Bicycles

5 bike saddles that take a "no buts" approach to comfort

5 bike saddles that take a "no...
The Infinity Seat is one that we've actually put to the test
The Infinity Seat is one that we've actually put to the test
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The Infinity Seat is one that we've actually put to the test
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The Infinity Seat is one that we've actually put to the test
The Manta Saddle as it looked in 2010
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The Manta Saddle as it looked in 2010
The Manta saddle as it now looks
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The Manta saddle as it now looks
The Reprieve Bicycle Saddle
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The Reprieve Bicycle Saddle
The Specialized S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror
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The Specialized S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror
The Airo Bike Seat
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The Airo Bike Seat
The Infinity Seat E2
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The Infinity Seat E2
View gallery - 7 images

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."

The Specialized S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror
The Specialized S-Works Power Saddle with Mirror

It should be released later this year.

Infinity Seat

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
The Infinity Seat E2

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.

The Airo Bike Seat
The Airo Bike Seat

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.

The Reprieve Bicycle Saddle
The Reprieve Bicycle Saddle

You can currently buy one on sale for $150.

Manta Saddle

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.

The Manta saddle as it now looks
The Manta saddle as it now looks

It's priced at £125 (about US$156).

View gallery - 7 images
5 comments
alexD
ok, so do they all offer a "return it if you don't like" policy ?
JustinTime
....or ride a recumbent!
WMA
Bought my Infinity seat early on - during the Kickstarter campaign, and while there were the usual manufacturing problems n tribulations that delayed delivery, it’s been a god send. Given the joint pain I experienced from regular seats (well, saddles) it was a matter of try something different, or stop cycling! Given the ingenious idea of not supporting the bones but just the contours of ones “bottom”, it was obvious it would release all (well, most) pressure on seat joints! Still do my weekly 1 n 2 hourly rides without a thought of those painful cramping days and loss of seat sensation. Quite literally, the but pain was gone on my next ride. It’s been over 7 years and the plastic seat - no padding, remains as good as new. Can’t speak more highly.
bergamot69
What's wrong with a good old fashioned Brookes leather saddle? Once broken in, the leather naturally moulds to the shape of your backside- much more comfortable than a standard bike seat.
Grunchy
I've got a Brooks and even after 20 years and thousands of km, it's still pretty dang stiff. I have it on my touring bike. As well I got the Manta and put it on my Dekra D-Drive. Everybody is bowled over by the big old Manta saddle, not a single person notices the shaft drive :)