5 bike saddles that take a "no buts" approach to comfort
While cycling is certainly a healthy, eco-friendly way of getting around, there's one thing that keeps many people from doing it … butt pain. We've seen a number of saddles designed to address that problem, and here are five that struck us as being particularly innovative.
Specialized S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror technology
Developed by Specialized in partnership with Silicon Valley tech company Carbon, this new version of the S-Works Power Saddle is the most conventional-looking on our list. It's composed entirely of an elastomer resin, and is manufactured via a proprietary light-based 3D printing process. The finished saddle has a complex lattice-like inner structure consisting of 14,000 individual tiny struts, which is claimed to be very good at absorbing impacts and then quickly rebounding, and at dispersing pressure on the rider's "sit bones."
It should be released later this year.
If butt discomfort is caused by pressure against the saddle, why not just remove as much of that saddle as possible? That's sort of the idea behind the Infinity Seat, invented by California chiropractor and triathlete Vincent Marcel. Its flexible polymer shell, which is clad in padded Italian leather, is essentially just the outline of a conventional saddle. As a result, one sits in it more than on it – which we found actually does make for a comfy ride.
The Infinity Seat E2, which is the model that we reviewed, is priced at US$297.
Airo Bike Seat
Perhaps if the sides of the saddle moved up and down along with your butt, then there wouldn't be so much pressure on your sit bones. The Canadian-designed Airo Bike Seat, which utilizes flexing "Wing-Springs," takes that approach. Each of those wings pivots vertically in response to the rider's pedalling motion, relative to the saddle's fixed middle section. Additionally, the springs in the wings are claimed to help absorb road vibrations.
It can be purchased for $100.
Reprieve Bicycle Saddle
Along with the Infinity Seat, this is one of the saddles on the list that we've actually tried out for ourselves … and we liked it. Created by Texas-based 3 West Design, the Reprieve features a dip in the middle to relieve pressure on the user's perineum (aka crotch), plus it has an internal adjustable-pressure air bladder. The idea behind the latter is that can be inflated enough to provide some support to the rider's tender bits, while staying soft enough not to put too much pressure on them.
You can currently buy one on sale for $150.
Finally, this roundup wouldn't be complete without a mention of what is possibly the most radical bike seat of all time, the Manta. Like the Airo, it's designed to minimize pressure by moving up and down with the rider's sit bones, as they pedal. It takes that idea further, though, with a design that has been refined since we first covered it in 2010. It incorporates multiple rake-tine-like elements that tilt from side to side along a central axle. Along with reducing pressure, it's also claimed to provide three to four times the support area of conventional saddles, thus distributing the rider's weight more evenly.
It's priced at £125 (about US$156).