The seat is the most up-close-and-personal bike accessory. And if you're serious about your rides (and comfort), it's worth finding a bike seat that fits like a second skin.
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Swapping out your bike's built-in seat with one of your choosing will instantly up the comfort factor. Many seats offer helpful features like added ventilation, an ergonomic design built to conform to your body, and cushy padding.
The following saddles, for example, pack in these perks — and then some. After you've given our list the once-over, put the expert tips into practice to help you ID your best bike seat.
Most bike seats are unisex. But some companies make and market leggings according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below (and included that terminology). However, these are designed to accommodate physical differences between people who are assigned male or female at birth (AFAB or AMAB). Choose whichever seats feels best to your body.
1. Best Overall: Selle Royal Respiro Athletic Bike Saddle
Will Henry, founder of Bike Smarts, favors this saddle for its comfort and versatility.
It features a saddle cover to keep the seat cool while it sits in the sun. This way, your skin won't sizzle when you remount after a break from riding. It also has a ventilation channel to improve air circulation, as well as an ergonomic shape to relieve pressure on sensitive areas.
Plus, the price tag makes this saddle a more affordable option for upgrading your bike's comfort, he adds.
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $59
2. Best Budget: Bontrager Sport Bike Saddle
This option is a great choice for cyclists on a budget.
"With a wider platform on the bike, an ergonomic cut-out down the middle, and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, you have nothing to lose from giving this a try if you're having issues with your current saddle," says Garret Seacat, CSCS, a USA Cycling certified coach and founder of Absolute Endurance.
3. Best for Long-Distance Rides: Specialized Power
When you need a saddle that can go the distance, you can't go wrong with any seat from this line of Power saddles, Seacat says.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, the Power Comp saddle offers lightweight, supportive padding; a water-resistant cover and a stiff, carbon-reinforced shell for durability. It also features a design that's been tested for optimal blood flow and ideal sit-bone support.
Buy it: BackCountry.com; Price: $130
4. Best for Bike Commuters: Brooks England Cambium C17
This saddle brand is a popular choice among bike commuters, Seacat says. And this particular saddle is an especially great option.
The seat's natural rubber material (harvested from trees) is comfortable, flexible, durable and shock-absorbent. It's built for an angled riding position, which makes it ideal for longer commutes.
It's also super stylish. "The rivets give a nice styling piece to any bike sitting in a rack outside of work or at the local coffee shop," Seacat says. And if you're tired of black, you can score this saddle in a number of sophisticated shades, including orange and blue.
All in all, this is one of the best road bike seats you could ask for.
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $120-130
5. Best for Performance: PRO Stealth
Got a race on the calendar? This is the saddle for performance-focused riders. Its shape encourages the aggressive bent-over riding form you need to go fast, Seacat says.
The design also includes a large cut-out, which promote blood flow to sensitive areas for greater comfort on race day.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $125
6. Best Luxury: Fizik Antares Versus Evo 00 Adaptive
If you're looking to splurge, go for this 3D-printed saddle. According to the manufacturer, this high-cost saddle is made with digital ultraviolet light projection, oxygen permeable optics and liquid resins.
What does all that mean? "Basically, you're getting a saddle with specific functioning zones providing the exact amount of cushion needed for that area, while giving a seamless look across the entire saddle," Seacat says.
And thanks to the use of carbon for the saddle shell and rails, this seat is both firm and lightweight.
Buy it: TrekBikes.com; Price: $399.99
7. Best for Men: Hobson Pro Hub X2 Saddle
Some riders, especially those with prostate considerations, find a noseless saddle design more comfortable. If that's you, consider this best bike seat for men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB).
It features high-density foam gel padding for comfort that lasts for miles. It's also a cinch to adjust the spacing of the seat pads to suit your unique shape and preferences.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $89.95
8. Best for Women: Terry Butterfly Cromoly Saddle
Women tend to gravitate toward this Italian-made saddle, Seacat says.
It's designed to be wider in the rear than typical race saddles, which offers optimal support for a woman's sit bones. The saddle also features a cut-out through the nose and mid-section to relieve pressure on sensitive areas. This provides maximum comfort for your soft tissues.
Plus, the price is tough to beat. Consider it the all-around best bike seat for women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB).
Buy it: TerryBicycles.com; Price: $59.95
9. Best Mountain Bike Seat: Ergon Bike Ergonomics
This line of German-made saddles is a long-time favorite in the mountain biking scene. Each is designed with ergonomics in mind (hence the name), Seacat says.
The SM Pro Men's saddle is one great option in the line, and offers everything you need for a long day on the trails. Namely, light-yet-supportive foam padding designed to absorb the force of every bump, as well as pressure relief cut-outs to keep your soft tissues happy.
"And the front of the saddle is smooth to allow for easier movement forward and back," Seacat says.
The SM Women's saddle is a similar option, has a design meant to best fit people AFAB.
3 Tips for Finding Your Best Bike Seat
1. Test as Many Saddles as You Can
You might be tempted to buy the saddle your cycling buddy swears by, but hang tight. As Seacat notes, no two bodies are the same, which means that what works for your friend won't necessarily work for you.
Gather as many saddle recommendations as you can and then test them for yourself.
2. Check the Return Policies
You may change your mind once you've taken your seat for a few rides. Seacat recommends sticking with brands with great return policies so you don't throw away tons of cash trying to find a saddle that fits.
Ask your local bike shop which brands offer these types of guarantees go from there, Seacat says. You can also find return policies on online retailer sites. Bontrager, for example, offers a 30-day unconditional guarantee.
3. Consider Your Must-Haves
Saddles come in many shapes, widths and styles. The ideal option for you will depend on different factors, like the type of ride you prefer (long-distance, casual, race), where you ride (warm-weather, urban, trail), your body type and personal preferences.
"Some people may be more prone to getting sweaty while riding and therefore should consider investing in a model with ventilation slots that can suck up any of their excess sweat," Henry says. "Other users like some friction against their legs while riding and would do better with a firmer seat model."