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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-21-12, 01:05 PM   #1
teresamichele
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Breaking in a saddle!

I know that saddles are very much an individual choice, but I have to ask - about how long did it take you to break in your saddle? Basically, how long did it feel like you were breaking in your rear end before you felt comfortable on the saddle?

Also, with a broken-in saddle, does that mean no pain or less pain? What about on century rides? Does your rear need to develop endurance along with the rest of your body?

I just can't imagine my butt being comfortable riding 100 miles. Ever. I'll change my mind, right?
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Old 05-21-12, 01:17 PM   #2
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Right.

You don't "break in" saddles made of any other material than leather. Leather saddles change shape, those made of plastic, carbon fibre, gel etc. do not. You don't break them in, you just get used to them - or not.

Saddles are very personal, what works for one won't necessarily work for another. The first thing to do, as we have noted in your other thread, is make sure you're in the right position. After that, it's trial and error about which saddle suits you. But once you have one that works, it can be comfortable for more miles, and more hours, than you can currently imagine.
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Old 05-21-12, 01:28 PM   #3
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Oddly enough I found the answer was to simply ride more. The first few weeks where I started doing rides on back to back days, my but hurt...

Now it hurts less...same saddle.

I hope one day it doesn't hurt at all.

Actually I have found the more time I spend on my bike trying different things, the more questions It answers for me.
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Old 05-21-12, 01:41 PM   #4
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As Chasm54 said, it's really only leather that breaks in. However, in my experience you do get used to a saddle to a certain degree. On my commuter, I initially found the saddle to be way to firm...but after putting on a few hundred miles on it, I found it be comfortable enough and figured my problem was solved. But once the weather got better and I started doing longer rides again, I found I couldn't bear to be in that saddle for more than about 40 miles. Oddly, it would be uncomfortable for about 5 miles, then fine for 30 miles, then very quickly got painful again after that. So I ditched it and got a Brooks, which I'm still breaking in, but has proven to be way more comfortable right out of the box. On my road bike, I actually stole the saddle from my old hybrid because it fit me so well. Just did a century on that and was totally comfortable. The only problem I had was that the Ibex wool knickers I started off in have kind of a rough chamois, so it chafed a bit, but I changed into my Performance Ultra shorts mid-ride and felt great from then on out.

One thing I've found is that "slippery" saddles work better for me because it doesn't make the chamois rub as much as I move in the saddle. The commuter saddle that I had to get rid of was very grippy, so every time I shifted my weight, it would force the chamois to rub on my skin. May not be an issue for you, but just another variable to keep in mind.
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Old 05-21-12, 02:04 PM   #5
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Saddles are very personal, what works for one won't necessarily work for another.
Right - this wasn't meant to be a discussion on what saddle I should or should not get. I didn't realize saddles other than leather would not be "broken in." Knowing that, the thread is sort of moot since the only people with "broken in" saddles will have leather ones, and I imagine they all take about the same amount of time to break in.

I'm taking the bike into the LBS tomorrow to have them check the position of the saddle. I can't get a new one right now, but I may in the next few weeks, if it turns out I really can't get used to this one. I think it's just going to be a matter of getting used to it, though.
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Old 05-21-12, 02:09 PM   #6
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If you are in pain while only riding a few miles, then something is not right. You don't need creams, pads, or blessing from a deity. Something is not right.
If it is merely "not comfortable" then your rear-end needs to get used to it, most likely.

In my case (as others have said, the saddle-rider interface is a highly personal thing), I have 2 "main" saddles that are leather and one vinyl-covered saddle that I use for wet-weather riding. Of the two leather saddles, one was immediately very comfortable (very narrow and light racing-style) and the other was just OK (very heavy duty, touring-ish style), but is getting better as it's breaking in. The vinyl-covered saddle is thinly padded and narrow and started out good, and as I got used to it, I find that I like it pretty good for long rides (50+ milers).
I've got a box full of other styles that didn't work for me. If they are painful (rather than just "uncomfortable") they're off of my bike.
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Old 05-21-12, 02:26 PM   #7
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In the beginning, God made the bicycle and saw that it was good. He took pleasure in his creation until he heard Adam complaining about his bike. "This G D bike is a pain in the ass." God was angry with Adam and commanded the bike to be a pain in the ass. And it was so... And that, my little followers, is how the bicycle seat became uncomfortable.
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Old 05-21-12, 02:30 PM   #8
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The best description I've seen for a saddle that fits well is from somebody that posts here (I apologize that I cannot remember the name to give credit): "it disappears". You forget that it's there.
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Old 05-21-12, 02:47 PM   #9
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You don't break in a saddle---the saddle breaks in your posterior.
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Old 05-21-12, 03:29 PM   #10
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Like the right shoes... the right saddle should not have to be broken in to be comfortable. I learned this the hard way... for years I would buy very expensive saddles and they took such a long time, if ever, to get easier to sit on. One week long trip, my saddle broke and I was forced to buy whatever the local shop had. A Terry Butterfly. I feared putting on a new saddle during the middle of a tour but from the first moment it was great. Sure after 40 - 50 miles I start to get a littler tenderness but that is expected on anything... even a comfy chair. That was in 2002... since then that's my only saddle choice for my road bike (I use a WTB She Speed for the MTB bike but different story...). It make take doing, but one just have to find the right saddle... for them!
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Old 05-21-12, 03:56 PM   #11
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For me, it typically takes about 100 miles for me to get used to a saddle. I ride 4 different bikes with 4 slightly different saddles. I try to rotate and not get used to any particular one so my backside is toughened up for any kind of saddle.
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Old 05-22-12, 11:45 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Right.

You don't "break in" saddles made of any other material than leather. Leather saddles change shape, those made of plastic, carbon fibre, gel etc. do not. You don't break them in, you just get used to them - or not.

Saddles are very personal, what works for one won't necessarily work for another. The first thing to do, as we have noted in your other thread, is make sure you're in the right position. After that, it's trial and error about which saddle suits you. But once you have one that works, it can be comfortable for more miles, and more hours, than you can currently imagine.
All very true especially with 100% Leather saddles. The more YOU ride them the better they ride.

Just like your favorite pair of 100% leather shoes/boots. After awhile you just don't know they are there.
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Old 05-22-12, 06:13 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, most people have to try a few saddles before finding the right one. Most long time cyclists have a saddle bucket somewhere in the garage or basement full of barely used perches that didn't quite work out. Maybe you can find someone with a bucket to swap seats with.
Come to think of it, many shops have a saddle bin full of seats that people have swapped out before ever taking the bike home. If the shop you bought your bike from has this, they might even swap out the saddle for free.
(Leather saddles don't work for everyone, either. Some of us have tried several times and never, ever, gotten comfortable on them).
Some shops will let you take home a demo in the more expensive models. If you can find a Specialized dealer, they might have the full wall of red and white demo saddles. I spotted the display in a local dealer recently and was quite impressed that such a concept was available.
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Old 05-22-12, 09:50 PM   #14
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My first ride with the Terry Fly was a 40 miler stretched into a 70 miler because it felt just right like I could ride all day. When you get the right saddle you will know.

Other saddles that I was hoping would break in, never did.

Also, time in the saddle, any saddle will make your rides more tolerable. I do get uncomfy at times during a century. As I do watching a 2 hour movie in a recliner, you've got to move and adjust some time, no different on a 6 hour bike ride.

I also use a cream as lubrication on the chamois of my shorts. Keeps the friction down, added comfort IMO.
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Old 05-23-12, 05:33 AM   #15
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i found a LBS that does a test program of both specialized and Fizik's. F'ing awesome idea and now my new fav LBS. right now i am trying a Fizik Aliante versus, its good but not perfect. before that i tried the spec toupe gel, now that was tourture. the guy said it would break in but it was too rough from the start. I also bought a Nashbar GR2 that caused numbness, i took the seat off my old road bike and that didnt work in a agressive position on my new bike.

the stock seat a selle san marco ponza was good until about 45 minutes in, then its like all my ex-girlfriends banded together to create a device to cause damage and severe pain to my nether region and for good measure created way for it to not go numb so the pain is constant.

good luck in your quest.
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Old 05-24-12, 08:36 AM   #16
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when i returned the test Fizik, the guy told my it usually takes about a 100 miles to break in. i guess the dense foam takes a bit to mold to your shape but you would think us clydes would break in saddles quicker.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:51 AM   #17
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Fizik is all synthetics, so they must mean get used to. [have 3 (vitesse)]
unlike a leather suspended between rivet rails saddle
which actually forms a depression, in response to your 'sit bone's' shape..
[Also have a 30 and a 20 year old Brooks pro.. ]

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Old 05-24-12, 12:11 PM   #18
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I am more and more convinced that the thing being broken-in is my rear end.

I am getting a new, women specific, slightly padded, with a cut-out saddle tomorrow after work. SO EXCITED!
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Old 05-24-12, 12:26 PM   #19
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You don't break in a saddle, it breaks you in.
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Old 05-26-12, 12:56 PM   #20
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Get one of these and you will not have to worry about breaking a saddle in. Your butt will thank you for years to come. Western Bikes have the on sale at a good price but not for long.

http://www.westernbikeworks.com/sear...fujo4aod1yb2wq
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Old 05-26-12, 01:29 PM   #21
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I am more and more convinced that the thing being broken-in is my rear end.

I am getting a new, women specific, slightly padded, with a cut-out saddle tomorrow after work. SO EXCITED!
So, what did you get? And, how does it feel?
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Old 05-26-12, 04:35 PM   #22
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The thing about synthetic saddles is that they start to wear out the first time you sit on them. The foam that provides the padding starts to deteriorate, and that can accelerate under intense heat or intense cold or extended riding distances. Eventually, the saddle form gives way, and the rider will end up with issues that may extend further than the butt. I got a classic demonstration of this with a female rider (not Machka) whose top-quality saddle had collapsed the foam padding, and she had knee issues.

The investment in Brooks saddles might seem high at first, but as fietsbob points out, he continues to use ones that are decades old. We have a lot of Brooks saddles in the household. Machka won't touch a Terry saddle of any sort, and I must say that after trying a male version that came on out tandem, I don't blame her.

There is, however, a definite break-in period for the sitbones and the surrounding tissue. When you have calluses on the skin around the sitbones, you know you are well and truly broken in to your saddle (yes, I've had them).

And, finally, with a well-fitting bike and a good saddle, you shouldn't need creams of any sort. The smooth surface on Brooks saddles eliminates much of the need for creams based on friction. I've often wondered why some saddle manufacturers insist on incorporating surfaces with "suede" finishes... it just invites the sorts of frictional issues that creams are then used to prevent. PLUS, the leather of Brooks saddles is a natural absorber of moisture from the butt region, something that synthetic saddles don't do at all well.
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