Saddles can be hard to choose because the most comfortable bike seat is entirely personal. Generally, all things being equal, lighter is better. Some folks like having the same saddle on all their bikes, while others believe different rides call for different seats. Some prefer superlight road saddles on mountain bikes, while others like having a plush MTB saddle on their road racer.
Bike saddles come in different lengths, widths, shapes, and rails, and there are saddles with memory foam, gel, and some with no padding.
Generally, the harder the pedaling, the less padding the saddle should have. A road bike often comes with a firmer saddle than a cruiser. For time-trial races where one is pedaling the hardest, there are extra-short saddles with a split in the front to relieve pressure. Saddles by John Cobb and ISM take these routes.
What makes the best MTB saddle depends on the type of riding, how hard, and how you sit in the saddle. Tend to stay in one place? A curved saddle might help keep you in that position. Move around a lot? A flatter saddle might make more sense. Cross-country saddles tend to be very close to the road ones. When spending more time working with gravity, the saddles tend to get flatter, smaller, and more padded. Companies like Ergon and SDG focus on MTB riding, with shapes, lengths, and padding adjusted for the riding you’re doing. Shimano PRO and Syncros saddles have shapes and styles known as successful crossovers.
Road Bike Saddles
Road bike seats have a long legacy; they’re highly refined with fairly straightforward needs. While saddles can come from anywhere, Italian saddles seem to dominate, particularly offerings from Fizik, Selle Italia, and Selle Royal. While these companies make saddles for all riding, they’re best known for their road bike seats.