After ensuring the right frame size, the next most important thing for comfort is the saddle. Unisex bikes can be a good choice for women but the saddle may not be. Comfort is everything.
What to look for in a women’s saddle?
The most obvious differences between men’s and women’s saddles are their shape and the placement of the padding. Some saddles are unisex, and you may find these work better for you than women-specific saddles, but we also know riders who swear by the comfort of some men’s saddles. Buying a saddle really is the most personal component choice you will make.
Saddle needs will vary from rider to rider too. If you tend to do shorter, faster road rides then you’ll be sitting for less time than if you’re a mountain biker who enjoys all-day backcountry epics, and in the case of the former, you might want to sacrifice a bit of padding in the interest of low weight.
Aoife Glass reviews saddles
The Best women’s bike saddle: a buyer’s guide is an excellent buyer’s guide. As products may have changed since 2016, we have included links to two other articles below.
How to choose the right saddle
Here’s how to go about choosing the right saddle for your needs.
1. What type of cycling are you doing?
You can get saddles designed for all disciplines of cycling, from leisure riding to commuting through to road cycling, time trialling and mountain biking. Saddles designed for a specific type of cycling are generally developed to provide support and comfort when in the position on the bike that’s usual for that type of riding. So for example, road cyclists will tend to lean forwards over the bars, which applies more pressure towards the front of the crotch.
2. What’s your budget?
You can spend a little or an awful lot on a saddle, depending on what you plan to use it for and how often you’ll be riding. If you’re riding a lot, commuting regularly or racing, it can be worth spending a bit more to get something lightweight and designed for purpose. In general, the higher the price, the lighter and more performance-oriented the saddle.
3. What size do you need?
While not all saddles have different size options, many do, and it’s determined by the width of your sit bones (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the width of your bum). Most shops will have a simple device for measuring this, which usually involves a gel or foam pad that you sit on. The two main depressions or dots left when you sit up will indicate where your sit bones are and your saddle measurement will come from this.
4. Can you test it?
With saddles some things you can feel straight away and others you’ll need a few hours in the saddle, to work out whether it’s working for you or not. You shouldn’t feel any pressure on your soft tissue and you also shouldn’t feel any part of the saddle digging in or rubbing anywhere on your bum or at the tops of your legs when pedalling. Anything that feels like a little niggle now will feel like hell on two wheels after about an hour of riding, so if it’s not right when you demo the saddle then it’s probably not right for you full stop. Taking a saddle for a test ride, ideally for an hour or two, will help you decide if you’ve met your perfect match or not.“Best women’s bike saddle: a buyer’s guide“, Aoife Glass, BikeRadar, 31/8/2016