In most cases, our bicycle saddle is blamed as the main cause of discomfort (saddle soreness) during our cycling sessions. Most individuals suffer from saddle soreness, such as abrasions, pressure sores and even sharp pain around the groin area.
To select the right saddle, you should consider a few factors. With relevant knowledge, bicycle saddles can be installed to ensure individuals are in their optimal positions during their cycling sessions.
For a cyclist, a bicycle saddle is something that is very personal and subjective. What works out well for someone, might not suit you. Even though bicycle saddles can be replaced easily, it shouldn’t be.
This article will equip individuals with relevant few factors to look out for before buying a new saddle AND get you an exclusive deal… scroll down to find out more 😉
Importance Of Bicycle Saddle
In order for individuals to maintain their stability on the bike, there must be various contacts points on the bike to support the overall weight of the rider. The 3 main contact points available on the bike are the handlebar, pedals, and saddle.
Out of the 3 main contact points, the saddle usually takes most of an individual’s weight on the bike and provides the most efficient way of weight distribution as well.
In addition, with the saddle positioned optimally, it places an individual in the most effective and efficient position over the pedals and gaining a good sense of handling and control at the bars.
Components of a typical bicycle saddle
Saddles vary in terms of sizes, materials used, shapes, weight, and types. However, the overall components within a saddle do not differ much at all. A saddle would usually consist of the shell, the cover and the rails.
The shell creates the overall shape of the saddle. The tip of the saddle also called the nose of the saddle, is rounded and is molded from plastic, nylon, leather, or carbon fiber.
The cover or the padding is on the top of the shell. Most saddles use paddings made of foam, gel, or gel-foam. A thin layer of cover, made of spandex, or artificial leather is used to wrap the padding.
Sometimes, Kevlar is used to prevent and reduce the abrasions during cycling.
The saddle rails underneath the saddle body, are made of steel, titanium, or carbon fiber. The rails of the saddle provide the connection between the saddle body and saddle clamp/seat post. The rails also allow adjustments such as saddle setback and saddle tilt.
Different types and styles of Bicycle Saddle
Saddles differ across individuals based on their cycling disciplines and riding styles. Therefore, by taking these two factors into considerations, it would help to better narrow down the variety of saddles available in the market.
Here are some examples of different types and styles of saddles:
Comfort / Gel Saddles
This type of saddles is generally heavier in terms of weight, typically around 350-500 grams. In terms of shape and size, it has a rather wider surface area and thicker side profile as compared to the rest of the other saddle types due to its thick cushioning made up of gel, foam or both.
The wide and flexible top helps to provide support for our sit bones, mainly used for commuting purposes and leisure rides.
There are certain saddles available in the market with a hollow area in the midsection of the saddle body; these are the cut-out saddles.
Benefits of the cut-out section of the saddle are to redistribute the rider’s weight and relief pressure built up during cycling in the soft tissues of our groin area.
Cut out sections are generally works well with other types of saddles as well. Usually, cut-out saddles are for riders seeking to relieve soft tissue pressure and redistribute their weight more on the supportive structures of the saddle. Or, just for saving some weight!
The noses of most saddles available in the market have rounded front section. But, most time-trial saddles usually have a tilted down or nose-less front.
With such design on the front of the saddle, it allows cyclists to comfortably rotate their pelvic anterior when they adopt their aero position. Therefore, it is best for cyclists participating in triathlon events.
In terms of weight and profile, it is rather similar to comfort/gel saddles. However, with the built-in shock absorbents located either on the rails or in the shell, it is long lasting as compared to comfort/gel saddles. Gel/foam used as cushion might gradually become thinner with prolonged usage.
Therefore, riders can consider suspension saddles for their commuting and leisure rides.
Road Racing Saddles
One of the most commonly used and readily available saddle types in the market are the road racing saddles. Road racing saddles are typically lighter and stiffer as compared to other saddle types. Road racing saddles are generally lighter because they consist less cushion providing minimal padding.
The saddles are stiff because they have a stiffer top layer on top of the cover. The shell and rail of the saddle consist of carbon or titanium. These materials increase the stiffness and decrease the overall weight of road racing saddles effectively.
Gender Specific (Ladies) Bicycle Saddle
There are saddles that fit female cyclists. Saddles constructed for ladies have a wider/larger surface area on the top of the shell to accommodate wider hips and wider ischial bones.
Apart from being wide, ladies saddles generally have a shorter nose to accommodate the difference in riding styles between both genders. Some male cyclists do find it more comfortable to sit on one as compared to the usual road saddles.
The thing is you should select your saddle on the anatomy of your pelvic region rather than your gender.
Mountain Bike Saddles
Apart from road cycling, there are cyclists who picked up mountain biking. In a typical mountain biking saddle, it is slightly wider than a road saddle with medium padding. With the help of medium padding, the saddle is less stiff, allowing it to provide comfort during trail riding.
Depending on the kind of materials used for the construct/padding of the mountain bike saddle, it can be lightweight as well.
Are your bicycle saddles right for you? Spread the knowledge, share this with your cycling kakis!
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Edzel is a certified GebioMized bike-fitter and an avid cyclist who participated in various cycling events organised regionally. He will be completing his Sports Science and Management (SSM) programme with Nanyang Technological University by 2018. He majors in growth and motor development, motor control & learning and motor movement analysis. With his background in motor related functions and development. He strongly believe that there isn't just one optimized movement pattern for all cyclists but rather each and every cyclists would have their own individualised movement pattern which is optimal for them.
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