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Six of the best high end saddles

Fabric Scoop Ultimate top
Craig Cunningham
4 Feb 2018

Posh perches on which to park your posterior plus a guide to finding the correct one for you.

The saddle. One of the bicycle’s most understated components. Normally among the first to be sacrificed when manufacturers have to create a bike at a certain price point, they’re, nevertheless, a crucial factor in whether a bike feels good to ride or not. Investing in a new saddle can seem like a daunting process of try, try and try again. Have no fear, our Cyclist perch experts have amassed some of the finest on the market to fit all sorts of discerning derrières, ensuring you’ll be able to ride in comfort. 

60-second guide to choosing a saddle

Choosing a saddle is a doddle – after all, it’s just a seat, right? Er, no. It’s something that’ll support you hour after hour, while you put your body through a whole stack of stress. So getting it right is important.

Basically it boils down to two things – width and purpose. Getting the right width between your sit bones (or, to be anatomically correct, your ischial tuberosities) can mean the difference between feeling like you’ve just won the Tour de France and ending up with a numb rump.

Our recommendation is simple. Unless you happen to have a spare buttock-measuring tool lying around – without which you’ll just be guessing – get down to your local bike shop and ask them to size you up. They won’t mind, we promise.

They’ll also be able to talk you through the second consideration – purpose – what do you want the saddle to do. You might be after a wider, more comfortable option for endurance riding. Or perhaps you’d prefer a stubby number for Wiggo-style time-trial bombing. Whatever you’re after, it’ll make any purchase more of an informed choice, rather than a random gamble. And that’s the bottom line.

Six of the best road bike saddles

Fabric Scoop Ultimate saddle (Shallow) – 197g - Best in test

Fabric Scoop Ultimate top

What the makers say - Starting with our unique flexible base, vacuum-bonded upper and custom design rail, the Fabric Scoop is proven to be the perfect balance of comfort, performance and simplicity, for design and functionality.

What we say - Stunningly understated looks are matched by a simple design whose smooth profile is likely to get along with the majority of bottoms. Available in three shapes to suit positions from flat-backed to more upright, we tried the middle option. Its relatively gentle curvature and medium padding were an instant hit for day-to-day riding.

Verdict - Will keep your posterior perky for miles on end. Race heads might prefer the flat option - 9/10

Fizik Aliante R1 saddle – 182g

Fizik Aliante R1

What the makers say - A light, stiff carbon-railed saddle designed for endless hours of rider comfort.

What we say - Despite featuring carbon rails and undercarriage, both the scales and your eyes will tell you this is no Skinny Minnie saddle. Luckily for most riders, it’s a case of all the right junk in all the right places. The generous padding means instant comfort from the off. The scooped back flares upward creating a feeling of securely sitting in the saddle rather than perching on it, while there’s still enough length on the nose for those who like to shuffle about while crunching through those winter miles. 

Verdict - A crowd-pleasing endurance saddle that will sit well with all but the most aggressive riders – 9/10

SDG Circuit Sold Ti saddle – 216g

SDG Circuit

What the makers say - The Circuit saddle is exceptionally stiff and light. Originally designed with competitive road teams in mind, the Circuit platform has evolved, and now extends to cover multiple models and disciplines.

What we say - With its titanium rails, this is one of the heaviest saddles on test. Thankfully, it’s also one of the comfiest, likely because of the high degree of flexibility inherent in the metal rails. Fairly flat front-to-back, the anatomic cut-out relives pressure down the centre. Luckily, despite doing its job it’s also barely noticeable in use, thanks in part to the reasonably generous padding. 

Verdict - Weight-conscious riders may baulk at the titanium, but it’s  a comfy, durable alternative to carbon – 8/10

Buy the SDG Circuit Sold Ti from Chain Reaction Cycles here

Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio saddle – 130g

Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio

What the makers say - The new SLR is lighter and guarantees unmatched aerodynamics. With EVA foam padding and a unique shape, the SLR offers unrivalled comfort whether you’re an ordinary bike rider or a pro.

What we say - Supremely light, but offering a great deal of support, this is a throne built for speedy riders, specifically those with greater flexibility and narrower pelvises. With edges that cut in from the back, even riders with sprinter-sized thighs shouldn’t find their legs impeded. Stiff and with minimal padding, you’ll need to be a confirmed race head to get the most out of this. We’d recommend getting measured using Selle Italia’s idmatch system before buying.

Verdict - The lightest in test, a great saddle, just make sure it matches your ride style and physical shape – 8/10

Ritchey WCS Carbon Streem saddle – 155g

Ritchey WCS Carbon

What the makers say - Light, low-profile design and a narrow carbon-fibre injected shell for stiffness.

What we say - A minimalist perch in terms of both weight and squishability, there’s barely a couple of millimetres of padding atop the Streem. It’s so skinny you might have to raise your seatpost a few millimetres to compensate. Instead, comfort comes from the shock-absorbing ‘Vector Wing’ system – a spar that spans the rear of the saddle and suspends the rails clear of the base, adding additional dampening between the carbon rails and undercarriage to alleviate road buzz. A pan-flat profile will suit hardened racers, but this is one saddle that can feel particularly harsh for more casual riders. 

Verdict - One for faster riders who prize long-term support and vibration dampening above instant comfort – 7/10

Selle SMP Drakon saddle – 287g

Selle SMP Drakon

What the makers say - Drakon is the ideal saddle for sports or leisure cycling thanks to its excellent all-round features and aerodynamic style.

What we say - A wavy profile and yawning cutaway section suggest a radically anatomic design. Its minimal, high-density padding precision targets your sit bones while the central gap ensures negligible pressure on soft bits, even when rotating forwards. Combined with the scooped back, this creates a sensation of being precisely supported on your sit bones. Despite generating more pressure on the contact areas than a traditional saddle, it’s hugely comfortable and will be a huge benefit for anyone who suffers from cycling-related numbness.

Verdict - A saddle for speedsters who want to insure their junk against any potential numbness – 7/10

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