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The top 15 best road bike saddles for touring

In this article I’m going to give you a number of some of the best road bike saddles for touring. While creating this list I’ve made a number of assumptions to get to a selection.

First one is that weight is less of an issue, if it’s an issue at all. Nobody cares about 50 or 100 or 200 grams less for a saddle if you’re toting full bags around weighing dozens of times more. Or at least, you shouldn’t care.

A touring saddle core focus is on comfort, on making it through long hours in the saddle. And doing it again, and again, and again. Not as a professional rider in the peleton, but as a passionate cyclist who’d like to see the world from his or her bike. That means you’re not sprinting away for points in the overall rankings, bent over the bars with hands in the drops. It means that in general you have an upright position.

With that out of the way, my definition of a good touring saddle, besides being somewhat affordable, is generous levels of padding on a shell that supports an upright riding position. Obviously high quality materials that are abbrasive resistant are a plus for a saddle that will be thoroughly used.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the best road bike saddles for touring.

Contenders best road bike saddles for touring

Fabric Line Elite Shallow

Fabric Line Elite Shallow
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.

Fabric Scoop Elite Flat

Fabric Scoop Elite Flat
Fabric Scoop Elite Flat

The Fabric Scoop comes in many versions with the carbon version nearing the 300 dollar mark. This Fabric Scoop Elite Flat sits well under 100 dollars but has the exact extremely comfortable design.

Flat means this is a true road racing saddle with less padding and a thinner nose. At 244 grams the weight is about what you can expect for a road bike saddle in this price range.

The saddle has a standard 7 mm cro-mo rails sitting underneath a nylon shell, and has a classic all-black design without a cut out in the base of 142 mm. At 244 mm in length it’s not a long saddle, which means less moving around and higher comfort.

It’s a no-frills design that does it all, comfort for long rides, durability, and nice aesthetics for a decent price.

Brooks B17

Brooks B17
Brooks B17

The Brooks B17 is the most iconic model in the entire lineup. It’s the first bicycle saddle I ever saw, because my father rode it for decades on his daily commuter.

What can you say about this saddle that hasn’t already be said before. It’s probably the best-selling sadle for touring cyclists for years.

The entire notion behind the classic lineup of leather Brooks saddles is that they don’t offer a shell, but rather a very thick piece of leather that sits on top of a steel railing.

The biggest issues with saddles is that they have to fit your specific anatomy. Or, more specifically, they have to ensure you sit on your sit bones, not other more tender parts.

By using a product such as leather for the shell, it means the saddle comforms to your physique. Over time that is. And that period is called the breaking in period. And it’s probably the core reason why the B17 is the go-to choice for many touring cyclists.

A Brooks saddle such as this one is not without downsides, besides the breaking in period. The B17 is very wide at 175mm. It’s also very heavy and relatively expensive. So the wide shape might not suit everyone.

Leather is a natural product, and is much more difficult to make fully water resistant. Because the leather stretches, without the proper care it can stretch to the extend where there is an extreme level of sag, especially when riding in wet conditions.

So it has pros and cons, but its track record has no equal.

Brooks B17 Carved

Brooks B17 Carved
Brooks B17 Carved

The Brooks B17 Carved is the version with a center cutout. To maintain the shape of the saddle the center is hold together with a leather lace.

The main benefit over the standard B17 is that the B17 Carved takes less time to break in. Having less less simply makes this saddle more supple and easy to adjust to your body.

After that, for those who appreciate saddles with cut outs, the Carved version obviously adds an extra level of comfort besides the general pros the B17 offer in this department.

Brooks C17

Brooks C17
Brooks C17

The Brooks C17 is the Cambium version of the iconic B17 traditional leather saddle. But though the shape is relatively similar that’s about where the comparison ends.

It’s both longer, slimmer and cheaper than the B17, trimming 10 millimeters off the side and addiing that to the length. You end up with a saddle measuring 283 x 164 mm.

But the entire structure is way different, with the C17 resembling the characteristics of a more traditional saddle, though Brooks does have their proprietary vulcanised leather for their entire Cambium lineup.

This rubber is very pliant but requires no breaking in period. The downside of that is that it won’t comform to your anatomy as a leather saddle would. So you have to be more picky about choosing the right shape.

But Cambium models are waterproof, extremely abbrasion-resistant and durable, which make them the perfect companion for touring cyclists. Especially since the very maintenance-free characteristic is a big plus for touring cyclists and road racers in general.

If your looking for the best maintenance free saddle money can buy for a reasonable price, the Cambium C17 is the best option.

Brooks C17 Carved

Brooks C17 Carved
Brooks C17 Carved

The Brooks C17 Carved is the C17 with a center cut out for pressure relief.

Unlike leather models of Brooks lineup, the Cambium models don’t need rivets or laces to prevent the shell from deforming. It’s another trait that makes the Cambium models with a center cutout behave more like current saddles.

The C17 Carved is a bit less firm than the standard C17, simply because there is less material to hold the rider. Especially if you’re planning on riding rougher terrain this might suit your needs, since you have better natural damping from the saddle.

Selle San Marco Era Dynamic Wide

Selle San Marco Era Dynamic Wide
Selle San Marco Era Dynamic Wide

The Selle San Marco Era Dynamic Wide is one of the most affordable saddles from a big brand name in the market.

Because they don’t have to focus on making the saddle superlight, Selle San Marco has created a fantastic allround touring saddle. You get your glass fiber composite shell, with manganese steel rails, which is a sturdy and robust road companion for long rides.

Four upright touring I would definitely go for this wide version, which is not so wide at all considering it measures just 145 millimeters. Furthermore the saddle features a large cut out in a center depression with the two halves extra well padded, denoting its touring nature.

The saddle is waterproof, and though I would have loved to see some added scuff protection on the sides, it’s probably the best budget touring saddle in this lineup.

Fizik Aliante R3

Fizik Aliante R3
Fizik Aliante R3

The Fizik Aliante R3 is less budget friendly, but does offer a flexible carbon composite shell. Carbon is known for its great damping properties. And by making the shell partially from carbon you have a more lightweight, race-oriented offering, that will be the perfect saddle for bikepackers.

The traditional shape measures 279 x 154 millimeters, which I recommend for offroad purposes unless you know your sit bones sit really close together or you like to sit further back on the saddle.

Fizik uses TwinFlex technology, which basically means the saddle is more flexible at the inner curves. This adds a more natural riding feeling because the saddle moves just bit with your legs, instead of digging into them, which I know from experience is painful and very uncomfortable.

Because of the relative delicate nature of the carbon shell it has been reinforced with scuff protectors at the side. So less worries when you might accidentally take a fall.

This saddle is more expensive that many other entries on this list. What you get in return is a extremely high-quality carbon composite offering for cyclist who feel very at home on road bikes.

Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow

Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow
Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow

The Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow is a saddle obviously meant for female riders. They are actually offered in two widths. The wide version measures 160 millimeters, which is great for a relaxed upright position. There’s also a much narrower version at 135 millimeters if you’re very familiar with road cycling and prefer a saddle with a more race-oriented shape.

Selle Italia ditched the leather cover for a more maintenance free microfiber one. It will also mean the saddle is more durable than a thin leather cover, and more waterproof as well, which were two cons of earlier editions of this saddle.

This is a true touring saddle for people who like their behinds to sit on well-padded seats and don’t like aggressive riding in the drops.

Selle Italia Man Gel Flow

Selle Italia Man Gel Flow
Selle Italia Man Gel Flow

The Selle Italia Man Gel Flow is the male version which only comes in a single size of 151 x 275 millimeters.

The same applies for this saddle as for the female version. Don’t buy it for road cycling, but for upright leisurely touring and overall shorter rides.

Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Women

Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Women
Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Women

Don’t get confused about the name of the Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Women. It’s not specifically for E-bikes and not specifically for mountain bikes.

This is not a road bike saddle. Not its weight, not its design, not its padding hints in that direction. It is a great option for a robust touring saddle.

The strong CroMo steel rails support 2 variations with the widest measuring 160 millimeters at a standard length of 278 millimeters.

Their sales page feature a lot of impressive medical copywriting. But it doesn’t take away that saddles can still be hit or miss. Why you might want to consider this saddle is that it really does feature several layers of unique feminine oriented padding in a design that also has a large center depression.

Those various levels of padding create flexibility in the saddle, firmness where necessary, and added comfort and damping properties as well.

The saddle has a very premium and solid look, which feels much more at home on a touring or mountain bike than on a road bike.

Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Men

Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Men
Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Men

The Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime Men has the overall same dimensions but a much larger center depression. I don’t have to explain why that it.

It’s interesting to note that where Selle Italia opts for a wider version of a feminine saddle with the same characteristics otherwise, it feels like Ergon at least changed the overall upper shape of their saddles.

That kind of makes sense considering the fact that there are serious differences between a male and female. Apart from all of the other factors that make this saddle great for touring. Like the multi-layered padding and overall flexibility. All that padding doesn’t mean it’s a cushion. But it performs a bit like memory foam, where a couple rides in you feel more adjusted to the saddle.

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Women
Ergon 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.

This is an even more leasure focused saddle, which I would consider to be the perfect partner for commuter or short touring rides.

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

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men

Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men
Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men

The Ergon SMC Sport Gel Men is the male version obviously. Ergon has taken its research into male and female anatomoy 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.

Prologo Dimension NDR

Prologo Dimension NDR
Prologo Dimension NDR

The Prologo Dimension NDR is a sporty saddle with an offroad nature.

To establish this nature, Prologo simply added more padding to the shell, which is offered in a single size of 245 x 143 mm.

The 245 millimeters can be considered a short-nosed saddle. For those of you who don’t know what that is, short-nosed saddles favor riders who show a more forward seated position.

Since there’s less nose, the overall saddle can be moved forward a bit on the seatpost, while the rider still remains in the area where he or she feels most comfortable.

It’s probably one of the most aggressive saddles on this list for offroad touring or mountain biking.

Specifications best road bike saddles for touring

NameRailRetail PriceDimensionsWeightShellPaddingCoverBuy at AmazonBuy at Ebay
Fabric Line Elite Shallowtitanium 7×7 mm105 USD270 x 134 mm237 gnylonmicrofiberlinklink
Fabric Scoop Elite Flatcro-mo 7 mm80 USD282 x 142 mm244 gflexible nylonmicrofiberlinklink
Brooks B17steel140 euros275 x 175 mm520 gnonenonevegetable tanned leatherlinklink
Brooks B17 Carvedsteel140 euros275 x 175 mm520 gnonenonevegetable tanned leatherlinklink
Brooks C17steel120 euros283 x 164 mm464 gvulcanised rubbernonenylonlinklink
Brooks C17 Carvedsteel120 euros283 x 164 mm446 gvulcanised rubbernonenylonlinklink
Selle San Marco Era Dynamic Widemanganese steel49 euros277 x 145 mm275 gglass fiber reinforcedbiofoamSilkfeel / Pluslink
Fizik Aliante R3kium 7×7 mm174.99 USDS 279 x 138 mm – L 279 x 154 mmS 215 g – L 220 gcarbon reinforced nylonmicrotexlinklink
Selle Italia Lady Gel Flowmanganese tube 7 mm140 eurosS 135 x 262 mm – L 160 x 262 mmS 300 g – L 310 gextra padding / gel shock absorberlinklink
Selle Italia Man Gel Flowmanganese tube 7 mm140 euros151 x 275 mm315 gextra padding / gel shock absorberlinklink
Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime WomenCroMo160 USDS 278 x 147 mm – L 278 – 160 mmnylon compositeOrthopedic Comfort Foammicrofiberlinklink
Ergon SM E-Mountain Core Prime MenCroMo160 USDS 278 x 147 mm – L 278 – 160 mmnylon compositeOrthopedic Comfort Foammicrofiberlinklink
Ergon SMC Sport Gel WomenCroMo100 USD295 gnylon compositeOrthopedic Comfort Foam w. gel paddingmicrofiberlinklink
Ergon SMC Sport Gel MenCroMo100 USD300 gnylon compositeOrthopedic Comfort Foam w. gel paddingmicrofiberlinklink
Prologo Dimension NDRnack carbon / tirox / T4.0109/138/213 euros245 x 143 mmnack 170 g – Tirox 215 g – T4.0 229 gextra paddinglinklink