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I am a beginner to riding on road bikes. A friend has lent me his road bike (Giant) for about 1 month and I want to use it as much as possible before I think about buying my own. The current seat is absolutely killing me though (I have padded bike shorts already) so I'm thinking of fitting it with a seat more suited for me.

If I get a new seat, is it likely that I will be able to use it on another bike?

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  • Except for single rail saddles that need special seat posts and saddles with ovalized rails that do not agree with some clamps. – Carel Dec 6 '14 at 8:58
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    While I completely agree with Batman's and Daniel R Hicks' anwsers, I testify that getting a second saddle+seatpost is a great way of sharing a bike that will frequently be used by two people of reasonably similar body geometry. I being a male, used to share a bike with my sister, so I had another seatpost with a wider and more padded saddle wich was placed more towards the front in the post. With the quick release, the bike was readjusted in matter of seconds. (In those days, there wheren't woman's saddles availables in my country) – Jahaziel Dec 12 '14 at 21:56
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Almost all saddles will be exchangeable -- there are a few rare (and very expensive ones) you wouldn't encounter unless you were looking for them which can't be exchanged.

So yes, almost surely if you buy a new saddle you can use it on another bike.

Note that some saddles are marketed as "road" or "mtb" - the mtb ones are possibly more durable, but this is a marketing distinction -- they are not separate standards.

That being said, there are a few things to note in your question:

1) Some discomfort when starting to ride road bikes is normal - the saddles are often harder than what most people are used to, so they need to get used to using their sit bones.

2) Some seatposts don't have much adjustability for saddle angle and position. Thus, a poor seatpost in this respect may make a good saddle for you not feel good. Brooks saddles, for example, are somewhat notorious for needing a decent amount of adjustability in the seatpost.

3) Make sure your bike is fit to you - if the saddle is in the wrong place (or other aspects of the fit are wrong), it won't feel good.

4) You may need a different saddle (as you assume).

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A couple of things to be aware of:

  • Seatposts come in a bizarre array of diameters, so the odds of a seatpost from one bike fitting another is not great.
  • There are maybe 3-4 different schemes for mating seats with seatposts. Most "real" bikes use the scheme where two "rails" under the seat are held by a clamp atop the post, but there are a few other schemes, mainly used with less expensive bikes. If both seats use the 2-rail scheme you're almost certainly OK, otherwise you need to compare the two carefully.
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There is likely much more variability at the point where the seatpost and frame meet as compared to the point where the seatpost and seat meet.

http://sheldonbrown.com/seatpost-sizes.html

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Something else to consider is that many bike shops will offer a seat trial program. You can pay a fee to use multiple seats and find the one that is right for you. The initial fee you paid will be applied to the purchase price of the saddle that you choose.

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  • Or a very generous return policy on seats. – dlu Oct 2 '15 at 23:14

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