Selle Anatomica
Mountain bike with bags and leather saddle in front of a hill

4 Advantages of Leather Bike Saddles

There’s no shortage of new styles, materials, and designs in bike saddles these days. Whether it’s in the shape, stuffing, shocks or synthetics, there’s a model molded to virtually every rider. 

But there’s one design and material that will mold itself to you. It’s been around for more than 150 years, and it has stood the test of time for good reason. The leather bicycle saddle continues to prove its worth to cyclists everywhere.

If you’ve never tried one before, here are four advantages of leather bike saddles.

Leather Saddles Are More Comfortable

Long before they were accenting Instagram and Pinterest photos, leather saddles were doing something much more practical: making cycling more comfortable. The original leather bike saddle was inspired by horseback riding. In contrast to the comfortable, well-worn equestrian saddles of the day, cyclists rode on a carved block of wood.

For many long-time cyclists today — like for those first leather riders — their first experience with leather is a revelation. When so many bike seats are constructed with thick padding on a wide base, the sleek, simple look of a leather saddle seems counterintuitive. But it’s that simplicity that delivers unparalleled comfort. Here’s why:

  • Leather molds to you. Unlike padding, which slowly compresses until you’re only left with the hard frame underneath, leather gradually softens, stretches and forms to your shape — and stays that way.
  • It’s stiff enough to hold you. Traditional leather bike saddles don’t have a hard underlying base to support you. The durable leather is tensioned over rails to form a hammock for your buttocks, and this provides more than enough support. 
  • It’s soft enough to move with you. Leather is stiff, but not rigid. It responds to your movements. This combination of strength and flexibility gives you maximum support with minimal resistance. It’s why leather designs are shown to relieve saddle sores and sit-bone pain.

The downside to leather bicycle saddles has traditionally been the break-in time. It can take many hours of riding before that stiff leather softens up. But at Selle Anatomica, we have perfected classic techniques to create the most comfortable leather bicycle saddle in the world — one that requires no break-in time because of our patented hot-and-dry process.

Leather Saddles Are Safer

Distance riders are dealing with more than discomfort. Hours-long rides, multiple times a week on a saddle with no give means a lot of pressure on sensitive, important parts of the body. Your lower regions are full of soft tissue, blood vessels, and nerves that are crucial for other things besides cycling.

For men, compression on scrotal and other surrounding vessels and nerves can lead to numbness in the genitals. The interruption of blood flow over years of riding could mean a risk of sterility. The prostate can even be exposed to irritation as well, and chronic pelvic pain may result.

Women may not face the risk of sterility, but the possibility of painful bruising and irritation is real. These can cause problems for sexual health and enjoyment.

Not only have we perfected the leather process, but our patented flex-fly slot provides even more relief by allowing the saddle to move even more freely with the rider’s pedal strokes. Our leather saddles can save you from permanent injury, creating yet another advantage to leather bike saddles vs. synthetic.

Leather Saddles Are More Durable

It’s no secret that leather is incredibly durable. Long after the cloth has torn and padding has worn out, a leather saddle will still be holding up. Many synthetic materials can’t compare to leather’s resilience. 

The leather may stretch over time, but the seat frame is designed so that you can increase the tension as this happens. Depending on how much you ride, the leather can support you for years.

Leather saddles do need more TLC, though. Too much water can cause the leather to stretch out more and to become rigid as it repeatedly dries out. You will quickly lose the benefits of your leather bike saddle if you neglect it.

That’s why we recommend that riders — especially those who regularly take their bikes in the rain — regularly apply saddle sauce to protect their saddles from damage. Rain covers are essential if your bike will regularly be parked outside in wet conditions, as well. 

Even if you do wear down your saddle, though, you can swap in a brand new skin without replacing the entire seat.

Leather Saddles Are Classier

Instagramming pictures of your bike may not be your thing, but let’s be honest, a leather saddle just looks good. Any bike becomes a little classier with one on it. There’s just something timeless about the style. 

It looks great out of the box, but it ages gracefully, too. It’s just a fact of leather. Sometimes, the more worn, the better. As long as you’re taking good care of it, a well-worn saddle can be a point of pride.

These are just a few advantages you should consider when buying a leather bike saddle. There’s a reason they’ve stuck around through so many different trends.

Some things are just built to last.