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  1. #1
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    How do you pick a saddle without any form of fitting or test riding

    Hello,

    Here is my problem. Nearing 10-12 miles, my butt hurts (the back of my butt, not the tailbone. The pain is soreness, like I sat on a rock for an hour. I am 300lbs, 5'10" and have been told I "dont have a butt". I have tried a few saddles, but am sick of the try it and return it, only to try another saddle. I live in an area where they dont have a sit bones meter (or they at least didnt offer it to me). The general concensus is that everyone likes something different. When I go to the LBS, they pick one for me and say try it. Every salesmen has a different idea of what I "should" like. I dont ride with bike shorts, and understand they might help....but doubt they will be a cure all. I have found some great reviews of some expensive saddles that are not offered in my area. I am getting frustrated because this is the limiting factor in my rides. I just want to ride

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  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Takes some saddle time to get your butt in riding shape.

    In many cases it is not the saddle.

    How much time or miles do you have on your bike?

    One Needs Bike Shorts and a Fitting from a bike shop.
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    The bike is new....has about 100 miles on it. I have been riding since late april on a mountain bike that gave me the same saddle fits
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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Took my legs 500 miles to get in shape for longer rides.

    You legs help keep the weight off of your saddle.

    Stand up every 5 minutes and pedal in a higher gear.
    ^^^ Allows blood flow in your back and rear.

    Be happy that you can ride 10 miles and just do 10 miles rides untill the time comes when you can go further.
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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
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  6. #6
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    You can measure your own sit bones, which may or may not help in picking a saddle. Lightly dampen a towel and lay it on a step or bench that is fairly low to the ground. Put a piece of paper on top of the towel. Sit on the towel, leaning forward like you are on a bike. Get up and measure the sit bone marks. Center to center is the easiest measure. Outside to outside may be a bit blurry. But, it should give you an idea of the range of saddle that may work for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    You can measure your own sit bones, which may or may not help in picking a saddle. Lightly dampen a towel and lay it on a step or bench that is fairly low to the ground. Put a piece of paper on top of the towel. Sit on the towel, leaning forward like you are on a bike. Get up and measure the sit bone marks. Center to center is the easiest measure. Outside to outside may be a bit blurry. But, it should give you an idea of the range of saddle that may work for you.

    Thanks for the advice......one I know the center to center distance (139mm) , how do i use that measurement to pick a seat? Do i just measure the seats at the store, or do they have some kind of universal number on each seat that might coorelate to the distance I measured?
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    Senior Member CJ C's Avatar
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    That Kona Dew is a sweet bike!

    I wish i could help you on the saddle issue. if you can see here i had my own trial and error thing going on, http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...50-Saddle-Woes , you may be able to pick up some ideas from my faults.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CJ C View Post
    That Kona Dew is a sweet bike!

    I wish i could help you on the saddle issue. if you can see here i had my own trial and error thing going on, http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...50-Saddle-Woes , you may be able to pick up some ideas from my faults.

    Thanks for the link. I have been following your thread closely as well!
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonmg1981 View Post
    Thanks for the advice......one I know the center to center distance (139mm) , how do i use that measurement to pick a seat? Do i just measure the seats at the store, or do they have some kind of universal number on each seat that might coorelate to the distance I measured?
    Every saddle manufacturer measures differently. In my experience, knowing the distance between your sit bones provides little help when choosing a saddle...

    Suggest buying bike shorts (wear "regular" shorts over them if you're self-conscious); for me, they make a huge difference in comfort! As 10 Wheels suggests, it's not a bad idea to get someone to help you with bike fit before you invest a ton of time testing saddles. This doesn't need to be an hour-long $100+ professional fit: just get someone at a reputable shop to make sure you're in the right ballpark, not sitting on the nose or sliding off the back.

    Other than that, it helps if you can focus in on particular problems when you try a saddle. Chafing on the inner thighs? Try a narrower saddle. Too much pressure on the soft tissue? Try a saddle with a cut-out or center groove. Pain at the front of the groin? Try lowering the nose or look for a shorter saddle. The more you can pinpoint the problems, the easier it will be to focus in on a saddle that works!

  11. #11
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonmg1981 View Post
    Thanks for the advice......one I know the center to center distance (139mm) , how do i use that measurement to pick a seat? Do i just measure the seats at the store, or do they have some kind of universal number on each seat that might coorelate to the distance I measured?
    As sstorkal said, it isn't necessarily that much help. That said, you can take and measure a seat to see where you sit bones might fall on that seat. Also, if you are getting a seat online and the size looks way off from where your sit bones fall then you can reject the seat. But really, it is only a rough guesstimate.

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    How did everyone else reading this post pick the saddle you currently own? I feel like choosing a saddle is harder for a few of us than others. Right now my goal is to purchase the least painful saddle and the ride with bike shorts. Is my weight the reason I am having such a difficult time?
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  13. #13
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    I'm not a clyde but I chose mine by trial and error. If the LBS is letting you return saddles without any restocking fees then why not just keep trying them out?

    Competitive Cycling has a saddle demo program but it costs $75. WTB has a saddle test program, not sure how that one works.

    Keep in mind that your favorite saddle is likely to change after you get a couple thousand miles on your legs and butt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonmg1981 View Post
    How did everyone else reading this post pick the saddle you currently own? I feel like choosing a saddle is harder for a few of us than others. Right now my goal is to purchase the least painful saddle and the ride with bike shorts. Is my weight the reason I am having such a difficult time?
    Start by reading through this site http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html it should provide you with some helpful insight.

    Regardless of the saddle, you should make sure it is first adjusted properly for you before reaching any comfort conclusions.

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    Jason...going out on a limb here, but if your n pain after 10 miles and you don't have but 100 miles on the bike total, and it sounds like you have tried a number of saddles....

    Ride more...leave the saddle you have on it, see if ou don't become more accustomed to it.

    the folks who said get your legs in shape and get your but off the saddle as much as possible are right. If I sit for ten miles my but still hurts, but if I get out of the saddle every chance I get I am to in much pain after 65 miles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seve View Post
    Start by reading through this site http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html it should provide you with some helpful insight.

    Regardless of the saddle, you should make sure it is first adjusted properly for you before reaching any comfort conclusions.

    Thanks for the link. It cleared up alot. Its always best to start with a solid foundation and mine was brittle. I think I am going to return the 2 saddles I have and start from scratch based on this article.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    Jason...going out on a limb here, but if your n pain after 10 miles and you don't have but 100 miles on the bike total, and it sounds like you have tried a number of saddles....

    Ride more...leave the saddle you have on it, see if ou don't become more accustomed to it.

    the folks who said get your legs in shape and get your but off the saddle as much as possible are right. If I sit for ten miles my but still hurts, but if I get out of the saddle every chance I get I am to in much pain after 65 miles.

    I agree with you. I should leave the saddle alone, and I do have a few saddles in the rotation. Its hard to leave it alone when It doesnt feel right. The current saddle feels worse daily. I do sit for almost the entire ride, as I see alot of others doing on the trails. Once I find a saddle that feels anatomically correct to my body, ill leave it alone and ride it out. As for the "getting your legs in shape" are you refering to a sprinting type action, where as i would be pedaling standing up? (forgive my lack of terminology) I am terrified of this motion due to my size. I have this terrible dream (based on my previous bike) that one of the pedals or crank arms will fail while pedaling with all my weight on the pedals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Every saddle manufacturer measures differently. In my experience, knowing the distance between your sit bones provides little help when choosing a saddle...

    Suggest buying bike shorts (wear "regular" shorts over them if you're self-conscious); for me, they make a huge difference in comfort! As 10 Wheels suggests, it's not a bad idea to get someone to help you with bike fit before you invest a ton of time testing saddles. This doesn't need to be an hour-long $100+ professional fit: just get someone at a reputable shop to make sure you're in the right ballpark, not sitting on the nose or sliding off the back.

    Other than that, it helps if you can focus in on particular problems when you try a saddle. Chafing on the inner thighs? Try a narrower saddle. Too much pressure on the soft tissue? Try a saddle with a cut-out or center groove. Pain at the front of the groin? Try lowering the nose or look for a shorter saddle. The more you can pinpoint the problems, the easier it will be to focus in on a saddle that works!
    Thanks for the advice
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    Reinforcing what others have said about purchasing cycling shorts before spending on additional saddles that will also be designed with the presumption that you're wearing said shorts.

    With regard to "fit". Do not hesitate to make very small adjustments to your saddle tilt. As little as 2-5mm (measured at the nose using a torpedo level on a stiff ruler) makes a huge difference to my comfort on my current saddle. I know, because, I recently made a 10mm change in my bar position and have subsequently had to work through relocating the "Goldielocks" position for my saddle.
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  20. #20
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    TL;DR - The right saddle is important, but bike fit is even more important. See if your bike is the right size and something that can be made to fit you, then worry about buying that perfect saddle.

    Jason, I looked through your post history, and it seems you're having pain in your hands and where you sit. I think you're riding a hybrid or similar bike - does that mean flat bars? Knowing the position you ride in would help here. But it seems like you're sitting mostly upright, with most of your weight on your butt and hands. It looks like you're also riding for general weight loss and fitness. (Please let me know if I'm guessing wrong.) I'm a clyde myself, and started riding for similar reasons. Now that I have several comfortable bikes I can ride long distances on, I'm just plain happy on a bike. I hope you can get to the same point!

    You do not need a pro fitting to be comfortable on a bike, although it will make it easier to get the job done quickly. (They're worth the money.) You do not need that ass-o-meter to find the right width of saddle; more then one shop has told me those things are useless. Just find a saddle that's about the right width and try it out.

    Wide saddles are actually worse for long-distance riding, since they can cause leg chafing. Gel saddles tend to wear over time, until you might as well be sitting on concrete.

    Bike fit:

    While getting a good saddle is important (vital, even), what's just as important is that the bike fits you. Have a look for frame size/inseam comparisons, and see if your bike size is in the ballpark. Assuming it is, the rest of fitting your bike properly will come down to fiddling with your saddle height and tilt, handlebar height, and stem length.

    In general, you want to set up your bike so that it's comfortable for you to support most of your weight on your legs, a little of it on your butt - which is why you want a comfortable saddle - and very little of it on your hands.

    Your hands are not built to take a lot of weight. Padded gloves and cushy bar tape or barends (if you have flat bars) will all help here, but the only real solution is to work on your core strength, so your torso supports itself a little more.

    Bar height:

    It's tempting to raise your handlebars higher and higher, to allow you to sit more and more upright on a bike and take weight off your hands, but that only adds to any saddle unhappiness you may have. A longer stem may make more sense here, or an adjustable stem.

    Barends, as I mentioned above, can be awesome on flat bars. They're also cheap and easy to install, and they give you more hand positions.

    Touring bikes, which are fairly relaxed, generally have the saddle and handlebars at roughly the same height.

    Saddle adjustments:

    To paraphrase Sheldon Brown, a bike isn't a sofa. You don't sit on it, you ride it. That means you're not sitting bolt upright or even close to it, not even on a touring bike.

    Height - sit in the saddle and adjust the height so that, with the heel of your foot on a pedal, your leg is straight. Since one pedals on the balls of one's feet, this ensures your knees will never hyperextend while pedaling, but you'll also have leverage. (If you see people pedaling with their knees bent double, know that they're heading for knee pain eventually, or they just have "young" knees.)

    Tilt - My personal preference is to tilt the nose down a little bit, because it reminds me to keep my sit bones in the right place, but this may not work for you. Experiment with tilt and height until you find a place that's comfortable and gives you no pain (or numbness).

    My setup:

    I favor touring setups, where I'm partially upright, but I also have a cruiser and a more aggressive folding steel road bike. Both that and my touring rid have Brooks B-17 saddles, although I've also used Rido saddles on bikes where I'll be using bike shorts all the time.

    My preferences in a saddle are one that I can ride in bike shorts for a long ride, or in jeans and still be comfortable for a ride of a few miles.

    A good saddle is something that's worth the money. A good leather saddle is worth the money if you're riding really long rides, rides of more than an hour. And a good Brooks saddle is something you'll take along to the next bike.

    Keep looking; you'll find a good saddle.
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    Climbers Apprentice vesteroid's Avatar
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    I don't mean you have to stand up as in sprinting, and it does take time to get comfortable with standing. I mean find a flat spot, coast along, raise your but up for 30 seconds, let the blood flow back, rinse repeat as often as you feel the need.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesteroid View Post
    I don't mean you have to stand up as in sprinting, and it does take time to get comfortable with standing. I mean find a flat spot, coast along, raise your but up for 30 seconds, let the blood flow back, rinse repeat as often as you feel the need.
    I do this.....but I'll make a conscious effort to do it more often....thanks
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    TL;DR - The right saddle is important, but bike fit is even more important. See if your bike is the right size and something that can be made to fit you, then worry about buying that perfect saddle.

    Jason, I looked through your post history, and it seems you're having pain in your hands and where you sit. I think you're riding a hybrid or similar bike - does that mean flat bars? Knowing the position you ride in would help here. But it seems like you're sitting mostly upright, with most of your weight on your butt and hands. It looks like you're also riding for general weight loss and fitness. (Please let me know if I'm guessing wrong.) I'm a clyde myself, and started riding for similar reasons. Now that I have several comfortable bikes I can ride long distances on, I'm just plain happy on a bike. I hope you can get to the same point!

    You do not need a pro fitting to be comfortable on a bike, although it will make it easier to get the job done quickly. (They're worth the money.) You do not need that ass-o-meter to find the right width of saddle; more then one shop has told me those things are useless. Just find a saddle that's about the right width and try it out.

    Wide saddles are actually worse for long-distance riding, since they can cause leg chafing. Gel saddles tend to wear over time, until you might as well be sitting on concrete.

    Bike fit:

    While getting a good saddle is important (vital, even), what's just as important is that the bike fits you. Have a look for frame size/inseam comparisons, and see if your bike size is in the ballpark. Assuming it is, the rest of fitting your bike properly will come down to fiddling with your saddle height and tilt, handlebar height, and stem length.

    In general, you want to set up your bike so that it's comfortable for you to support most of your weight on your legs, a little of it on your butt - which is why you want a comfortable saddle - and very little of it on your hands.

    Your hands are not built to take a lot of weight. Padded gloves and cushy bar tape or barends (if you have flat bars) will all help here, but the only real solution is to work on your core strength, so your torso supports itself a little more.

    Bar height:

    It's tempting to raise your handlebars higher and higher, to allow you to sit more and more upright on a bike and take weight off your hands, but that only adds to any saddle unhappiness you may have. A longer stem may make more sense here, or an adjustable stem.

    Barends, as I mentioned above, can be awesome on flat bars. They're also cheap and easy to install, and they give you more hand positions.

    Touring bikes, which are fairly relaxed, generally have the saddle and handlebars at roughly the same height.

    Saddle adjustments:

    To paraphrase Sheldon Brown, a bike isn't a sofa. You don't sit on it, you ride it. That means you're not sitting bolt upright or even close to it, not even on a touring bike.

    Height - sit in the saddle and adjust the height so that, with the heel of your foot on a pedal, your leg is straight. Since one pedals on the balls of one's feet, this ensures your knees will never hyperextend while pedaling, but you'll also have leverage. (If you see people pedaling with their knees bent double, know that they're heading for knee pain eventually, or they just have "young" knees.)

    Tilt - My personal preference is to tilt the nose down a little bit, because it reminds me to keep my sit bones in the right place, but this may not work for you. Experiment with tilt and height until you find a place that's comfortable and gives you no pain (or numbness).

    My setup:

    I favor touring setups, where I'm partially upright, but I also have a cruiser and a more aggressive folding steel road bike. Both that and my touring rid have Brooks B-17 saddles, although I've also used Rido saddles on bikes where I'll be using bike shorts all the time.

    My preferences in a saddle are one that I can ride in bike shorts for a long ride, or in jeans and still be comfortable for a ride of a few miles.

    A good saddle is something that's worth the money. A good leather saddle is worth the money if you're riding really long rides, rides of more than an hour. And a good Brooks saddle is something you'll take along to the next bike.

    Keep looking; you'll find a good saddle.


    You are partially right. I have bought a new bike that was "fitted" by a LBS since the post on the hand pain. I do ride mostly upright, and that is how they fitted me to the bike. If this was wrong, then they just wanted to sell a bike. I dont have the pain in my hands anymore. It sounds like my riding style is wrong, and I will go through your checklist, as well as the sheldon brown links. Thanks for the information.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Reinforcing what others have said about purchasing cycling shorts before spending on additional saddles that will also be designed with the presumption that you're wearing said shorts.

    With regard to "fit". Do not hesitate to make very small adjustments to your saddle tilt. As little as 2-5mm (measured at the nose using a torpedo level on a stiff ruler) makes a huge difference to my comfort on my current saddle. I know, because, I recently made a 10mm change in my bar position and have subsequently had to work through relocating the "Goldielocks" position for my saddle.


    Thanks for the information....I will be purchasing a pair of cycling shorts. I have also noted that changing the tilt of the saddle makes quite a change. Thank you.
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