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How to choose the right saddle for your gravel bike!

Although not well known, many saddles optimized for gravel bikes have been introduced in the past few years. This section describes the characteristics of gravel bike saddles and how to choose the right saddle for you.

Modified at: 2023.7.3Posted at: 2023.5.11

What is the difference between saddles specifically designed for gravel road bikes?

In general, road bike saddles are narrower and lighter, while mountain bike saddles are wider and have features that improve comfort, such as gel pads and perforated designs. This is because road bikes are ridden on paved roads with less impact from the road surface, while mountain bikes are mainly ridden on unpaved roads with higher impact.

On the other hand, gravel road bike saddles are often designed to be just in between, wider than road bike saddles, and made of shock-absorbing materials like MTB saddles.

However, there are currently only a few types available, so you basically have to choose between road bike saddles or MTB bike saddles.

Types of saddles for gravel road bikes

While most sport bicycle saddles are available in several types to suit the rider’s body shape (pelvis width, leg width, etc.) and differences in body strength (softness, muscle mass, posture), gravel road bike saddles have the following characteristics.

  • Wide design
  • Gel saddle
  • Perforated design

Saddles with a wide design and gel padding help reduce impact when sitting securely, while perforated designs help reduce friction in the crotch area.

These may or may not be suitable depending on the rider’s fit and preference.

Benefits of choosing the best saddle for your gravel road bike

Improved seating comfort.

Unlike road bikes that cruise at high speed on paved roads, many riders on gravel road bikes that enjoy riding on unpaved roads may prioritize comfort over speed. For these riders, comfort is very important.

Replacing the saddle with a gravel-optimized saddle will improve sitting comfort by reducing road impact and providing firm support for the body.

The difference may not be noticeable on rides of 10 km or so, but on long rides of 50 km or more, or rides with long gravel sections, the difference can be clearly seen.

Eliminate pain

Because the saddle on a sport bicycle is more about transferring power to the pedals firmly than sitting securely like a city bicycle, even if you are used to riding for a long time, you will feel pain after a long ride. Replacing the saddle with one that is optimized for gravel can help reduce pain.

Especially on long rides on unpaved roads, a hard road saddle tends to cause pain in the groin due to the intermittent large impacts from the road surface, so it is also a way to cope with the impacts.

Tips for choosing a saddle for a gravel road bike

First, choose the size and shape that fits your body

The key to choosing a saddle for gravel road bikes is basically the same concept as for road bike saddles: first, choose a saddle based on "fit to your body.

No matter how optimized for gravel, if it is not optimized for you, it will not be comfortable or reduce pain, so choose the size and shape that fits you best while consulting your position.

Since road bike saddles are often referred to as “saddle swamps,” it is difficult to find a saddle that fits you best, so you may want to use a store that offers saddle rentals.

Let’s choose a gravel road bike based on the unique points of a gravel road bike.

Once you have decided on the shape and size that is right for you, you can add the essence of what is unique to gravel.

The narrower the saddle, the less it interferes with pedaling and the better the power transmission, but this can lead to instability on gravel. Since you are less likely to cruise at high speeds on gravel sections, choose a wider saddle to increase stability.

A wide saddle will allow the rider’s buttocks to rest firmly on the saddle, and a saddle with holes in it will help reduce pain in the crotch area. A saddle with a gel pad will also reduce pain caused by small vibrations from the road.

However, if your rides are mainly long gravel sections, comfort and pain reduction are more important than weight.

Gravel Bike Position Guide

Gravel bikes have a slightly different approach to position than both road bikes and MTBs. This section explains how to optimize the position.

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