How a slow-learned lesson from my mis-spent youth can now help you find the right bike seat quickly and easily.
As many of us know from hard, painful experience, with the right saddle on your bike you barely think about your seat at all. When it’s not the right one you can barely think of anything else.
When I was spending all my spare time touring the Yorkshire Dales in England, my cycling playground as a teen, I rode a certain brand of leather bike saddle. That brand has been revered by generations of touring cyclists – it was the ultimate choice at the time.
I tried and tried to make that saddle work. I treated it with neat’s foot oil, broke it in and well beyond, tinkered with its position endlessly. Its shape had conformed to me and the leather patina was well worn away by the time I gave up on it. I waited thousands of miles too long to try something else because it was supposed to be the best, and it was a significant purchase for me at the time. I was never really comfortable on it.
I learned the hard way how unhelpful it can be to choose a bike saddle based on its reputation or a friend’s recommendation. No matter how great other riders think a seat is, we’re all shaped a little differently and it’s your own butt that has to live with the result. It should be your own posterior that guides the decision.
I should have learned from that experience, but I did it all over again.
By my late teens I was logging about 10,000 miles a year through the Dales on a fairly spiffy road bike. Many European pros favored a certain model of saddle at that time, and I saved up my pocket money again. It certainly made my bike look fast, and it had a business like firmness and a good shape for climbing, sprinting and everything between.
It was good for a short ride, but anything over a 50 miler called for extra fortitude. I suppose I just didn’t know there could be a better choice out there – since road racing was hard, maybe saddles were supposed to be this way.
That saddle stayed on my bike for years after I no longer raced, and slowly discouraged me from riding at all as I found it more uncomfortable to ride even short distances.
Lucky break: discovering “The World’s Most Comfortable Bike Saddles”
I finally swapped that torture device for a series of “ergonomic” saddles – an innovative choice that hadn’t been available before. Better, but not great. Fast forward a few more years and finally, as an employee, I discovered Terry saddles.
In my family we have about 7 bikes between us, and they are all equipped with Terry saddles now. Every single one is about one hundred times more comfortable than either of my sad early choices.
Your mileage will vary of course, but my own favorites are FLX and FLX Carbon for my road-style commuter and road bike, and Liberator Race for my mountain bike. I’ll be trying out the new Raven saddle this year, which I’m hoping will feel as efficient as the FLX but give me a little more cushion on my commuter.
As an aside, I also find the Butterfly on my wife’s mountain bike perfectly comfortable – a little piece of anecdotal evidence that the exact width of a saddle is less important than its profile’s accommodation of a variety of riders’ widths.
Memories of my own pain inspired my quest to get you on the right bike saddle
I’m lucky – I was able to try a lot of Terry saddles to find the ones that work best for me, but I know our customers don’t have that advantage.
As the web development guy at Terry, I wanted to create a way for our customers to narrow the choices and find their ideal bike seats. I’m happy to say we now have a Saddle Selector page to help you do just that.
The team here at Terry worked hard to figure out the essential questions to ask, and exactly how each saddle model matches any particular set of riding preferences.
Now we have a good answer to the question, “How do I know which is the right bike saddle for me?”
We think our Saddle Selector works almost as well as a conversation with our saddle recommendation gurus in Terry Customer Service. We tried to make it quick and easy, while still collecting enough detail to make an accurate recommendation.
Click here to see which bike seat our new Saddle Selector recommends for you. Do let us know what you think!