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Best Bike Touring Saddles

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Best Saddle for bike touring

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This is a gear review of the best saddles for cycle touring.

When it comes to cycling, having the right saddle can make or break your cycling experience.

Finding the right saddle is personal and differs to each rider, therefore there is a vast amount of saddles to choose from. I’ve done all the work for you, and in this article you will discover the best cycling saddles that you can find right now.

Best Cycling Saddles for Touring and BikePacking 2022

The Best Cycling Saddles for touring and Bikepacking in 2022 are:


Best Cycling Saddles 2022 – Overall

Brooks B17 Saddle

Pros:
> Retro look

> Comfortable after break in period
> Durable

Cons:
> Can be uncomfortable until it is broken in

The Brooks B17 Saddle has been handmade in England using 100 year old techniques. These saddles are made from the highest quality vegetable tanned leather.

This is a durable saddle made with black steel rails and rivets and a chrome frame, for added strength and durability alongside comfort. Many around the world cyclists have been using this saddle for years and clocking up tens of thousands of miles. It will last a very long time.

It is very easy to fit onto your bike and takes mere minutes to easily slot and clamp into place. The B17 is available in a range of different widths and colors, so you can buy one that suits you and your style.

You do have to break this seat in, and the seat becomes more comfortable with continued use. Thus you will end up keeping this saddle for an extremely long time.

Overall, this is not only the most popular touring bike saddle on the market but the best saddle for bike touring.

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Most Comfortable Bike Saddle 2022

Ergon SMC Sports Gel Saddle

Pros:
> 2 year warranty
> Lightweight
> Comfortable soft foam and gel inlays

Cons:
> Can take a while to work out what angle the seat has be tilted to be most comfortable

The Ergon SMC Sports Gel Saddle was designed to give comfort for mountain bikers and bikepacking riders. The SMC saddle distributes the rider’s weight onto their sit bones, which should then prevent any chances of discomfort.

This saddle is made using soft foam with gel inlays which increases the comfort for longer bike journeys.

The padding of this saddle is comfortable but still firm enough for those longer bike riding days. You will notice a hole in the saddle and at the moment we don’t see any benefit that it brings.

This saddle is all about removing any pressure points and giving you the most comfortable and enjoyable ride possible over any terrain.

Overall, this is arguably the most comfortable bike saddle on the market right now.

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Saddles for Bike Touring

Selle Royal Float Moderate Bike Saddle

Pros:
> This saddle uses memory foam, which sculpts to your body
> Reasonably priced
> Can add rear lights or any accessory to the back of the seat

Cons:
> This is a chunky and a heavy saddle

The Selle Royal Moderate Bike is another one of the most comfortable touring bike seats on the market. It is made with memory foam that will mold to fit the shape of your body.

This saddle is well suited to bicycle touring and bikepacking on rough roads or dirt trails. It does a good job of absorbing shocks and bumps.

The nose of the saddle doesn’t look as slender as other models, but it doesn’t affect your pedalling. On the back of this saddle, you will find Selle Royal’s integrated clip system, here you can attach other accessories such as a rear light or seat packs.

Overall, this another one of the most comfortable bike saddles on the market and perfectly suited to cyclists wanting a super comfortable bike saddle.

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Brooks Imperial B17 Saddle

Pros:
> Durable
> Comfortable after being broken in

> Tension of the saddle can be adjusted

Cons:
> Expensive

The Brooks Imperial B17 is very similar to the Brooks B17 that we have mentioned above, yet there are some slight differences between these two models. The Brooks Imperial B17 uses the same 100 year old techniques to make the saddles.

It is made from top quality vegetable tanned leather, with tubular steel rails and frame. This makes this saddle incredibly strong. Like with other Brook saddles, you need to break this saddle in. However, it is a lot more comfortable than the B17 straight away.

This saddle features a lacing system, which prevents any deformation of your saddle over extended use. Yet this lacing system allows you to tailor this saddle to you, as you can adjust the tension to better suit your needs.

There are three versions of this saddle, which includes models for both men and women in: the Imperial; the Imperial S (short); and the Imperial Narrow.

Overall, this is another one of the best cycling saddles for bike touring.

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Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow Bicycle Saddle

Pros:
> 24 month warranty
> Gel and silicon layers relieve pressure while you are sitting and gives you a lot of support and comfort.
> Durable

Cons:
> A bit heavy

The Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow Bicycle Saddle has been designed to fully comply with a woman’s shape. This saddle is made with a large hole in the middle of the saddle for ventilation. Inside the saddle is made with a gel layer which will provide you with the best comfort possible.

This is then combined with a thin layer of silicone gel. This gel absorbs any bumps or vibrations you may feel on the road while out cycling.

This saddle has a microfiber cover which helps extend the life of your saddle, making it a lot more durable. The rest of this saddle is made from high strength and flexible manganese and chromoly alloy rails.

The Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow saddle is easy to install on most bikes, and will provide you a lot of protection and comfort while on long bike rides.

Overall, this is one of the best bike saddles for women.

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Selle Italia Man Gel Flow Bike Saddle

Pros:
> Gel and silicon layers relieve pressure while cycling
> Durable
> 24 month warranty

Cons:
> A bit heavy

The Selle Italia Man Gel Flow Bike Saddle is very similar to the female version, but it has been designed to fit an male rider’s body better. The saddle itself is still quite firm but also soft enough to support you while you are cycling. The cutout in the middle helps allow more comfort and ventilation.

This saddle has a gel layer combined with a silicone layer that gives great support and comfort while you are riding. Both of these layers absorb any shocks and vibrations you may feel while you are out cycling on uneven surfaces.

This is a durable saddle, with a microfiber cover and manganese and chromoly alloy rails. This is an easy saddle to install and will provide you with an enjoyable ride.

Overall, this is one of the best bike saddles for men and one of the most comfortable bike saddles for men.

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Selle Anatomica X1 Saddle

Pros:
> Strong and durable
> High quality leather that looks very appealing.
> You don’t have to break this leather saddle in, it will be comfortable from your first ride

Cons:
> Chromoly rails can begin to bend if too much force is applied, which some customers found out.

The Selle Anatomica X1 Saddle is made in the USA and has been made with the utmost comfort in mind. You’ll immediately notice a slot in the saddle running through the middle. This slot will move with you as you ride, giving you more support on your pelvis as you ride.

Alongside this, the Selle Anatomica X1 staddle is made with the finest leather possible, which will give you a luxurious feel. With the dual reinforcing laminated leather layers, this leather is durable and will last on your saddle.

The leather molds to your body, for the perfect fit. However, unlike other leather saddles, this saddle take very long to be broken in and should be quite comfortable right out of the box. This leather seat is supported by long chromoly rails.

Overall, this is one of the most comfortable leather bike seats on the market.

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Buyers Guide

A good cycling saddle can make or break your cycling experience. You want a saddle that supports you while you are riding but is comfortable, especially if you plan on riding long distances.

When it comes to cycling, you want to make sure that you are sitting in the correct position, then your weight should be spread evenly on your sit bones. Otherwise this causes discomfort and could lead to injuries.

There are a couple of points you need to consider when you are looking at purchasing a cycling saddle. Below I have put together everything you need to know and consider for when it comes to buying a cycling saddle.

Gear Testing the best bike touring seats on the market

Rail Materials

What your saddle is made out of is very important, as this is the thing that will be holding you up and helping you pedal. The rails of a saddle become the frame in which the sitting area fits onto.

Then your saddle is normally clamped onto the top of your seatpost. Most saddles will fit most types of bikes.

Cycling saddle rails can be made from steel, manganese, titanium and carbon. You will find that any saddle with carbon rails is going to be quite expensive yet really lightweight.

Let’s be honest, if you are going cycle touring you will not be using carbon or titanium rails, steel is the most common. Steel rails are also able to be repaired and welded in towns compared with other materials that will be unrepairable.

Chromoly rails are somewhat temperamental; they can sometimes bend, so you should try to stay away from chromoly.

In the end, just get steel rails for your cycling seat.

Saddle Padding

Your saddle not only has to be strong, but it needs to be comfortable. Sometimes riders think that the more padding a saddle has the better and that just isn’t true.

Thick and soft padding might sound like a great idea, but over time this thick padding will compress and deform which will then create discomfort.

Hence, you want a type of padding that doesn’t disform and is only a thin layer. Otherwise, the padding will wear out overtime and shift the pressure from your sit bones to the soft tissue, which is what you don’t want.

Really the shape of the saddle is a lot more important than the padding at times. Some riders are fine with no padding at all, but sometimes riders want a little bit of padding for a bit more comfort.

It is up to each rider how much padding they have, but you want to avoid thick layers of soft padding.

Saddle Shape

The shape of your saddle is one of the most important parts of any saddle. This is why there are various shapes and sizes of saddles to choose from. Flat and narrow saddles are more suited for lower positioned and aggressive riders which you see in bike races.

While slightly wider and curved saddles are often more suited to riders who like to sit more upright while riding.

The shape that you choose, needs to work with how you ride. This is something that can be done with a little bit of research and discovering how you like cycling yourself.

An advantage of leather bike saddles is that they will mold to the shape of the riders backside and ensure that the bike seat is the exact shape of the riders sit bones.

Leather Bike Seats will be comfortable after the break in period

Saddle Cut Outs

Some of the saddles we have mentioned above, you’ll notice have cut outs. Now you don’t have to have a cut out, this just depends on comfort. Some riders don’t need a cut out as they have enough comfort from the right size saddle and padding that they have chosen.

However, if something is still feeling uncomfortable, then you might want a saddle with a cut out.

A cut out is also known as a relief channel. What this feature is for is to give you more relief from any stress on soft tissue in your more delicate areas. If you are struggling for comfort then a cut out saddle might be for you.

However, you can have a cut out even if you don’t want one. It is completely up to you, but it is an option for even more comfort if you are struggling.

Conclusion

In this article I have given you the best cycling saddles that you can buy right now. All of these saddles will provide you with the utmost comfort possible, so that you can enjoy your cycling experience.

It is really difficult to pick the best or most comfortable as all of the bike saddles in this review are there because they are awesome, comfortable and best suited to long distance cycle touring and bikepacking.

Here are my favorite bike seats for 2022.

The Brooks B17 Saddle is the most popular bicycle touring saddle in use today. It has probably been used by more around the world cyclists than any other seat and deserves its reputaion for quality, comfort and durability.

The Ergon SMC Sports Gel Saddle, Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow Bicycle Saddle and the Selle Italia Man Gel Flow Bike Saddle are some of the most comfortable bike seats for bikepacking and touring on the market right now.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Wider Saddle More Comfortable?

For long rides or just more gentle rides a wider saddle can give you more comfort, especially if there is extra weight from any added gear. However, you don’t want a saddle that is too wide, otherwise it can put more pressure on soft tissue and chafing could become an issue. It is about finding the right balance.

How Long Should A Bike Saddle Last For?

This does depend on how often you ride your bike and how much use the saddle gets. However on average a saddle should last at least 2 years, but you’ll find that some saddles last 10 years or longer.

How Long Does It Take To Get Used To A New Bike Saddle?

Depending on the make of the saddle, it can take anywhere between a couple of days to a few weeks for you to get used to the new seat.

This is because your body has to get used to a new pressure from the seat, which should be distributing your weight properly on your sit bones. Normally leather saddles take a while to get used to as you have to break them in.

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.