Coming from German, I have always said “bike saddle”. But later a friend from Philadelphia told me that the common word is “bike seat”, and I would not necessarily understood if I say saddle. Some online research indicates that in fact both are in use.

So I wonder: is there a difference in connotation, in regional use or in who uses it (enthusiastic cyclists vs. non-cyclists)?

  • It depend on how tight you wear your bike shorts. There's a school of riders (in really tight shorts) who say "saddle" and a different group who say "seat". The same with several other bike terms. There is a physical difference in seats/saddles that drives this to a minor degree -- some are padded "seats" and others are sling-like leather "saddles". – Hot Licks Apr 18 '18 at 19:03
  • I'll note that the Bicycles SE site is available for bike-related questions. – Hot Licks Apr 18 '18 at 22:24
  • The answers so far seem to indicate different use by different groups. Maybe it is partly a UK vs. US thing? – Joachim Breitner Apr 19 '18 at 21:09
  • It may be partly UK/US, but there are several different cultures "within" the cycling communities of both countries, and there is as much difference there. – Hot Licks Apr 19 '18 at 21:51

Among people who ride bikes in the UK, even if they wouldn't call themselves cyclists, saddle appears to predominate. The word would be universally understood, with the only possible confusion being if you said you were a bit saddle sore after to much riding at the weekend and your hearer didn't know whether you meant a bike or a horse.

A lot of related components include the word seat (seatpost or very rarely saddlepost, always seatstay). Many accessories always (saddlebag) or usually (saddle cover) refer to saddle rather than seat).

Bike seat is also used to mean a seat for carrying a child on a bike, but saddle isn't.

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The pro riders tend to saddle. Recreational users tend to seat.

seat v saddlewiki: saddles and seats

They are very very close to being the same in general ... but some purists and pro may disagree. For more read:

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Speaking only of my experience in the United States, I would agree that most people would not understand the term "bike saddle" because most are not "cyclists". In fact, I don't think I have ever heard the term used -- but then again I'm not a cyclist.

FYI - This site devoted to vintage Schwinn bikes addresses the history of "saddles" vs. "seats". https://bikehistory.org/parts/seats.html

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