A bike seat, a saddle, where you put your butt on a bike...sounds simple enough right?! Well it can be if you magically find that perfect fit right off the bat, but if you are like a majority of people on bikes time will need to be spent to find that perfect fit. This post will cover some more in-depth information when looking for that new saddle. I will also highlight my favorite commuting saddle!
First up is the width of the saddle. Women inherently have wider hips than men, therefore we need a wider place to sit our sit-bones.
|Sit-Bones in all their glory.|
This chart shows how your position on the bike will affect your butt's relation to the saddle.
|Where to measure any saddle for width|
The next phase of deciding is identifying your position while riding. This will determine how you sit-bones are sitting on a saddle, sometimes changing the width needed also. Most saddles will be classified for a certain type of riding which helps point you in the right direction. If you are using a mountain bike for commuting you could check out some ladies specific mountain saddles, same goes for road bikes and hybrids.
Another feature to be aware of is whether or not your saddle has a cut-out designed into it.
A cut-out in the center of a saddle will relieve pressure in unwanted places. It will also allow for you to sit in the proper position on your saddle. I personally ride saddles with both cut-out and no cut-out. Both work for me as long as I am researching the saddle and finding the right fit. Most every saddle company will offer fit guides. Selle Royal, Bontrager, and Terry all have beginner friendly guides and lower priced saddles to get you heading in the right direction.
Lastly the amount of padding on the saddle is something to consider. More padding will usually lead to pinching and unwanted friction. If you are searching for a little more protection try on some cycling shorts with a ladies specific chamois in them! They are designed to work with your body and saddle. I won't go too deep into shorts right now, but make sure you are getting the right size. Too loose or too tight both lead to that unwanted friction or lack of movement. If a bike shop won't let you try on a pair do not buy them!
So after all the talk I wanted to show you what I have chosen as my "holy grail" commuting saddle. I had been riding a Brooks B-17 for a couple years and loved it. What's not to love about curve hugging leather that softens the more effort and riding I do. Well...I love the leather, but the weather and rough and tumble lifestyle my townie bike leads didn't lend well to keeping the B-17 in top shape. So in a sort of experiment I snagged one of the Brooks Cambium C-17, and this time I tried the ladies version, or "C-17 S".
It is pretty magical and there are tons of reviews out there. My favorite perks are not having to worry about rain ruining it, not scuffing the sides of it when I set my bike against various scratchy surfaces, and it looks dang nice. Also the "S" on the end of the C-17 designating it for women means the saddle is shorter in length. I didn't think that could do much for me, but from now on I will stick to women's specific Brooks. The shorter length allowed me to get and stay in a more comfortable position.
BUTT, finally the last reason why I think finding a perfect saddle is important. A happy butt is a happy commuter. I have invested more money in my saddle than most other parts on my bike because it is one of the places my body is actually touching my bike, and a pretty important part of my body. So if you take anything away from this just know that I want you to realize that there are really only three contact points between you and your bike...and I know my butt is the biggest part out of those three!