Review Cyclist: The Best Road Bike Saddles - Rosiir

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Buyer's guide: the best road bike saddles

Riding a bike needn't be a pain in the rear end, as long as you make the effort to find the right bike saddle

Getting the best bike saddles for your bike can transform your riding experience.

And you won’t necessarily need to spend bundles either – sometimes the budget option can even turn out to be the best.

Many brands also offer a try-before-you-buy schemes with demo saddle, which we highly recommend using.

There’s a wide variety of shapes and styles, too, with a choice broadly between flat, semi-round or round; flat or scooped; as well as with or without a cut-out.

To complicate things even further, widths and lengths for all of these can vary greatly, too!

The past decade has seen the emergence of saddles that get you to rest on your sit bones rather than soft tissue (the ones with cut-outs), but not everyone finds them comfy.

Likewise with padding – more padding doesn’t always equate with more comfort as it can create pressure points.

Ultimately, getting it right is a matter of trial and error but let our guide, at least, steer you in the right direction...

The best bike saddles: our top picks

ISM PL1.1

Arguably the most radical-looking saddle here, ISM has refined its split nose design over many years and come up with a huge range of subtly different options.

The PL, formerly Prologue, is designed for the performance rider so has some additional length to it.

This means you have more space on the saddle to use when climbing or descending in a group.

This additional length also gives a more traditional look on the bike compared to some ISM models.

ISM provides more padding than many without causing issues and the 1.1 is the most padded version of the PL.

Its broader tail section, measuring 135mm, works splendidly for those who roll the hips backwards when climbing. Chromoly rails raise the weight to 352g.

Verdict: Living up to its creators' name of Innovative Saddle Maker, the PL 1.1 offers something special. 9.5/10

Shop here: https://rosiir.com/nl/racefiets/13-ism-pl11-zadel-racefiets-4711946196417.html

Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance

A new release, the Superflow Endurance builds on what the Novus started two years ago.

Selle Italia uses what it calls iD Match to break the range into two categories: S for narrow, L for wide, each with three sub categories depending on the size of the cut-out you’d like in the saddle; the Novus Endurance we have here is an L3.

As the name suggests, Endurance is designed for long-range comfort.

The slightly sculpted base with additional neoprene padding under your sit bones is evidenced in the 295g weight, despite titanium rails.

At 146mm wide, the ‘Superflow’ cut-out runs all the way to the nose to allow the rider the freedom to move around as they see the need.

Verdict: A huge range to which Superflow brings the latest thinking in a stylish, technical package. 8/10

Pro Falcon

With what Pro calls a ‘flat’ design, when looking across the back of saddle, the Falcon is quite the racer’s choice.

This style works well for those who are regularly making small positional changes on the bike.

With just the slightest dip, end to end, movement is further encouraged.

Stiffness and low weight are priorities with the Falcon – it’s just 155g.

To achieve this, three areas have been targeted: the rails are carbon, the base is constructed with carbon reinforcing, while the padding is on the minimal side and uses high density EVA foam.

Two widths of 132mm and 142mm are available, as well as a titanium rail version and an anatomic version with a cutout.

Verdict: Great value for a high-performance (light and stiff) saddle with differing widths to suit your needs. 9/10

Specialized Power Expert

Specialized’s innovative streak has led it to become one of the saddle market’s key players, largely thanks to the Body Geometry programme.

Latest to come to the line is the stubby Power range, of which the Expert, with its hollow titanium rails is the cheapest.

Shorter and broader than previous offerings, the design is said to concentrate on getting the best possible contact point for the sit bones for long ride comfort, hence the width.

It uses a medium density foam and a broader, longer channel, which means you don’t need to move around so much.

This is also why it’s shorter, as you won’t need a long front section, which helps keep weight down to circa 235g.

Verdict: The Power Expert sees Body Geometry technology taken to the next level and at a fair price, too. 9/10

Prologo Scratch 2 Space Tinox

Updated for 2017, the Scratch has become the Scratch 2 with the most prominent change being to the ‘wing’ area under the thigh, plus a slightly wider nose.

Listed as a ‘round’ shape, when viewed in profile, it’s slightly domed in the middle, which Prologo says suits those with reduced lumbar flexibility.

Quite the mainstay for Prologo, there are multiple versions to choose from.

Our selection is the Space, which means it has a wide central groove or PAS (Perineal Area System) to reduce pressure, as well as ‘Active Density’ foam, with firmer support in the areas where it’s needed; several other options are available, with or without the groove.

In the Space, two rail options are available – Tirox (lightweight alloy) or T2.0 (chromoly), while some models also offer a carbon version called Nack.

Verdict: One of the racing brand's wider saddles, it suits less aggressive positions best. 8/10

Brooks B17 Standard Honey

If you’ve ever heard the old cycling term ‘on the rivet’ and wondered what it was about, wonder no longer – with this saddle it’s obvious, thanks to the way it’s made.

The B17’s leather upper is suspended across its black steel rails, and secured in place with rivets (it’s the one in the nose that you are riding on when pushing hard).

As you’d expect given the construction, it’s heavier than others featured here at 520g but then given that it’s been a best-seller for the UK company for more than 100 years, you can imagine that’s not a huge concern to users who want a saddle that custom moulds to them over time.

Available in five other colours, it measures 175mm by 275mm.

Verdict: Not the racer's choice but the B17 is certainly worthy of consideration for all other cycling disciplines. 8.5/10

Fabric Cell Radius Elite

The least expensive saddle in our buyer’s guide, the Cell has a very different approach, with six bold colours and a translucent waterproof TPU cover, through which you can make out the hexagonal internal structure.

These ‘hex-air springs’ are designed to give ample cushioning without using foam – you’ll have seen similar in running shoes.

With a nylon base and cro-mo rails the weight is 355g.

Designed for rides that last hours, Cell is wider than most at 155mm so works best with an upright position as it carries weight across the whole surface.

Fabric also offers a 60-day trial so it’s easy to swap between models in the range to find the best for you.

Verdict: A different approach helps keep weight down yet offers plenty of padding in a fine-looking perch. 7.5/10

Fizik Arione Classic K:ium

At 300mm, Fizik’s Arione is one of the longest saddles on the market, and to our eyes one of the most elegant.

It has a slightly raised tail section to help keep you in place and a longer nose to enable you to stay seated longer on demanding climbs.

The flat and narrow nose spreads to a width of 128mm at the rear and benefits in the transition section from ‘wings’ that are said to flex under your thighs.

Fizik suggests the flat profile is best suited to the most flexible of riders.

Our choice from the range features Fizik’s exclusive titanium based metal rails and is the cheapest of the Arione options but has a durable microtex cover and minimal padding, giving it a total weight of 225g.

Verdict: Best suited to those looking for an aggressive/racing style, this saddle has plenty of room to move around. 9/10