Reviewed & Compared
by Daniel Atlas
When it comes to making your bike commute as comfortable as possible, having the right seat can make a huge difference.
Many of the seats that come with standard commuter bikes lack sufficient padding or are not shaped appropriately for your riding style.
In order to help you find the best saddle for your commuter bike, we’ve reviewed five of the most comfortable seats on the market today.
The saddle is one of the most important parts of any bike because it is responsible for supporting the majority of your body weight on the bike. In addition, it is one of the places where your body comes into contact with the bike. That means it’s an important point of control, but also a place that can cause significant friction and discomfort if it does not fit well with your body.
Bike seats may all look the same at first glance, but once you sit on them for a few miles the differences between them become clear. To help you choose the best bike seat for commuting, we’ll highlight some of the features you need to look for in a bike seat.
Seats can be either wide or narrow, and the choice is important since it affects the position of your legs and the amount of surface area you’ll have under your butt. Wider seats offer more surface area to support your weight, distributing the pressure over your entire sitting area so that you are less likely to develop pressure points. For this reason, many commuters prefer wide saddles and they are often referred to as comfort saddles.
Narrow saddles, on the other hand, can generate a lot of pressure on your underside. It’s not uncommon to see aggressive road cyclists with narrow saddles, however, since the narrow shape doesn’t force your legs out to the sides as much as a wide saddle. This is preferable for efficient pedaling for commuters who will be covering many miles, but for inner city commuters the difference in performance will be negligible while the added pressure may be painful.
The center slit found on many saddles is designed to protect the perineum – an area filled with sensitive nerves between your sit bones. For some riders, saddles without this slit can put pressure on the perineum and cause pain over even a short commute regardless of how the rest of the saddle is designed. Other riders may feel fine without a center slit – this largely comes down to personal preference.
There are two common types of padding used in bike saddles: gel padding and foam padding.
Gel padding is preferred by many bike commuters because it gives you a soft, vibration-absorbing feel underneath your sit bones. Unlike foam, gel molds to your bottom to provide the most surface area to support your weight.
However, these same properties can reduce the efficiency of power transfer from your body to your pedals since some energy is being absorbed by the saddle. In addition, gel padding tends to compress more quickly than foam, so you’ll need to replace your seat every one or two years.
Foam seats are much less cushioned than gel seats and are preferred by aggressive road cyclists who don’t want to lose any energy through the seat. Most riders who use a foam seat will want to wear padded bike shorts during their ride, which can be problematic if you typically commute to work in your work clothes.
This comfortable bike seat from Giddy Up offers a moderate seat width, center slit, and mid-thickness padding to form a good fit for the majority of riders. The seat is cushioned with memory foam, which offers many of the same benefits as gel padding when it comes to conforming to your sit bones but lasts longer than gel.
The seat is mounted on a set of suspension coils rather than directly onto the rails, which reduces the amount of vibration that is transferred into your body when riding over bumps and potholes. However, this suspension also takes away energy that you would otherwise transfer into the pedals, making this seat a better choice for easy commutes than for aggressive workout rides.
A big plus to this seat is the integrated LED light in the rear, which can add to your overall bike lighting to make you more visible to drivers and other cyclists.
The centerpiece of this commuter-ready bike saddle is the five-LED rear light integrated into the rear of the seat to make you more visible when riding at night. The light is waterproof and runs for up to 36 hours continuously on a single battery. The light can be interchanged between a steady mode and two blinking patterns to draw the most attention when you’re riding at night.
The seat itself is on the wide side but tapers sharply towards the nose so that it doesn’t lead to friction on your thighs. The seat provides support for your sit bones thank to the memory foam padding that conforms to your body without compressing over time. This seat is covered in synthetic leather and is nice during the summer because small perforations around the cover allow it to move air more easily than similar seats. The seat also has a narrow center slit to make room for riders who suffer from perineal pain on other seats.
This luxurious seat from Schwinn is perfect for commuters who don’t have far to ride to get to work and want a fully comfortable seat without worrying about performance pedaling. The seat is the widest among saddles we reviewed and for smaller riders offers enough surface area to fully cover your butt. However, there is no center slit so some riders may experience perineal pain after a few miles. The seat also has coiled springs underneath that help to absorb shocks from riding over bumpy city roads, which adds to its overall comfort level.
The seat is padded with extra-thick foam, which is more compressive and plush than the memory foam found in other commuting saddles and thus can take away some power from your pedaling. However, the soft quilted saddle cover is more than enough to convince any riders of this seat’s comfort, since it breathes extremely well in hot weather and the textured surface provides a small degree of conformity to the shape of your sit bones.
If you have a long commute and use a road bike as your primary commuting ride, this narrow road saddle from Bikeroo is a perfect match for your commuter bike. The saddle is padded with tough foam, but in contrast to many road bike seats it is not rock hard – commuters travelling moderate distances to and from work will be okay sitting on it without padded bike shorts. This seat is especially comfortable for riders with a history of perineal pain since the center slit is slightly wider and deeper than on comparable bike saddles.
The narrow seat design is perfect for pedaling hard since your legs won’t be pushed to the sides of the saddle and thigh friction will soon become a distant memory. The seat is easy to mount on any commuter bike and comes with a seat adapter and mounting tools. Another advantage to this seat is that Bikeroo offers a 12-month money back guarantee, so that you can ride on the seat for a while and return it if the narrow design is not comfortable for you.
If you’re on a budget, this inexpensive saddle from Gavin offers a comfortable option that won’t break the bank. The saddle is medium width, offering a middle ground for commuters with a moderate commute distance but who don’t want to wear padded bike shorts every day. However, note that the center slit is relatively shallow so perineal pain could be an issue with this saddle.
The saddle is padded with a gel-infused foam material that offers the firm support of foam while adding back a little bit of cushioning. However, gel-infused foams tend to compress permanently much sooner than standard bike seat foam and memory foam. One advantage to the gel-infused foam is that it ventilates much better than other types of padding materials.
It’s a popular myth that softer bicycle seats are more comfortable, but the true story is much more complicated. Softer seats may feel good when you first sit on them, but the compression can actually increase the pressure on your sit bones after a few miles of riding. This compression can also put your perineum in contact with the seat bottom, which can be quite painful. In general, choose a bike seat that is as firm as you can ride for a few miles without feeling painful pressure.
While a wider saddle will provide more surface area to hold your weight, and thus put less pressure on your sit bones, it’s not an automatic better choice for commuting. Wide saddles can also push your legs out to the sides, reducing your pedaling efficiency, and cause friction against your thighs. In general, riders with short commutes will prefer wider saddles and riders with long commutes will prefer narrow saddles since they have more pedaling to do.
Having the best commuter bike saddle can make a significant difference in how you feel throughout your daily ride – after all, having the wrong saddle can leave you afraid to even get on your bike.
Although choosing a saddle comes down to personal preference and comfort, we feel the Giddy Up bike seat is the overall best bike seat for commuting. This seat has a set of shock-absorbent springs underneath the seat in order to reduce the impact on your sit bones if you ride over a pothole or bump.
The center split in the seat is perfect if you suffer from perineum pain on your current saddle, while the design of the seat is not so wide that it can’t be used for aggressive road riding. Best of all, the seat has an integrated rear LED light to make you more visible to drivers and other cyclists when you’re commuting to or from work in the dark.
With Rydoze, I just want to share my experiences and help you along on your cycling journey. I’m putting the answers to all of your biking questions in one place. From the most basic to the advanced. You’ll find the information you need.