We probably don’t have to tell you how important saddles are on a bike; it is one of the most vital things to get right. It is one of the main reasons beginners either continue cycling or quit instantly after an inaugural ride due to buttock pains.
The problem with saddles that come stock on a bike is that it might not be suitable for you. Some people may strike lucky and find the saddle is comfortable, for everyone else, it is just not the case.
The problem lies in the measurement of your ischial tuberosity or also known informally as your sit bones. Everyone has a different sit bone width and the cycling industry players know this, which is why there are many saddle options out there. It doesn’t stop there either, because even if you do get a match, the specifically designed seat might not be right or your riding style. It is really important to know these two things, even though it’s tempting to just go and buy the best saddle out there.
Don’t get us wrong though, because the nerves at your sit bones still need conditioning and any pains will only go away after a few rides even with the correct saddle. Also, the type of saddle rails, seatpost height and other measurements should also be taken into account when it comes to total comfort. In this article however, we would like to help you with the basics of choosing the right saddle in the hope that it will either reignite your love for cycling or let you get more comfortable with your current setup.
There are many home D.I.Y ways to do this but unfortunately it yielded no results for us when we tried it. It’s probably better to consult an expert about it anyway, as all you will have to do is pop down into your local favourite bike shop and ask them to measure your sit bones. This is done with a contraption that you will have to sit on for around 30 seconds, which will result in a fairly accurate measurement.
For our experiment, we tried the Retul measuring tool at Specialized’s Concept store in Petaling Jaya. Their device is quite brilliant because not only will it give you a numerical measurement, it will also give you a colour code which can be used as a reference to find which Specialized saddle is suitable for you. All of the Specialized saddles are categorised by this colour code and all you have to do is match the colour to your measurement.
Now that you have the measurement, it’s time pick the saddle. But before you do, there is some basic information you will need to understand. For those who have thinner toned quads (thighs), choose a wider and flatter saddle. If you have muscular or bigger quads choose a saddle that is more rounded off with a slimmer profile.
To fine tune that information we can also delve into what type of rider you are. Choose a wider saddle if you’re more of an upright laidback rider, but if you’re more of a performance rider that likes to get into the lower down aggressive positions, choose a narrower saddle.
On the second floor of the Specialized Concept Store Petaling Jaya, there are many saddles for you to choose from. Most of the packaging will give some information as to the purpose of the saddle design, but if you’re unsure, you can always ask the experienced staff members there.
The dampening properties between steel, carbon and titanium are different, which result in different levels of saddle comfort. All saddles are made differently with every brand’s in-house philosophy, but generally carbon rails are known to be lightweight and great at shock absorption but are more expensive. Titanium rails are known to have more flex which can help with better comfort, whilst steel is strong and fuss free.
We admit that all three materials will differ according to who makes them, but in the end every rider will have different preferences too. This is why testing out a saddle is crucial to ultimately making a decision over what is right for you.
Specilaized Concept Store Petaling Jaya
We’re not sure about other shops, but Specialized Concept Store Petaling Jaya (also known as Funsportz Cycles) will let you test a saddle of your choice FOR A WEEK.
Yes, that you read that right, you can take home a saddle for a week to try out, provided you give them a photocopy of your identification card (I.C.) and some other details. They're pretty flexible with return dates as long as you're upfront with them and communicate whenever you have any issues, and will also put no pressure on you to purchase after returning a test saddle.
But don't take our word for it. Pay them a visit for more details, and whilst you’re there, feel free to ask them as much as you want as the staff there are extremely helpful and friendly.