Bicycle Touring: Saddles for the long haul

 

I will list out the different type of saddles with pro's and cons:

1. Old style Leather Brooks saddle: These saddles are very comfortable once broken in, however they can take years to break in ( and they will be uncomfortable during the break in period ). Additionally the leather can be a problem in the rain, you may need a saddle cover to keep it dry. Overall you should use a Brooks saddle if it's broken in. If not stay away. I tried to break in a Brooks saddle once, it took too long and I gave up.

2. Big cushy gel saddles: These saddles are best for rides of 20 miles or less. A perfect fit is impossible with a wide gel saddle, since everything feels the same. In short your body can be out of whack and you will not know until you ride some serious miles. Additionally they are guaranteed to rub and chafe the side of your legs. I would stay away from these saddles, instead get a professional fitting.

3. Lightweight carbon saddles: These are fast and made for racing, do not use these on a tour unless you want to suffer.

4. Standard saddles: Some saddles are longer, shorter, wider, cushier. Everyone should get one that feels right to them. Keep in mind saddles with longer rails will flex more, making the ride more comfortable. For touring get a titanium railed saddles, they give more suspension in the saddle than any other rail material.

5. Noseless saddles: I love the idea of a noseless saddle, however ISM branded saddles have proven to be some of the least comfortable saddles in the market. Be careful with non traditional saddles, the majority do not work well.

 

My favorite saddle was made by saddleCo which went out of business about 10 years ago. The  saddle had a hammock design with Titanium rails, it was lightweight and comfortable. Get one if you can find it!