There are ever more short saddles on the market designed for those who like to spend time in an aggressive ride position. Here are eight of the best short saddles.
Short saddles work best for short, intense efforts like time trials
Pressure-relieving cut-outs, once reserved for women's saddles, help make it easier to stay in one position on a short saddle
The recent popularity of short-nosed saddles affords another bike fit option for riders who don't get on with standard saddles
Prices of short saddles start around £50 — they're definitely aimed at the 'serious' end of the cycling spectrum
Short saddles have been popular in time trials and triathlon for many years with riders trying to reduce the pressure on soft tissue when in an aero ride position – there was a time when pro riders (or their mechanics) would take out a saw and chop the nose off a sponsor's saddle in order to get it down to the length they wanted for a TT – and they’ve crossed over into more general road use recently.
But what constitutes 'short'? A Selle Italia Flite saddle that’s a fairly normal length measures 275mm from nose to tail, a Fabric Scoop Race Flat saddle is 282mm and a Fizik Arione Classic is a mighty 302mm long. Short saddles tend to be about 255mm or less because the front of the nose has been eliminated.
Some people also like short saddles because of their increased clearance for the quads and hamstrings – there’s less saddle to get in the way, essentially.
Of course, if there’s one thing we know about saddles it’s that what’s right for one person can be agony for another, so we’d always advise you to try before you buy.
The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow is the ultimate statement saddle. Engineered in partnership with an F1 constructor, it is a carbon fibre chassis for your sit bones that's jaw-droppingly expensive, breathtakingly light, beautifully finished and actually surprisingly comfortable.
Selle Italia gives the SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow five stars for 'medio fondo', two for 'granfondo' and none for endurance or cycle touring, by its own admission suggesting it's not a saddle for huge mileage, and I'd go along with that. It's a racing saddle designed for short, sharp efforts and works best when you're going fast and pedalling hard for up to three hours.
Fabric's Line-S Race Flat saddle will appeal to performance-focused riders looking for a stable, supportive design for fast riding – the Flat in the name means flat-out. Its stumpy length and wide, slightly-sloped rear encourage an efficient fixed position, while the full-length channel relieves pressure. Mostly, it works extremely well, but the angular channel sides can occasionally irritate and there's no real wiggle-room to ease pressure on long rides.
Fabric's Line S Pro Flat saddle is a stubby saddle that performs brilliantly in aggressive aero positions. The short nose with generous padding makes it easy to tuck down in the drops for long periods of time. A nylon base and soft padding create a lot of give that help to isolate you from road buzz, though the soft feel won't be for everyone. This is one for TT, triathlon and slammed race bikes.
The Bontrager Aeolus Comp is a unisex shorty saddle with a large cutout that's designed to take the pressure off soft tissues in an aero position – which it does very well. It's comfortable for both long road rides and short, intense turbo sessions thanks to its well judged level of padding and flexible shell. As the entry-level Aeolus saddle in a range of three, the price is competitively low, but the weight is on the high side.
The shape looks simple but it's very effective. The sit bones are well supported on flat sections either side of the cutout, while the nose, which is wider than the noses of other shorty saddles such as the Selle Itala SLR Boost Superflow, lets you perch on it in a stem-chewing situation in more comfort than Selle Italia's SLR shape does, maximising available space. And the semicircle of padding at the tip, which closes off the cutout channel, cleverly stops you from sliding too far forward.
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 the norm. 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.
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. That's standard for short saddles, though, and the good news is that the position that the Dimension provides is really very comfortable indeed.
Fizik's entry into the short-saddle stakes is light at 186g, with a pressure-relieving cut-out and minimal but comfy padding. As we've come to expect from Fizik, it's very nicely made.
The shape is similar to a Specialized Power saddle and as is standard with short saddles it pretty much plants you in one, non-negotiable sitting position. The nose is too short for you to wriggle backwards and forwards very much.
Fortunately, that comfortable foam cover combines with a slightly flexible shell to provide a surprisingly smooth ride; sharp-edged potholes don't batter your bum, which is a definite bonus.
Short saddles are quite the thing right now. They originated in triathlon where a more forward position can be advantageous, and they're becoming increasingly common on road bikes too. The Selle San Marco Shortfit Supercomfort Racing saddle is a good one. It's well made and comfortable, with a wide pressure-relieving channel and plenty of padding.
Who's it for? Well. According to Selle San Marco, you might want one if you're riding for under two hours, because 'the sustaining subcutaneous tissues don't have to adapt to prolonged pressure', and you might also want one for more than five- or six-hour rides because of 'the time that the subcutaneous areas are subject to pressure'. So does that mean that it's not ideal for a three- or four-hour ride?
Like all of ISM’s designs, the new PN 3.1 has a nose that comprises two separate arms (weird image, but that’s what they’re called!), hence the distinctive look. The saddle is “designed to remove pressure from soft tissue, ensuring maximum blood flow, no genital numbness, and a healthier, more enjoyable ride”.
The PN 3.1 is 255mm long, 120mm wide across the rear section, and the rails are chromo steel.
Prologo’s Dimension Nack has a nose that’s about 3-3.5cm shorter than on a traditionally shaped saddle, and a total length of 245mm.
When Stu Kerton reviewed this saddle for road.cc he said, “The short nose does make it feel like you are perching on the front of the saddle, but when really crouched in the drops and hammering along it feels great. It was definitely noticeable that the Prologo has less up front, which gives more freedom of movement.”
“It's not just performance riding where the Dimension works, though. Sit up a bit and relax and you'll find that the shape of the saddle and the padding offer a decent balance of comfort and support.”
The Dimension also comes in a steel-railed version which is a little heavier but £80 cheaper at £119.99.
Selle Italia’s Novus Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow might have a long name but the saddle itself is short at 256mm. Our reviewer George Hill felt that this reduction in length allowed him to get lower than usual over the handlebar without it having any impact on comfort in more conventional riding positions.
The left and right sides of the nose are split and George found that this helped him adopt several different positions on the saddle without any issues.
The ‘Superflow’ part of the name indicates that this saddle has an oversized cutout which reduces pressure on the perineum. More comfort is provided by multi-density padding throughout.
This model has Selle Italia’s CarboKeramic rails but there are considerably cheaper versions. The Novus Boost Superflow Ti316 comes with titanium rails and costs £114.99, while the Novus Boost TM Superflow with manganese steel rails is £71.20.
Specialized offers a range of shorty Power saddles designed for both men and women, opening with the Expert (other colours are available). As well as a short nose, it comes with a wide cutaway centre to remove pressure from sensitive areas.
The Power Expert is 240mm long and comes in three different widths: 143mm, 155mm and 168mm.
The shell is made from reinforced carbon-fibre, the padding is medium-density foam and the rails are hollow titanium
The range goes all the way up to the £175 Power Arc Pro with a claimed weight of just 193g in a 143mm width.
Selle San Marco has taken its road-specific Racing, Dynamic, and Carbon FX saddles and cut them down in size, the resulting Shortfit Racing being 250mm long.
Moving to an aggressive ride position is noticeably easier than with a longer saddle and a cutout that runs the length of the Shortfit Racing really helps with relieving pressure on the perineum. The varying foam densities across the saddle offer just the right amount of support.
The upper is made from a durable 'Microfeel' material which is hardwearing and grippy enough to keep you in position, while the shell is a carbon-reinforced nylon material. This keeps the saddle stiff and allows for good power transfer without too much flex.
Although this saddle has a similar name to the one above, they’re made from different materials, the ShortFit-C coming with a nylon shell (as opposed to carbon-reinforced nylon) and different padding. Although they’re the same length, 250mm, this one weighs a little more: 206g versus 180g.
Selle San Marco designs this saddle for riders who like a more aggressive, fixed position, but our reviewer Jack Sexty said he’d consider it for touring and audax riding too because it's comfy yet firm. The cover provides loads of grip while the Xsilite rails are sturdy and solid.
This is a lovely pressure-relieving saddle that provides all-day comfort on the road.
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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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.