Should I really test ride a saddle?
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Bigger the better, loads of padding, really soft are often comments associated with bicycle saddles but is that what you really need?
Apart from general comfort it really depends upon a number of factors such as the type/style of cycling you do, your bike set-up, the shape of your body, clothing worn, budget, aesthetics & for the those counting every gram, weight.
As a masters female racer I’ve tried many saddles over the years with varying degrees of success & succumbed to fashion at my peril too. Falling into the weight weenies category I purchased a ridiculously expensive women’s specific, super lightweight carbon saddle. It looked amazingly sleek, weighed nothing but shredded the inside of my upper thighs every time I rode. Lesson learnt☹. A much narrower Selle Italia Flight Titanium saddle practically ruined my desire to ever to ride again as my sit bones (ischial tuberosity) just rocked on & off it. Specialized saddles seem to tick all of the boxes but lacked something. It’s almost as if the bike was alive but the saddle was dead so you lost that feeling of being in harmony with the bike so they’re not my first choice either.
Many years ago Paul Bonham at Terry Wright Cycles, Peterborough showed me a Fizik Vitesse saddle & I dismissed it merely by looking t it saying it was just too narrow. Reluctantly I took it away for a test ride & what a revelation that proved to be (thank you). It became my saddle of choice for many years to come. Okay it’s wasn’t the sleekest looking nor the lightest but it worked for me.
That model is obsolete nowadays so it’s time to get a replacement. Acquiring a couple of test saddles from Gorilla Firm Bikes in Oundle I started the process with a model from Fizik. A reasonable start but you need to take a few rides before you decide & it became clear that this wasn't the one. Next in line was a newer brand of saddle, Fabric. This certainly looked & felt better too with a very reasonable price tag although the jury is still out on this one. One thing I'm certain of though is not to buy a white saddle unless you like cleaning, a lot!
It is worth persevering though to find what saddle is right for you & don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Go into your local bike shop & tell them about your cycling so they can help you to identify the correct saddle. You might already have the right one but just need your bike set-up altering slightly to optimise your comfort. More of that another day.