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)?


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. – Goodbye Stack Exchange 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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There are a couple of factors that at least help you narrow your search.

  1. Sit-bone width. You can measure this at home, and lots of shops have special benches for measuring this, but the saddle should support you directly under your sit-bones (ischial tuberosities). Some manufacturers today produce a given saddle model in a number of widths to accommodate this.
  2. Riding position. If you're sitting more upright, you'll be sitting on a wider part of your sit-bones. Some manufacturers have different lines of saddles to suit different riding styles.
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As others state, you often have to try a lot of saddles to find one which is right for you.

One way to do this is to buy a few recommended ones from eBay or similar second hand shopping site. If they look a bit scruffy it doesn't matter. If they don't work for you, resell on eBay, hopefully without losing much money besides postage.

Once you have one which works for you consider buying new or, for the environmentally-conscious, nearly-new.

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