distance saddle, the 921L is mainly designed for the latter.

Feature at a glance

  • Extra padding for more comfort
  • Deep groove in the center to relieve pressure
  • Shorter shape
Fi'zi:k Arione VS X Saddle – Carbon

Editor Rating:

Although it’s not necessarily a name you can easily pronounce, Fi'zi:k Arione VS X Saddle  has proven themselves to be a top-tier maker of bike saddles, and the Arione VS X is a perfect example of that.

While this version is similar to the Tundra, the biggest difference is the size, length, and width of the groove in the center. On the VS X, this groove spans the length of the saddle and widens at the back for added comfort.

Feature at a glance

  • Sleek design
  • Groove in center widens at back for added comfort
  • Ideal for competitive bikers
  • The VS X model can be a little small for larger riders

Final Verdict

When it comes to best road bike saddles, everyone’s preference is different. As for myself, I prefer to ride on the back of the seat, as I ride casually or through semi-rough terrain. If you are competitive cyclist or bike on your commute, then you will want a saddle that can maintain comfort all the way without resulting in numbness or soreness.

To that end, either model of the Fi’z:k saddles is a great option for those looking to get a lot of miles out of their bike and saddle. If you have a more relaxed approach to cycling like myself, then the Planet Bike ARS is a solid bet.

As always, test out a seat before you buy it, so you don’t wind up with something that feels good or looks good at first, but winds up damaging you in the long run.

About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances for road bike advice; I take it personally whenever someone I know buys a new road bike without consulting me first!

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