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Bicycle Helmets

Best Bike Seat or Saddle
Bike Seat Choice is as personal as your Bike Design

For a seat to be classified as the best bike saddle it must exactly cradle your two hard seat bones and not exert pressure on the soft tissue in between. It is these bones that must absorb your body weight on long rides. Periodic standing will allow the legs and somewhat the arms to relieve the butt for short periods, but predominately it is the butt that must develop callouses for the long haul.

A bike seat is designed in one of two ways. Either a one piece molded frame with padding applied to the surface or a with leather stretched over a metal frame and held in place with rivets.

Metal Frame: The metal frame of your bike seat serves two purposes; to support the actual shape of the seat and to allow it to be mechanically attached to the seat post. It is typically steel or titanium. Better steel frames are chromed for more rust resistance. Brooks bike saddles use titanium rails for lighter construction.

Not all rails have sufficient adjustment with all seat post designs, pushing the bicycle saddle too far forward, thus you might chose to bring your bike with you when shopping so that you can test each seat in combination with your seat post and bike frame.

Schwinn Ergonomic Bike SaddleSaddle Base: over the metal frame is mounted a plastic base that is designed to be flexible under the riders weight, often with a hole in the middle, like someone split your seat in two. In theory it was designed to remove pressure from your more private parts. For some riders this has proven to be less comfortable as the edges around the perimeter of the hole have added to the discomfort.

Other versions of the same story, have created a dual pad saddle... one seat pad for each cheek :) Some guys I talk to swear by the product and others swear AT the product, so it really is NOT a one shoe fits all. I can't give you the perfect answer as to what will be best for your body.. you really have to get out and try.

Saddle Padding: First I'll suggest that saddles with excessive padding are the most common cause of painful chafing of the inner thigh.. the bulk becomes a rub point after the first half hour.. And the softest is most often not the most comfortable to cycle on. Thus try a range of options NOT just the seats that look the most cushy in the bike shop!

A GEL bicycle seat uses a special high tech form of closed-cell foam for cushioning. It is effective, as with the gel in you bike gloves and padded bicycle shorts, but again it does not breath... As with all life there are tradeoffs.

Saddle Cover: The best bike seat covers are smooth enough to be comfortable, but textured enough so you are not always sliding off, particularly in wet weather.

  • Vinyl: Least expensive choice, designed to look like leather, but doesn't breath. Tends to be a little slippery and in its cheapest form wears easily on the corners
  • Lycra©: breathable, dries fast but doesn't always wear as well as I might like it to.
  • Brooks leather saddleReal leather: Leather is riveted to the metal frame and molds to your body shape (at least after a few miles) without the need for additional padding, this lack of foam makes it more breathable. Does tend to be a little heavier and the leather, as with fine boots does require some attention for it to survive particularly the challenges of wet weather. Typical recommendation is to coat it with Proofide© (or similar leather lubricant) every 3 months on both the top and underside and then let it sit in the sun to encourage penetration. (fenders will help to keep the moisture off the underside) Thus leather saddles are more work.

    Leather seats also require some adjustment. As with all leather it stretches with use and weather, thus they are typically designed with a tension bolt at the nose of the saddle. This is a drag though if you think you may need to be tweaking it on the road.. more tools, more weight!

Weight:The lighter the better if you are hauling your bike up alot of long hills.


Return Policy: I'd definitely not buy, especially an expensive seat, if I didn't have the ability to return it within a reasonable amount of time. It is next to impossible to know if it will work with your body without taking it out on the road for a couple of long hauls.. one reason to support your local dealer. Try a few before you make the final decision.

Tools: Make sure if the seat uses special wrenches for either attachment or adjustment that they either come with the saddle or you are able to purchase them independently

Bike Seat Covers: There are quite a few of aftermarket pads or gel seat covers that are intended to be added to the top of your bike saddle. I'd suggest they are usually a waste of time. If your existing seat does not fit your body, it is highly unlikely that adding a gel pad is going to turn it into the best bike saddle... put the money out and just get yourself a new seat.

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copyright Jan. 2007