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The top 12 best road bike saddles for comfort

In this article I’m going to focus on the best road bike saddles for comfort.

To be able to do so I need to discuss a number of common saddle-related issues. A saddle cannot prevent numbness if the overall setup of your bike makes you sit and move on that saddle incorrectly. More likely than not the experience of saddle discomfort is related to the frame being too big, the seatpost set too high, the stem being too long, the saddle position too far forward, etc. etc.

Next up is the fact that you’re not supposed to sit on your genitals. Numbness is because of pressure being applied to the perineal area. The amount of pressure on that area is inversely correlated to how much weight is carried by the sit bones. The less you make use of your sit bones, the more you sit on your genitals, the more pressure is created, the more numb you feel, with all negative aspects associated with that.

It’s extremely difficult to make a correct match between a road cyclist’s physical aspect and a saddle, without some form of experimentation. E.g. actually using a certain saddle. And my list can’t give you actual riding experience, nor can it fix your bike setup. What I can and will do is give you an overview of saddles that at least reduce the risk of experiencing numbness and have a proven track record of being comfortable for the majority of road cyclists.

So with that out of the way, here are my top picks for the best road bike saddle for comfort.

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men

SMC Sport Gel Men
SMC Sport Gel Men

The Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men is the male version obviously. Ergon has taken its research into male and female anatomy and applied it to this saddle as well.

This result in a more pronounced depression in the center of the saddle. Both saddles are on the less aggressive side of the riding spectrum.

Expert Experience

Miles Arbour | Outdoor adventure guide – May 4, 2020

So far, I’ve taken the SMC Sport Gel on several 40-mile rides and was quite comfortable. Although I haven’t taken it out on a big multi-day ride, I’m expecting good things based on my initial experiences. My position on the saddle is vastly different than that of the Cambium C17, yet equally comfortable. The total length of the medium/large version is 276mm (10.9”), which feels appropriate for any kind of trail riding I’ll get into. I recently tried a saddle with a much shorter nose, and missed the control that a longer saddle can offer while navigating tight corners and narrow features. The padding is plush, yet still firm enough for serious riding and won’t be too soft for riders who are used to sportier saddles. I distinctly noticed the exaggerated pressure relief channel, which helps avoid unnecessary pressure points.

Pros and Cons

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women

SMC Sport Gel Women
SMC Sport Gel Women

As with the Core Prime models the Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women features a very distinctive feminine oriented cut out in a saddle with a large seating area.

It’s more affordable, has the same saddle ergonomic shape, but gel padding instead of the memory foam like substance of the Core Prime. Unlike the male version, this saddle has such a large open space you can deem it an appropriate center cut out.

It supports an upright position with enough cushioning to take out any irregularities in the road.

Expert Experience

Kristen Bonkoski | Site Owner – June 13, 2023

Thus far, I’ve used the Ergon SMC Sport Gel on countless lunchtime rides, a half dozen long days, and two bikepacking trips. The longer the ride, the more I like it!

I’ve had zero saddle sores, zero chafing, and *almost* no discomfort even at the end of Day 2 of bikepacking. While there’s absolutely no reason not to use this saddle for shorter mountain bike rides, it’s women who plan to ride long hours that I think will really appreciate it.

Pros and Cons

Fizik Arione R1 Open

Arione R1 Open
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 exception, basically doubling their entire lineup. The cut out is rather small but sits in an area 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.

Pros and Cons

Prologo Kappa Space

Kappa Space
Kappa Space

Coming in both white and black with red elements thrown in the Prologo Kappa Space is the most in your face options of all the saddles listed here. So if you’re in for that type of design this one will float your boat.

Besides the design aspects the Kappa Space has a more classic looking arrow design at 270×147 mm, sitting on cro-mo 7 mm standard rails.

The center cut out and dipped area is more narrow than several of its competitors, which is also in line with more classic designs.

A great fit on a bike saddle will always be something intimately personal. But if you feel more familiar with classically shaped arrowhead saddles, and you like its design, this great piece from Prologo is the best choice.

Pros and Cons

Prologo Scratch M5 Pas

Scratch M5 Pas
Scratch M5 Pas

The Prologo Scratch M5 Pas is a short-nosed lightweight road bike saddle.

The overall design features a large seating platform and dropped nose, which enables dynamic riding where you need to get frequently out of the saddle.

The saddle offers two options for the rails with the Tirox alloy versions hovering around 200 grams and a much lighter carbon version sitting at 134 grams. Oval carbon rails require a carbon specific seatpost, so make sure you have one, should you decide to opt for the carbon version.

The Scratch M5 is decently padded and looks futuristic with its five panel layout across a rounded 250mm length shell. This separate paneling should help to add some extra flex to the saddle for added comfort.

Expert Experience

Graham Cottingham | Senior review writer – July 01, 2020

The carbon base of the saddle feels on the stiff side yet the Scratch M5 has a forgiving ride quality especially when compared to other carbon saddles that we have ridden. Vibrations felt dampened and evenly distributed across the saddle rather than focused on a single point.

The only irritating experience I had was on one ride where my bibs kept squeaking against the saddle as I climbed. This only happened once and I have clocked up many miles since completely squeak-free.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow

Flite Boost TM Superflow
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 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.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow

Novus Endurance TM Superflow
Novus Endurance TM Superflow

With endurance in its name it should be obvious what the Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow is for.

Its 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 don’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 magnificent 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.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow

SLR TM Superflow
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.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SP-01 Boost TM Superflow

SP-01 Boost TM Superflow
SP-01 Boost TM Superflow

The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost TM Superflow is a relatively new design from Selle Italia, where the center cut out moves all the way through to the end of the saddle.

That means no more saddle bags, you won’t be able to attach them. But instead you get more flex in the rear because of the two halves that can move more independently from each other. The result is more road feel in a less bumpy ride while you ride in the drops.

Personally, I like the innovation but I can understand that such a design might not be for everybody. But you have to realize that you not only get independently moving halves, but also more flex in the saddle itself. And at the end of the day it does work to improve riding comfort.

It’s like riding a saddle with more padding, without actually having that extra padding. That means the weight of the narrow 130 millimeter saddle stays at 200 grams, while the 250 millimeter short and straight length locks you into a comfy racing position.

I’m all in for cycling tech or else I wouldn’t be writing this stuff, and I can only applaud Selle Italia for taking the next steps when it comes to road racing saddles. And with Their SP-01 they’ve hit the mark just right.

Pros and Cons

Selle San Marco Aspide Supercomfort Racing Narrow

Aspide Supercomfort Racing Narrow
Aspide Supercomfort Racing Narrow

The Selle San Marco Aspide Supercomfort Racing Narrow is a road bike saddle with a very long name and lots of padding.

That doesn’t mean it’s heavy with a weight sitting at 207 grams. And to achieve such a feat you get a stiff carbon injected nylon shell atop a Stealth Xsilite alloy rail, a mixture of silicon, carbon, and titanium. They claim the rails are basically bomb-proof and resistant to the elements.

The reason you might want to buy this saddle is because its classic-looking race-shape of 277 x 132 millimeters offers a plushness in a package that also features a center cut out, running basically all the way to the back of the saddle. Not everybody likes to be riding a super firm race saddle, and Selle San Marco is targeting that market with this saddle.

So if you actually like a bit of extra padding for your rides, this could very well be the saddle that ticks those boxes for you.

Expert Experience

Stu Kerton | Senior Product Reviewer – June 05, 2017

I’ve ridden the Aspide before on a few different bikes and got on okay with it; I like the shape, especially in its narrowest guise like our test model here (132mm wide – a 142mm version is also available) with its curved profile. The tail swoops down before flattening out and then the nose drops, ideal for when you’re crouched over in the drops as you don’t get any pressure points at the front end.

Pros and Cons

Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide (Open)

GND Dynamic Wide (Open)
GND Dynamic Wide (Open)

The Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide with the cut out version is slightly lighter at 210 grams, which is incredibly light all things considered.

It has the same overall features as the one without the cut out, and uses the same type of materials. That means you get a glass fiber reinforced shell on top of manganese steel rails, with plush padding in a semi-short length.

The version of 145 millimeters is more neutral than the narrow 135 millimeters, which allows for a bigger platform to support the rider. You might argue that that actually improves because the rider has to spend less energy staying into position.

The microfeel cover onto the star shaped design looks great and the finish is superb, which makes this saddle the perfect choice for adventurous riders on a budget.

Expert Experience

Paul Burwell | Contributor – February 12, 2023

The Ground Dymanic is a little wider and longer than the X-Bow Superflow, but it’s still a stubby saddle with a less than pleasing aesthetic. It feels supportive but it doesn’t have that armchair ride of the Specialized Bridge. Build quality is very good and it’s lightweight but I’d only rate the comfort as average.

Pros and Cons

ISM PN 4.0

PN 4.0
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 inexpensive, 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 traditional 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 pedaling 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.

Pros and Cons

Specifications road bike saddles for comfort

Name
Price
Rail
Dimensions
Weight
Shell
Padding
Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men
100 USD
CroMo
300 g
nylon composite
Orthopedic Comfort Foam w. gel padding
Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women
100 USD
CroMo
295 g
nylon composite
Orthopedic Comfort Foam w. gel padding
Fizik Arione R1 Open
199.99 USD
carbon braided Ø7×10 mm
S 300 x 132 mm – L 298 x 142 mm
S 199 g – L 205 g
carbon reinforced nylon
Prologo Kappa Space
78 euros
cro-mo Ø7 mm
270 x 147 mm
249 g
nylon
Light foam
Prologo Scratch M5 Pas
138/213 euros
nack carbon / tirox
250 x 140 mm
nack 134 g – Tirox 201 g
Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow
150 euros
manganese tube Ø7 mm
S 135 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 230 g – L 233 g
nylon
Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow
100 euros
manganese tube Ø7 mm
S 138 x 282 mm – L 149 x 282 mm
S 306 g – L 310 g
nylon
extra padding / gel
Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow
160 euros
manganese tube Ø7 mm
S 131 x 275 mm – L 145 x 275 mm
S 205 g – L 210 g
nylon
Selle Italia SP-01 Boost TM Superflow
130 euros
manganese tube Ø7 mm
S 130 x 250 mm – L 146 x 250 mm
S 200 g – L 205 g
Selle San Marco Aspide Supercomfort Racing Narrow
159 euros
Stealth Xsilite
277 x 132 mm
207 g
carbon reinforced nylon
biofoam
Selle San Marco GND Dynamic Wide (Open)
79 euros
manganese
262 x 145 mm
210 g
glass fiber reiinforced
Biofoam
ISM PN 4.0
250 USD
stainless steel alloy
255 x 125 mm
259 g
30-Series Foam

Sources

Miles Arbour, Ergon SMC Sport Gel Saddle: First Ride Review, Bikepacking, May 4, 2020
Kristen Bonkoski, Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women’s Saddle Review, Femme Cyclist, June 13, 2023
Graham Cottingham, Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle review, Cycling News, July 01, 2020
Stu Kerton, Selle San Marco Aspide Supercomfort Racing Saddle, Road.cc, June 05, 2017
Paul Burwell, Selle San Marco Ground Dynamic saddle review, MBR, February 12, 2023
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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