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  1. #1
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Wife having numbness issues

    My wife likes to ride but has been experiencing numbness in the crotch and inner thighs after just 5-10 miles. She is riding a hybridized MTB that fits her well and has a gel "comfort" seat that is slightly wider and more padded than a typical MTB seat, but nowhere near as cushy as a cruiser seat.

    I've tried adjusting seat position and handlebar height, even switched to a riser bar, but nothing seems to work. She has cycling shorts which help but not alot.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  2. #2
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    This is a common problem with cushion seats that are wide. The cushion molds to much and hits the preasure points in those areas which can cause numbness. I too have had this issue. The fix might be a new saddle. Your not looking for a wide cushion like saddle... you are looking for something that can fit the sit bones. Doesnt have to support the whole behind.

    There are a lot of saddles out there. I can only suggest what works for me.... which is the Brooks B-17. This saddle rocks. Its leather, it molds to your sit bones versus your preasure points. Some people say there is a break in period to leather saddles but I did not experiance this. They also make saddles with the appropriate cut outs to relieve preassure too. They do carry a little price tag but well worth it.....especially for the wife

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    Where abouts do you live? Try to find a brooks dealer. If you good Brooks Saddles and find the company page, there will be a directory there to help you. I found one in Philly and they were awesome to talk with.

  4. #4
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I tried to convince her once before that a properly sized road saddle might be the answer and put one on her bike. It was a slightly wider model and appeared to hit her sit bones pretty well. She rode for about 10 minutes and made me switch back to her original saddle.

  5. #5
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    She may have to be willing to adapt to a different kind of saddle. Maybe have her work with a fitter? She can try different saddles on a trainer during her fit.

    Is she using a pear shaped or a t shaped saddle? Maybe she needs to switch types. I had lots of problems with a pear shaped seat that disappeared with the t shape.

    She may need a cutout on her seat.

    She might want to look at the Team Estrogen forum, a women's biking forum. There are extensive discussions on saddles and particular saddle issues for women. See, http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...hlight=saddles and http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...hlight=saddles
    Last edited by goldfinch; 10-08-11 at 04:26 PM.

  6. #6
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    saddles are a tough thing. Yes, she likes the cushion saddles but it is only for a short time. Even trying different saddles will be a tough thing since yes, they may feel great now but wait til your on the road riding or she might say... this sucks and i hate it but it might feel great after riding a while. my opinion: brooks (i just love them) and some miles. Sit bones have to get used to sitting on the saddle.

  7. #7
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    I agree with the Brooks B-17. I suffered to the point of tears on two higher end Specialized saddles - both "fitted" at the store. I could not go more that 10 miles without the creeping sensation of stabbing pain on my "buns". The Brooks instantly fixed it for me. Great saddle. However, you do need to be aware that it will lose its shape if left out int the rain and you also need to apply the Brooks leather dubbing once in awhile - IMHO, a small price to pay

    Ive seen them in the local REI...

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    This is probably obvious and you've already done it, but for women the nose of the seat needs to point downward a little bit. I have a wide gel seat and it doesn't get uncomfortable until I've ridden a while, but when it does, it's my bones that start to feel it. When I first got it and before I adjusted it, I had trouble with the numbness and it was bad enough that I had to stop and adjust it mid-ride.

  9. #9
    Junior Member tandemchick's Avatar
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    Selle Anatomica saddles are good, too. They work a lot like the Brooks from what I understand (never tried a Brooks), but come with a pretty hefty price tag. That being said, being able to comfortably ride long distances > cost, IMO.

  10. #10
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judi View Post
    This is probably obvious and you've already done it, but for women the nose of the seat needs to point downward a little bit. I have a wide gel seat and it doesn't get uncomfortable until I've ridden a while, but when it does, it's my bones that start to feel it. When I first got it and before I adjusted it, I had trouble with the numbness and it was bad enough that I had to stop and adjust it mid-ride.
    When I first was biking I had a lot of seat problems. I would adjust it up and down, forward and backwards as well as adjustments off of level. I found the seat most comfortable when it wasn't level but it still was problematic. When I finally did a bike fit the fitter said if the seat doesn't work when it is level, then there is something either wrong with your fit or with your saddle. He also said that pointing the nose down just puts more pressure on the hands. I ended up with both fit adjustments and a different saddle and now I ride my bikes with the saddles perfectly level and with no seat problems.

    My favorite seat is a Terry Butterfly. It has a cutout but the cutout may not be necessary. The shape just seems to work best for me. People differ dramatically on what seat shape works best.

  11. #11
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    I had a gooshy, sprung saddle that was as comfy as a La-z-boy chair and I hated it. My butt was always numb and my legs couldn't extend as long and ended up sitting too low on the bike, making my knees sore. I put the original seat back on my bike and worked past the discomfort of a stiffer saddle. Turns out the hamstring muscles need a bit on conditioning to get used to a smaller saddle but in the long term it's much better for all day riding versus the previous gooshy saddle.


  12. #12
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    If her bike has suspension in the seatpost, I recommend a Brooks B68S. If her bike doesn't, either a B68S or, might be an easier sell to her, a B67S or a B66S.

    Gel is bad. That's been covered. But with an upright riding position, she may still prefer a wider saddle, and she may prefer some spring to it.

    How about getting her sit bone width measured? (Most bike shops can do this) Add about 10mm to the width and buy the appropriate Brooks saddle.
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    Standing up periodically while in the saddle helps too. Also, she might need a different pair of cycling shorts. I have some that are only good for shorter rides, and others that I save for the longer rides.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Women, by the grace of nature, have wider sitz bones than the lesser genre.

    As Richard and others have alluded to, perhaps a wider saddle would be something to try?

    This article is also worth a few minutes of anyone's time who is interested in bicycles saddles.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

  15. #15
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    myosmith, It is initially so counter intuitive to think that a gel saddle and padded shorts can actually add to riding discomfort that it maybe difficult to convince your wife that she probably needs less padding in her saddle and/or her shorts. The issue is that the padding gradually migrates to where it isn't needed nor wanted.

    You may want to initially have her try a pair of shorts equipped with just a chamois.

    Brad

  16. #16
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penny4 View Post
    Standing up periodically while in the saddle helps too.
    This is infinitely more important than the saddle itself. Also, changing positions is very important. Unless it's so wide that it interferes with movement, the saddle is not as big a deal as making sure to get up and move around while you ride.

  17. #17
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Hey Myosmith, what did you wife do about a saddle?

  18. #18
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Goldfinch,

    She pretty much quit riding. She has it in her head that bigger and cushier should be more comfortable. After a good start last spring, she gave up and put on maybe a total of 100 miles all summer. She got numb and sore a couple of times and just lost interest and doesn't want to "waste money" trying different saddles.

    Chinggrumpy,

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  19. #19
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    It is a hard truth that soft wide cushy seats are great for 'round the block cruising but a harder narrower seat is better for longer rides.

    All humans have a lot going on in the crotch area so it takes out of the box thinking to find a seat/saddle that is just right for you.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
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  20. #20
    Senior Member El Conquistador De Amore's Avatar
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    Sometimes the women specific saddles are not so great. My fiances bike had a Terry saddle on it and she hated it. I found one of these on Craigslist and she loves it.

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...8_20000_400195
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  21. #21
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    My guess is that 1) her behind isn't used to biking yet 2) she's not sitting on her sitbones, but rather on the soft parts 3) the cushy seat is masking problem (2) temporarily.

    Numbness indicates that there's a blood circulation issue. I would get rid of all the unnecessary padding and make sure she's sitting correctly before you make any purchases. IMHO cycling shorts and a comfort seat is overkill and its probably causing her to not shift around once in a while during the ride.

  22. #22
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    Make sure the saddle isn't too high. Reaching for the pedals can put too much weight in the saddle area.
    The only time I've had this problem was when I tried a Brooks two years ago. It was a bit worrying because it laste for a couple of weeks after I switched to a different saddle.

  23. #23
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    I had all kinds of issues while I was riding a VERY padded gel seat w/ a neoprene cover. I was just sinking in too deep with too much pressure placed on soft tissue.
    It caused swelling. Lack of airflow and cooling encouraged some skin infections. Also had cheap bike shorts that didn't wick moisture away from the skin surface well.

    I have since switched to a saddle that is still a bit on the soft side (the hard saddle was too stiff on the edges for my middle-aged butt) but supports the sit bones properly.
    The saddle also depends on the rider's preferred posture. An upright position and a time trial position will change what saddle is appropriate.
    The bike stores in my area are willing to take exchanges/returns on saddles as long as they are in like-new sellable condition. Some brands have loaner programs too.
    When I found a style I liked, I bought a spare. When I sold one bike, I kept the saddle and put a cheap generic saddle on instead.

    And if you've not ridden a bike for a long time, expect a few weeks to get accustomed to a firm saddle.

  24. #24
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    When you say you've adjusted the seat "position" does that just mean the height, or have you adjusted the angle? The other posts are right when they say that a rider should be sitting on their "sit bones" and to do that the nose of the seat should be angled downward to some degree.

    Those big wide gel seats remind me of the seats I see on adult trikes, and with that style of bike a big flat seat works because the bike's geometry is completely different and the rider's legs are out in front of them. With other bikes and MTB bikes in particular, the rider's position is leaning more forward, with their legs underneath them more. I'd think that with that style of bike a big seat would only get in the way, and the difference in body positioning is another reason why the seat's nose should be angled down a bit on the average bike (because the rider is angled forward more).

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