Finding the Right Saddle for Your Bicycle

Bicycles are among the most common vehicles in the world, given how they are lightweight, cheap, convenient, and don’t need fuel or a license to use. Sports, recreation, and commuting are all possible on bicycles, and there are plenty of them; at over one billion, bicycles outnumber cars two to one. These vehicles can be good for health and recreation, but having the right equipment, such as leather bike saddles and good wheels, can make all the difference when pedaling on a bike.

Business and Riding

There is no shortage of bicycles and their riders, and business for selling these vehicles and their accessories, from a carbon saddle setup to seat clamps, is huge. In 2015 alone, the American bicycle industry make $6.2 billion in sales, and on gear for bikes, $81 million was spent in the United States, and more broadly, on bicycles themselves plus their gear and accessories, a total of $10 billion is spent each year by outdoor activities enthusiasts. And more and more adults are getting bikes to ride; in 2010, for example, some 21.8 million American adults rode on a bike for 109 days or fewer, and ever since 2005, American states have seen a 46% climb in the number of commuters riding on bicycles. For all these riders, from casual bike riders to competitive sports riders, having the right bicycle saddles is essential, from leather bike saddles to carbon fiber bike saddles.

The Seats

According to Road, even the shape of bicycle saddles is determined by the function, let alone the material. For more casual and leisurely bicycles and their riders, for example, softer and wider bike saddles are typical. This is due to a slow riders’ upright posture and low speed, meaning more weight is on the lower body and the seat, mandating a more cushioned saddle. The opposite is true of competitive bicycle riders; in this case, a narrow, harder seat is needed, since the rider leans forward and puts much less weight on the saddle, and the legs are moving harder and faster than a casual rider’s, so a wide saddle getting in the way would be a real issue. Such a saddle would be uncomfortable to sit directly on, but these bikes are not meant for such use anyway. More specifically, it is the sit bones, rather than the entire buttocks, that are being accommodated by wide or narrow seats. Even a person with a larger posterior may not need a wider seat or other adjustments. A buyer looking for bicycles will choose a saddle based on intended use. Mountain biking, racing on smooth pavement, commuting, and touring all call for different saddle shapes, materials, and frame work.

The material is another factor to weigh in. Leather bike saddles, for example, are often considered the most practical and luxurious ones, and a good investment, too, seeing as the leather can last a long time. They may sometimes need proofing, however, and have to be protected from rain. Leather bike saddles will have the leather stretched over the framework and can make for a very comfortable surface to sit on while riding. Leather bike saddles may require some breaking in, however.

Bike saddles often have foam or gel padding in them, and more padding means more shock absorption, something more important for wide, leisure bike saddles, since the rider sits more directly on the saddle during use. By contrast, a competitive bike rider’s saddle may have less padding in it, since much less weight is applied to the saddle, and less padding can help maintain the saddle’s narrow profile to keep the saddle clear of the moving legs. Also, the saddle’s support frame work may be made of different materials, some more designed for shock absorption than others. Competitive racers will probably not need as much shock absorbance as casual riders will, and even the bike saddle itself may act as shock absorption from when the bicycle goes over bumps and cracks on the ground as it moves. In some saddles, in fact, holes in the seat allow the foam padding to expand upwards to enhance shock absorption. Overall, choosing the right saddle for the right bike is key to a comfortable and practical riding experience.

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