Saddles are one of the most personal of components fitted to any bike – and probably the first thing to be upgraded on any new two wheeled purchase. Finding a saddle is very much like finding a mate – once you choose one, you often stay with it for life.
The women’s mountain bike saddle market is growing at quite a rate, in line with female participation in the sport as a whole, with a number of options available to fit all different shapes and sizes. From saddles at the wide and well padded end of the spectrum to razor thin and squish free items, we as component testers are in the privileged position of being able to try a large number of options out before deciding what parts should adorn our bikes.
With that fortunate position in mind, we thought we’d bring you a test covering six very different saddles in a bid to investigate the advantages and pitfalls of each of them so you can make well informed decisions when it comes to your next purchase.
How we tested
This grouptest covered a six-saddle lineup over a wide price range. We looked at various different shapes and sizes, from the wide and short Charge Ladle to the long and slim Fizik Vesta – not all of them are mountain-bike specific or indeed female-specific; rather we wanted to assess what did the job best. The saddles were tested over several months on the same long-term test bike: a Marin Attack Trail, a 160mm all-mountain machine.
We looked at how the saddles were constructed, how much they weighed and how they physically sat on the bike taking into account height and profile. We also considered how comfortable they were to spend long periods of time sat on, the shape and lengths of the saddle and how this affected riding comfort and position – and the price, with thought given to value for money vs performance.
Our tester, Rachael, is an experienced mountain biker, competing regularly at MTB enduro races both in the UK and abroad. She revelled in the chance to test an array of saddles, a component she replaces on nearly every bike she owns.
Height – 5ft 4in / 160cm
Weight – 58kg
Dress size – 8/10 (UK)
Editor’s choice best in test goes to the sdg allure saddle:
Price: £70 / US$90 / AU$130
4.5 out of 5 star rating
Verdict: The SDG Allure is a testament to the ‘less is more’ debate. This multi-discipline women’s saddle is designed to be anatomically forgiving, and is also one of the lightest saddles in this test. It features a low-profile minimalist design with a small cut-out and a slim, downturned nose. We found this saddle extremely comfortable!
Best value women’s mountain bike saddle in our round up: specialized myth comp:
Price: £50 / US$100 / AU$120
4.0 out of 5 star rating
Verdict: This saddle from Specialized is available in three widths, with many bike shops and Specialized stores offering a measurement service to ensure you get the right fit. It features SWAT compatible mounts, which means you can attach compatible Specialized accessories such as a mini-pump or water bottle to the rear for extra storage. The saddle has a deep cut out with narrow edges. It’s a durable all-rounder at a great price.
fi’zi:k vesta saddle women’s mountain bike saddle:
Price: £85 / US$ TBC / AU$ TBC
3.5 out of 5 star rating
Verdict: A surprisingly comfy saddle, which provides for unhindered pedalling and so would be a great buy for the racers. It features a concave cutout in the middle, which extends right to the rear, and a long nose that helped us change position and distribute weight further forwards for climbing.
Verdict: This low-cost women’s MTB saddle – the female version of the popular Charge Spoon – is wider and shorter than most others on the market, with a small pressure relief channel. The Ladle is really a no fuss, no drama option with its standard chromoly rails, hardwearing synthetic covering and a three colour options. It’s ideal for shorter rides.
Selle italia diva gel flow women’s mountain bike saddle:
Price: £75 / US$ TBC / AU$ TBC
3.0 out of 5 star rating
Verdict: The Diva Gel Flow came highly recommended to us as the pinnacle of perches for ladies, so we were keen to find out what all the fuss was about. Over short distances we enjoyed the comfort the Selle Italia saddle provided, but over longer rides we found it to be unnecessarily bulky, with our thighs rubbing on the sides. However, saddles are a personal choice and although the Diva Gel Flow isn’t for us don’t discount it if you like a lot of padding for your backside.
Verdict: It’s worth checking out this unisex saddle if you’re a weight weenie after a minimalist, rather flat perch – beware though, it feels wider than the stated 142mm. When riding we found the slim front end allowed us to move our legs freely without any obstructions but the wide rear, although supportive was unnecessarily bulky. We could feel the rear three quarter sections touching the back of our legs on the downstroke while pedalling, causing unnecessary pressure.
The SDG Allure emerged as the winner of the test: the long downturned nose allowed plenty of room to shift weight when climbing, the cutaway side profile enabled unrestricted leg movement and the minimalist padding actually relieved pressure over longer rides. The Allure isn’t a bad price either. The Specialized Myth meanwhile gave the best value due to its price point and the availability of the saddle in three different widths, catering for a wider (no pun intended) range of riders.