Advice on Buying Bike Saddles
Buy a Bicycle Saddle - Advice & Help Guide
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Want help to Buy a Saddle - a basic overview
There are many different saddles that come in a myriad of different sizes, colours and designs at different prices, weights and riding comfort levels. Therefore you can see that buying a saddle is a compromise on all these things. See below for our best advice on buying saddles below.
Most bicycle saddles are fairly standard in their fittings - most saddles attach to the seat post and seat post clamp via two rails under the seat part itself but there are variations in saddle fittings and fixtures so always check with your bike shop or cycle store or Contact Bonthrone.
Different types of Saddles - get the right one!
Saddles - General Saddle Design & Shape
More padding means more comfort!!! However you can imagine how this will affect the weight and look of the saddle so obviosuly you'll need to compromise. For maximum comfort you want the largest and softest saddle you can find but make sure it's not so soft that you're body weight pushes yo right down that your almost on the base of the saddle - ouch! That's a nice way of saying you have to take into account your body weight ok so mabe you want to test a few out first:)
Buying Ladie's & Women's Saddles
For some time now there have been many saddles designed specifically for women. The design of a women's saddle is different to a man's in several ways - it's not just about padding! Click here to see our selection of ladies saddles & womens specific saddles.
Saddle Rail Size and Fitting
Rails are 7mm in general but they can also be 'oversized' eight or nine millimeter versions. Seatposts are usually designed to work with 7mm standard rail size but always check compatibility.
Saddle - Lightness & Durability
The material of the rail obviously affects the strength and weight of the saddle but may or may not be of great concern. Steel is most common and least expensive material downside with weight. Lighter materials are used for rails such as 'cro-mo' or 'magnesium' - the later offering more flex as well as the esxtra strength offered by cro mo. Titanium is widely regarded as the best but most expensive type of rail. It's strong and light offering the optimum comfort for saddles.
Saddle Skins & Saddle Covering Material
Leather Covering: This is the prefered, most expensive and also quite long lasting saddle covering. Sometimes called 'solid leather' - the first bicycle saddles were thick leather stretched across the saddle 'cradle' (see below). You might have seen this on modern 'Brookes' saddles that are based on these early designs. The leather is very hard to start but slowly adapts perfectly to the shape of your bottom. There ared special care products that make this process quicker and more effective. Synthetic or 'Leatherette' covering: this will be a leather style outer cover that will tend to be fairly cheap and hard wearing. There might even be a small amount of foam between the cover and the plastic base. This kind of covering is not recommended for anything other than short journeys. Padded or 'Mattress' Saddles. Commonly found on 'shopper' bikes and were also extremely common on many bikes through the 50's 60's and 70's. These were cheap and most low end bikes had these saddles as standard. The 'mattress' is made of a metal frame / springs from front to back jus like an ordinary mattress. Kevlar Saddle covering: This is not normally as expensive as leather but it's even more durable!
Getting More Comfort from your Saddle...
The choice of saddle is very important as it is one of only 3 contact points between you and your bicycle - pedals... hands and your backide on the saddle. It is the saddle in actual fact that causes the most complaints when it comes to comfort. The reason being fairly obvious - as that region of the body is pretty sensitive and different people have very different amounts of soft tissue in that area. What's comfortable to one person can be uncomfortable to others.
The Saddle 'Cradle'
All saddles have a 'cradle' that is normally steel but newer lighter materials are titanium - carbon fibre or magnesium. The cradle allows the seat to be fastened to the seat post.
Special Saddle Comfort Areas
Some saddles have what's called a cut away or soft area designed to minimise numbness and fatigue in this area.
Sprung Bicycle Saddles
These were extremely common on bikes where your position was upright to reduce back injury. Sometimes combimed with the mattress sprung saddles have two springs supporting the back of the saddle on the cradle. This design actually does absorb a fair amount of shock but the the saddle may feel too bouncy at high speed.
Gel Bicycle Saddles
First seen in the eighties - new materials offer many possibilities - namely silicone gels mounled to various shapes and sizes that offere an virtual skin angainst skin effect and protect the more sensitive tissues extremely effectively. These gels - to give you an idea are pretty much made of the same materials used in cosmetic surgery implants and are jelly like but more viscous than the stuff you eat!
Gel Foam Bike Saddles
The difference between gel and gelfoam is that gel has a fixed volume, there is no change in volume before and after compression.. this is why it's like real fatty tissue in it's behaviour - its just displaced unlit the pressure is removed. A gelfoam saddle will only compress where pressure is reducing volume at those points. Because of this, Gel saddles offer the best comfort.
Hole Cycle Saddles
Well the claims are a reduction in pressure on the genitalia due to spacing of the holes on the saddle surface! A number of cyclists claim a more comfortable ride with a saddle that has holes than a saddle without holes.
Gel Inserts for Saddles
These saddles have a single cavity filled with a gel insert to support the genital region.
Raised Pelvic Buffers
Most of your weight is supported by your pelvic bone which has two sticking out parts. To accomodate these, some saddles have aised areas with special padding at theses points.
Narrow Saddles - Ouch??!!
Are they as uncomfortable as they look? Believe it or not - distance race or touring riders will prefer narrow saddles to a wide one! wide saddles affect riding style and allow more moevement in and out of the saddle - sprinting, going up and down hill and general touring rides. In terms of pure comfort, wider saddles win out but don't get one for those long treks!
Saddles just for Women
The female pelvis is very different to a man's. Ladies saddles take this bone structure different into account and are wider at the back and shorter from one end to the other. Not: most bikes come with getnts saddles fitted so if you are a lady but buying a mans bike - check the saddle!!!
Upgrading to a better Cycle Saddle
The best bike shops will allow a saddle upgrade on purchasing your new bike. It will be well worth the difference. A quality saddle is of the higest importance both for your comfort and health if you are travelling longer distances so consider buying something a little more expensive than the standard issue saddle that comes with a bike off the shelf.
Can't find the help you need buying a saddle?... call us!
If you find this is not the cheapest website or place to buy bicycle saddles or want to purchase a specialized type of bicycle saddle and are unsure what components or bike manufacturers fit which saddles - Contact Bonthrone.
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