Gravel riding is increasingly making a case for gravel-specific components due to the unique demands of riding off-road over long distances. The gravel bike niche has already developed its own geometry, groupsets and tires so it isn’t surprising that as brands have developed a deeper understanding of gravel riding, componentry such as the best gravel bike saddles, handlebars and pedals have followed.
Whether it's riding for fun or racing one of the broad types of gravel events from the fast dirt roads from the Belgium Waffle Ride to the rough singletrack trails of Grinduro. Thanks to the versatility of the best gravel bikes, riders are covering longer distances and riding increasingly varied terrain so choosing the best gravel bike saddle is vital for comfort.
Instead of searching for the best gravel bike saddle, it seems logical that your best mountain bike saddle or favorite road bike saddle will do the job perfectly well. While it may perform admirably, it will be compromised as gravel riding is not its primary application. Keep reading for Bike Perfect’s pick of the best gravel bike saddles or skip to the bottom to find out how to choose the best gravel bike saddle.
Best gravel bike saddles
The Fizik Terra Argo X5 is a gravel-specific saddle with the goal of offering as much vibration dampening as possible. The tall steel rails add plenty of length to promote flex and these attach to a carbon fiber reinforced nylon shell which uses Fizik's Wingflex design to further dampen vibrations. The foam feels soft to the touch but provides progressive cushioning so it is still supportive enough. Fizik performed pressure analysis and consulted medical experts to determine the positioning of the cut-out which relives pressure well, it also features an underside cover to reducing chilling wheel-spray from underneath.
A shorter shape encourages a locked-in rider position however there is some scope to comfortable move around a little, especially if you want to sit on the rivet with your nose in the wind as the cut out extends across most of the saddle's length. The slightly waved shape also allows you to sit a little back for support on loose climbs.
Ergon is a brand best known for taking a scientific approach to your bike's touchpoints, developing a range of ergonomic grips and saddles with the goal of improving on-bike comfort and control. The Ergon SR Pro Carbon is technically a road saddle but it's an excellent fit for aggressive riders and Ergon's 'dynamic sitting' design accommodates the different seating positions that are used off-road to help maintain traction.
Ergon uses Orthopedic AirCell Foam with OrthoCell Pads for comfort and which is molded into a gender-specific shape - Ergon offers a women version too - around a deep central channel to reduce pressure on the perineal area. The microfiber cover features friction-reducing edging to aid pedaling and Ergon has added a Topeak QuickClick accessory mount.
The AllRoad Open Fit Carbon FX has been designed by Selle San Maco as a saddle for adventuring both off- and on-road. The carbon fiber shell has a long shape and a generous cut out is long enough to add comfort across the full length of the saddle. Finishing touches come in the form of Cordura-like woven material on the edges to protect the Microfeel saddle cover and the Biofoam underneath. Selle San Marco says that this special closed foam double density foam adds comfort yet still provides support by moving with the rider's pelvis.
The unusual 9.8x7mm DNA carbon rail size could prove problematic for some seatpost clamp so it's worth double-checking the saddle will fit before you make a purchase. Selle San Marco has reinforced the saddle rails with a crossing X shape knot (Dynamic Node Action) to reduce twisting forces from pedaling without affecting compliance.
Prologo's Scratch saddles cross over multi-disciplines however the AGX version has been specifically tuned to excel for gravel riding. Unlike the standard Scratch, the AGX version uses thicker foam, a more flexible base for added compliance, and raised graphics on the back of the saddle which arent just aesthetics but increase grip when wrestling up steep gradients.
Prologo's Multi-Sector System design uses zonal padding to tailor comfort and support, allowing each section of the saddle to work independently. Tirox alloy rails add a little comfort and add some extra durability in rough and gritty conditions. Disappointingly Prologo doesn't offer the Scratch AGX in a PAS (cut out) version for extra relief as it does with the other Scratch models.
Pro used its already popular Stealth road saddle as the basis for its gravel-orientated Stealth Offroad seat. While the road version has a spread of rail options the off-road saddle only comes with steel rails. Despite this, the weight is still sub 200g and riders will benefit from the springier rail characteristics and durability to add saddle rail mounted luggage.
Shortnose saddle shape is formed from an in-molded carbon-reinforced polymer and features a deep relief channel that is closed off underneath to avoid any unpleasant splashes to your undercarriage. Pro has added a proprietary accessory mount that can be used to mount fenders, race number plate or two CO2 canisters and a spare tube.
Selle Italia has been making some seriously light performance saddles for a long time and the Italian brand's X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow has to be one of the lightest off-road-specific saddles available. Of course, there are road saddles that can match the 130g weight, yet the X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow manages to achieve this without sacrificing performance features and still manages to be comfortable off-road.
Despite the low weight, the X-LR Kit Carbonio Superflow features double-density padding (softer at the nose and harder at the rear), protective bumpers along the saddle shoulders and a shock absorber built into the carbon rails. The saddle uses a more classic shape, rather than a short nose, to give riders the real estate to move forward and back on the saddle to help balance weight distribution on steep climbs.
As saddles have got shorter, Specialized has been at the forefront with its Power saddle range. A unisex saddle, it was actually initially designed as a women-specific model, however, the shape translated across both genders equally. Designed for long-distance riding, the Power saddle locks the rider in place and has been subject to Specialized's Body Geometry research to offer sit-bone support with the wide carbon-reinforced shell which is covered in a medium-density foam. The Power Expert features a generous cutout, too, which reduces pressure on sensitive areas and helps blood flow.
It's a little on the heavy side when compared to some of the other saddles on our list but Specialized has included its SWAT mount which can be used to neatly mount storage, hydration, action cameras or rear lights.
Fabric's Scoop saddle range is the AK-47 of saddles with a shape that seems to work for a huge variety of riders. The weight of the carbon-railed version is very respectable too and Fabric's design has proven that it's more than durable enough to take on many miles of rough gravel riding. Not only that, while we have chosen to feature the competitively priced carbon-railed Pro Team, Fabric offers various price points and rail materials including a steel railed version for a bargain of $80 / £35.
The Flat version of the Scoop is the most aggressive version Fabric offers and will suit riders who are looking to ride fast and hard. If your riding position is a little more relaxed, Fabric has a Shallow version of the Scoop which has a shape better suited to a more upright position.
- Best gravel shoes: Gravel shoe options for racers or explorers
- Best gravel bike pedals: Light yet tough pedals for getting the power down off-road
How to choose the best gravel bike saddle
Riding position and fit
While a saddle may be comfortable for miles and miles on your mountain bike, the significantly different riding position of a gravel bike could mean that same saddle quickly becomes a pain in the ass. Gravel bikes put the rider in a far more aggressive position than even the most race-bred cross-country bike, this position is going to change the way your sit bones interact with a saddle. It’s the same way with road saddles, road bikes usually have a more aggressive fit than their off-road drop-bar counterparts which again is going to affect your comfort levels, especially on long or rough rides.
The standard saddle fitting rules apply, you need to measure your sit bones to determine the correct width so you are properly supported when riding. You can get this done at a bike shop, as part of a bike fit or do it yourself at home.
To do it yourself you need to sit on a piece of cardboard, assuring your weight is centered through your sit bones and compressing the cardboard. By marking both center points you can get a rough measurement of your sit bone spacing and the saddle width you should choose.
Finally, you need to consider the shape of the saddle as they come in various lengths and sizes. The shape is far more personal and harder to determine than width. Different brands usually offer a range of options to suit different riders. Generally, a saddle with a more curved shape will suit a rider with better flexibility however there are other factors at play. Flatter saddles give a more uniform feel for riders who like to move back and forth on the saddle whereas curved saddles help you feel locked in place. Length is also important, longer saddles are falling out of favor with shorter, fatter-nosed options becoming popular however just cause a saddle works for one person doesn't mean it will work for you. The best way to determine what style of saddle you prefer is to simply try different models to find out what works for you.
Saddle rails come in a variety of different materials with brands usually offering the same saddle just with different rail materials at different price points. Commonly steel rails are the cheapest and are heavier but are hard-wearing and ideal if you plan on doing a lot of bikepacking as they are resilient to wear. Titanium usually makes up the mid-tier level and has excellent compliance and reduces weight over steel. At the premium end, carbon rails are specced as they are considerably lighter and the carbon weave can be tuned to absorb vibrations. However, carbon is not well suited for mounting the best bikepacking bags as any straps mounted to the rails can wear away the carbon and compromise the saddle.
Steel and Titanium saddles will all come with a standard 7x7mm rail, however, carbon saddles can use 7x9mm and 7x10mm oval rails. A lot of seatposts can accommodate multiple sizes but it’s worth checking your seatpost manufacturer's specifications before you splash out on a new saddle.
It's common knowledge that adding more padding to a saddle doesn’t necessarily make a saddle more comfortable, however, the best gravel saddles sometimes add a little more padding to help absorb some of the vibrations compared to road saddles. They will also usually be covered in a harder-wearing finish to deal with all the extra dirt and spray that is involved in gravel riding.
The best gravel saddles may offer some gravel-specific features, whether it has covers for the cut out to reduce gritty spray to your undercarriage, luggage fitments to help securely fasten bikepacking bags or sections that offer additional compliance for extra comfort. The fit and comfort of a saddle should be your number one consideration, these extra features should just be considered as a bonus rather than a selling point.