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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best road bike saddles 2024 — here are the top bike seat picks for every budget

Upgrade your road bike with our pick of the best road bike saddles

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Switching to a high-performance, lightweight saddle is one of the easiest upgrades to save weight and improve comfort on your road bike. Few component changes constitute a genuine improvement as much as a new seat. The best road bike saddles can lop a substantial amount of weight off your bike, and make for a more comfortable ride at the same time.


Welcome to the latest edition of road.cc’s buyer’s guide to high-performance, lightweight saddles: seats that combine low weight with the firm support generally preferred by faster riders. You’ll find everything you need to know to find the right high-performance, lightweight saddle for you here, plus our pick of the best.

High-performance, lightweight saddles feature high-tech materials such as carbon fibre, titanium and lightweight foam padding. Most lightweight saddles aren’t cheap, but we’ve found several very good options for under £100. The majority of the saddles featured here are 200g or less.

These are almost all firm seats for flat-back riding positions, but some brands do offer wider versions for more upright touring and gravel applications.

Want something more conventional? Check out our general guide to the best bike saddles for multiple cycling disciplines. Want a bigger selection of women-specific saddles? Check out our guide to the best women's bike saddles

The best road bike saddles

Specialized S-Works Romin EVO Best road bike saddle overall

Specialized S-Works Romin EVO

9
Best road bike saddle overall
Buy now for £252 from Sigma Sports
Stiff
Light
Supportive shape
Stiffness could be an issue for some

The Specialized S-Works Romin EVO saddle is brilliant for riders with a low, aero riding position. This high-end model weighed just 131g on our scales and gives the stiffest pedalling platform in the range. The finish is very clean too – it's an easy saddle to recommend.

Tester Liam writes: “What you're getting from the Romin is a relatively long saddle, with a central cutout Specialized says helps maintain blood flow. This channel is narrower than found on their own stubbier saddles, such as the S-Works Power Mirror.

“The shape flows down from the rear and falls away at the nose. The idea is that the saddle supports you in an aero tuck, with your torso nice and low. My personal experience is that it does this very well. When racing, the saddle helps me to stay planted as I chew the bars, trying desperately to avoid getting dropped. On more relaxed rides, my road bike position still puts me down low at the front. This is where I'm most comfortable, so for my road riding, the Romin is perfect.”

Fabric Scoop Race Shallow Saddle

Fabric Scoop Race Shallow Saddle

9
Best bargain road bike saddle
Buy now for £65.5 from Amazon
Very comfortable
Non-slip surface useful for cornering and climbing
Extremely reasonable price for this level of quality
Titanium rails have flex which aids comfort
Classy looks

The Scoop Race Shallow saddle from Fabric (now rebadged as the Cannondale Scoop Ti Shallow, but Fabric-branded versions are still available) is a well-made, supremely comfortable saddle, with a non-slip surface and shock-absorbing titanium rails, and comes at an excellent price.

The cover is moulded on top of a shell that has just the right amount of give and the titanium rails add a little more comfort-promoting flex.

The Shallow is intended for sportive or endurance type-riding, where most of your time is spent on the hoods, and it does an excellent job in these circumstances.

It’s an absolute steal for a titanium-railed saddle that offers this level of comfort and this quality of finish.

Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror Saddle Best money-no-object road bike saddle

Specialized S-Works Power with Mirror Saddle

8
Best money-no-object road bike saddle
Buy now for £318.99 from Cycle Store
Hugely comfortable
Short nose avoids friction
PSI compatibility & GoPro mount
The price tag
Not as easy to clean as some

Specialized's S-Works Power with Mirror saddle is a new 3D-printed design with a honeycomb structure that offers a superb level of comfort, although you do have to pay handsomely for it.

You only have to glance at the Mirror saddle – which gets its name because it "perfectly reflects your anatomy", according to Specialized – to see that it's very different from most others out there. There's nothing particularly unusual about the carbon composite rails or about the carbon base with a cutaway centre, but rather than foam on top of that, you get a 3D-printed polymer lattice. 

Tester Mat Brett was impressed. "I've used this saddle loads over the past three months – short rides, long rides, road, gravel – and it has never disappointed. It feels comfortable at the start of a ride and it still feels comfortable hours later. Very little road buzz gets through and there's enough shock absorption to take the edge off any bigger hits that come your way. The textured surface is a little more grippy than most too, helping to keep you in position."

Fizik Vento Argo R1 saddle Best high-end short-nose saddle

Fizik Vento Argo R1 saddle

8
Best high-end short-nose saddle
Buy now for £159 from Merlin Cycles
Lightweight
Great shape
High build quality
The 10x7mm carbon rails won't fit all seatposts

The Fizik Vento Argo R1 is a short saddle that's suitable for those who like to ride in an aggressive position without moving around much. It's lightweight and features a cutaway centre to keep pressure off sensitive tissues. The padding isn't especially deep but it is comfortable and the build quality is high.

As with other short saddles, the Fizik Vento Argo R1 pretty much dictates your seating position without discussion. You can't wriggle forward and back very far along the nose during your ride because that nose is too short to allow it. Comparisons are bound to be drawn to the shape of Specialized's Power saddles, and it's true that they're a similar shape.

This is a saddle that emphasises stability but there's still a healthy amount of cushioning on offer. Equally important, the shell flexes enough that hitting sharp-sided holes in the road doesn't result in a battering. In fact, you get a surprisingly smooth ride here without any noticeable movement caused by the motion of pedalling.

Giant Fleet SLR saddle Best mid-range short-nose road bike saddle

Giant Fleet SLR saddle

9
Best mid-range short-nose road bike saddle
Buy now for £109.99 from Cycle Store
Comfortable
Firm support
No numbness


Giant’s Fleet SLR saddle is great for getting low at the front of the bike while staying comfortable. The large central cutout and stubby design are very well-shaped, the carbon rails and contouring work really well, and the price is good too.

The best thing about this saddle is the shape. The rear section is supportive, you get excellent pressure relief in the centre, and the swooping drop from back to front is brilliant when hammering along. You feel well-supported and free to push forward.

You also get Giant’s PFT – Particle Flow Technology – pockets in the padding and reviewer Liam found it resulted in no numbness or sore spots.

Prime Doyenne Shorty Saddle with Ti Rails Best budget short-nose road bike saddle

Prime Doyenne Shorty Saddle with Ti Rails

9
Best budget short-nose road bike saddle
Buy now for £59.99 from Wiggle
Narrow shape avoids chafing
Good value
Titanium rails reduce weight
PSI compatibility & GoPro mount
Outer material can be squeaky when wet
Only one size

The Prime Doyenne Shorty Saddle with Ti Rails offers comfort and support even when riding hard in the middle of a race. It’s a great option at a great price. 

The Doyenne is just 240mm long and many people find this allows them to get into an aggressive position more comfortably than with a traditional-length saddle. Your thighs can move more freely on every pedal stroke, reducing the chances of chafing.

A high level of comfort comes courtesy of polyurethane (PU) padding and a central cutout helps relieve pressure on your squishy sensitive parts during long rides. You can also clip Prime's PSI accessories on easily, such as a rear light.

Prologo Dimension 143 CPC Tirox saddle Best road bike saddle for not slipping

Prologo Dimension 143 CPC Tirox saddle

9
Best road bike saddle for not slipping
Buy now for £139.99 from Tredz
Firm and comfortable
Well-positioned cutout
Plants you in one place and keeps you there
Short/wide saddles don't suit everyone
Plants you in one place and keeps you there

The Prologo Dimension 143 CPC Tirox is a saddle for people who know exactly where they want to sit and want to be kept there. It’s short, fairly wide and surprisingly comfortable, delivering an excellent, unobtrusive ride feel without fuss or gimmicks.

At 245mm long, the Dimension 143 CPC Tirox is significantly shorter than your typical performance saddle, so it won't suit riders who like to slide backwards and forwards a lot; there's basically nowhere to slide to.

As well as limiting your freedom to move around by its shape, this version of the Dimension saddle is topped with sections of Prologo’s Connect Power Control (CPC) material. Prologo claims CPC provides ‘vibration absorbing, grip and position stability’ and a whole lot more, but it’s obvious when you use a CPC saddle that the main thing it does is grab you by the Lycra and keep you in place.

If you like the idea of CPC but want a different saddle shape, there are plenty of other options in Prologo’s range.

Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow saddle Best women’s road bike saddle overall

Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow saddle

9
Best women’s road bike saddle overall
Buy now for £24.99 from Wiggle

The Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow saddle is one of the most widely recommended women’s saddles out there and for very good reasons. It’s comfortable, flexible, light and it even looks good too.

Plenty of padding ensures long-ride comfort, and the long cutout section relieves pressure on soft tissue. 

The cover is made from full-grain leather and the finish is good. Overall, this puts in a superb performance at a very good price.

Ergon SR Pro Carbon Women saddle Best women’s saddle for racing

Ergon SR Pro Carbon Women saddle

8
Best women’s saddle for racing
Buy now for £137.99 from Singletrack Bikes
Comfortable when in a racy riding position
Minimal padding won't suit all
Expensive

The Ergon SR Pro Carbon Women’s Saddle offers lots of comfort thanks to a cutout that extends right into the nose, although minimal padding means it might not be the first choice for very long rides. That said, if you’re after a lightweight race saddle with a flat profile, this certainly has a lot to offer. 

The padding comes in the form of lightweight ‘Orthopedic AirCell Foam with OrthoCell Pads’ and it’s well-positioned. This model comes with a light and comfy carbon composite shell and rails, keeping the weight down to just 166g on our scales.

Specialized Women’s Romin Evo Pro With MIMIC saddle  Best curved road bike saddle for women

Specialized Women’s Romin Evo Pro With MIMIC saddle

9
Best curved road bike saddle for women
Buy now for £144 from Sigma Sports
Excellent support and comfort from MIMIC in place of a cutout
Light
Might be too firm for some

Specialized's Romin Evo Pro with MIMIC is a performance-orientated saddle that offers comfort and support for any kind of road ride. It features a curved profile meaning that the back of the saddle swoops up slightly. This can help when you’re climbing and helps maintain a good cycling position without super-high core strength. 

Rather than going for a complete cutout, Specialized uses its MIMIC technology which aims to mimic one’s soft tissue, provide support and alleviate pressure, numbness and discomfort (you can read more about MIMIC technology here if you are not already familiar with it). It also comes with oversized carbon rails so make sure your seatpost can take them.

Reviewer Emma was impressed from the moment she started using the Romin Evo Pro, saying this is the first time she has used a saddle without a cutout that hasn’t caused any form of irritation or pain. Overall, it puts in an excellent performance.

Cycles Berthoud Soulor leather saddle Best road bike saddle for traditionalists

Cycles Berthoud Soulor leather saddle

9
Best road bike saddle for traditionalists
Buy now for £157 from Spa Cycles
Beautifully made
Moderate break-in period
Assumes your unique shape
Initial breaking-in period
Slight weight and care penalty associated with traditional leather saddles

The Berthoud Cycles Soulor leather saddle is beautifully made and well worth the relatively modest time it takes to bed in because, once moulded, it’s like it was custom-made for your backside.

The Soulor is the sportiest in the Cycles Berthoud range and at 146mm wide it’s pretty narrow. It comes with stainless steel rails and a vegetable-tanned, pre-softened cow-hide upper.

Reviewer Shaun Audane found the Soulor church pew-hard for the first 75 miles but by 200 miles it was fully broken in. It should last many years and countless miles.

 

Best road bike saddles: how to choose and what you need to know

faq-icon
Which saddle is most comfortable?

This is the big question and it’s not an easy one to answer because saddle choice is very much a matter of personal preference. You’ve never had a wider choice of saddle shapes and widths – so much so that things can get confusing.

To help navigate this thicket of choices and find the right saddle for you, you’ll probably want to visit a bike shop and get fitted for your saddle with one of the measuring devices many saddle makers now supply their dealers. This will tell you the spacing of your sit bones, the first thing you need to know to get a saddle that fits and will be comfortable.

Some saddle brands give online instructions. Specialized, for example, provides a video and guide to help you make your selection from home. 

If it’s on offer, take up any chance to test-ride a saddle. The only way to be sure a saddle is right for you is to ride it for long enough for your bum to get used to it.

faq-icon
What is the shell of a bike saddle?

Most bike saddles have a hard shell – often called a hull – at the base that creates the shape.

In the last few years, saddle designers have become adept at blending features that both reduce weight and improve comfort. Most of the improvements have come from composite materials that allow carefully tuned flex in a very light shell so the saddle better absorbs shock and moves with you as you pedal.

faq-icon
How much padding does a bike saddle need?

On top of a lightweight shell, you’ll usually find a thin layer of foam and/or gel. This helps spread your weight over the shell, but with modern flexible shells it’s less important than it used to be. Some very light saddles do without this layer altogether, and even manage to be fairly comfortable anyway.

Comfort isn’t simply down to the depth of padding. Saddle shape and the density of the padding are important too, and what works best for one person won’t necessarily suit another.

The search for better foams and gels has even led to saddle makers branching out into other fields. A few years ago, Selle Royal, owner of Fizik, span off a subsidiary company to make memory foam pillows and mattresses incorporating the Technogel material it originally developed for saddles.

faq-icon
Do bike saddles fit any bike?

Most bike saddles will fit most bikes but, as usual, there are exceptions. Some seatpost clamps will only take round saddle rails but some lightweight saddles come with oval carbon rails. If in doubt, check with the seatpost manufacturer or a local bike shop.

Speaking of the rails, lighter materials make a big difference to saddle performance. The slight flex of titanium rails helps absorb shock, while carbon fibre rails save a lot of weight.

faq-icon
Why do some saddles have a cutout section in the centre?

A cutout – or sometimes just a channel – is designed to relieve pressure on soft tissue in the perineal area which can lead to discomfort and numbness.

Some people get on really well with saddles with cutouts but others don’t. Your weight has to go somewhere so having a cutout means increased pressure elsewhere. Whether that’s comfortable comes down to the individual.

There’s no easy way to tell whether a cutout will work for you other than to try it and see.

faq-icon
What is a 3D-printed saddle?

3D-printed saddles have made an impact on the market over the past few years. Manufacturers boast that 3D-printing a matrix of thousands of nodes and struts – which sits on top of the shell – allows them to produce the exact levels of cushioning and support they’re after in different areas of the saddle.

Although some 3D-printed saddles are less expensive than others, none are cheap.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

Add new comment

6 comments

Avatar
Ynotmi | 9 months ago
0 likes

You'll find the saddle is stiff because you've just been shafted!

 

Avatar
Cyclopss | 9 months ago
0 likes

I think the Italian Repente deserves a place here. Outstanding saddles quality-price and super light

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Cyclopss | 9 months ago
1 like

Im not convinced?

Buy cheap and your bum will Repente later?

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to Cyclopss | 9 months ago
0 likes

The Repente Artax GLM did make it onto road.cc "Recommends" so I agree that it is a bit odd it's not on this list - possibly because it's more aimed at the gravel market rather than road? Although road.cc have given very positive reviews to other Repente models too.

Avatar
Verycroix | 9 months ago
1 like

The market seems to be dominated by saddles with a pressure relief channel which do not work for me. I use San Marco Regal Evo saddles. It would be useful to occasionally have reviews of similar saddles. Surely I can't be alone? 

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to Verycroix | 9 months ago
1 like

It looks to me like road.cc do review saddles without cutouts. As you say, the market is dominated by saddles with cutouts and so reviews tend to be weighted in that direction too. But even so, this very list includes the Cycles Berthoud Soulor leather saddle; road.cc have in fact reviewed your favoured Selle San Marco Regal Evo; and they have reviewed numerous other cutout-free saddles ranging from traditional designs (Selle San Marco Concor SupercorsaSelle San Marco Classic Rolls, Brooks Cambium) to more modern ones (Fizik Aliante, Rapha Pro Team, Fabric Cell Radius).