In this article I’m going to give you my top picks for the best gravel bike saddles in the market today.
So let’s get right to. I own a bike which I use for gravel riding. So that would be mostly road, forest trails, shell paths, dirt roads, and yes, the occassional hop onto light mountain bike trails. The saddle I use for that type of riding is an ax-lightness Phoenix full carbon saddle weighing 61 grams. Just to give you some perspective. I mainly use it for short rides.
Many would argue that the very narrow ax-lightness Phoenix is a pure road bike saddle. I obviously disagree, but I can understand where you’d be coming from if you made that argument.
All of the most expensive saddles are fully made from carbon or have carbon rails and carbon composite shells. The reason for it is that the use of carbon incorporates the characteristics of lightweight with great damping and comfort. Add to that a bit of padding and a cut out and you basically have a winning formula for a bike saddle. Whether it’s for road racing or gravel riding, it doesn’t really matter.
That being said, carbon saddles are excruciatingly expensive, with prices starting at 200 dollars and ending somewhere at 600. So what I’m going to do in this list is to give you both budget options. Those are saddles made with steel rails and nylon shells, all to the very expensive carbon beauties.
You can find an overview of all saddles at the end of this article. So let’s see what I came up with for this list of the best gravel bike saddles.
Contenders best gravel bike saddles
Fabric Line Elite Shallow
The Fabric Line Elite Shallow is great value-for-money allround saddle that will suit the majority of riders.
Its nylon shell is supported by titanium rails and has a narrow width of 134 millimeters and a length of 270 milimeters. For the materials used and the padding it has a reasonable weight of 237 grams.
Shallow means the saddle supports a more upright position with a medium amount of padding versus the more race-oriented flat saddles. This means it’s suited for riders who like to ride on the hoods, but it’s safe to say that the saddle feels equilly comfortable in the drops.
The very clean design of the saddle features a non-padded center that runs the length of the saddle, with padding on either side.
The overall allure of this saddle resides in the combination of price, comfort, design and allround suitability. It’s the perfect choice for weekend warriors who favor short leisurely rides that won’t cros the 100 mile mark. Although saddles will also be always very personal choice, this saddle has been in Fabric’s lineup for years for good reason.
The Brooks C13 is a relatively small road racing saddle in Brooks Cambium lineup.
The Cambium line was a brilliant move from Brooks, to significantly increase their product offering with something that was at the same time unique but adhering to more modern saddle standards.
The traditional Brooks break-in period doesn’t apply to Cambium saddles and the C13 offers an even more modern take, with carbon rails.
Brooks did an enormous amount of R&D that goes into their proprietary shell and it shows. This saddle is still pretty heavy with the smaller version just under 300 grams, but you get a high-quality saddle in return that promises to be one of the most comfortable in the market.
At 145 millimeter it has about an average width for a road bike saddle, and the aluminium rivets still give it that authentic-looking feel.
The only downside is the price, because with the carbon rails, it does mean this saddle is very pricey indeed.
Brooks C13 Carved
The Brooks C13 Carved is exactly the same as the standard C13, except it has a small cut out in the center of the saddle.
Unlike Selle Italia’s Superflow offerings this cut out is pretty small. But whereas leather Brooks saddles need additional rivets or laces to keep the shape of carved saddles, that isn’t the case with Cambium saddles, and might be the reason Brooks decided to not flay the saddle entirely.
This version with cut out means there’s less material to support the rider, which results in a saddle being more compliant. Whether or not you like that added plushness and the cut out is rider specific and hard to test without actually sitting on both. But if you’re familiar with saddles with cut outs, I’d definitely recommend this one.
The Brooks C15 is a tad bit longer than its C13 cousin measuring 283 x 140 mm.
It looks a lot like that saddle in that it uses the same material for the shell, rivets, and cover, but as for ride feel it’s quite different.
For starters the C15 sits on steel rails, which drastically reduces the price. Carbon rails are known for taking out a bit more road buzz and being more flexible, which makes the C15 feel a bit stiffer.
Obviously it’s beautifully finished but that longer shape and steel rails does mean you’re looking at a saddle weighing 450 grams. A weight I do not necessarily consider to be in line with a true racing machine. For the same amount of money you can have a saddle that weighs less than half.
With its race shape, with great clearance, high level of comfort, and weight, the C15 is kind of an odd saddle in the performance category. But the far majority of people prefer comfort any day over the extra 150 grams.
So that means you choose the C15 for its looks, and the overall ride quality of the vulcanized upper, which is fantastic.
Brooks C15 Carved
The Brooks C15 Carved is the same version as the regular C15, except it has a cut out.
As with the Brooks C13, whether or not you opt for the cut out version is up to. Just remember you get a bit more compliance out of the saddle because of the missing material.
Fizik Vento Argo R5
As far as budget goes the Fizik Vento Argo R5 is the most premium option on this list with a suggested retail price of 99 euros. It can be had for cheaper on Amazon though.
It’s another very well made short-nosed saddle with a carbon-reinforced nylon shell with a large center cut out. This cut out transitions into a lower surface area both front and back, planting you firmly in place.
This version also has an alloy rail to keep costs down and a width of either 140 mm for the small or 150 mm for the larger version.
This saddle offers ample amounts of comfort for relaxed road riding, thanks to the plush padding and cut out.
Fizik Arione R1 Open
The Fizik Arione R1 Open is the cut out version of the regular R1.
A lot of manufacturers make cut out versions of all of their saddles and Fizik is no exceptions, basically doubling their entire lineup. The cut out is rather small but sits in an area is lower than the two padded halves and moves all the way down the length of the saddle.
The carbon version is actually a bit heavier than the non-cut out version at almost 200 grams.
There’s plenty of room to mount your carbon-specific seatpost on the braided carbon rails. The overall very long design is something you hate or love, because the added length in the back is mainly there for aesthetic purposes.
The carbon composite shell is a tad wider than the regular R1 at 132 millimeters, but still very narrow.
The standard R1 is already a very comfortable saddle, but if you like your performance racing perch with a cut out, the R1 Open is your obvious choice.
Fizik Arione R1
If you like your saddles long, the Fizik Arione R1 measuring at almost 1 foot seems to dwarve some of its shorter competitors, especially short-nosed versions.
The flat design of the very lightweight 163 grams version is extremely narrow at 126 millimeters. Fizik also offers a wider 140 millimeter version. With such a length and its arrowlike shape, the Arione saddles are easily recognizable.
The long nose doesn’t interfere with your riding if you’re the type of person who’s a little less flexible in the pelvic area and uses the upper body more to reach the drops. The narrowness of the saddle offers loads of thigh clearance and a well-padded and flexible carbon composite shell, which is compatible with Fizik’s saddle accessories as well.
All those features make it sound like the Fizik Arione R1 is a comfortable saddle and it is.
I believe the extended area at the back is more of a design feature than actually meant for sitting on while pedalling, but you know for sure there’s more than enough room to move and you’ll never run out of space when climbing.
Selle Italia Flite Boost TM
The Selle Italia Flite Boost TM is the non-cut out version the one appended with Superflow.
Selle Italia has a penchant for huge cut outs, but this version adds a mere 10 grams to the weight, tipping the scales at about 240 grams.
That’s a respectable weight for a high-quality endurance saddle. I already covered the Superflow version but I have to reiterate than in terms of comfort and value-for-money, this is one of the best allround saddles for long distance riding in the market today.
So unless you really have something against shorter saddles, because this is one of those, consider this one.
Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow
Selle has gone all-in with short-nosed saddles and the Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow is a great affordable option.
The Flite name has been around for an extremely long time, but this saddle looks nothing like the first iterations.
The narrow version of this saddle sits at 135 x 248 millimeters. The stubby nose means less sliding around, for those who appreciate that, putting your body more firmly in place and more easily in a forward position. The entire notion is a better power transfer to the pedals.
True to both its racing and endurance nature this is an almost entirely flat saddle with a huge cut out, something a lot of Selle Italia saddles are known for. And it offers a thicker of padding to stay comfortable with long hours in the saddle.
The overall build quality of this saddle is superb, with a gorgeous perforated Soft-Tek microfiber upper and subtle brand covering.
Although not cheap per se, you get a lot of tech from one of the biggest brands in the saddle industry.
Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow
With endurance in its name it should be obvious what the Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow is for.
It’s unique-looking design looks similar to those used by ISM, with the nose cut in half and slightly dipping.
This affordable long-distance offering features a lot of extra padding for a weight penalty, tipping the scales over 300 grams. But this is not a saddle for those looking to shave an extra 100 grams of their bike, and people who’ll actually be doing gran fondos will care less about such a thing.
What they will care about is comfort and this saddle excels in that area. You can actually take this saddle on roads that doesn’t necessarily resemble smooth tarmac, and the plush ride will allow you to enjoy it from start to finish.
Selle Italia offers a number of magnificient showpieces, and this saddle is not among them. It’s purely functional with a core focus on being able to eat mile after mile of road. So if that’s your thing there aren’t many options that offer a greater return on investment, if any.
Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance
The Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance has endurance in the title, so what exactly is so different about this saddle to earn that moniker.
For starters, the two-pronged split-nosed design sitting on titanium rails is distinctive enough. It means the cut out of the saddle extends all the way to the front of the nose, reminiscent of those produces by time-trial favorite ISM.
Where you can actually sit the two shell halves not only offer extra padded support, but also a layer of gel padding to add to the overall damping qualities of the saddle. A durable Fibra-Tek perforated microfiber cover has the Selle Italia logo on it.
The overall build quality is downright amazing, and the long and narrow shape of the saddle measuring 138 x 282 mm for the regular size and 149 x 282 mm for the large one, means there’s plenty of room to find the correct position for your sit bones.
The reason why you have to pay twice the amount of money vs the TM version is the composition of the shell. Where this one uses carbon fiber, the other one is made from nylon. And that carbon shell sits on top a titanium rails instead of a manganese steel one. That means a more flexible perch and just some more damping effects as well, with the tiniest of weight gains as well.
Granted the split nose design might equally split onlookers into categories of those who hate and those who love it, but there’s no denying that this saddle will save your behind on longer rides.
Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow
At 202 grams the Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow is a featherweight short-nosed premium performance saddle.
SLR denotes Selle Italia’s forray into short-nosed perches and at 130 x 248 mm for the regular and 145 x 248 mm for the wide version, they are short indeed.
The swooping design is felt even more by the gel padded cover. It’s amazing that Selle Italia has managed to cram so much comfort and padding onto a saddle that weighs so little.
Like most of Selle Italia’s premium endurance saddles, this one features a titanium rails and durable Fibra-tek cover onto a carbon composite shell.
Saddles are exceptionally personal product offerings, and when buying such an expensive one as this one you want one that’s right for you.
This saddle is anything but cheap, but for that premium you get one of the lightest endurance saddles in the market for long comfortable hours in the saddle.
Selle Italia SLR Boost TM
If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an SLR saddle the more moderately priced Selle Italia SLR Boost TM is a great way to venture into short-nosed saddles from this Italian manufacturer.
Although it’s much more affordable it’s just slightly heavier at 220 grams, and I’m not convinced a person will notice a 20 grams difference anyone. This one has a manganese steel rails versus the titanium one. The 7 millimeter diameter rails ensure they’ll be compatible with standard seatposts.
The rails are attached to a nylon shell. That means it’s less forgiving and more firm than either a full carbon or carbon composite shell, which will cost you way more money. Of course it’s difficult to explain what more firm actually feels like for the individual, and some people actually prefer firm saddles.
Selle Italia SLR Superflow
The Selle Italia SLR Superflow is a classically shaped high performance road racing saddle.
With widths of 131 and 145 millimeters and an average length of 275 millimeters the carbon composite shell features the large cut out that Selle Italia saddles are known for.
Just like many other premium saddles from the brand, the shell is hold into place onto the seatpost with titanium rails.
The large cut out, its length, and shell material means there high levels of natural damping combined with a flexy shell that prevents chafing.
Even with this length it doesn’t mean the nose is truly supportive to be sitting on for extended periods of time. If you prefer such a position you’ll need to be looking into boost (short-nosed) version of the SLR.
Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow
The Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow is pretty similar in specs to the Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow except it offers a more traditional design.
If you’re not into short-nosed saddles, the classic design of the SLR measures 131 x 275 millimeters. As with many other saddles from Selle Italia, it offers a large center cut out for pressure relief.
You get a nylon shell with extra padding for comfortable rides. A manganese rails for a bit of flex to take out road buzz, in a package weighing 205 grams.
It’s a classically shaped road bike saddle from this big brand name, which offers loads of comfort for everyday riding and endurance races.
Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow
The naming conventions of Selle Italia are very confusing indeed, untill you understand that they simply have a fancy way of putting saddle parts into the name. The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow is a good example.
SP-01 refers to a new innovation where the two halves of the sadlle are only held together at the nose. In this case we’re talking about a carbon composite shell dropping the weight to below the magic 200 gram mark at 160. That’s featherweight territory.
Kit Carbonio refers to the carbon rails, which further adds to the premium feel of the saddle. It adds an extra damping factor, but do keep in mind the oval rails need a compatible seatpost. The unique looking rails adds an additional shock absorption factor to the overall high comfort level obtained by the prolific use of carbon throughout the entire saddle
Superflow is Selle Italia’s way of describing their saddle cut outs, which are large and prominent. Even more so with the SP-01 outlandish shape.
And Boost is their way of telling you’re dealing with a short-nosed version of the saddle. With a single size of 130 x 250 mm it’s not only short but also narrow. The taper at the front does lead to a wider nose than on non-boost saddle, which makes a more forward position a comfortable possibility.
It’s the SP-01 saddle that provides the most performance and flexibility in use, with just the more outrageous full carbon Tekno trumping it. The saddle is both a gorgeous and astonishing feat of saddle engineering, that provides the absolute best the Italian company has to offer to the serious road cyclist.
Prologo Nago Evo Pas
Prologo offers high build quality when it comes to road bike saddles, and the Prologo Nago Evo Pas is a gorgeous allround saddle for dynamic riding.
I can understand why the overall shape of the saddle made Prologo state the saddle can also be used for cross-country rides.
You have the option of two different type of material for the rails, with the carbon version dipping below 200 grams at 185 grams. With TiroX steel alloy it means the saddle will sit at 211, which is still pretty light for a non-carbon saddle.
Forgoing a center cut out this saddle instead has a no-padded area in the middle. And at 275 x 134 millimeters it has a narrow width and standard road racing length.
ISM PN 4.0
If you’d want to go for one of ISM’s saddles the ISM PN 4.0 is a great option to begin with.
Not because it’s inexpenisive, none of their saddles are, but because the saddle allows for more freedom of movement and bigger contact points.
Riding any ISM saddle, after having ridden tradtional saddle shapes, is a revelation in comfort. This one was built for gravel riding so it seems, where you could argue more dynamic riding is applicable.
The entire design of ISM revolves around being forced to sit on your sit bones. There’s no nose to speak of, and while pedalling you push your sit bones onto the two protruding parts of the saddle. You do need time to adjust to such an odd feeling, but you will understand its concept, even after a single ride. Everyone who’s ever ridden with a numb area down below will, and that’s probably all of us.
I’ll leave it up to you what you think of the design of course.
Specifications best gravel bike saddles
|Name||Rail||Retail Price||Dimensions||Weight||Shell||Padding||Cover||Buy at Amazon||Buy at Ebay|
|Fabric Line Elite Shallow||titanium 7×7 mm||105 USD||270 x 134 mm||237 g||nylon||microfiber||link||link|
|Brooks C13||carbon braided 7×9 mm||200 euros||S 275 x 145 mm L 275 x 158 mm||S 295 g – L 310 g||vulcanized rubber||none||nylon||link||link|
|Brooks C13 Carved||carbon braided 7×9 mm||200 euros||S 275 x 145 mm L 275 x 158 mm||S 280 g – L 295 g||vulcanized rubber||none||nylon||link|
|Brooks C15||steel||120 euros||283 x 140 mm||450 g||vulcanized rubber||none||nylon||link||link|
|Brooks C15 Carved||steel||120 euros||283 x 140 mm||432 g||vulcanized rubber||none||nylon||link||link|
|Fizik Vento Argo R5||S-Alloy 7 mm||109.99 USD||S 265 x 140 mm – L 265 x 150 mm||S 225 g – L 232 g||carbon-reinforced nylon||type 1 foam||link||link|
|Fizik Arione R1 Open||carbon braided 7×10 mm||199.99 USD||S 300 x 132 mm – L 298 x 142 mm||S 199 g – L 205 g||carbon reinforced nylon||microtex||link||link|
|Fizik Arione R1||carbon braided 7×10 mm||249.99 USD||S 300 x 126 mm – L 300 x 140 mm||S 163 g – L 181 g||carbon reinforced nylon||microtex||link||link|
|Selle Italia Flite Boost TM||manganese tube 7 mm||150 euros||S 135 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm||S 240 g – L 243 g||nylon||Soft-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow||manganese tube 7 mm||150 euros||S 135 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm||S 230 g – L 233 g||nylon||Soft-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow||manganese tube 7 mm||100 euros||S 138 x 282 mm – L 149 x 282 mm||S 306 g – L 310 g||nylon||extra padding / gel||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance||TI 316 Tube 7 mm||240 euros||S 138 x 282 mm – L 149 x 282 mm||S 288 g – L 293 g||carbon composite||gel padding||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow||TI 316 Tube 7 mm||320 euros||S 130 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm||S 202 g – L 207 g||carbon composite||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia SLR Boost TM||manganese tube 7 mm||170 euros||S 130 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm||S 220 g – L 230 g||nylon||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia SLR Superflow||TI 316 Tube 7 mm||300 euros||S 131 x 275 mm – L 145 x 275 mm||S 185 g – L 190 g||carbon composite||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow||manganese tube 7 mm||160 euros||S 131 x 275 mm – L 145 x 275 mm||S 205 g – L 210 g||nylon||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow||Carbon/Keramic 7×9 mm||360 euros||130 x 250 mm||160 g||carbon composite||Fibra-Tek||link||link|
|Prologo Nago Evo Pas||nack carbon / tirox||134 euros||275 x 134 mm||nack 185 g – thyrox 211 g||link||link|
|ISM PN 4.0||stainless steel alloy||250 USD||255 x 125 mm||259 g||30-Series Foam||link|