Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-built triathlon saddle for your bike. These specialized seats vary in support, comfort, and expected performance. We’ve reviewed the top eight triathlon saddles on the market to help you find the right fit for your next competition. What’s more, we’ve paired these comprehensive reviews with a detailed buying guide that will help you hone in on the perfect speed seat.
The Top 8 Bike Saddles for Triathlon in 2020
|ISM PN 3.1|
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|Fizik Mistica Kium|
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BEST FOR RACING
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BEST FOR EVERYDAY
|ISM PR 3.0|
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1. ISM PN 3.1 — Best Triathlon Bike Saddle
There are still some features that haven’t changed such as having good thigh and hamstring clearance so you won’t chafe. And, your bike shorts won’t get caught on the seat. This also lets you move more on the seat and you can lean as much as you want for sharp corners.
And, the signature for all ISM saddles is the elimination of a nose. This design is to supposed to help relieve pressure from your soft tissues down there and optimize blood flow. This means no more numbness and you can have a more enjoyable ride.
If you’re unsure about the benefits of the split nose design, I’ll explain.
It’s more simple than you think. The added space from the split nose reduces or eliminates pressure on the nerves and blood veins between your sit bones. This helps give you a more comfortable ride and might completely eliminate any discomfort in that area.
The saddle has a wider scope than its previous models which helps you fit well on the bike. You have more options to search for your “sweet spot” on the saddle. And, when riders do find it they don’t slip very often, which helps during races.
And, like every split nose saddle, it’s designed for those who want to ride and remain in the aero position. It’s really not best used on a road bike if there aren’t any aero bars. It won’t be as comfortable if you’re upright on a road bike than in aero or even drop bars with this saddle.
Cyclists who have bought this saddle claim it is the best one that ISM has designed so far. People rarely, if ever, have a chafing problem. And, to add to its comfort, the saddle has more padding than its previous models, which could be a plus for those who are uncomfortable in the aero bars. Many bikers who are training for Iron Man races, find it’s comfortable to train and race in since they are often in the aero bars for hours at a time.
Many triathletes and cyclists highly encourage new buyers to watch the set up video on the ISM website. Since it has a split nose, the set up process and saddle placement are a bit different compared to other models. Be sure to bring the necessary tools on your first ride so you can make the right height and position adjustments.
I highly recommend this saddle if you have a triathlon or time trial bike or have aero bars on your road bike. Or, need to become more comfortable riding in the aero bars for long periods of time. The saddle was designed for this and helps relieve any discomfort you might have experience with different saddles.
2. Fizik Mistica Kium — Most Comfortable Triathlon Saddle
Other perks include the traction-rich surface material that helps keep you locked in while on the move. It is black with white letter logos. Underneath it, the shell consists of a carbon-reinforced nylon material that is custom molded. The Fizik Mistica Kium Saddle is covered in a thermo-welded Microtex material that is easy on the body. It also comes with a complete carriage kit consisting of a cage holder, CO2 charge, inflator, and tube. Not to mention, it features a 55-millimeter nose with a front-side transition hook. This makes midrace installation and removable a far easier task.
The seat measures 24 centimeters in length and 13 centimeters in width. It is also compatible with an easy to install integrated clip system. Meanwhile, it the Fizik Mistica Kium weighs around 235 grams.
It’s also a great saddle when it comes to conforming to the aero tuck position, as the lack of nose provides more freedom of movement and fewer obstructions with the soft tissue in the pelvic area.
While the price is steep for this model, the manufacturer has an outstanding reputation for its triathlon potential. Professional riders, including Mikhel Landa, Geraint Thomas, Salvatore Puccio, and Chris Froome, all agree that Fizik products are something special. After all, races can be tough, even for the most seasoned athletes. Having a little extra padding and an appropriate saddle clearance can make the world of a difference for both your personal stats and post-race recovery.
We recommend this triathlon saddle to athletes looking for an affordable and attractive addition to their tri bike. It’s also a great option for athletes looking to reduce their aerodynamic drag by switching into the aero tuck position.
3. ISM PN 1.1 — Best Road Bike Saddle (UCI Legal)
ISM’s PN 1.1 Saddle is ISM’s response to their promising, yet unyielding saddle called the ISM Attack. This perch offers extra padding for riders who are always on the lookout for a little extra cushion for their bottom. The long shape features two narrow arms with a partially hollowed U-shaped channel between them. The seat slopes downward to help enable proper hip alignment.
The design is noseless. This is intended to remove pressure from a rider’s genitals and enhance overall blood circulation in the pelvic cavity. It also helps redistribute wait onto a rider’s sit bones, rather than the cushy, sensitive parts in between. The seat is 270 by 110 millimeters. It weighs around one pound. Meanwhile, the PN 1.1 Saddle features extra cushy 40-Series foam and gel padding. What’s more, it features specialized satin steel rails that have been treated to ensure they provide unmatched reliability.
This saddle boasts a generously low price tag and comes with ISM’s complete one-year warranty. It helps riders achieve a successful aero tuck to enhance their speed without jeopardizing their comfort and stability. It also resolves common riding issues, including chaffing, numbness, and pelvic pain. Meanwhile, the standard rails under the saddle make it compatible with most bikes, road and otherwise.
This ISM saddle ALSO offers the same accommodations as other PN saddles, except with a little more cushion. It helps take the stress out of bike riding and eliminate pesky post-race recovery periods. While the seat is incredibly narrow, it boasts a maximum sized thigh clearance. It also provides the rider with a wide range of movement.
The saddle can be tested as part of the ISM Demo Program. Contact the manufacturer to learn more about participating dealers near you. ISM was founded by a genuine bicyclist looking to serve a personal problem. While the company has swelled with success in recent years, they still stand by their initial mission.
We recommend this saddle to triathletes who are on a budget but don’t want to question the quality of their chosen bike seat. It’s also a great option for individuals who prefer to test out products before they buy them. This is because of ISM’s trial testing program.
4. Pro Aerofuel — Best Bike Saddle for Time Trials and Long Distances
The PRO Aerofuel TI Triathlon Bicycle Saddle is designed with triathlons and time trials in mind. It features a carbon-reinforced nylon base, an anti-slide synthetic cover, and SUS316-Ti rails. Riders have their choice between black and red or white and red covers.
The saddle features two completely split arms with a narrow channel running between them. They are slightly sloped to produce a successful aero tuck position. The arms are extremely narrow near the nose and flair out in the back to support healthy hip alignment. They have a slight arch at peaks at the top of the split nose.
We recommend this saddle for anyone who’s serious about reducing his or her aerodynamic drag. This extremely narrow split-arm perch is designed to increase a rider’s speed.
5. ISM PR 3.0 — Most Comfortable Bike Saddle for Everyday
Not to worry. ISM also makes saddles for those who don’t want a triathlon or time trial bike. Or, those who race where those type of bikes are not permitted. Especially in European Triathlon and ITU race series.
This saddle was made for every rider from a veteran or high-level triathletes to commuters and casual riders. You can find this saddle on hybrids, road, and even city bikes. Truly versatile.
At glance, this saddle doesn’t look pretty or desirable at all. But to make up for its looks, the split design was supposed to help maintain blood flow, increase comfort, and just ensure that you have a healthy ride every time you get in the saddle. This is very import for men and women equally who are sitting in a rotated forward position on the aero bars.
Compared to earlier versions of this model, the saddle is more narrow, which gives a better range for thigh and hamstring clearance. This helps reduces chafing and generally ensures your legs don’t touch the side of the saddle.
Additionally, you might have noticed on earlier versions that you have more pressure on your thighs at first. But this is “fixed” in this version. Once you find your sweet spot, you won’t even notice the saddle. This means you can ride longer and more comfortably. This would especially be the case when you’re tucked over the aero bars.
Cyclists who have bought the saddle report that if you’re sitting upright on a road bike, it’s quite uncomfortable. But once they are down in the aero bars, the saddle starts to feel better and better. Whereas in a “normal” saddle you’d feel the exact opposite. And, as you lean into your aero bars, the pressure on biker’s inner thigh starts to disappear. Once in the aero bars, cyclists say that they can efficiently power through their pedals and stay comfortably in the aero position.
Similar to the other ISM saddle, cyclists strongly advise everyone to watch the installation video on the company’s website. Since the saddle doesn’t have a nose the placement will be different than a “normal” saddle. On average, the saddle should be positioned 5-8 cm further back and the seat height may also need to be lowered. It can create chaos from your original set up, but once it’s done you’ll be riding comfortably.
The only downside to this saddle, for some, might be its materials. This saddle is not lightweight and as of right now there aren’t any carbon fiber versions. You’ll generally find steel rails and plastic shells on this saddle.
The question is do I or other riders recommend this saddle.
I’d recommend this saddle if you’re often uncomfortable riding in the aero bars. This saddle was designed so that you feel more comfortable tucked in aero than if you were sitting more upright on your road bike. If you’re looking for a more lightweight saddle, this one might not be the best option. The only downside might be the materials that its made with and the set up. It’s not lightweight and the set up is quite different and messes with your original bike measurements.
6. Selle SMP T5 — Most Dynamic Cover Options in a Triathlon Saddle
The Selle SMP T5 Triathlon Bicycle Saddle is a triathlon perch with standard padding made of foamed elastomer. This buoyant composite is valued for its resilience and comfort. When purchasing this padded saddle, triathletes have their choice between white microfiber, fluorescent microfiber, and black leather covers. These covers encase a solid carbon-reinforced nylon 12 body that is supported by a 7.1-millimeter thick stainless steel frame.The seat’s dimensions are 251 by 141 millimeters, making it ideal for medium to extra-large sized riders. With aluminum alloy tubing, it weighs a mere 319 grams, though riders can opt for the lighter high modulus carbon fiber CRB frame, which weighs around 269 grams. The T5 also features rear nylon 12 fixing plates that are known for their resilience and strong connection.
This seat makes it easy to maintain stability and comfort while transitioning to the aero tuck position. Its wide hollow channel shifts weight onto a rider’s sit bones and away from their pressure points and genitals, helping to avoid potential injuries, chafed skin, and/or numbness. The manufacturer describes the seat as being halfway between the wide and narrow family of SMP triathlon saddles. This means it is ideal for riders with medium builds.
The T5 is the newest member of Selle SMP’s growing triathlon saddle family. It comes in yellow, black, and white. Selle provides their own pant size chart for potential customers to determine the right sized saddle. It can be found here. This particular saddle is recommended for athletes with pant sizes medium, large, and extra-large. This is equivalent to women’s sizes 12 to 20 and men’s sizes 32 to 39.
Selle offers customers the option to test their products at any local SMP4TEST dealer. You can even enter your zip code on their webpage to find the store closest to you. They recommend riding the saddle four to five times to determine whether it is the right fit. They also recommend having the necessary adjustments performed before testing out the product.
We recommend this saddle to athletes looking for an extra wide, well-cushioned seat that can go the extra mile. However, if you are size medium or smaller, one of Selle’s other models is going to be a better bet. We feel that this saddle gives riders a little extra seat surface, which can increase their stability as well as comfort.
7. ISM Adamo Road
The narrow perch is 245 millimeters long by 135 millimeters wide, making it the right size for road riding and long-distance routes. It features 100 millimeters of fore/aft, or front to back, rail adjustment. Thus, it offers anywhere from zero to 90 degrees of angled positions. What’s more, the ISM Adamo enables triathletes to easily hold an aero tuck without succumbing to excessive pressure.
All this sits atop incredibly sturdy chrome saddle rails. The entire rig weighs a whopping 10.9 ounces (309 g). Nevertheless, it features an integrated frontal tri-hook that allows for rapid installation and removal during fast-paced transition periods.
Because of the long, wide channel, riders have a greater freedom of movement. In fact, they can shift back and forth without risking injury to their genitals or chafing their bottom. The saddle also features multiple layers of thick performance foam padding and gel inserts. Meanwhile, it is encased in a somewhat adherent outer shell that keeps racers seated during whipping turns and other complicated roadway obstacles.
What’s more, the elongated center channel allows riders to shift back and forth while riding in the TT/Tri position. This freedom of movement is a huge relief for long distance bikers. This keeps your pelvic bones active and removes pressure from your soft tissue.
ISM was founded by an avid bicyclist by the name of Steve Toll. He patented his first bike seat in 1998 after experiencing several common side effects related to heavy use of conventional bicycle seats. Now, the company produces a wide range of saddles. The dedicated staff works hard to hand test products and perfect their designs. The ISM Adamo is a great example of how the company has fine-tuned their original models to meet the standards of today’s high-performance bike accessory market.
We’d recommend this saddle for dedicate triathlon athletes who are looking for a wider range of motion and a firm perch. It’s a road-worthy saddle fit for both short and long-distance routes.
8. Cobb JOF 55 — Most Accessorized Triathlon Saddle
The Cobb Cycling Fifty Five JOF Road Bike Saddle is an extremely wide and supportive triathlon perch. It features long rails, a wide range of seat position adjustments, and complete hydration system compatibility. Its dimensions are 260 by 135 millimeters. Meanwhile, it weighs around 12.8 ounces (362 g).This is a short-nosed model with a generous recess running from the mid-rear to the front. It features a leather cover that is both non-sliding and soft on a cyclist’s behind. What’s more, the product is compatible with Cobb Cycling’s patent-pending rear hydration mount.
The unique shape is designed to circumvent your upper hamstrings, while still allowing you to achieve multiple riding positions. What’s more, because of the cutoff shape, your genitals rest beyond the tip of the saddle, optimizing blood circulation and preventing discomfort and numbness.
We recommend the Cobb JOF 55 triathlon saddle to athletes who are looking to reduce their drag by removing a heavy rail hydration system. The Cobb JOF 55 features a rear hydration mount. It allows a rider to mount a specialized hydration system to the bottom of the shell base, rather than the rails. The Cobb JOF 55 is also a great product for bikers who are prone to numbness or overheating. This is because the JOF, or Just Off Front, offers an extensive freedom of movement and far less saddle/body contact.
How To Choose a Bike Saddle for Triathlon
What to Look for When Purchasing a Triathlon Saddle
Triathlon saddles come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. It can be difficult for riders to figure out which type is best for them without having the opportunity to test it out in person. While we recommend that triathletes visit their local bike shops for a trial run, the following experts serve to provide riders with a basic understanding of triathlon saddle components and their potential benefits.
After all, having a comfortable bottom is well worth it.
The bulk of a saddle consists of the base or shell. Most race saddles are made from carbon-reinforced nylon. This material is springy yet supportive. It also holds ergonomic shapes, with many swoops and curves, well. Other popular shell materials are nylon, rubber, and, in cheaper models, polymers. It is important that a shell be somewhat shock-resistant and reinforce the structural support system that makes up a bike saddle.
With that being said, the most notable part of the shell is probably what isn’t there. Recessed areas or cutouts are a consistent feature in triathlon saddles. These areas provide relief for a rider’s genitals. They also feature ergonomic shapes that help to redistribute weight from the center of the buttocks to the outlying sit bones. While conventional bikes often feature solid or flat shells, this type of structure can cause pain or numbness in long-distance riders. It can also lead to chaffed skin or muscle stress.
Road bike saddles are typically long, slender and feature a partial or total center cutout. This creates two side-by-side arms that adequately support the hipbones while providing a freeing genital clearance. However, another popular choice is a noseless shell with a center cutout or recessed channel. In this style, the genitals often fall in front of the saddle, rather than resting in the center cutout. Both options are common on road bikes, and preference often comes down to individual comfort and riding style.
Grooves and cutouts are not enough to battle the discomfort caused by prolonged bicycling riding. Since the shells and frames of bicycle seats need to be structurally sound and strong enough to support a rider’s body weight, manufacturers compensate for the firm surface by adding strategic layers of padding. Common padding materials include polyurethane foam, EVA foam, and gel inserts.
Riders tend to have varying requirements when it comes to the softness of their bike seats. Therefore, manufacturers usually offer a range of padding densities, ranging from extra cushiony to extra firm. Medium density paddings tend to be the preferred option for medium to long length triathlons.
Rails connect the saddle to a bike’s seat post. They are often made of durable metals, such as aluminum alloy, carbon, and titanium. While lightweight metals are preferred because they increase the aerodynamic potential of a bike, they are often more expensive than heavy metals.
What’s more, some rails offer angle degree adjustment. This is an important feature as it allows a bike rider to optimize the angle of their pelvis. When leaning in for a full aero tuck, riders need to be able smoothly to dismount their saddle. A good angle degree range is between zero and 90. Beyond this, long rails offer enhanced stability and the opportunity to adjust the position of the seat.
Most triathlon saddles are narrow and tear-shaped, with a narrow nose and wide rear. However, some saddles are completely noseless, with a more stout and bulbous shape. cutouts and recessions in seats can alter there shape as well, with some up them resembling the letter U or O. Most modern triathlon saddles also feature ergonomic depressions and slopes that are designed to embrace the natural angles of the body. These slopes vary between manufacturers.
Typically, the nose is a few degrees high than the back of the saddle. However, many appear level across the surface. The subtle differences can have an effect on your body, but it is difficult to know without officially testing a seat.
Saddles with adjustable fore/aft positions offer varying lifts. It is often wise to seek professional assistance when adjusting this portion of your bike seat. In most cases, the seat should be adjusted so that your arms are parallel to the ground and your kneecap is aligned with the center of your pedal.
The cover encases the saddle shell. It is typically made from a durable synthetic or leather material. Most cyclists avoided overly textured material or large seams, which have the potential to chafe the pelvic area and upper legs. While preference typically comes down to the strength and feel of the fabric, many cyclists prefer saddles with specialized colorways and bold logos.
While most companies stick to a common formula when producing new bike saddles, some go above and beyond by adding extra appendages. For example, we’ve seen bikes that have integrated hydration system connections or bike rack hangers. While some of these features can be gimmicky, they often solve a small yet meaningful problem for cyclists without inhibiting the sleek design of the saddle.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Triathlon Saddle
Triathlon saddles range in price from less than a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. However, the vast majority of these seats costs close to $200. When budgeting for a new perch, consider the factors that you find most important. If you are someone who spends a lot of time on your bike, it may be worth it to spend a few extra dollars to ensure you get the most out of your product of choice.
A rider’s comfort depends on many different factors, including their riding style, body size, the materials and build of their bike saddle, and much more. Remember, you want to protect the soft tissue and enable healthy circulation. To find the most comfortable saddle, consider the width and length of the saddle. What’s more, take into consideration the width of any cutouts or recessions. Oftentimes, women will need narrower seats. However, this is not always the case. Bicycle shops often have the ability to perform a pelvic, or saddle, fitting.
Triathlon seats are designed to increase a rider’s comfort as well as their performance. Performance can be faltered when a rider is sitting in an odd way to battle prolonged discomfort, such as shifting their body weight from side to side to decrease pelvic pressure. An aptly designed seat can also help correctly position a person’s body so they are optimizing their muscle movements.
For many athletes, it can be a strenuous and uncomfortable process to adapt to the tri position. However, once this position is achieved, a rider’s aerodynamic drag is drastically decreased. In turn, they enhance their efficiency and speed. In a sport were seconds are considered huge margins, any modification to a bike is carefully scrutinized. However, good aerodynamics, comfort, and physical prowess tend to go hand-in-hand when optimizing efficiency.
It’s always a good idea to seek the guidance of a professional saddle fitter. They utilize body measurements and riding style factors to make reliable saddle recommendations. Tri-position requires an anterior pelvic rotation that pinpoints the soft nether region between our legs. If you’re just starting out on a bike, it can take a few weeks to fully adjust to the pressure of this position (even with the right saddle). What’s more, this discomfort may radiate all the way up to your shoulders, neck, and head. A well-fitted, padded saddle can help make the adjustment period a more tolerable process.
Riders have different ways of shifting their weight and taking on aerodynamic positions. For the most part, triathlon riding requires a forward anterior pelvic tilt. This automatically applies pressure to the soft tissue region of your pelvis. While this type of positioning is never going to be deemed completely comfortable, saddle manufacturers work hard to remedy or divert common discomforts.
While many of the discomforts can be blamed on the seat itself, riders should obtain proper fittings, wear the appropriate cycling shorts, and angle their body correctly to help make their rides more tolerable.
After carefully considering the best triathlon saddles, it’s safe to say that there is an abundance of valuable and aptly designed products that can help riders enhance their triathlon performances. These products are ergonomically designed to achieve an aerodynamic position without causing damage or discomfort to a rider’s body. While saddles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, they all have one goal in mind, which is to meet the demands of triathlon riders.
We’re happy to name the ISM PN 3.1 as our editor’s choice. It is an extremely lightweight saddle made by an all-star cycling gear company. This seat has all the hallmarks of a reliable, performance-oriented triathlon saddle, including a noseless shape that reduces discomfort, pain, and numbness. It’s also an affordable choice that offers well-padded with thanks to the generous layers of gel and foam padding. What’s more, it is easy to install and remove during time trials.
We hope you enjoyed our product reviews. Now, it’s time to start considering a new hydration system.