|CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > What to Take > Bike Equipment > Saddles|
|How do I find a comfortable saddle?|
How much your tush hurts is very much a matter of fine-tuning..... finding the right saddle and the right saddle position. I don't have much trouble with tush pain anymore, but only because I've finally found the perfect saddle for me. That's entirely personal preference, though. Some women swear by the specially designed saddles with cutouts in them; I tried one and found it to be about the most uncomfortable thing I've ever ridden on! I also couldn't ride with the big bulky gel seats or seat covers.
The saddle I swear by now is the Giro Vitesse.....I love it! Best investment I've made for my bike in years! It's narrow through the nose, and the back is designed for a woman's wider bone structure.....it provides support just where it's needed. And from my limited experience, I think support and position are far more important to comfort than "cush".
Aside from saddle and position, good bike shorts and A&D ointment help immensely!
AH, the bicycle seat. My favorite is the Terry Terminator and with that the use of Chamois Butt'r . This is a skin lubricant I bought on the last Cycle Oregon. This combo worked great for me.
Bike Seats - IMHO, this is a personal thing. You have to find one that fits your sitter and go with it. My wife and I went to the local bike shop and asked to borrow seats - they usually have extras, and are willing to loan them out with the notion that they probably will sell one to you. (Don't borrow, then mail order! Support your local shop!)
Not too surprisingly, different folks have different rear ends and require differently shaped seats. Don't expect that a particular brand that fit your friend will fit you, and certainly don't believe that males and females will necessarily find a single model to suit both. Extra padding is not necessarily helpful! We both found that a *firm* seat and regular shorts fit the bill for us. We completed CO XI without butt complaints!
Last fall, Bicycling Magazine wrote a review of women's seats which was helpful. Interestingly enough, the "men's" Sella Italia Flite was popular even with women reviewers. Find one that fits.
You'll probably find a difference of opinion, but I really love a good leather saddle. I haven't had one in years, and the one I had ended up being mistreated by persons unknown in my absence. That's the only real problem with them... they do require care, and don't like full soakings and then being left in the sun.
When they're really broken in, they're wonderful. I'm betting the whole Bag Balm thread never would have started if everybody had a Brooks or Ideale that really worked for them. Mine was a pretty decent Japanese copy of the Ideale... it came on my very first 10-speed in about 1972.
Wonder if you can get a new Brooks with titanium rails to help offset the weight?
I have a Brooks Team Pro on my touring bike and our tandem, They are great but also heavy, I found it took about 500 miles to break in. There is a lighter, titanium version called the Swift.
The "top of the line" Brooks saddle, when I had my bikes built in the UK in the 70's, was a Brooks "Professional". The next step down was a Brooks B17, or more common amongst "serious" cyclists, the B17 narrow. This was basically the same, but with a bit less fancy finish.
I put one of these B17 Narrows on my "good" bike, and a couple of years later, uncomfortable on a worn out cheap leather saddle, I splurged on a second one for my "hack" bike. I agree, they were wonderful. I never even wore cycling shorts -- my favorite shorts were a pair of cutoff cords.
I think that these saddles still are wonderful. But I'm not. After two summers of serious riding, they are just not comfortable for me any more. I have come to the conclusion that there is just less muscle tone in my rear end than there was 20 years ago. (Surprise, surprise!)
Yes I agree with you on the loss of aging muscle firmness. I went through some of the same seek and search missions you probably have trying to find a saddle that wouldn't HURT ! I must say that the people at the Bike Gallery, in Portland, were "THE GREATEST" to work with in this area of discomfort. I was able to return many of the saddles "non-damaged, receipt, and with display cards, etc." and try another. They were truly interested in my comfort. I finally told myself that I was going to find a seat that was "comfy" and I did. It just happened to be attached to a Recumbent Bicycle. SO the rest is history... For us not so well padded "BONY BUTTS" bringing along the lawn chair is not so bad. We seem to arrive at the destination along with every body else.
I did find an acceptable saddle for my mountain bike through the Bike Gallery and since then there have been vast improvements in seat technology. However, I'm on my 3rd season with my Easy Racer and love it.
Capt. Dink ~
I've tried a number of different seats from the big fat soft ones to the super thin saddles. (I'm talking 5 seats in 2 years) What works for me is the super thin saddle. I found that the big soft seats were soft, still my bottom hurt a lot by the end of the ride. By using the big soft seats I found that more of my butt was rubbing on the seat, thus I had more pain over a larger area of my bottom. Find the seat that you like and RIDE. There is nothing more important than time in the saddle.
[Padded seats vs. unpadded vs. gel covers]
You need to get a few miles on the saddle and decide on your own, but most bikers agree that a *less* padded seat is better 'cause it supports your weight on your "sit bones", not on the soft tissue.
As to the saddle, if you are riding a recumbent, not to worry - you are home free. If you are riding an upright, experiment, test, try out - all for at least an hour or more of riding, preferably hard riding. Personally, I do not like gel covers. Again - experiment.
I'm looking for input on "anatomically correct" saddles from you guys out there.
Until last season, I had been riding on a Selle Italia "Flite" saddle. These saddles had served me well. But then, I guess my body started breaking down in other than the visible places (not that the visible places haven't broken down, but that is another story), and on longer rides I started experiencing numbness. While I'm used to tired legs and numbness in my brain after a long ride, numbness in some other places are not as acceptable to me.
I switched to a Flite TransAm saddle with an "anatomic" cutout. It provided the same flat design which allows you to move fore and aft on the saddle, combined with the soft tissue protection of the cutout. A great improvement...for about 500 miles. Then it started to break down with the result being that it started to take on the attributes of a sway-back horse. Not a good thing in a saddle...after a few miles it would become an instrument of unspeakable tortures!
Now, I'll insert here that I'm not a big guy...5'10" and 155 lbs, so I don't think that I put undue strain on this particular piece of equipment (the saddle).
I switched to a Terry Fly. It's comfortable...no, make that pain and numbness free; but I've got the same problem with it. I sink into the "pocket" created by the softer area at the center. You can try to ride in different positions, but you always settle into the center of the pocket.
I'm looking for a saddle which is flat enough to allow me to move around a bit and which gives me the anatomic advantages that my body craves. At $100 a pop for saddles, this is getting expensive! So...
Anybody out there with success stories? Horror stories?
Thanks for your help!
You may be in luck.
Our esteemed Team Bag Balm order entry provider [for CO 13] has a bike saddle business.
Give it a shot at http://www.bycycleinc.com/. They look like they are very well designed.
Anatomically correct bike saddles are the primary business of this company, which happens to be based in the Portland area.
With all the publicity on anatomically correct saddles in the last few years, and the increased response of saddle manufacturers to this need, ByCycle Inc. appears to have the most flexible (read that adjustable or customizable) design of them all.
I am a member of this forum and the inventor (and user) of an anatomically correct saddle. Please check out my web site at www.bycycleinc.com.
Has something changed in your bike set up? Did the seat slide back somewhat? Handlebar angle slip? Different pedals (therefore possible different length between saddle crest and pedal top at full extension.)? Different shoes? (same issue as pedals)
Also as you develop better pedal technique your saddle height requirement changes. I moved up a full 2 cm in one year! (my second bike fitting a year later showed this).
This may not be your saddle at all.
Don "perhaps time for a bike fit" Bolton
Your Italian saddle sounds pretty exotic. Sorry to hear it didn't perform satisfactorily. I don't know what the Terry Fly is. If it is not a Terry Men's Liberator, then I would suggest you check that one out. I bought mine nearly two years ago and though I weigh over 200 pounds, I have not sagged it out yet.
After riding (2) Brooks B17 Narrow saddles for 25 years, I too started to experience numbness in the genitals as you have described.
I tried two of the Specialized Minkow Wedge saddles (the $100 one and the $129 "Pro"). Both solved the numbness problem for me, but neither was very comfortable. Michael Sylvester at the Bike Gallery loaned me a TransAm, and I have so far put about 300 miles on it, including 114 miles on the Community Cycling Century, and about 140 miles over the last four days, back to back. I'm pleased with it, and in fact just yesterday 'phoned Michael to say that I'll (a) keep it and (b) buy another for my other bike.
Hence, I'm alarmed to read that your TransAm has broken down after 500 miles. If I were you, I would take it back to the place that you bought it -- it may just be defective. (I figure that a saddle should be good for 50,000 miles, even though my anatomy may not be :-)
Having said that, the top of my TransAm is clearly not flat. The "saddle" of the saddle is actually 1/4 inch lower than the plane defined by the horn and the heel. Maybe this just works for me; my TransAm has actually become more comfortable as I have ridden it, but I'm not sure if that is because of my body adapting to it, or vice versa.
We all know that if you are not cold and it is not raining you are not really fishing..
Well I had also thought that if I wasn't numb from the waist down it wasn't a good ride..
MaryAnn wanted a more comfortable saddle and tried the Specialized Body Geometry Comp Saddle. We got it as a loaner from our local bike shop. She went on to try several more saddles and I went and put the Specialized on my bike for a week...
She returned all of the other demos and declared that the Body Geometry was the best. We had to order her one as I would not give her the loaner back..
I was heard declaring loudly to anyone and everyone that I no longer had numb nuts... For some reason I have been asked not to return to the Safeway Store in Baker City.
We are both sold on these " Hey, did you know? "
I vote for the Specialized Body Geometry saddles. I had similar problems to yours, but got tired of being numb nuts all of the time (maybe it affected my brain too!), rode a Terry Liberator for a year including CO 11, then switched to Specialized Body Geometry saddle and have been riding that since. Like it much better. Believe the Comp model has leather cover and can be had for about $100. Sport model around $50 but has a synthetic cover..
Good luck and best regards,
The "Sport" model is also significantly wider, which may be better or worse for you, depending on the geometry of your "rear end".
If you go to http://www.performancebike.com/ and type "Body Geometry" in the search box, you will get a listing with pictures, prices and more info on all of these saddles.
My husband and I are first time CO riders, and riding more miles this summer than we ever did before. As we do longer and more frequent rides we both are experiencing more saddle discomfort and numbness, (naturally, and some of this may be inevitable...) and I am wondering if switching to those Terry seats with the holes would be a good move. At this late date, will there be enough time to break it in or to be sure it is the right thing??
I have heard a lot of opinions about saddles, and I know it is a personal choice, but I'd like to hear some testimonials from people who like the cut-out saddles.
I have a Terry women's saddle (with cutout) on my commuter bike and a similar one made by Trek on my new Klein road bike. The Terry is a definite improvement over the saddles that came on the bikes, but the Trek is nothing short of miraculous! And it's not even very expensive.
You're right about this being a personal choice, but I tried the Trek women's saddle (with cutout) based on the recommendation of our local bike shop owner. His wife used it on her bike on their cross-country trip this summer. Since then, I've talked to a couple of other women who like it, too.
It's important that you get different saddles before Cycle Oregon. I hope you can try out several before making your selection. Comfort is crucial and the saddle can make the difference between a great ride and a miserable ride. Those cutouts relieve much of the pressure on the tender parts of one's anatomy.
Happy saddle hunting!
Saddle discomfort, early on, is to be expected. However, once you begin to rack up the road miles, and your soft areas begin to strengthen, saddle discomfort should steadily decline. Numbness may be due to a poor fit; size/style, a too soft saddle, or a saddle wearing down. Numbness (from a male point of view) is downright terrifying, considering that it happens when blood flow is restricted to the area. Yikes!
After experimenting with 4 different saddles I chose the Serfas Holster w/ Wide Groove Design. I have the leather cover over the fabric one, which I tried and dismissed due to it binding/grabbing against my cycling shorts. I've only experienced numbness on a few occasions, and always early in the season. Consequently, I attribute my numbness to training, or lack thereof. Another consideration is that I stand and pedal the hills rather than continually sitting. Depending on the ride, I could be standing up to 1/4 to 1/2 the ride, maybe more.
I also have aero bars which permit me to "stretch out" while riding. Using the aero bars also changes the pressure/weight area, this also helps to prevent numbness.
Saddle fit is one of those areas that I still don't "get". After tens of thousands of miles on my bikes, I'm still looking for a really good saddle.
It's been a long time since numbness was an issue for me. I have a couple of guesses as to why that might be: 1) I was using a saddle with gel padding that had "crept", and bunched up along the centerline of the saddle; and 2) I've since had a bike fitting and am stretched out a lot more, even when riding "on the hoods" (not as far as Richard, but there is a similarity in experience).
I ride a pretty plain saddle with very thin padding. It's got a patch of lycra in the middle of it that really seems more cosmetic than anything. I've considered moving to even less padding. This sounds counterintuitive, but I get the feeling that when the padding deforms under my "sit bones" it tends to squish the foam up to contact areas that might not otherwise feel pressure at all.
What I've heard over and over again is that the most important element of saddle fit is making sure that your sit bones actually land on the broad part of the saddle. There shouldn't be extra area to the sides that will cause chafing as you pedal, and your sit bones shouldn't land "wide of the mark" on either side, which will settle you right down on the perineum (sp?), which seems like a sure ticket for numbness or soreness for both sexes.
Women’s saddles are wider because _statistically_, women have greater distance between the sit bones, but that's not universal. I wouldn't take for granted that I'd need a woman's saddle if I were a woman, and if I was a larger guy, I wouldn't assume that I couldn't benefit from a woman's saddle. The differences are not simply marketing hype, but the differences may not apply to all individuals.
I would think that in many cases a good saddle fit paired with a good bike fit would eliminate the need for cutouts. That's MANY cases... certainly not all.
Another thing that I completely agree with Richard on: the saddle cover should be smooth and allow your shorts to move freely over it. Some of the OEM saddles I've seen have this suede-like cover that feels nice to the touch, but it grabs fabric tenaciously. It's nasty to sit on. My son's got one of those, and if it was my bike, that puppy would be gone in a heartbeat. He likes the cushion, though, and he's not into serious mileage.
The 'bent faction is probably laughing up its collective sleeve at all of this, and with good reason. Maybe one day, I'll eliminate the problem altogether by getting a recumbent, but I really like riding wedgies, so I'll keep trying to find the perfect saddle.
Different people (sizes and shapes, both internal and external, do vary) have differing results with different saddles. The love of my life uses a Terry. She thinks it's the best thing ever!
I bought a Terry Fly when I started experiencing numbness, and HATED it! It reminded me of a swayback horse. I sold it to a friend (after he tried it) and he LOVES it. Go figure.
Bike Gallery and most good bike shops allow you a 30 day return policy. Find a good shop with a good selection and try 'em out! Make sure they adjust your bike position for you. Often a small change in position is what you really need.
Have fun! See you there!
P.S. I now ride a Koobie AU Enduro (Numb no more!)
I have been using a Serfas saddle for years!! It has a cut-out, is for females, and doesn't have seams in those areas that Terry saddles do. Personally, I find that the Terrys have shoddy workmanship. I have had 2 that fell apart.
Hope this helps.
I was not sure about my Terry Fly at first. Then I rode it a bit and now it is extremely comfortable . I get no saddle soreness at all on long rides.
A lot of good comments have been made in this thread. I'll risk adding two more:
(1) Bike position is really important. I don't know your set-up, Victoria, but there is trade-off that new riders sometimes make, thinking that they are improving their comfort, which turns out to be wrong for longer rides.
All of your weight has to be supported somewhere. You have three choices: your hands, your seat, and your feet. Richard has already pointed out that it is good to get out of the saddle for as much time as you can. This puts yor weight on your feet, which are designed to cope with it! So, on long rides, try to stand more. Change down a couple or three gears so that you have something to push against.
Now the main point: don't set your handlebars too high. The higher the bars, the more weight is on your seat. The lower your bars, the more weight is on your hands. "Sit up and beg" type positions may feel wonderful for the first 10 miles, but they put too much weight on your butt to be comfortable for a long ride.
Incidentally, keep your wrists straight. Don't hang on your handlebars with cocked wrists. This pinches the nerves in your wrists; your hands will go numb and you may get a tingly sensation after 30 miles of this. I work with computers, and bike bars used incorrectly are as bad as keyboards used incorrectly for carpel tunnel and tendonitis.
The bottom line is: have a professional bike fit.
(2) I had to change my saddle of 24 years because I was suffering from numbness. This is NOT good. A bit of discomfort is one thing, and may disappear with training. Numbness is to be avoided! I tried various saddles with holes and splits. Lonnie Wormly is, I believe, enjoying riding a Specialized that I could not get along with. I settled on the Selle Italia Trans-Am max. I bought two. They were great for a year. Then I started getting a squeak, and bruises on my thighs!
What had happened is that the saddle had sunk in the middle, and now the leather was rubbing on the saddle clamp (hence the squeak). The bruises were where my legs had been banging against the metal of the clamp! So now I am $200 out of pocket, and looking for a new saddle again. Enquiries revealed that this is a common problem with Selle Italia saddles with holes. You many want to avoid them.
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