No bicycle part is as important as the saddle. Handlebars, pedals, circuit - all can live with compromises. But nothing can spoil your enjoyment of cycling like a shabby thigh or aching buttocks.
Unfortunately, even with no bike part, the preferences are as individual as the saddle. Objective purchase criteria are rare, saddle tests usually use little. At most they can provide an indication of how durable a saddle is.
A few years ago, I bought a saddle from SQ Lab, which matched my buttocks width and has two humps at the back, which should relieve the perineal area. The saddle had done really well in tests, nothing could go wrong. I thought. I drove the saddle for three months, then sold it again. He hurt too much.
There are already a few basic rules
Saddles are a very personal thing. Nevertheless, there are some basic rules to keep in mind. The most important thing is: the more bent the posture, the narrower the saddle should be. Wide saddles are okay, if you drive upright, the butt needs then support surface. For racing bikes, it is important that the saddle nose is narrow, otherwise the saddle rubs against the thigh. That can end badly.
The first question that arises when buying saddles is: leather or plastic?
I find nothing more comfortable than a retracted leather saddle. On my racing bike, with which I undertake tours of 200 kilometers and more, I mounted a Brooks B15 Swallow with titanium frame. A very expensive saddle, but the most comfortable I have ever driven. It's no coincidence that long-distance rides like the more than 1,200 kilometers from Paris to Brest and back show an above-average number of leather saddles.
Leather saddles are expensive
Unfortunately, leather saddles have a number of disadvantages: they cost a lot of money. They last longer than most plastic saddles. Provided - and that is the second disadvantage - they are well maintained. You have to grease a leather saddle now and then, it has to be retensioned, and you should protect it from moisture. This can annoy in the long run.
You also have to drive in a leather saddle. Initially, most leather saddles are tough, but over time they adapt to the driver's individual contour. That can take 500 to 600 kilometers or more. That the saddle is comfortable then, is by no means safe. If you buy a leather saddle, you always take a risk.
For a long time there was only the market leader Brooks in Germany for leather saddles. In the meantime, at least in big cities, you can also get the French brand Gilles Berthoud, whose saddles are, in my experience, more robust and at least as comfortable. Purists bump into the plastic frame to which the leather is attached. He does not bother me. Unlike Brooks Berthoud saddles are bolted, not riveted. This makes it child's play to mount a new saddle blanket when the old one is through. Unfortunately, my Berthoud saddle has been stolen from me. A new one was too expensive for me at the time.
Trial new saddle
If you do not like leather or are too expensive, you can use plastic or other synthetic materials. Saddles made of plastic do not need to be maintained and they have leather saddles another advantage: You can test them at good dealers. This offer should be used, and not just in a round of the block. But then please also buy the saddle at the dealer and not 10 euros cheaper on the Internet order.
Unlike leather saddles, plastic saddles need padding. The first paradoxical rule of thumb is that the longer the tour, the harder the saddle should be. Super soft saddles are fine for the city. On long rides, the body sinks too much for soft saddles. This causes uncomfortable pressure points in exactly those areas that are supposed to be protected.
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Even with plastic saddles, some classic shapes have prevailed over time. Which is a personal best, you have to try. In recent years, a variant is on the rise, which used to be rare in the past: in the middle of the saddle is an elongated recess, a wide slot. This space is to relieve the dam area on which unpleasant pressure can build up on longer trips. Unfortunately, this does not work for me, on the contrary. Saddles with a slit tweak in places where I do not like it that much. But as I said, the preferences are very individual here.
The optics also play a role
A word of comfort to those who are still looking for the perfect saddle even after many years: I have not found it yet. I always read full of envy (and a little disbelievingly) the description of cyclists who have no complaints even after 20 hours in the saddle. I do not know that. At the latest after five or six hours, I feel pressure at some point. As long as he does not get so big that he spoils my fun, I'm satisfied.
I finally opted for a Brooks Cambium C17, a nylon saddle made of rubber. For the city, the comfort is always enough, and I do not have to worry about the care. He looks almost as pretty as my old leather saddle. This is not the least important of all aspects that should be considered when buying a saddle.