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Our team of cycling specialists spent the last seven years testing nearly 30 of the best bike saddles, and we recently purchased 15 of this year's top models for side-by-side testing. From casual fitness rides to urban bike commutes to grueling mountain ascents, our crew faced many of the same riding scenarios you might encounter. After many months in the saddle, we rated each model across five performance metrics to help you identify the features most important to you. Whether you're seeking a lightweight racing model with a sleek and slim profile, an anatomic design with maximum pressure relief, or an all-around balance of comfort and performance, our in-depth review offers up expert recommendations for your needs and budget.
Here at GearLab, we love writing bike reviews, and our testing team is made up of passionate cyclists. Whether you prefer road biking gear or seek the best gravel bike, we have you covered with comprehensive reviews of the best bike gear on the market.
Editor's Note: We updated this article on December 9, 2022, to share more information on how we scored our rating metrics.
With its simple, low-profile design, lightweight carbon fiber rails, and comfortable dense padding, the Fabric Scoop Pro earns our top overall ranking. 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 sacrificing 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 same model in Shallow and Radius profiles for neutral or more upright riding positions. Most of Fabric's saddles are available in all three shapes to suit your individual riding style.
We found the Scoop Pro to be a comfortable saddle, but it doesn't have a full cutout or pressure relief channel like the Selle SMP Pro. While it has a small relief channel at the tail of the saddle that is useful when riding in an aggressive position, riders looking for more anatomic relief will likely find better options elsewhere. However, if you're seeking a lightweight, high-performance saddle for racing or aggressive riding, we think the Scoop should be on your list.
The Prologo Dimension provides excellent value with its comfortable and unique short-nose design and one of the most reasonable prices for an ultralight performance saddle. 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, with a simple design and high-quality construction.
This saddle is a lightweight racing machine, and so it may not be as versatile across other riding disciplines. Its performance-oriented shape 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 aggressive riders looking for an ultralight option without breaking the bank, the Prologo Dimension is hard to beat.
The Bontrager Sport rides away with the most affordable comfort in our lineup. This saddle brought smiles on every ride on road bikes to beach cruisers. The steel rails and thick foam definitely keep this out of contention for those looking for a light fast saddle. Still, this saddle is very versatile, supporting multiple riding positions and easy comfort when moving around with ample surface area. Though not the most aggressive, the Sport is a capable road saddle, perfect for riders new to road cycling or anyone looking to upgrade from that uncomfortable stock saddle.
At 163 millimeters wide, this saddle is wider than most and is noticeable in full extension when pedaling hard, but this can fit most anatomies. We enjoyed that it was interchangeable across our quiver of bikes, as at home on a road bike as a cross-country mountain bike ride. For the price, this saddle is a bargain no matter how long you ride or what your style. The microfiber cover proved water-resistant in adverse conditions of snow and rain. The durable materials held up to abuse in all conditions we could throw at it. If you're looking for a comfy, versatile saddle for the price of a steak dinner, then this will sate your appetite.
The Selle SMP Pro is one of the boldest and most uniquely designed saddles in our bunch and earns high accolades for its distinctive full-length cutout. Riders typically suffering from soft tissue pain or numbness will certainly appreciate one of the most aggressive cutout 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 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 revolutionary cutout design means that the bulk of your weight is supported over a smaller surface area, potentially leading to uncomfortable pressure points, especially if your anatomy doesn't perfectly align with the saddle's size and shape. Our testers also found it challenging to correctly adjust and position it 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. However, it 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.
The Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium is our go-to saddle for more casual riding and mid-distance slogs. The rounded shape of the midsection is intended to better suit less flexible riders who 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 this saddle's comfortable design, if a pressure relief channel is on your list of must-haves, you'll need to look elsewhere. This model's rounded shape can build up 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.
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.
Our bike saddle testing is divided across five different metrics:
Comfort (30% of overall score weighting)
Performance (30% weighting)
Versatility (20% weighting)
Durability (10% weighting)
Weight (10% weighting)
Our lineup of bike saddles was put to the test by the rear ends of our gear testers Nick Bruckbauer, Ryan Baham, and Ryan Baker. All three are all-around athletes and avid outdoorsmen. Nick likes to spend his evenings and weekends grinding away in the hills above Santa Barbara, CA. Ryan Baham enjoys all manners of road cycling from causal after-work pedals, quad-busting climbs, and the occasional century ride. Ryan Baker masochistically seeks out the brutal headwinds and arduous climbs of the eastern Sierra.
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 analyzed these products' structure and design to better understand their design, materials, and construction. We tested each saddle side by side in similar riding conditions on the same rides to reduce subjectivity. 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.
We realize that cycling can be an expensive sport. While some riders are looking for the best possible products, no matter the cost, we know many riders are looking for a reasonable balance of solid performance and a fair price. Options we've presented have a wide range of prices, so there's likely a good choice out there for any budget. The Bontrager Sport stands out with competitive scores against more expensive alternatives. At an astoundingly low price and high marks across every metric, we recommend it for those on a budget that still want to enjoy the quality of Bontrager. Other solid options are the Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium or the Fabric Scoop Pro, both very high-end models with middle-of-the-road price tags.
While some companies make saddles designed specifically for women, most of the products across the market are genderless, and the saddles in this review are suitable for any rider.
Let's face it; comfort is perhaps the most important attribute for any rider spending any decent chunk 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. We sought to find a consensus in opinions among our differently shaped testers because of this subjectivity. We looked to identify which saddle shapes, sizes, and design features favor or oppose certain riding styles or rider preferences.
One of the most comfortable saddles we tested is the 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 the Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium.
The Selle SMP Pro stands out for its full-length anatomic cutout, 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 appreciate this design. The potential drawback with the aggressive cutout is that it leaves a smaller, very firmly padded surface area for your sit bones to rest on, potentially leading to uncomfortable pressure points. We recommend this saddle for those who have been riding for some time and have grown accustomed to hours in a high-performance saddle. 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 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 Carved doesn't quite stack up to the comfort of the more traditional B-17. Despite the Brooks models' classic style and historic success, we found that our testers preferred the modern shapes and high-performance materials used in most 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. 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 cutout, and still manage to perform quite well. The PRO Stealth provided excellent performance in a short-nosed design with a unique large cutaway to provide pressure relief. 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 various riding positions. Its rigid carbon shell and curved front-to-back profile allow for versatile body positioning and provide a solid anchor 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. The intimidating design turned out to be very comfortable and provide excellent support without interfering with leg extension.
While many high-level cyclists own multiple bikes and participate in several cycling disciplines, most amateur riders likely have one bike they use across any 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 good option in this category is the Bontrager Sport with its classic shape, peroneal cutaway, and broad plush platform. The low price tag includes comfort that competes with any other model in our lineup and is cheap enough to outfit on every bike you own. This seat is appropriate on any bike or for any riding style; a quick trip to the store, a long-distance tour, or a daily city commute.
Our testers certainly put these saddles through the wringer - riding through dirt, mud, rain, snow, and sunshine - and easily survived the abuse of our testing period. The differences we've identified are primarily related to the product materials, design, or construction and how they impact each product's perceived durability. 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, a few models really shine for their high-end materials and quality construction. The Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium receives high marks with its Microtex cover material, while the Selle SMP Pro stands out with its leather cover and quality construction. The 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; a few hundred grams on a long climb can mean the difference between first and second place. For the rest of us mere mortals, the overall weight can affect the handling, as well as our motivation at the end of a long day in the saddle. At OutdoorGearLab, we weigh all of our test products ourselves and compare them to the manufacturer's claimed weight. Some saddles came in above or below the claimed weight, but all were within a few percent, without any glaring inaccuracies.
The lightest saddle we tested is the Specialized S-Works Power Arc, weighing in a jaw-dropping 141 grams without sacrificing a gram of comfort. Also worth highlighting 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 by using carbon rails and cutting out a lot of the extra padding.
In contrast, the Dimension achieves a featherweight stature with its smaller overall dimensions. As a rule of thumb, as a saddle's weight goes down, the price goes up. An exception to this is the Selle SMP Pro, which is on the pricier side and 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 a couple of dollars 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. The leather of the Brooks saddles can take a lot of riding to break into their peak comfort — perhaps more riding than we did in them. 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 even painful, should you end up spending too much time with the wrong product. The range of saddle styles, shapes, and intended uses is vast, and trying to decipher their design details 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 15 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.
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