Tandem Cycling - Stoker's tailbone hurts - help!
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We are riding a Santana Cilantro with a Thudbuster seatpost. We are planning on getting a new saddle. Any recommendations?
09-05-07, 07:27 AM
I like the Milano saddle. I think it's a men's saddle, but that & a good pair of shorts works for me (but I don't have a Thudbuster).
09-05-07, 07:31 AM
The Specilaized Milano does it for me too. That and frequent standing on the pedals
Sit bones or tailbone? Sitbones are the bones upon which you sit on the bicycle saddle and the tailbone is the extension of the spine. If it is the tailbone, it may be another issue. Assuming female stoker, make sure the saddle is the right width i.e. women's sit bones are further apart than men's. Most LBSs allow one to buy a saddle and exchange it for another at no restocking fee until you find the correct one.
09-05-07, 08:31 AM
The nice thing about the Milano is that the back of the saddle is separated, so you have cushioning for your sit bones, but no pressure on the tailbone. The LBS did let me swap out several saddles until I finally found the one that worked for me. Got to the point they didn't even charge me for a saddle, just let me take it home & try it, then when I decided on the Milano they charged me for it. Got a comfortable pair of shorts & I can now ride for about an hour without a butt break (OK, maybe one quick break).
As implied above, saddles are intensely personal. Everyone's a different shape.
There's a few things that are consistent though:
Saddle tilt is very important. If your saddle is tilted too far forward or back you can end up with pain in all sorts of different places. It's worth adjusting it a few degrees forward and back to find the best position.
Soft saddles will tend to be comfortable for the first few minutes, but in the end they are not the best option. They put less pressure on your sit bones, spreading the support out evenly, which feels comfortable at first, but because they're putting pressure on soft tissues you'll end up with circulation/numbness issues and pain. A harder saddle of the right shape can have you supporting your weight on your sit bones. A thin gel layer can be okay, but your short/bib chamois does that job already.
On that note, a good pair of shorts makes a huge difference. It keeps the friction between the shorts and your saddle, and eliminates any nasty seams.
All that being said, getting comfortable on almost any saddle involves a little bit of breaking in on your butt if you're not riding a lot already.
How many hours a week does your stoker ride? Do they ride in a similar position on a single bike, or is the position more or less aggressive? Does your stoker wear decent shorts or bibs when riding?
Some people swear by Brooks saddles, but they can take some breaking in to become comfortable. If your stoker puts in a lot of miles or spends lots of time on a single bike you can probably get it broken in fairly quickly.
09-05-07, 09:10 AM
We are riding a Santana Cilantro with a Thudbuster seatpost. We are planning on getting a new saddle. Any recommendations?
How long have you been riding the tandem together?
Was your stoker already a cyclist before taking up stoking the tandem? If so, for how long?
When did the discomfort start? Does it only occur on the tandem?
Can you be more specific about the type of discomfort your stoker is experiencing: is it truly the coccyx (see http://www.coccyx.org/ if it is), or perhaps lowerback muscles, sit bones, or some other part of her nether regions?
What made and model of saddle is currently on the bike?
Has the Thudbuster or some type of suspension post always been on the tandem? Any recent changes that coincide with the on-set of the discomfort?
Thanks for all the replies. We bought the Santana two years ago. We ride once or twice a week as long as the New England weather will allow. The Cilantro is an upright model.
I ride more than my wife does, so the pain issue is hers. She will occasionally ride a mountain bike, but does not like being out alone. She does not put in many miles.
We bought the Thudbuster in April and she has been very happy with it. The old suspension seatpost did nothing to absorb the bumps. She has always complained about the pain in her a** (I mean the physical pain, not me), so I figured the next step is to get her a better saddle. I admit that I do not know the brand of saddle currently in the stoker's position, but it is not original to the bike.
It is definately not her sit bones.
09-05-07, 12:12 PM
Santana has always shipped out tandems with pretty good saddles: I think they may currently come with Terry saddles which are VERY good with respect to design, quality, and guarantee. Not sure what they may have had two years ago.
Therefore, while a change in saddle could be part of the solution I'd be more inclined to look at:
1. That suspension seatpost: While they do a good job of taking the sting out of big bumps, if the preload isn't adjusted correctly two bad things can happen.
a. The first is related to saddle height: if your stoker's riding position isn't established while they are sitting with their weight on the saddle it may end up being too high or too low once they are seated due to suspension sag. Also, over time the amount of suspension sag can change as the elastomers in the shock age or if the person riding the bike goes through a significant weight change. Therefore, make sure that your stoker's saddle height (with them on it) is checked periodically to be sure that it's not migrating up or down.
b. The second is related to shock bounce: Stokers who have a poor pedal stroke or who have a shock post that doesn't have enough preloading can find themselves sitting on a pogo stick, which is a bad thing. It's bad because unlike a true bicycle suspension system where the weight of the bike & riders causes the front or rear end of the bike to move up and down while the riders positions remain unchanged, as a shock post changes the rider's saddle height relative to the pedals and handlebars while they are riding. I don't know about you, but I can tell when my saddle is 2mm too high or too low and it drives me nuts. Now imagine how it would be to be riding along with your saddle height in flux, moving +/- 5mm or more? You may need to have someone ride behind you and your wife to confirm that she isn't bouncing. If she is bouncing, increasing the pre-load and/or using harder elastomers may eliminate it so long as she herself isn't a "bouncer". The latter can sometimes be corrected by raising the saddle height a bit, but not too much otherwise she'll go from being a bouncer to a hip rocker... equally bad.
2. Her riding position: Taking the seat post issues into consideration, has your stoker been properly fitted to to make sure the saddle set-back, saddle height, bar reach and drop are appropriate for her size and afford her a good fit? Looked at another way, does she tend to stay centered in her saddle while riding or does she find herself riding on the nose or tail of the saddle? Are the touch points of her saddle (nose & tail) level, or with a slight nose-up (1-2 degree)? Again, being too steep in either direction would cause her to being pulling herself forward (saddle nose too high) or pushing herself back (saddle nose too low). Simply riding too far back of the cranks, too upright, or too bent over can wreak all kinds of havoc so be attentive to her fit. I had my wife dialed in years ago and over time her preferences continued to migrate for a number of reasons: some good and some bad. At one point it got so out of whack that I sent her to a fitter to get an objective assessment of her riding position and it put her back into the position where she started many years ago and most of the issues that developed over time have been resolved. Sometimes it's more effective to have someone else coaching your spouse
3. Saddles: Assuming everything else is dialed in then, yes, a saddle change could be a good move. Just remember that any new saddle will bring with it "transition pains", particularly if a new design is used. Look closely at her old saddle for unusual wear patterns that suggest if she needs a wider or more narrow tail section or perhaps even a more narrow nose section. I thought we had Debbie set for life with her Selle Italia LDY TransAm saddles but after changing shorts once her old ones wore out (model discontinued, of course) she found herself being chewed up by all the new ones. In looking at her saddles it had always been obvious that they were a bit more wide than they needed to be but it wasn't an issue that had a negative impact. However, once the short problem developed the trick was finding new shorts where the seams wouldn't fall between my beloved's skin and the saddle: it wasn't easy. I finally decided to fit her with a mens Terry Fly saddle which, along with Performance Bike's house brand of high-end riding shorts, solved the chaffing. She's been quite happy on the Terry Fly model saddles now fitted to both tandems and her single road bike.
Good luck. These things can be really distressing.
09-05-07, 05:32 PM
I posted this a while back, but it's very relevant today. She is now using the B67 that we thought was too wide in this earlier post:
My wife and I have been battling the Tandem Seat issue lately as well (see other thread below). I'm a brooks rider since about 1982. So the obvious choice for my was to take my trusty Team pro and put it in the captains spot.
On her single, my wife rides a Terry Butterfly. She was using a Liberator X before the butterfly. Neither worked for her on the tandem.
The LBS suggested a Specialized (body geometry?) and my wife bit on that one. We took a couple of 10ish mile rides on that one, and all I can say is that it was a total POS, as bad as the saddles that came with the tandem (cannondale). She took it back yesterday.
This past monday, we got a pair of Brooks saddles from Wallbike.com for her. I got a B67 and a champion flyer S. The B67 was just too wide and was pushing her forward. The Champion Flyer seems to be the ticket. We took a 20 mile ride last night on it (10 the night before), and so far so good. Her sit bones were a bit sore from the un-broken-in leather, but her major disconfort zones weren't tweaked. We'll do some more riding and get that sucker broken it, but so far it is the most promising of the bunch. He was having some issue with her right toes tingling, and the brooks got rid of that completely.
As a nice side effect, the saddle is sprung, so we could ditch the really marginal specialized suspension seatpost.
For me, there is two saddles out there: Brooks, and all the other crap that sucks.
On the tandem, we don't move around, coast and lift out of the saddle as much as on our singles (I'm all over the place on my single apparently). So the saddles have (absolutely have) to be comfortable and not cause problems. The tandem amplified the issues my wife was having with her saddles. She is now thinking brooks on her single.
We use a variety of cycling shorts. I use a couple pairs of LL Bean touring shorts, a set of ghetto Nashbar shorts, and a pair that I stole from my wife with some really strange name (yes I cross dress on the bike). My wife uses a variety as well, all with lycra and synthetic chamois pads inside, most with some sort of shell on the outside.
09-05-07, 06:10 PM
An upright postion on the rear of the tandem will put more stress/weight on sitzbones.
As it is, most stokers tend to ride a it more upright on a twicer than their solo; a set of drop bars for her 'could' be a solution. Lets her put less weight on buns and a bit more on hands/feet. Also several more hand positions are available with drops compared to flats and even cowhorn bars. And yes bars/hand position does affect your saddle position.
Worth a try if you have exhausted all other options.
Just our observation/experience.
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandm
My wife is also quite particular about saddles. She is very flexible from many years of yoga and sits in the saddle with a flat back, but is not a racer any more. She was ok on a Selle Italia LDY and a ladies turbo on previous single bikes but her favourite is oddly a Fizik Rondine, which is supposed to be a men's touring saddle but was recommended by her bike builder. I'd give it a try as you could both try it.
Benefit for us was that after putting a Rondine on the tandem I was amazed to find the pedalling action much smoother. I suspect the other saddle had been blocking her leg by being too fat at the front or curving out too quickly.
09-10-07, 11:31 AM
+1 to all the comments above. Seatpost + saddle + shorts + fitting = The Solution. It’s a four dimensional problem and it’s probably the most vexing thing about setting up a stoker on a tandem.
Two weeks ago, after a growing number of complaints about her saddle comfort, I had to rethink my stoker’s setup. After deteriorating comfort experiences with a wide variety of cut-out saddles with two (consecutive) wives, I’d had enough. So I put a pre-aged Brooks B17S saddle on a Thudbuster ST seatpost. I tuned the saddle nose just a quarter bubble low on a bullet level held on the spine of the saddle. I laced the saddle sides semi tight to prevent too much side flaring on the saddle, and I voided the warranty on the saddle by soaking it with Dr. Jackson’s Hide Rejuvenator to soften it up somewhat – aka, the Lon Haldeman solution. After 250 miles on this setup, she was doing OK but not great, because her shorts were tending to gather where they shouldn’t. So we bought a pair of PI Sugar knickers with a good looking, wider, seamless 12mm pad. After a 45 mile ride in these last weekend, she is absolutely delighted with this combo, (or else she is too afraid to say otherwise). We’ll see. Believe me, I know when she is not comfortable.
So with these experiences and FWIW, my personal theories about stoker compartments are:
1. A good and well-tuned suspension seatpost is vital and the best seem to be the Thudbuster designs.
2. Cut-out saddles are (or will eventually be) pooch or taint pinchers.
3. Good shorts are vital to the combination and should probably be replaced more often than one would like, a job made harder by mfr’s that are always screwing around with pad designs.
Best of luck in your quest..........
I replaced my stoker's old worn out Avocet W20 gel seat a month ago with a Selle Royal Dardo model. As soon as my wife sat on the new seat, she was in pain, even without pedaling! She suffered on our last ride, so I'll be looking for a new saddle. We have W20s on our other two tandems, so I measured them. The lenght and width are 7"x10". The new saddle is 6"x11", so with the longer nose and narrower width, can this be the problem?
09-10-07, 06:58 PM
Wife stoker is using a Forté Contour Saddle with a Forté Sport Saddle Gel Pad and seems to work for her.
But even more important is working on getting the fit correct. Height, forward and aft as well as angle, then we worked on handle bar positioning all seems good now for her it took some time getting it right but worth it. I think saddles are very personal and you just need to try some we went thru several before she settled on this setup.
09-11-07, 06:24 AM
RJberner is on the right track with the brooks IMHO. But if you get a sprung brooks, you can dispense with the silly suspension seatposts. It's a win-win. Also you mentioned that the nose of the brooks is lower than the back. Many people find the most comfortable position for a brooks (my wife included) is to have the sitbone area level which makes the nose actually a bit higher. Was she complaining about too much hand pressure?
Soaking the saddle isn't a good idea, but that's for another thread.
09-11-07, 06:32 AM
Instead of trying for new equipments, why not just stand up on the pedals every so often, say 1 minute per every 30 minutes? or try wearing two pairs of padded bike shorts?
[But if you get a sprung brooks, you can dispense with the silly suspension seatposts. Sheldon[/QUOTE]
The Thudbuster suspension seat post made the difference between being able to ride 50+ miles comfortably on my Brooks sprung saddle vs sit bone pain after 10 miles without it. This may not be such an issue in states that maintain their roads, but in Michigan, where the roads are deteriorating, it makes a huge difference.
After riding the MWTR over Labor Day and noticing a few bouncing stokers, the suspension seat posts may need adjustment to prevent this.
Since the switch to the Brooks saddle plus Thudbuster, the captain noticed more power from me than with my previous padded saddle with the split in the middle.
Different strokes for different folks.
Regarding swapping to saddles of different widths / lengths;
You need to take this into account when setting up the bike measurements since you will sit in different places on the saddles and you want to keep your pelvis in the same position not the tip of the saddle. Procedure I use is to:
1) Measure old saddle height from bb to top of saddle
2) Measure old saddle nose to handlebar reach
3) Ride bike and measure knee cap to bb setback with pedals horizontal after pedalling for a while
4) Install new saddle
5) Set height to same as old (normally requires adjustment as rails are different heights)
6) Set setback to give same tip to bar measurement
7) Adjust fore / aft setback by +- 1/2 to 1cm based on relative widths and lengths of new / old saddles. It's an educated guess, so no need to be prescise
8) Check knee cap measurement from 3.
9) Adjust again until everything matches.
Most people skip steps 3, 7, 8 then wonder why something other than their behind hurts.
Re. wearing 2 pairs of shorts at once, this is not a good idea. It's like putting 2 sets of tyres on your rims to ward off punctures. (I've tried this as well - just don't do it). Why?
1) because that's not the way they were designed to be worn
2) it makes your saddle effectively higher
3) better to spend money on 1 pair of high quality cycling shorts that actually work
4) it's hot and sweaty.
IMO you should try a pair with elastic chamois such as from the Assos range.
Anyone used a Serfa Curva saddle? I'm thinking about buying one for my stoker.
09-14-07, 08:17 AM
Brooks saddles and a suspension seat post has worked well for me as a stoker on our old tandem. My new tandem,the Schwinn had fitted one of those over paded things with the centre cut away which was terrible. I have a Brooks on every bike. It is the womens style , no springs. I love'em and will never use any thing else now. My husband uses a B17 mens seat. The Brooks feel had to touch with your hand but once it moulds to your bum shape your set. ita very individual and personal choice. Good luck, Renate +2
07-22-09, 03:27 PM
Have you ever had any problem with tailbone pain on your Brooks?
07-22-09, 08:33 PM
in 2002 we purchased our Co Motion. The following spring our son arrived, so we never really had the opportunity to ride the bike like we were until about 2 seasons ago. My stoker was complaining of pain and discomfort, but we attributed it to not riding like we used to. Figured we would ride into shape etc. This is a beam equipped bike. She was having issue with hands, and getting into the drops, so we had migrated her into a very upright position. The end result finally was tailbone pain, along with hand pain, somewhat related to work. Anyway, she had gone through the gamut of Terry saddles. None of which work for her. We got her butt measured, and picked up a Specialized Body Geometry saddle, which she found very comfortable. While there, I grabbed a set of tiny bars to show her thinking of my son and the triplet, and the light went off in my head. We never really fine tuned the bike because of the arrival of my son. The bike was built with 42 cm bas for stoker and captain, which is what I ride. They are full size drops and for her to reach hoods, drops and top of the bars, we had to pull her bars very far back. The end result was she had the tailbone pain. In addition to changing the saddle, we put on the women's specific design Bontrager bars, in a 38 with very small drops. This resulted in a more natural transition from hoods to drops and the top of the bar. End result is we pulled her bars away from her, got her more aggressive position in relative terms, took all of the tailbone pain away, as well as the hand strain. After 10 years, she ended up interested in and completing her first ever century last year, with not all that much preparation. So to make a very long story short, saddle helped us, as well as position, which is echoing most of the posts above. The tail bone pain for her was definitely a result of being too far upright. Hope this helps. :injured:
07-23-09, 12:24 PM
Better gloves allowed stoker to drop her bar and increase reach, which put more weight on her hands, but more importantly sloped her back more, which both decreased her saddle load and spread it out a bit more. She rides with quite a flat back - I don't mean level, I mean straight. This allowed a saddle switch to a Specialized Jett. Now, zero butt complaints. The gloves were REI Novara Lifeline, by far the best gloves I've ever used. Women's run very small IMO. Stoker got men's. So basically same story as pablo's.
07-27-09, 08:35 AM
Hi, no tail bone pain on the Brooks saddles , however when your on the back of the Tandem your bum takes more of the bumbs because your not the driver, slightly adjusting your position for the bumps that come along, but as the stokker this is impossible so you get every bump.When I ride with my husband at the front hes pretty good at communicating bigger bumps so we can stand in the pedals for a moment to get over them. When I have the kids on the back they relish the bumps for the more exciting ride. I have a pre-aged womens sprung 'Flyer S' on the stokkers poition and a 'team pro s' at the front both needed no break-in time. they are a little hard initially but it is a different feel to other saddles they mould to your shape, I also only wear padded lycra bike shorts and no undies.Sorry it may be too much information but it works. The only one I did have break-in time to do was with the latest edition a Maroon ladys B18 saddle.(simply georgeous embossed and beautiful) and I also read a review about it and that person said it was perfect from day one. So hope this helps. seems to be very individual. I would try a brooks( i always think they are a worthy investment and some of those other saddles are higher priced) and it may be worth getting a professional bike fit place, that really looks at position, to look at the set up you have. Good luck Renate
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