Saddles: how to get it right

Monday, 14 August 2017 13:51

Saddles: how to get it right

Although there are saddles on the market to suit every shape and size of rider, there is not actually much we can meaningfully recommend in this blog. Saddle choice is a hugely individual consideration. We can take an educated guess on what will be the most comfortable for you, but the only hard and fast way to be sure is for you to try various shapes out. Thankfully, we have a range of saddles for you to try during your bike fit at Dassi HQ.

 

Ideally you would never even think about your saddle out on the road; a sharp bike like the Dassi Interceptor is no armchair but you should feel alert, rather than uncomfortable. The difference between a poorly fitting saddle and a good one is like night and day. Here are the factors at play in saddle choice, although a trial run will give you a far better idea of your ideal seat than this post ever could:

The basics

On a bike, you hold most of your weight on the ischial tuberosity—sit bones, in common parlance. These bones are angled to create a triangular shape, roughly mirrored by the traditional saddle shape. The width of the sit bones varies from person to person, and accordingly saddle width should as well. On too narrow a saddle the bones will slide apart from one another, placing pressure on the soft tissue of your perineum. Some saddles can thus leave you numb in sensitive areas.

Many modern saddles have large channels cut out from the middle to relieve pressure from the soft tissue. This is truly a godsend for anyone who has ever gone numb on a ride, but quite what width of channel is comfortable will depend on your particular make-up.

The (very rough) rule of thumb with padding is that more experienced riders like less of it. Like any cushion, padding spreads the pressure across your rear end and can vastly improve comfort. With riders more used to big miles, however, too much padding can feel imprecise and unnecessary.

Finally, saddles are shaped as they are to allow your thighs to pedal uninterrupted. Wider tips can be easier on the sit bones but inhibit thigh clearance.

Position

Your saddle choice is also governed by your flexibility and the position you run on the bike. Riders running lower, more aggressive positions can benefit hugely from a short saddle, often similar to those you see on triathlon and time trial bikes.

More upright riders will be more comfortable on a longer saddle. This sacrifices comfort when bending low over the bars, but allows a degree of movement forwards and backward, maximising comfort after hours and hours of pedalling.

A relaxed or aggressive position will partially depend on your bar and stem choice. Read more on our blog on steering componentry

Features

Female-specific saddles have come a long way in recent years and thankfully there is now a range of saddles to suit every woman’s need. These tend to be more padded than their unisex equivalents, but again, shapes vary as much as the riders sitting on them.

Some saddles now build in vibration dampening technology. More expensive options come with titanium or carbon fibre rails and this can have the added effect of taking the buzz out of rough road surfaces.

We will fit your Dassi with whatever makes you perform the best. Fizik’s beautiful range proves as popular with our customers as it does with the pros, and can even be customised to match your bike’s paintjob. Prologo and Selle Italia also combine traditional Italian design with modern material science to make extremely good saddles.

On the more unconventional side, Selle SMP have a variety of strange looking options that defy belief for many. The downward swoop of the nose and huge channel cut out from the middle of their trademark saddle certainly don’t make the most attractive item we’ve seen, but users rave about the next-level comfort. Even more extreme are ISM. Their saddles seem to have their nose cut off and replaced with two shorter ‘prongs’, designed to rest under the sit bones and leave the perineum free. These are unisex, and many ISM owners claim to have had comfort on a bicycle redefined since they started riding this weirdly shaped seat.

As you’ll have guessed, many saddle companies market their Italian heritage. Brooks, however, is a quintessentially British brand. Their saddles combine classic design with modern construction, offering a range of from the traditional leather-clad options to contemporary carbon and rubber concoctions. All Brooks’ saddles are things of beauty. They prove particularly popular among our customers as they perfectly match Dassi’s values—British bicycle innovation.

For other needs, there are the super lightweight carbon saddles from Tune and ax-lightness. One of these would perfectly compliment a featherweight build.

Hopefully you’ll be spending thousands of kilometres on your Dassi. Even the best bike can be ruined by an ill-fitting saddle so it’s important that we help you make the right choice. The final point, however, is that compared to frame, wheels and groupset, saddles are relatively inexpensive. If you become unhappy with your saddle, it’s easy enough to change.

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