Bike

The Best Triathlon Saddles of 2021

A seat can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With help from an expert bike fitter, we look at the best options for triathlon saddles in 2021.

Whether you’ve been spending more time on the trainer than usual or you’re starting to ramp up your bike training, having a good seat makes a huge difference. No one can tell you which will be the best triathlon saddle for your 2021 comeback, but we’ve tapped Jonathan Blyer, bike fitter and owner of ACME Bicycle Co., to pick some of the most interesting saddles this year and break them down with his expert eye. Of course it’s still up to you to test saddles and find the right fit for your body, position, and style of riding, but our guide will give you an educated head start.

What Makes a Good Triathlon Saddle?

What makes a good triathlon saddle? We base our best triathlon saddles of 2021 ratings off the following criteria and specs: density, width at the nose, width at the sitpoint, width at the widest point, thickness of public support surfaces, “sweet spot” wiggle room, cutout, and texture. Read on for more.

Criteria Description
Overall Rating While this rating doesn’t necessarily add up to a total average of other ratings, we look at a combination of shape, feel, and balance. Of course every body is different, but a higher rating here means it has the features and balance that could work well for tri.
Density This rating indicates the firmness of the saddle, with 1/5 being a very, very soft saddle, and 5/5 being incredibly firm, almost hard.
Width At Nose This measurement indicates the width (in mm) of the saddle at the nose. If you have issues with chafing in your thighs, you may want to try a saddle with a narrower value here. If you ride the front of the saddle often and require support (and have no issues with chafing), you may want to try something wider.
Width At Sitpoint This measurement—gathered 100mm from the nose for tri and 125mm from the nose for road—approximates where the majority of riders actually sit. While the optimal value for this varies from person to person, this measurement will help you dial in your fit off of an existing saddle you own.
Width At Widest Point This measurement tells you how many millimeters wide the saddle is at its widest. This value can also help once you have a baseline from an existing saddle. A wider saddle will typically give more support, but it’s important that it’s not so wide that it goes outside the optimal seating position for your body’s shape and/or creates chafing.
Thickness Of Public Support Surfaces This measurement tells, in millimeters, how much space is actually available on the saddle to sit. For instance, a narrow overall width and a wide cut out would generate a very small measurement in this value and not provide the rider with much physical support in terms of real space on the seat to sit.
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room On a scale of 1–5, with 1/5 indicating very few places to sit and 5/5 indicating many. If you like to move around on your saddle as you ride, look for a higher value here.
Cutout This value tells you how much cutout is effectively used on the saddle. 1/5 means very minimal cutout and 5/5 indicates a very effective/maximal cutout.
Texture This value helps provide guidance on how rough or smooth the saddle is. A value of 1/5 indicates a very smooth saddle—potentially better for someone who has chafing issues—and a value of 5/5 shows an almost sticky saddle—better for someone who has issues sliding around in a wet race kit or maybe uses an angled seat position as a part of their fit.

Editor’s Note: While the gear below was loaned out by the brands represented, all choices were selected independently by the tester without any promotional consideration or brand input. Also, unlike other “best triathlon bike review” websites, our testers physically evaluate the products themselves—no glancing at spec sheets and rewording marketing terms! Read more here on how we proudly test our gear.

RELATED: The Best Triathlon Bikes of 2021

Best Triathlon Saddles of 2021

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Speed And Comfort Type 5

$250, 366g, speedandcomfort.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the Speed And Comfort Type 5.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Density o o o o
Width At Nose 55mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 70mm
Width At Widest Point 131mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 28mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o o
Cutout o o o o
Texture o o o

This is a well-proven triathlon saddle that has all sorts of street credibility, and it is arguably the best saddle from Speed and Comfort. The Type 5 has a relatively long and narrow nose to reduce the chances of thigh rubbing, and a wider and flatter rear section—a combo that has shown to work especially well for female riders. The pressure relief opening in the front of the saddle is narrower than others, as a result of the narrow outer profile, leaving some nose riders wanting more relief. 

We liked the attachment holes for behind-the-saddle storage and the long seat rails for tons of adjustability, but the narrow pressure relief groove and firm padding may not be for everyone. Note: This saddle is a bit taller from rail to surface, so you’ll probably want to lower your seatpost by 5-10mm from your previous saddle.

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Selle Italia Watt Gel Superflow

$200, 235g, us.selleitalia.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the Selle Italia Watt Gel Superflow.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o
Density o o o o o
Width At Nose 51mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 60mm
Width At Widest Point 132mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 24mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o
Cutout o o o
Texture o o o o

Iconic Italian saddle brand Selle Italia has released its first legitimate triathlon saddle with the Watt. The Watt has a similar shape to other popular tri saddles with a slightly narrower nose than most, generous levels of padding, and a slip-resistant surface. The narrow overall width comes with a cost—a narrow pressure relief groove which will not provide enough pressure relief for some but if you have been bothered by the overall width and firmness of other popular tri saddles, then the Watt may be just for you.

We liked the familiar dimensions of the saddle and the high-quality construction, but we found the short saddle rail to be slightly limiting when it comes to fits and the saddle can be difficult to find in person.

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Bontrager Hilo Pro

$230, 236g, trekbikes.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the Bontrager Hilo Pro.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Density o o o
Width At Nose 56mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 71mm
Width At Widest Point 128mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 25mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o o
Cutout o o o o o
Texture o o o o

The Bontrager Hilo pro has been around for a few years, and it remains underappreciated and unchanged for 2021. The saddle shares similar geometry to the Speed and Comfort Type 5 above, with a few tweaks for the better. All saddles deform when a rider sits on them, and the softer they are, the more they deform—while the Hilo Pro is on the softer side, it holds its shape well and the pressure relief channel does not seem to narrow appreciably under load.

We really liked the finish quality on this saddle, and the dual-density foam does a great job of providing both cushioning and support. In fact, the Hilo Comp provides the same level of comfort for $110 less. The Hilo Pro also comes with mounting features for compatible products like hydration and storage. Much like the Selle Italia above, the short saddle rails are limiting for fitting, and it’s unfortunate that this saddle can only be found at Trek/Bontrager retailers.

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ISM PN1.0

$240, 316g, ismseat.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the ISM PN1.0.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Density o o o o
Width At Nose 56mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 81mm
Width At Widest Point 110mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 30mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o o
Cutout o o o o o
Texture o o

It’s impossible to talk about triathlon saddles and not to first think of ISM. The PN1.0 (formerly the “Attack”) has been around for a several years and continues to grace some of the fastest tri bikes we see—despite it being advertised as a road bike saddle. The diamond-like shape creates a lengthy nose, allowing the rider to choose where to place their bum while keeping the saddle on the narrow side. The PN1.0 is on the firm side but saddle comfort is truly about finding the right balance of shape and support. Like all saddles from ISM the PN1.0 features long saddle rails—providing tons of fit adjustability.

We like the fact that the narrow overall width gives more thigh clearance than most saddles, and the gentle taper allows plenty of real estate for long days in the saddle. Unfortunately, the lack of an integrated transition hook or hydration storage are features we miss, and for those looking for something less firm, be sure to check out the PN1.1 or PN3.1.

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Pro Stealth Off Road

$150, 195g, pro-bikegear.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the Pro Stealth Off Road.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o
Density o o o
Width At Nose 42mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 82mm
Width At Widest Point 140mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 25mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o
Cutout o o o
Texture o o o o

Based heavily on Pro’s popular Stealth road saddle, the Stealth Off Road features a few twists that make it a far more versatile saddle than the road version. The Stealth Off Road features the same basic shape, but adds a generous amount of padding and a non-slip texture. While the original Stealth saddle has a full cut out, the off road just has a depression in the middle to reduce pressure to the most sensitive areas. This saddle is just as much at home on a road bike as a gravel or mountain bike.

We liked the fact that the short design leaves very little to get in the way, and the modest level of padding keeps it on the firmer side. At the same time, some triathletes may not feel stable on the small amount of sweet spot wiggle room and real estate available. Also, while there may be a scientific reason for this, the usage of a groove instead of a cut out to take pressure off the perineum seems slightly questionable.

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Ergon SR Pro Carbon Men

$200, 175g (S/M), ergonbike.com

Our gear editors round up the best triathlon saddles of 2021, including the Ergon SR Pro Carbon Men.
Best Triathlon Saddles Category Rating
Overall Rating o o o o
Density o o o o
Width At Nose 40mm
Width At Sitpoint (100mm back for tri, 80mm back for road) 64mm
Width At Widest Point 137mm
Thickness Of Pubic Support Surfaces 23mm
“Sweet Spot” Wiggle Room o o o o
Cutout o o o
Texture o o o

The Ergon SR Pro Carbon Men saddle is nearly identical to one of our favorite saddles of all time, the SR Pro Carbon Women. The male version of this saddle has a slightly longer nose, and the pressure relief cut out has been located slightly differently. We have found in testing that regardless of how these saddles are marketed, they work equally well for both sexes. This is a great do-it-all saddle and it’s at home on any drop bar bike.

We like how the SR Pro is available in two sizes (S/M and M/L), and this is a great price for a super lightweight carbon-railed saddle. The only disadvantage we saw with this design is that the saddle cushion and surfaces tend to wear quickly.

**Members only** Read the extended review here