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I'll need a new saddle for my bike soon. I use it mainly for short commutes (30 minutes). About once a year I go touring for a few days, up 8 hours in the saddle.

My current saddle just came with the bike. I see there are a lot of different saddle types available now, from the ultra thin, to the wide & comfy to the downright fruity.I associate the thin saddles with racers, but thats the limit of my knowledge.

When choosing a new saddle, should I choose based on my body frame or my cycling type (i.e. get one for short commutes, one for touring)?

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Should be community wiki –  Nik Reiman Aug 27 '10 at 11:44
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@Nik - can you say why it should be community wiki? I had a look at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/55888 and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740 to check up on CW guidelines. This question seems fine as it is. –  Kevin Aug 27 '10 at 18:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Choosing a saddle that fits you is very important. The wrong saddle can lead to numbness and pain in the crotch area, and in the long run serious health issues. The right saddle for you should fit comfortably regardless of what type of riding you do and will depend mainly on the width of your pelvic. Ideally you should get a professional fit. If one is not available to you, you should try a few saddles of different sizes to determine what fits you before you purchase.

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Unfortunately, trial-and-error still seems to be a large part of choosing a saddle. –  Neil Fein Jun 11 '11 at 19:20
    
Some good bike shops will lend you saddles to try. You should ask if they do that. –  posipiet Jun 11 '11 at 19:30

The only rough rule that applies is that the more you ride, the narrower and harder saddle you need. Beyond that it's very individual and there seem to be be no shortcuts - you need to go through a few saddles.

Also, a saddle that fits on one bike may not be the best fit on another bike, due to differences in position.

At best you can try to get an arrangement with your local bike shop where if a saddle doesn't fit you, you can return it at a markdown.

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My LBS lets you use a trial saddle for a week. That's a pretty good way to get an idea. You put a deposit down, take the saddle home and ride as much as you can. It took me a few tries to find the right one. One of the ones I rejected I liked a lot the first two rides but the third started reveal lack of fit.

If you do different kinds of riding (commuting, touring, etc.) it might be overkill to get a saddle for each. But you do need one that is going to work for your longest activity. If it works for long touring, it should work for a short commute.

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Another suggestion I've heard is that you should invest in a leather saddle such as a Brooks, and it will over time mould itself to fit your sit bones. A Brooks B17 was the suggestion (if I recall correctly), as you can get one for about £50.

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