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How To Choose The Right Women's Bike Saddle

Updated on September 23, 2012
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Getting the right women's bicycle saddle can lead to a more comfortable ride
Getting the right women's bicycle saddle can lead to a more comfortable ride | Source

Getting the right saddle is key to an enjoyable cycling experience

When you buy a bike from a shop you generally assume that it will have a comfortable saddle. However often that is not the case and no two bicycle saddles are created equal

That is particularly true of women's bicycle saddles which seem to follow a 'one size fits all' process with most women's bikes being provided with a simple, wide, heavily padded saddle with the buyers assumption being that lots of padding equals comfort. An empty promise which lures the buyer back to the shop to try a new saddle or gel pad in future in a search for a bicycle saddle for more riding comfort.

Below is a guide to how to choose the right bicycle saddle for women. Whether you're buying a bike or deciding to change your current bike seat.

Don't simply put up with a standard men's bicycle saddle

Men and women were created differently for good reasons. A woman's pelvis is wider in shape in women and therefore an anatomically shaped womens bicycle saddle will be required for many female riders.

How to recognise the difference between men's and women's saddles

  • Men's saddles are traditionally long in length and narrow
  • Women's saddles tend to be shorter in distance and feature a wide rear section to accomodate a wider pelvis.

More saddle padding doesn't always mean more comfort

Many women are obsessed with the amount and softness of padding when they're shopping for a new bicycle saddle. Women (and men) who choose extremely padded bicycle saddles or additional gel pads will find that they will be comfortable over a short riding distance however over longer riding distances the effect of your sit bones sinking into the saddle will potentially cause heightened discomfort through chaffing.

Heavily padded saddle will also extend the area of pressure away from the cyclists sit bones to the surrounding soft tissues which can have a damaging and de-sensitizing effect on your nerves and blood vessels leading to heightened discomfort as a result of your bicycle saddle.

Choose a cut-out bicycle saddle to reduce vulvar pressure

Planet Bike A.R.S. Classic bike seat - women's (black)
Planet Bike A.R.S. Classic bike seat - women's (black)

Consider a bicycle saddle with a cut out section which will remove vulvar pressure while riding.


Look for a saddle which takes pressure off the Vulvar tissue

Women should look for a bicycle saddle which addresses their anatomy and takes pressure away from the vulvar tissue which is a generally soft area which resides between the sit bones of your pelvis. This is different to male cyclists who need to consider removing pressure from their prostate area,

A women's bike saddle that takes pressure from the vulvar tissue will have a visible central cut out section or groove. Most saddle manufacturers have various technological names for such a feature. Selle Italia label their cut out saddles as 'Flow'. Planet Bike use the terms ARS- Anatomic Relief Saddle.

Buying a new women's saddle- Try before you buy

Many bicycle shops and manufacturers now offer a 'try before you buy' option for the prospective saddle buyer. This is a fantastic step forward where a bike store will have a selection of test saddles which they will borrow for a set period of time.

This is a great bicycle industry step forward as it will allow a purchaser to potentially trial a selection of women's bike seats to check which option is best for them. It's a win-win situation.

New directions in women's cycling saddles- tailored widths

Not all women are created equal and therefore a number of cycling companies are addressing that fact. Specialized Bicycles are a leader in the field with their Body Geometry® concept which refuses to accept a 'one-size fits all' philosophy towards cycling products.

The Specialized philosophy is that different female riders require different saddle widths. Their saddles offer rear widths of 13.0 cm, 14.3cm and 15.5 cm which allows a rider to choose the right saddle based on sit bone width measurement.

Has this article helped you choose the right women's bike saddle?

Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section below- we'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions



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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 5 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Carol. Glad this helps you. CF

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      We ride a lot and you have offered a lot of good information. Thanks for sharing this and I am voting UP.