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How to choose the right bike saddle

A bike saddle is the most personal piece of equipment on your bike, and riding with one that works for you is crucial for your comfort and performance. After all, your saddle is one of only three places your body contacts your bike. And let’s be honest—nothing turns a good ride bad like discomfort in your soft tissue area. We’re here to help you avoid that.

So, how do you know if a saddle will work for you? We’ll guide you through everything you need to know when choosing a bike saddle, including the parts of a bike seat, the different kinds of bike saddles, and what you should consider when buying one.

It’s all about riding posture

Your riding posture is the most important consideration. Bontrager saddles fall conveniently into five postures, ranging from Aerodynamic (Posture 1) to Comfort (Posture 5). You can think of these postures like a scale from most upright and casual to most forward-leaning and aerodynamic.

Your posture determines which part of your pelvis contacts the saddle. It’s a common myth that a bigger bike seat will automatically be more comfortable, as saddle comfort is all about your riding posture and how your body contacts the saddle.

Although all Bontrager saddles are designed to give support and relieve pressure to soft tissue areas, you wouldn’t be as comfortable riding a Posture 5 saddle in an aerodynamic position. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to ride a Posture 1 saddle in an upright position.

In order to find the bike saddle that works for you, start by determining your posture. (Check out the image above. How do you ride?) Then, choose a saddle category that matches your riding posture.

Bontrager saddles are available in multiple levels, from Comp to Pro. Each level has specific performance features like alloy or lightweight OCLV carbon rails, shell construction, and extra padding. Bontrager saddles are also available in multiple widths so you’ll always be able to find your best fit. Your local Trek shop is your best resource for finding the size that’s right for you.

Triathlon saddles - Posture 1

In a triathlon or time trial, you want every advantage against the wind. These saddles are designed to support riders who take the most aggressive aerodynamic posture.

Race saddles - Posture 2

These saddles are right for you if you race on a road or mountain bike. They support riders who take a forward riding posture for power and performance. They’re great for fast roadies, crit racers, and competitive XC mountain bikers.

Performance saddles - Posture 3

Most enthusiast riders and even many racers would be best on a performance saddle . These saddles are a great choice for endurance road riders, trail riders, and anyone who rides for speed and distance milestones.

Fitness saddles - Posture 4

If you like to get in a workout on your rides, but take a slightly more upright position than what you commonly see on a drop-bar road bike, you’ll find your perfect saddle right here.

Comfort saddles - Posture 5

Ready to cruise in comfort? If you’re a leisurely rider who rides in a comfortable upright posture so you can take in the sights, a comfort saddle is right for you.

How to choose the right bike saddle

inForm Design - The Science of Comfort

Bontrager’s saddle design philosophy is called inForm. It’s the result of countless hours of testing with elite athletes, pressure-mapping sessions, high-speed video analyses, and human/computer modeling studies.

The saddle design team is made up of mechanical and biomechanical engineers who work alongside Trek Precision Fit engineers to refine the minute details that go into Bontrager’s full lineup of posture-specific saddles.

The philosophy is simple: provide targeted support for bone structure and relieve pressure on soft tissues, and while pelvic structures in male and female riders differ, the principle is the same – a rider’s soft tissue is not designed to bear weight. Bontrager saddles are designed to provide support for a riders bone structure while relieving pressure on the riders soft tissue.

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Saddle parts and terms

There’s a lot of science and engineering that goes into creating a saddle that fits and feels great. As you’re shopping, you’re likely to hear some new terms. Here’s an easy guide to the parts of a saddle and the design elements you may come across in your search.

1. Curvature

The curvature of a saddle is its cross-sectional shape. But it’s not just how wide a saddle is. Curvature determines the angle where your bone structure meets the saddle. Every Bontrager saddle features a size-specific curvature.

2. Profile

A saddle’s profile is its side-view shape, and it determines how much you’re able to move fore/aft on the saddle and may also affect how much your pelvis rotates on the saddle.

3. Transition

A saddle’s transition is its top-view shape. It affects how far fore or aft you’re positioned on the surface of the saddle.

4. Rails

A saddle’s rails are where the saddle connects to your bike’s seatpost. They can be alloy or lightweight carbon, and they allow you to adjust your fit by moving the saddle toward the front or rear of your bike.

5. Cut-outs

A saddle with a cut-out doesn’t have material in the middle of the saddle. Cut-outs are designed to relieve pressure from soft-tissue areas. Contour Relief Zones (CRZ), or foam depressions in the surface of the saddle, can often serve the purpose of a cutout, while still providing great support.

Find your saddle

Answer these simple questions about how you ride, and we’ll narrow your choices down to the bike saddles that will work for you.

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