Have a look at the saddle details and consider your bike use and position, as well as sit bone width. Saddles are measured at the widest point so allow for your sit bone width plus around 20 mm; living on the edge can be exciting but sitting on it isn’t. Comfort is priceless of course, but there’s a rough guide to retail prices. You should do better shopping around, although we can also supply some models.
Brands release special models from time to time (including the test saddles) so specifications can vary a little, but manufacturer details are given first with actual specs of the test saddle in brackets if they differ. Once you’ve decided, head over to the contact page to drop us a line about the saddle you’d like to try.
- Charge – Ladle
- Fizik – Arione Donna, Vitesse, Gobi XM, Tundra 2
- Giant – Carbon
- Prologo – Kappa Evo Dea
- Selle Italia – SLR Lady Flow, SLK Lady Gel Flow, Diva Gel Flow, Lady Gel Flow
- Selle Royal – Lookin Handmade
- Selle San Marco – Aspide Glamour, Ischia Glamour, Spid Glamour
- Specialized – Jett 130, Ariel SL
Charge saddles are generally well priced and look good in a range of colours, weights, materials and paddling. Many of the widths would seem to suit a lot of women. Most are named after kitchenware, from the race model Knife to the plush Pan. This women’s model is 5 mm wider and 20 mm shorter than the popular men’s Spoon, so it becomes the Ladle.
It has a synthetic leather cover, dual-compound base and light (firm) padding, but curiously the pressure relief channel is only half length – the back half – like most Charge saddles. It’s not especially light at a claimed 288 g (313 g actual). Charge quotes a length of 280mm in its specs but that’s clearly for the Spoon; this one is even shorter than the 260 mm expected. Has anyone had issues with the stitching rubbing on clothing?
Fizik offers women three basic shapes – the padded Vesta with relief channel, performance Vitesse and road race model Arione Donna. There’s a few variants, mostly around the rails. However, as proof some women don’t need a female-specific saddle, Fizik’s website claims multiple world champion Marianne Vos rides the ultralight unisex Antares 00 saddle. But then, so apparently does Chris Froome – and he’s not likely to end up on a women’s podium unless it’s as podium boy.
Most Fizik saddles use its Wing Flex shell which “flexes downward in the critical area where the inner thighs contact the saddle allowing for more efficient, full-range movement while pedalling”. The idea is that the plastic fibres of the shell mould to your backside over time, while the shape allows you to find the best position around saddle length and thigh circumference. The Arione Donna and Vitesse both have Wing Flex, scuff guards and Fizik’s integrated clip system for its saddle bags. Kium is a proprietary steel alloy for the rails.
Fizik Arione Donna (Kium rail) RRP around $160
The Arione Donna is the flattest of the three Fizik women’s saddle shapes, based on the popular men’s Arione. At 189 g it’s a light race saddle with central relief channel and graduated rail, but there’s both lighter (all-carbon Donna 00 at 169 g) and heavier (manganese rail at 279 g).
Fizik Vitesse HP RRP $ 199
Fizik says the Vitesse is a high performance saddle, using the same Wing Flex design as most of the men’s saddles, with scuff guards for accidents. The padding is firm but there’s no pressure relief channel or cut-out.
Fizik Gobi XM RRP $ 185
With Wing Flex comfort and more padding than the Tundra 2, the Gobi XM is designed for marathon saddle time. However it’s often noted as being close to some of Fizik’s road saddles, and thus a popular choice with some roadies and for general trail riding.
Fizik Tundra 2 RRP $179
The Tundra 2 is an update of the original race-level Tundra cross country saddle. It’s firm, light, long and flat for easy position changes, and less padded than the Gobi XM.
Carbon RRP $tba
The lightly padded Giant Carbon (manufactured by Velo by the looks) came off a new Giant TCR bike.
Prologo offers three women-specific saddles and many more unisex models. The Prologo selection chart uses similar criteria to other brands but broadly categorises by saddle shape. Its ’round’ saddles are designed for long distance riding by spreading the pressure, while ‘semi-round’ are for medium-long distance and the ‘flat’ saddles are for short- medium rides. In terms of width, all models come in 134 mm width, semi-round are 141 mm and round are 143 mm.
Rails vary with the model. The Nack rail is carbon/Kevlar/aluminium while the TiroX rail is light steel. Recommended uses for the men’s models include downhill, road and triathlon but the women’s saddles are all designated road. Still, that doesn’t stop you using it for whatever you please, as women do actually ride off-road, downhill and cyclocross.
Prologo Kappa Evo Dea T2.0 RRP $69-89
The Kappa Evo Dea is a semi-round women’s recreational saddle with padding to suit medium-long distance.
Selle Italia is another of the big Italian saddle specialists with a fit guide called IDmatch that uses a letter and number to guide saddle choice. The letter S or L means small or large sit bone separation. And the 1, 2 or 3 describes pelvic rotation – essentially whether your position is more upright (1), medium (2) or an aggressive race or time trial position like the pros (3). ‘Flow’ means it has a pressure relief cut-out. The light SLR Lady and SLK Lady, moderately padded Diva and cushy Lady (all ‘Gel Flow’) are all popular.
Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow RRP $193
The SLR Lady Flow is the only women’s model in Selle Italia’s large SLR range, which means there’s lots of men’s models of similar shape if there’s no love for this one. The SLR Lady is a little wider in the rear and more padded than the men’s saddles but still a high-end, light weight race saddle (S3).
Selle Italia Lady SLK Gel Flow RRP $tba
The SLK Lady Gel Flow is another performance saddle with light padding, possibly hard to find now. Pressure relief extends almost the full length of the saddle, with gel padding to ease the transition.
Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow Retail $110-150
The Diva sits between the Lady and SLR in terms of padding, weight and rider position. It’s considered a performance comfort saddle for wider sit bones and high pelvic rotation in a race-like position, so L3 on the Selle Italia scale.
Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow RRP $150
The Lady is well padded, comfortable and popular. Described L2 by Selle Italia, it’s suited to a moderate position and wider sit bones but there’s also a small version for narrower sit bones that scores S2 (270 g, 135x262mm). The Lady Gel Flow was on my touring bike for the trip home from Perth.
Lookin Handmade RRP $85
The Selle Royal Handmade heads into ‘comfort’ saddle territory – wider and heavier than the performance saddles but not by much. The test saddle is the women’s-specific premium ‘Handmade’ model with mesh fabric insert under the sit bones and central gel insert. It’s designed for a moderate position on the bike, typical of a flat bar or hybrid. Padded but still firm rather than squishy, it has bumpers to limit damage from the cafe wall and an integrated clip system for Selle Royal’s lights and saddlebags.
Selle San Marco’s women’s saddles are called Glamour. The range includes the roadie Aspide (also in men’s), Spid, Ischia and some big squishy ‘comfort’ models. Interestingly, SSM claims the average sit bone width for women is 130 mm. Its saddle selection system is called DiMA, based on width and upper surface shape.
Selle San Marco Aspide Glamour (529L001) RRP $160
The Aspide Glamour is one of the more popular women’s road/race saddles, thanks to its light padding, light weight and central channel for pressure relief. The new model has graphic flourishes so we know it’s for women, and a Xsilite rail, but sports the same padding and weight as the original (Titanox, graduated rail) which has been on my roadie for nearly six years.
Selle San Marco Ischia Glamour RRP $60
The Ischia is from San Marco’s comfort-oriented BioAktive range with moderate padding helping it work off-road. A well-priced versatile saddle.
Selle San Marco Spid Glamour RRP $86
A versatile, good value older model you can still find, and lighter than many stock saddles.
US firm Specialized is well known for the knickname of its sit-bone measuring device, the Ass-o-meter. It’s not as scary as it sounds though – you sit on the foam pad and the bike shop dude or dudette measures the impressions your sit bones leave on the foam. As you lean forward, your pelvis tilts so the distance between the sit bones narrows. Thus, the Ass-o-meter helps work out sit bone separation at a given rotation, which should be as close your position on the bike as possible. ‘Body Geometry’ is just Specialized’s sub-brand for gear.
Specialized Jett 130 RRP $125
Like other Specialized saddles, the Jett comes in three widths (and a couple of variants, the Expert and the Comp). The test saddle is 130 mm wide. Both the Jett Expert and Jett Comp are endurance saddles with moderate padding for all-day road or trail comfort and performance; the main differences are materials and weight.
Jett Expert: size 130mm/239g, size 143mm/246g, size 155mm/250g
Jett Comp Gel: size 130mm/289g, size 143mm/294g, size 155mm/304g
Specialized Ariel SL RRP $ tba
The Ariel also comes in three widths and a couple of models – the Comp (cross country) and Expert (cross country, pro level). The ‘firm cushioning’ is designed for all-day comfort on mtb trails. The test saddle is an Ariel SL 130 mm breast cancer model with ti rails and is firmer than the Ariel.
Any errors, please let me know. And if you’d like to comment on a particular saddle, please head to its blog page entry (via the saddle sorter or tags).