Bike touring involves spending many hours on the pedals, so having the best touring saddle you can find is paramount. Sitting comfortably will leave you free to enjoy the wonders of riding through nature and discovering new places, without taking you completely out of the experience by developing stiffness and aches in different parts of your body. Unfortunately, however, there is no universal answer to the question of how the best touring bike saddle should be.
Each of us has a different riding style and naturally sits differently on their bike, so not all saddle designs will fit and feel the same for everybody. In this article we have put together a list of the top rated touring bike saddles that are available today, so you can get a complete overview of all the options at your disposal. Take your time in selecting the best fit for your needs and your backbone will thank you after many miles of road have gone by.
How To Choose A Touring Saddle – Buying Guide
If you want to pick the touring saddle that will fit you like and glove and help you endure all the hours on the bike that a touring trip entails, it is very useful if you know you sit bone width. The sit bone is the lowest part of your coccyx, and the one that comes directly in contact with the saddle, so it will be the spot where the most pressure gets concentrated and the most likely point of discomfort. There are some tools available that let you measure your sit bone width, even if you might get away even with a simple measuring tape, and once you’ve found out the number you should add 20mm and you find the bike width that is most likely to fit you best. Going above that will give your pelvis too much room to move around and expose to unwanted rubbing while choosing a saddle that is too narrow won’t give you the feeling of being well supported during your ride. You riding position also influences the choice of your saddle width, since a wider one is needed if you spend most of your time upright, while a narrower one is better for a more crouched riding position.
Our bodies are naturally flexible, so over time, they will adapt to whatever saddle you have chosen. The more flexible you are, the more wiggle room you have even if you are using a saddle that isn’t quite right. However, this can lead to bad habits becoming ingrained in your routine and very hard to get rid of once the damage is done. Finding a saddle that fits you correctly from the get-go will let you use all of your flexibility to ride even better, instead of fixing setup mistakes, and this is what you want to be going for.
Saddle height is one of the most important variables in setting up your bike so you can get the most out of pedaling while avoiding any injury due to your posture. A saddle that is not well positioned means that there might be an overextension of some muscles or unwanted pressure on certain muscle groups that, over time, may hurt the rider and hinder his or her biking abilities. Measuring your inseam is a good way to understand exactly at what height the saddle needs to be placed, as well as choosing the correct size for your bike frame. It is one of the most important measurements for a cyclist and one that any serious biker should know.
Your position on the saddle plays an equal part as the saddle height in determining how efficiently you can pedal. Sitting too upright will expose you to an excessive amount of air resistance and make cycling excessively tiring, but also remaining constantly crouched is likely to make your back sore and may even turn you away from riding altogether. Look for expert advice and practice to find out which is the ideal balance between height, power and aerodynamics, so you can get the most out of your bike and saddle without hurting yourself.
As soon as you pick up a bike saddle and try to squeeze it, you might be surprised at how stiff it feels, even if it is padded with several layers of gel. This is because if you are going to ride for a long time, a stiffer saddle is much preferable over a softer one, since it has a much smaller amount of give. Having a saddle that is very soft might be comfortable for the first few hours, but over an extended period of time it just leaves your pelvis bones too free to move around, increasing the chance of injury and discomfort. A firmer saddle is, therefore, your best friend if you’re on a long ride. It might take some time to get used to in the beginning, but it will reveal all its value in the long run.
Most touring saddles will be made either of leather or synthetic materials. The synthetic options are usually the softest, but they do come with a catch, since they are also the ones that are quickest at wearing down. This might leave you sitting very close to the hard saddle frame sooner that you might think. Leather saddles will feel harder and stiffer in the beginning and tend to put off many who are looking for a beginner’s bike, but in the long run, they will adapt much better to your specific body shape and last longer than their plastic counterparts. We believe, therefore, that they are worth the extra effort because they pay significant dividends over time.
Springs vs No Springs
Touring saddles with springs and without both do a good job in absorbing vibrations that come from the road. Saddles with springs will be a better fit for riders that like to sit taller on the bike, since the springs offer greater support to the rear part of the saddle which is where most of the weight will be concentrated in this case. Those that adopt a different riding position, one that is more pushed forward, will not put so much strain on the back of the saddle and will, therefore, be fine even with one that doesn’t have springs. This may also allow them to save a little weigh, which, for bikers interested in speed and performance, is always a piece of good news.
Man vs Woman
The difference between men’s and women’s touring saddle is minimal since the anatomical differences between the sexes mostly concern the soft tissue in the area. There are, however, some saddles which are specifically designed for women and generally offer a slightly wider rear end and a different design for the tip. Women riders that have an aggressive stance when on their touring bike might deem it worthwhile to consider buying a women-specific saddle, to get the best possible performance out of every pedal stroke. For those that are less concerned with speed and power, a unisex model is likely to suffice.
Q: Are Gel Saddles Any Good?
Yes, they are. Gel layers can indeed offer great comfort for the riders because of their softness and how they are able to mold to the shape of the body. They are, however, more likely to deteriorate rapidly and might not suit riders that plan on cycling over very long distances, in which case a leather saddle might be a better fit.
Q: How Do I Choose A Comfortable Bike Saddle?
Knowing your sit-bone width is crucial to finding the right saddle for you, but your cycling style is also very important to guide your choice If you are looking for the best performance, you'll be willing to sacrifice some comfort for a thinner and more aerodynamic saddle, whereas if you're looking for comfort choose one that is wider and features more stuffing.
Q: Where Should I Sit On My Bike Saddle?
If you're only strolling around leisurely, sitting on the widest part of the saddle, the rear, will be the most comfortable option. As you start being more aggressive and push your performance, you'll naturally tend to shift towards the front end as it will allow you to have better leverage to move the pedals.
Globo Surf Overview
While not as flashy as the latest bike computer, a good touring bike saddle is a must if you are planning a trip on long trails and over more than one day. In our touring saddle reviews, we have shown you what are the best options available for all different riding styles, so you can rapidly identify the best fit for you and be well on your way to planning your adventures.