By now, you’d probably realize that road bike saddles come in all shapes and sizes. Add in different padding levels and materials and suddenly things become even more complicated.
Trying to figure out which saddle to use for your road bike can be a really tough (and sometimes expensive and frustrating) process. For many cyclists, it takes several rounds of trials and errors before discovering their preferred saddle.
How We Pick Road Bike Saddles
Saddles are very personalized. What works for you might not work for others, and vice versa.
This makes picking the best road bike saddle a very complicated process. We asked the cyclists in our local bunch and in Facebook groups for their favorite saddles. Then, we tried some of the models ourselves among the team, read reviews on Cycling Tips, Bike Radar, and Cycling Weekly among others to get a general consensus of what works for the majority.
We then applied our own set of criteria below to come up with this list.
- Comfort. We picked flat and contoured models that are well-known among cyclists to be comfortable. This doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll be comfortable for you, but there is a high chance they will.
- Women-specific models. These days, leading saddle brands such as Specialized and Fizik have women-specific saddles which are wider than the unisex ones.
- Aggressive riding style. If you’ve a flexible spine and are into road racing, we also picked some popular models among serious racers. Keep in mind that they might not be the most comfortable, but they’re definitely lightweight and stiff (and expensive).
We covered each of these and more in our saddles buying guide.
A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Saddles for Road Bikes
Short Nose Picks
Specialized Power Pro
- Width : 130mm, 143mm, 155mm
- Length : 240mm
The Power saddle is Specialized’s first short nose model. Some also refer this as noseless saddle. With a carbon shell, hollow titanium rails, and minimal padding for the mid-range Power Expert, it’s about as stiff and lightweight as a bike seat can get.
Specialized’s patented Body Geometry pressure relief cut out facilitates blood flow and provides proper sit bone support while a shortened nose makes for a more comfortable ride in an aggressive position. .
Specialized classifies the padding as level 1, which is the lightest level of padding the company offers. It’s designed for both men and women and comes in widths ranging from 143mm to 155mm to suit a variety of sit bone sizes.
It comes in three variants, including Specialized Power Expert, Power Pro, and S-Works Power, with each using progressively lighter materials at higher price points. The lightweight and stiff shell make it ideal for competitive cyclists who can afford its high price tag.
- Pros : Short nose design is suitable for the majority of cyclists.
- Cons : S-Works version costs a lot more than its peers.
PRO Stealth Saddle
- Width : 142mm, 152mm
- Length : 255mm
PRO, a company that specializes in high-end cycling accessories, developed the Stealth saddle in partnership with the Giant-Alpecin team (now Team DSM), so you know this model means business.
A reinforced carbon shell provides stiffness, minimizing power loss from flex, while lightweight EVA memory foam padding makes for a comfortable ride. The most obvious feature of the PRO Stealth saddle; however, is its large cut out, which is designed to reduce pressure on the perineum while providing support for the sit bones.
It also presents wider size options than its competitors such as Fizik’s Arione with two width options; 142mm and 152mm.
Despite its slightly larger size and titanium rails, the PRO Stealth is still quite light at 172g for the 142mm and 179g for the large. The PRO Stealth is also compatible with PRO’s other bike accessories, which include racing number mounts and mounted rear cameras.
- Pros : Excellent value for money for a short nose option.
- Cons : S-Works version costs a lot more than its peers.
ISM PR 3.0
- Width : 145mm
- Length : 235mm
With its extra padding, ergonomic fit, and wider profile, the ISM PR 3.0 is designed for recreational and endurance riders. ISM’s bike saddles all feature its characteristic noseless split fit shape, which is designed to keep pressure off the pressure points while providing support for the sit bones.
The ISM PR 3.0 offers the maximum amount of padding using their 60-series foam and gel padding. It also offers a wider rear section at 145mm with a shorter length of 235mm. With the gel padding and steel rails, this model is certainly heavier than other models in this price range.
The split fit makes it considerably more comfortable saddle than other seats when you are in the tuck position. This design feature plus the extra padding makes this a good option for recreational cyclists and triathletes.
If you’re looking for a very comfortable ride and don’t mind its added weight and unattractive appearance, then the ISM PR 3.0 might be a good match for you.
- Pros : Much heavier than other models.
- Cons : Design might be a turn-off.
Most Comfortable Picks
Selle SMP Pro
- Width : 148mm
- Length : 278mm
One of the more contoured models that you’ll find on the market, the Selle SMP Pro is a split fit model designed to provide maximum pressure release to your anatomy.
The most noticeable characteristic of this model is its downward sloping nose. The Selle SMP Pro’s full-length cut out focuses on transferring the bulk of your weight onto your sit bones, saving the soft tissues of your perineum.
The downturned nose functions as a safety feature, preventing you from inadvertently slamming into the nose when fatigued or riding aggressively. With the wide cut out and a width of 148mm, it does fit a relatively narrow selection of riders.
In fact, Selle SMP recommends this for riders with a pants size ranging from 34 to 39. It’s constructed with a carbon-reinforced shell and steel rails with elastomer paddings and a leather seat cover.
- Pros : Downward sloping nose eases the pressure on your perineum.
- Cons : Wavy design might not be to everyone’s preference.
Astvte Skyline VT
- Width : 135mm
- Length : 275mm
If there was an award for the best-looking saddle, the SkyLine VT, from Italian brand Astvte, would take the gold medal.
The Astvte SkyLine is eye-catching with its sleek look, ventilation holes, flashy graphics, and stitched logo. This just looks like a well-made saddle. It also offers plenty to like in terms of performance. The stiff carbon fiber-reinforced shell features a cut-away center designed to take the pressure off the perineum.
Padding comes in the form of tri-density memory foam, which means it will mold to your shape, while the cover is constructed from Italian microfiber.
- Pros : Very soft and comfortable padding.
- Cons : Heavier than other similarly priced models.
Brooks England Cambium C17
- Width : 164mm
- Length : 283mm
In 1878, the death of leather goods maker Jon Boultbee Brooks’ horse forced him to begin biking to work. He realized just how uncomfortable saddles were and set out to design a better leather version. Since then, Brooks England has built a reputation for designing high-quality leather bike seats.
The Brooks England Cambium C17 is a departure from that. It is made from vulcanized rubber, which reduces the vibration in your ride. Its rubber construction is also what gives this saddle its all-weather qualities.
The big downside to Cambium’s rubber and steel construction materials is the weight. It weighs in at about 450g depending on the size you choose. It comes with a cut out option, letting you decide which style works best for you.
- Pros : Durable overall construction with leather all around.
- Cons : Heavier than other similar models.
For Aggressive Riding Positions
- Width : 132mm
- Length : 298mm
You’ll find the Fizik Arione on many bikes ridden by WorldTour pros, which gives you a good indication of its quality.
Fizik’s Arione line is designed for what it calls its snake type rider. Riders classified as snakes are flexible enough to sit at any contact point on the saddle comfortably. With dimensions of 298x124mm, the Fizik Arione is long, narrow, and flat, allowing for unhindered movement up and down the seat whether you’re climbing, riding in the pack, or ducking a headwind in the drops.
The Fizik Arione comes in five different models, with 00 being the top of the line. Carbon rails and carbon shells, along with minimal padding, make the top-of-the-line Arione 00 one of the lightest models you can buy at 140g.
The Fizik Arione R1 model offers similar features but with a more flexible composite shell, making it less expensive and a little heavier at 163g. It also comes in R3, R5, and R7 models, with each offering the same shape at lower prices with less expensive materials and higher weight.
- Pros : Very lightweight at 140g (for the Arione 00 model).
- Cons : Long nose might not be the most comfortable.
Fabric Scoop Race
- Width : 142mm
- Length : 282mm
Fabric’s Scoop line of the saddles is focused on providing a seat type that fits all shapes and types of riders. The top of the line is called the Fabric Scoop Pro, followed by Race, Elite, and Sport.
The Fabric Scoop is one of the narrower options on the market and is only available with a 142mm width. They come in three different shapes of varying contours including flat, shallow, and curvier radius. The flat option is designed to suit more flexible road and mountain bikers while the radius version fits less flexible riders. The shallow offers a midpoint between the two.
It comes with a black cover material with choices of white, red, blue, or green shell.
- Pros : Excellent value for money.
- Cons : Overall construction and durability are average.
Prologo Scratch 2
- Width : 134mm
- Length : 275mm
The first thing you’ll notice about the Prologo Scratch 2 is the series of 10 grip pads that stretch from the rear to the midsection of the saddle. They’re designed to grip your shorts and keep you from moving around on your seat while climbing or riding aggressively.
Prologo says they also facilitate better air circulation and absorb shocks. The groove that runs from the rear to the middle of the saddle provides comfort by removing pressure from the perineum.
This is a saddle that provides comfort and performance from the central riding position. Prologo varies its foam density on the Scratch 2 going with a lighter density in the middle to reduce pressure.
The Prologo Scratch 2’s nylon shell sits on steel rails, giving it a higher weight of 234g. A different version offers carbon rails, cutting that weight to 185g, at a significantly higher price.
- Pros : Grip pads prevent you from sliding up/down the saddle.
- Cons : Not ideal for long rides.
Saddles for Women
Selle Italia Diva Gel Superflow
- Width : 135mm, 152mm
- Length : 270mm
Selle Italia’s offering for the women’s specific saddle market is one that goes for comfort with plenty of gel padding, a slightly wider rear, and a large cut out.
The Selle Italia Diva’s shell is comprised of a 10% carbon composite with hollow steel rails and an elastomer suspension, giving you just enough flex for shock absorption.
Gel inserts sit on top of the saddle under a cover made of beautiful and breathable full-grain leather. The stitching and embroidered graphics make this one of the more stylish options on the market especially if you go with the white color option.
While adding significant comfort, all of that padding and leather do come at a cost in the form of weight. It weighs 265g.
- Pros : Gel inserts provide added comfort.
- Cons : Heavy.
Specialized Power Mimic
- Width : 143mm, 155mm
- Length : 240mm
A couple of years ago, Specialized conducted some pretty in-depth tests to overcome the comfort issues women have had with saddles for what seems like forever.
The Specialized Mimic is the result of those tests. It employ what it calls the Mimic technology, which uses a shallow pressure relief channel that runs the saddle’s length with layers of different materials to minimize the pressure on soft tissue.
With the Mimic, Specialized also includes its performance saddles technology. The saddle includes a carbon-fiber shell with hollow titanium rails for added stiffness and to cut weight to just 219g.
In keeping with its goal of fitting women’s body shape, this saddle comes in various sizes, including 143mm and 155mm.
- Pros : Gel inserts provide added comfort.
- Cons : Expect to pay slightly more for the Specialized brand.
Fizik Luce S
- Width : 145mm, 155mm
- Length : 281mm
Fizik’s women’s specific bike saddle, the Luce, is all about shape.
It features a wider sitting area that narrows dramatically toward the nose for optimal weight distribution and less friction while pedaling. Simultaneously, a cut out in the saddle’s midsection takes the pressure off the soft tissues.
The Luce mixes performance with comfort in its shell, made of carbon-reinforced nylon and thermoplastic elastomer. This design is intended to allow the saddle’s wings to flex for comfort while minimizing power loss.
Rails are made out of steel allow while the cover is a flexible synthetic material Fizik calls Ischialflex. The Luce comes in two sizes, 144mm and 155mm. A carbon version is also available in the same sizes but at a higher price point.
- Pros : Wider rear end provides support for the sit bones.
- Cons : Can be slippery when wet.