The more comfortable you are, the longer and probably faster you'll be able to ride. That’s the simple part of this story. Finding the right saddle is highly subjective and can be as challenging as buying the right bike. To help guide you through this mine field we have put together this Sasha Cycling seven point guide using our rider’s own experiences. “It’s as much about avoiding common mistakes as doing the right thing when trying to find your favourite saddle”, says Sasha founder Alex Field (pictured above on her Bianchi)
• Comfort is the number one element when deciding which saddle to pick, but ask yourself why you are uncomfortable and carefully note where the pain is coming from and how long into your ride it is before you start to feel discomfort? Be careful to identify the saddle IS the problem and not your bike set-up (saddle height and fore/aft position is key).
• Essentially, it is all about your ‘sit bones’ and where your weight rests on the bike once you have warmed up and ridden for at least 15 minutes. Having a feel for this part of your body will help you select the type of saddles to look at as there are ones with a pronounced dip at the front and wide slot in the middle or a kick up at the back.
• Consider saddle width as a major factor in how comfortable it might be. For example, does your current one cause chaffing between your legs? If the answer is yes it may be that it is too wide.
• Visiting a well stocked bike shop and talking to the staff is essential. Please don’t just pick an on-line bargain or be drawn by the colour or style. A good quality bike shop will be able to measure you and offer alternative fittings and sizes, rather like buying a pair of running shoes.
• Narrow your choices down to just a few, then try and test-ride them. Some shops will lend you a test saddle, which hopefully they will fit onto your bike. This has the added benefit of the test saddle being expertly set-up.
• Consider going the whole way and having a professional bike fit, as saddle choice can be included in this process and it may give you the chance to try different ones whilst on a static bike.
• Once you have settled on a new saddle for your road bike see if the same maker also makes MTB versions too that you can use on your off-road machine. Road and MTB saddles are quite different in design and construction, therefore avoid using a road saddle on an off-road bike.
Alex recommends the Selle Italia Diva for a road bike and the Sella Italia Donna for mountain bikes. She says: “Like most of us I bought my first proper road bike with a male-fit saddle and as much as I loved the bike I could never get really comfortable. After trying a few different saddles, I chose the Diva after a recommendation from a cycling friend. I also understood it was not the only factor effecting comfort which led me to set up Sasha Cycling to make proper womens cycling bottoms.”
The Diva is a very popular at around £100 as it suits a lot of female rider’s body shapes and is also used by Sasha rider Alison (above) who picked it after checking out the most popular saddles among the ladies in her triathlon club.