Best Road Bike Saddles of 2020
Best Overall Road Bike Saddle
With its simple low profile design, carbon fiber rails, and comfortable dense padding, the Fabric Scoop Pro is our highest scoring model. The Scoop Pro scores well across the board in nearly every rating metric, and does so with one of the lightest weights in our lineup, thanks to its minimalist design and carbon fiber rails. Its lightweight performance doesn't mean a sacrifice in comfort though, as its flexible base and soft foam padding make a comfortable combination. While the Flat profile model we tested is intended for a more aggressive riding position, Fabric also makes the exact same model in a Shallow and Radius profile for neutral or more upright riding positions. In fact, most of Fabric's saddles are available in all three shapes to suit your individual riding style.
While our testers thought the Scoop Pro is a comfortable saddle, it does not have a full cutout or pressure relief channel like what is found on other models, like the Selle SMP Pro, our Top Pick for Anatomic Relief. While it does have a small relief channel at the tail of the saddle that is useful when you're riding in an aggressive position, riders looking for more anatomic relief will likely find better options elsewhere. For riders looking for a lightweight, high-performance saddle for racing or aggressive riding, the Scoop should be on your list.
Read review: Fabric Scoop
Best Bang for the Buck
WTB Speed Comp
With its ideal blend of supportive yet comfortable padding, middle-of-the-road dimensions that fit most riders, and an amazingly low price, the WTB Speed Comp snags our Best Buy Award for the second year in a row. WTB claims that this is their best selling bike saddle, and we're not surprised. Offering a classic shape with a slight rise at the tail and an anatomical pressure relief groove, the Speed Comp comes as the original standard equipment on many new bikes from several reputable manufacturers. It is a versatile model and at home on virtually any type of bike. The synthetic cover is durable, and a tough rubberized scuff guard at the rear of the saddle further enhances its potential longevity.
While it may not win over the weight weenies with a measured weight of 369 grams, you would be hard-pressed to find a better saddle in this price range. Many other inexpensive saddles lack durability and quality construction or are overly cushy without providing much support or responsiveness, but the Speed Comp bucks those trends. If you're looking to replace a worn-out saddle or replace your stock seat with something more comfortable, the Speed Comp is an excellent, affordable option.
Read review: WTB Speed Comp
Best for Anatomic Relief
Selle SMP Pro
The Selle SMP Pro is one of the boldest and most uniquely designed saddles in our bunch, and earns our Top Pick Award for Anatomic Relief with its distinctive full-length cutout. Riders typically suffering from soft tissue pain or numbness will certainly appreciate one of the most aggressive cut-out designs on the market, with a firm elastomer foam padding and a carbon-reinforced nylon shell that support the sit bones. The design took a bit of adjustment and tinkering before getting used to it, but after getting it dialed in with a few rides, it was hard to go back to a standard design. This seat also features a downturned nose that mitigates the risk of surprise bottom-bashing and also serves as a nice platform for adjusting your riding position or sliding fore or aft with changing terrain.
While this model provides tremendous anatomic relief, it may not be for everyone. The extreme cutout design means that the bulk of your weight is supported over a smaller surface area, which can lead to uncomfortable pressure points, especially if your anatomy doesn't perfectly align with the size and shape of the saddle. Our testers also found it challenging to get it correctly adjusted and positioned for a comfortable riding position with its heavily sloped fore to aft profile. Once we did, we appreciated the versatility to comfortably move around to a variety of seated positions. This also isn't the lightest saddle in our lineup with its high-end materials, but still manages to weigh in at a respectable 344 grams, and is certainly worth checking out for riders looking for the ultimate in pressure relief.
Read review: Selle SMP Pro
Best for Cruising
Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium
The Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium was our go-to saddle for more casual riding and mid-distance slogs, and takes home our Top Pick Award for Cruising for the second year in a row. The rounded shape of the midsection is intended to better suit riders with less flexibility that tend to have more pelvic rotation during riding. It also has a central sweet spot with just the right density padding and a flexible carbon layer along the center of the nylon shell that nicely cushions and dampens the ride. It is not uncommon to find this saddle as the original stock equipment on some highly-regarded road bikes.
While our testers certainly appreciated the comfortable design of this saddle, some riders looking for a pressure relief channel will likely need to look elsewhere. The rounded shape of this model can buildup pressure or pain on the soft tissues, especially on longer rides. Likewise, racers or faster riders looking for a flatter platform for a more aggressive riding position may prefer the Fabric Scoop Pro Flat. For a general workhouse saddle that can meet the full range of road pursuits for most riders, at a pretty accessible price, the Aliante Gamma Kium is a solid choice and out Top Pick for Cruising.
Read review: Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium
Excellent Value Short-Nose Design
The Prologo Dimension made a positive impression on our testers with its lightweight comfort and performance in a unique short-nose design. With just the right amount of padding in just the right places, a generous anatomic relief cutout, and a unique shape that encourages an aggressive riding position, this saddle makes a great option for road racers or fast riders. It is one of the lightest saddles we've ever tested and has a high-quality design and construction.
While this saddle is an ultra-lightweight racing machine, it may not be as versatile across other riding disciplines. Its performance-oriented design is not as comfortable in more upright or casual riding positions, and its stiff shell material and thin, dense padding are not as forgiving on offroad pursuits. But for it's intended use for aggressive riding in a forward-leaning position, it's hard to beat.
Read review: Prologo Dimension
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lineup of bike saddles was put through the wringer by the rear ends of our gear testers Nick Bruckbauer and Ryan Baham. Both all-around athletes and avid outdoorsmen, Nick likes to spend his evenings and weekends grinding away in the hills above Santa Barbara, CA, and Ryan enjoys all manners of road cycling from causal after work pedals, quad busting climbs, and the occasional century ride.
After spending hours researching the top-performing products on the market, our testers put together a solid lineup of saddles and hit the road for some intense head to head testing. From short commutes to fast fitness rides, long cruises to grueling climbs, and blazing fast descents, we put these saddles through the wringer in all sorts of riding conditions.
Related: How We Tested Road Bike Saddles
Analysis and Test Results
After dusting off the bike tools in our home workshop, we began tinkering with our bikes and the group of saddles to get ready for the miles ahead. Each model was mounted on different bikes, adjusted for optimum setup, and tested by multiple riders with different body types and riding styles to gain multiple opinions and perspectives. We also investigated online user reviews and complaints to look for any noteworthy feedback trends and analyzed the construction and design of these products to better understand their design, materials, and construction. Below, we evaluate each saddle through our five rating metrics, including comfort, performance, and versatility through a range of speeds, terrains, and riding positions, and finally, weight and durability.
Related: Buying Advice for Road Bike Saddles
We realize that cycling can be an expensive sport, and while some riders are looking for the best possible products, no matter the cost, other riders are looking for a reasonable balance of solid performance and a fair price. Options presented within our lineup range in list price from sub-$50 to over $250, so there's likely to be a good choice out there for any budget. Our Best Buy Award Winner WTB Speed Comp stands out with very respectable scores across the board at an amazingly low price, leading the charge for WTB with their impressive range of reasonably priced saddles. Other solid options are the Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium, our Top Pick for Cruising, or the Fabric Scoop Pro, both very high-end models with middle of the road price tags.
Let's face it; comfort is perhaps the most important attribute for any rider spending any decent amount of time in the saddle. Without at least a reasonable level of comfort, a saddle's weight, durability, and other attributes almost become irrelevant and can force you back home to the recliner before you know it. We also must recognize that every rider, their anatomy, and their riding style are all individually unique, and this can give different riders vastly different opinions of the same seat. Because of this subjectivity, we sought out to find a consensus in opinions among our differently shaped testers and looked to identify which saddle shapes, sizes, and design features will tend to favor or oppose certain riding styles or rider preferences.
One of the most comfortable saddles we tested is the Editors' Choice Award Winner Fabric Scoop Pro Flat. Its simple design with a flat seating platform, nicely rounded corners (viewed from the top), and comfortable plush padding make it ideal for racers or faster riders frequently in more aggressive riding positions. More casual riders with neutral or more upright riding positions who appreciate the sleek design and lightweight comfort of the Scoop Pro may be good candidates for the slightly more rounded Shallow or Radius profiles of this saddle. Likewise, riders with neutral or upright riding positions will likely also appreciate the rounded profile and Twin Flex technology that combines multiple carbon layers in our Top Pick for Cruising Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium.
Another model that stands out uniquely is the Selle SMP Pro, with its full-length anatomic cut-out, providing tremendous pressure relief to the delicate parts of your undercarriage. Riders looking for relief from numbness, tingling, or painful pressure in their vital areas will definitely appreciate this design. The potential drawback with the aggressive cut-out is that it leaves a smaller, very firmly padded surface area for your sit bones to rest on, potentially leading to uncomfortable pressure points. On their website, Selle recommends this saddle for riders with pants sizes L to XXL (USA sizes 34-39), and our testers found that smaller riders can experience discomfort if their anatomy doesn't correctly align with the smaller seating platforms.
While some of our comfort-oriented bike saddles with thicker padding were certainly quite comfortable on shorter cruises, we began to notice the lack of stiffness and support on longer or faster rides, which ultimately made the ride feel imbalanced and a little uncomfortable. A thickly-padded seat like the Serfas Dorado would make be an excellent option for your beach or neighborhood cruiser, but most likely isn't going to go on your road bike for faster training or racing. Striking a nice balance of comfortable plush padding and an anatomic relief cutout without feeling too squishy or being too heavy, both the Specialized Power Expert and the Prologo Dimension would be good options for all-around riding.
The Brooks England B-17 surprised us with its high level of comfort, achieved using tensioned leather and no padding - it's no wonder Brooks has been in the bike saddle business since 1882. The Brooks surprise just goes to show that the answer to a sore bottom isn't always more padding - sometimes the answer is just more time in the saddle, particularly if you're new to riding or it's early in the season. Our testers found that the rubbery shell material found on the Brooks Cambium C15 and the Cambium C15 Carved All-Weather don't quite stack up to the comfort of the more traditional B-17. Despite the classic style and historic success of the Brooks models, we found that our testers preferred the modern shapes and high-performance materials used in most of the newer styles.
The level of performance offered by a bike saddle is largely dependent on its shape, padding, and shell stiffness. A road bike saddle must provide a stable platform from which the rider can achieve and maintain an optimal body position to transfer power to the pedals. The right balance of padding and stiffness is necessary to optimize power transfer without wasting energy or compromising efficiency. Having too much padding and too little stiffness means that energy can be absorbed and wasted with each pedal stroke, and having too little padding and too much stiffness can compromise comfort and accelerate the onset of fatigue.
The shape of the saddle also impacts performance. Traditional thinking is such that a relatively flat saddle with a long nose, such as the Fabric Scoop Pro Flat offers the best power transfer. However, some newer saddles such as the Specialized Power Expert and Prologo Dimension diverge from that trend with a short chopped nose, wider tail, and deep cut-out, and still manage to perform quite well. A more traditionally shaped saddle like the Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium with its rounded shape also manages to rank well in this category thanks to its Twin Flex technology that optimizes stiffness.
One of the biggest surprises in this category was the Selle SMP Pro, with its unique shape and downturned nose that helped power transfer in a variety of riding positions. Its rigid carbon shell and curved front to back profile allow for versatile body positioning and provide a solid anchor from which to direct power into the pedals with minimal energy loss. Its wide rear platform also provides a steady base for those long grinding efforts, while the narrow nose is ideal for more aggressive pushes.
While many high-level cyclists own multiple bikes and participate in several cycling disciplines, most amateur riders likely have one bike that they use across any of the road riding pursuits. In our versatility testing, we focused on the major road pursuits: cruising (the seasonal century ride and long, slow training miles), sprinting (crits and single-day road races), climbing (grinding out categorized climbs), and touring (we're talking panniers, sabbaticals, Gofundme campaigns). The more versatile a saddle is, the more likely you will be happy using it for multiple disciplines.
We found the Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium to be one of the most versatile models in our lineup, scoring alongside the Selle SMP Pro. Both offer excellent power transfer and comfort while tearing it up out on the flats, making grinding hilly ascents, or blazing down some hair-raising descents. Their narrow noses allow you to aggressively kick from down in the drops, and they have just enough padding not to overwhelm you while sitting in a group in cruise mode. Our testers also loved the Terry Fly Ti for more intense efforts, with its long, narrow nose that allows the rider to get small down in the drops, and its supple padding that comfortably facilitates those non-epic efforts.
Another pleasing discovery in this category is our Best Buy Award Winner WTB Speed Comp with its classic shape, optimum blend of plush comfort and stiffness, and lightweight price tag. This seat is comfortable enough to go on a beach cruiser, stiff enough to go on your road bike, and affordable enough to grab more than one!
While our testers certainly put these saddles through the wringer - riding through dirt, mud, rain, snow, and sunshine - we would expect that the top products on the market would survive our testing period and should all last a number of years. The differences we've identified are primarily related to the product materials, design, or construction, and how they impact the perceived durability of each product. When we put these saddles through the elements, baking in the sun on the roofs of our cars, or making accidental contact with the pavement a few times, we didn't manage to break any rails or tear any shells on any models.
While most of the saddles in our lineup are high-quality products, there are certainly a few models that stand out positively for their high-end materials and quality construction. The Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium leads the way for the Fizik saddles that use a Microtex cover, and all receive high marks. The Selle SMP Pro stands out with its leather cover and quality construction, while the Editors' Choice Fabric Scoop Pro has simple, clean construction and high-end carbon fiber rails. The Terry Fly Ti comes in just a bit behind the others because its cover was bound to the shell with a simple glue and came apart after the smallest bit of half-hearted picking.
Overall, bike weight is significant for bike racers, where a few hundred grams on a long climb can mean the difference between first and second place. For the rest of us mortals or weight weenies, the overall weight can affect the handling, as well as our motivation at the end of a long day in the saddle as we face that final climb. At OutdoorGearLab, we weigh all of our test products ourselves and compare to the manufacturer claimed weight. In this category, some saddles came in above or below the claimed weight, but all were within a few percent, without any glaring inaccuracies.
Highlighting our group are the Fabric Scoop Pro and the svelte Prologo Dimension, both clocking in under 200 grams. The Scoop achieves its impressively low weight in part to using carbon rails and cutting out a lot of the extra padding, while the Dimension achieves featherweight statue with its smaller overall dimensions. As a rule of thumb, as the weight of a saddle goes down, the price goes up. An exception to this is the Top Pick for Anatomic Relief Selle SMP Pro, which is on the pricier side as well as the heavier side, thanks to its unique design. However, even the SMP Pro comes in a carbon rail version that will drop another 50 grams if you're willing to fork over about $2 for each excised gram!
Not surprisingly, the Brooks saddles are among the heavier models in our lineup with their robust materials and construction, as are the Serfas models with their thick and luxurious padding. Keep in mind that the intended use of these saddles is not just racing. Brooks saddles have a classic style with long-lasting materials and construction, while the Serfas saddles are designed for comfort for shorter, non-aggressive rides. Each rider must balance the importance of weight with comfort, cost, and intended use.
Selecting the right saddle for your bicycle can be a daunting process, and perhaps painful if you end up spending too much time with the wrong product! The range of saddle styles, shapes, and intended uses is vast and researching their design details, user reviews, and marketing jargon can be utterly confusing. We've cut through a lot of the noise to bring you our straightforward assessment, carefully pointing out any flaws while highlighting the qualities that will be useful for most riders. We've analyzed 12 of the best, most popular models on the market and put them through the wringer to guide you to the perfect new saddle that's right for you.
— Nick Bruckbauer & Ryan Baham