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  1. #1
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    Different saddles for different bikes?

    When I had my red racer, it had a Specialized Milano saddle. It was comfortable. On my new bike, a Klein Navigator, I use the same saddle in the same spot, and it hurts. Both bikes were fitted to me identically by the LBS.

    Why was the Milano comfortable on one bike and not on the other. I firmly believe that saddle height, front-aft tilt, and horizintal positioning are identical on both bikes. In fact, the same stem is used on both bikes and the top-tube lengths must also be identical based on my measurements & confirmation from the LBS.

    If I put my Fizik Dolomiti on the new bike, it's better, but only for the first hour (after which my sit bones are sore & bruised).

    Suggestions and speculations, please? Thanks!

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert on bike geometery. My limited understanding, however, is that the head and seat tube angles will have an impact on how "relaxed" or upright the riding position, as well as stem length, etc. I do know that if there is even a slight difference between the bikes in how upright you are riding, different seats make sense. The more upright, the wider or more flat the seat; the more aero the position, the more narrow and/or rounded the curve of the seat.
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    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    The BB may be more to the front or the back of the saddle depending on the seat tube angle. This changes the way you hit the saddle as your legs are at a slightly different angle. This rotates your pelvis forward or back a little and you sit differently. Also if you have different length cranks this changes things too. Even if the BB to seat height is the same you bend differently with different length cranks.

    I agonized over this for ages, you may need the saddle in a different place to be comfortable.
    Try getting five identical saddles on different dimension bikes to feel the same... AAAAAH...
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    jcm
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    I use B-67's on both the Trek 520 (tourer)and 830 (mtb). Frame geo is about the same as far as angles, but pretty different in other ways, like wheelbase and BB height.

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    I use B-67's on both the Trek 520 (tourer)and 830 (mtb). Frame geo is about the same as far as angles, but pretty different in other ways, like wheelbase and BB height.
    I got onto the Flite Titanium saddle about 10 years ago and found this comfortable on a succession of 3 bikes- Obviously had to set the saddle up for each bike but it was comfortable on all 3 However In 01 I had prostate surgery and it was too uncomfortable to think of. Changed over to a San Marco that had the pelvic cutaway and comfort came back- for a while. As the butt re-adjusted I bought more saddles to get comfortable- one of which was a selle italia- Trans Am. This worked for a while- so back to the LBS and they set about 6 saddles on bikes up for me to try. The one that was comfortable was----- A Flite Titanium but a newer version with the cutaway and a little gel. So on the solo's I am back to my old favourite.

    But I also ride a Tandem and on this you sit down for longer. Tried all the saddles I now had in stock and the comfort one was the San Marco- Untill I did a ride that lasted allday- and after about 7 hours- It hurt. Changed to the Trans Am and this has been ultra comfortable ever since- That was until the pilot tried it and I cannot get it back. Unfortunately- they are no longer made but I have just aquired the XO version of this saddle and does not seem too bad.

    Once you find a saddle that works- you keep it. In fact, if you have any sense, you buy a spare for when the original breaks on you, and they no longer make them.
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    jcm
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    stapfam:

    Alot of people like those.

    I think for me, I just got tired of all the experiments and once I tried the sprung Brooks, I stayed there. I figured since it's leather, and nothing else, it should take a shape for each bike. Thus, the same model saddle for both. Very nice for long day rides and no problems on centuries, either. That's as long as I've gone so far on either the 520 or 830.

    Interesting to me is that the 830 is a full 1-3/4" longer than the 520. Also, I bought it new in '88 as an early version of the now common comfort bike because back then, choices were few. So, I got a 23" seat tube and the BB is 12-1/2" off the ground. Very big bike! And, I believe, this accounts for the comfort on the road.

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    The bike shop fit me to both bikes by measuring foot angle to the ground at full leg extension and knee over pedal spindle by a drop weight. Wouldn't the combo of these two measurements eliminate any differences in tube angles?

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    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    The bike shop fit me to both bikes by measuring foot angle to the ground at full leg extension and knee over pedal spindle by a drop weight. Wouldn't the combo of these two measurements eliminate any differences in tube angles?
    Yes, as much as can be eliminated. However, like in the case of my different sized bikes, you may be more or less stretched out to the h'bars. This can rotate your pelvis forward onto the peak. My 830 is an inch longer in the top tube than the 520. I can't really slide the saddle too much more forward or I'll be off of KOP too much. An inch is alot. So, I use an adjustable stem to bring the bars up and back a little. Keeps my sitbones where they should be. It's worth it to use the same great saddles on both bikes.

  9. #9
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    The bike shop fit me to both bikes by measuring foot angle to the ground at full leg extension and knee over pedal spindle by a drop weight. Wouldn't the combo of these two measurements eliminate any differences in tube angles?

    No.

    Not if you have different length cranks, different pedals, different q factor, different seat post set back, different shoes, shoes with the cleats set differently, different orthotics in the shoes, lots padding in your shorts or not etc.etc. From year to year some saddles with the same name get changed, and the name remains the same.

    Even if the seat tube angle is the same lots of things can throw off the way you sit on the seat, your leg angle can be more forward, backwards, or your legs can be open or closed more, changing how your sit bones hit the seat.

    Using the identical saddle on a different bike may not work just because the saddle is the same.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  10. #10
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2manybikes
    No.

    Not if you have different length cranks, different pedals, different q factor, different seat post set back, different shoes, shoes with the cleats set differently, different orthotics in the shoes, lots padding in your shorts or not etc.etc. From year to year some saddles with the same name get changed, and the name remains the same.

    Even if the seat tube angle is the same lots of things can throw off the way you sit on the seat, your leg angle can be more forward, backwards, or your legs can be open or closed more, changing how your sit bones hit the seat.

    Using the identical saddle on a different bike may not work just because the saddle is the same.
    I doubt whether riding bow-legged as opposed to knock-kneed will make alot of difference in how sit-bones contact the saddle. They don't have ball-joints like the femur-hip socket. Sitbones can only be rotated as part of pelvic tilt, which can be different on separate bikes and adjusted. As to padding, 2mm of compressed material probably won't be noticeable either. I'm assuming, based on the limited info provided, that the shoes, cleats and orthotics, etc, are all good.

    I might ask, are the bikes in question made of the same frame material? Are the chain stays the same length? The bike itself may be transmitting road shock more than the other one.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    ...I might ask, are the bikes in question made of the same frame material? Are the chain stays the same length? The bike itself may be transmitting road shock more than the other one.
    Hi jcm!

    Good questions, all. The answers make the story curioser and curioser... In fact, the red racer and the Klein Navigator both have aluminum frames. The chain stays are considerably shorter on the red racer than on the Klein. The red racer used 700x23c tires (maximum size usable with the stays) and the Klein uses 700x37c tires. If anything, I thought the red racer had more upright tubes, but it transmitted about the same amount of road shock as does the Klein. Perhaps the "oversize" diameter tubes on the Klein (needed for its touring role) make for more shock transmission...

    The bikes were both fitted using platform pedals and sneakers. The method the LBS used was to first adjust seat height until the sole of my shoe was parallel to the floor at maximum leg extension, then adjust the seat fore and aft until my knee was over the pedal spindle at 3-O-Clock for that crank. The entire fitting process took 10 minutes because I already had it very close just by feel.

    Both bikes use seat posts with a mild setback, a Campy post on the red-racer and a single-bolt, no-name post on the Klein. I tried a FSA SL-220 seat post on the Klein with LOTS of setback, but I just had to adjust the seat full forward to compensate, so why bother?

    Pedals, shoes, and crank-lengths were identical on both bikes. I've tried two saddles on the Klein, but nothing yet is as comfortable as the Specialized Milano on the red racer. Maybe I just need to keep experimenting...

    One other observation - the top tube on the Klein is about an inch shorter than the tube on the red racer. The measure of putting my elbow against the tip of the seat left my fingers about an inch short of the bars on the red racer while the same measure with the Klein puts my fingers right on the bar. I suggested to the LBS that I needed a longer stem. They disagreed saying that my posture on the bike should be ideal with the stem I've got. I don't feel "scrunched" or "stretched" on the Klein despite the shorter top tube, but my saddle comfort is still lacking.

    This change in pelvic cant may have something to do with the saddle comfort (as was suggested by a previous poster). I really don't want to have to change stems because on this bike that would involve unwrapping the bars, undoing the cables, removing a brake lever, sliding the bars out of the old stem, and reversing the process. If that's what is needed for comfort, though, I'll do it.
    Last edited by FarHorizon; 04-17-06 at 10:27 AM.

  12. #12
    jcm
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    So, if the top tube is shorter, you should be rotating your pelvis back. That is, more upright, onto your ischial bones. Ok, now, what exactly hurts?

    1) Do you get the sensation of being 'forced apart?' In other words, is the pain somewhere on the inside of the sitbones? Saddle too narrow or set too far back.
    2) Is it direct down pressure pain on the ischials? Possible road shock transmission that you didn't feel before you rotated the pelvis onto those bones. An inch shorter tube up top can make a difference.
    3) Is it pressure on the perineal/pubic area? Usually associated with riding the peak by tilting the saddle too far down in front. You work your way onto the peak.

    I also have geometry difs on my two main bikes. That's why, after failed attempts, I went with Brooks. I'm not saying you should. It just worked for me. The leather is not backed by anything except a skeletal frame. They have formed to me and the geometry both. Thus, although the model is the same on both machines, they are now actually a little different, I suppose.

    It may not be possible to use a single saddle of the type you have. Don't they have a backing platform of some kind? If so, I'm not certain they will ever re-form to a different sit.

    Oh yeah, one more Q? Are you a Clydesdale, like me, at 225 lbs with heavy bone structure(read: full stern members)? If so, and you have shortened your cockpit length, you may have to go with a wider saddle on the shorter bike.
    Last edited by jcm; 04-17-06 at 02:08 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    ...I went with Brooks...Are you a Clydesdale...?...
    Hi jcm!

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I tried a Brooks on my Kona Dew and found it absolute torment. That doesn't mean it wouldn't work on my Klein, though (wish I'd kept the darn thing, now).

    I'm a serious Clydesdale at 270. All comments this paragraph refer to the Klein: Using the Specialized Milano (a wider & softer saddle), I feel like the harder I pedal the more my bottom aches. There is no perineal numbness, just sore bottom & inner thighs. Using the Fizik Dolomiti (a much narrower and much harder saddle), I feel like I'm bruised after about an hour of riding.

    On the red racer with the Specialized Milano, I could "sit back" on the wide portion of the saddle when I needed relief, and it was like sitting on an easy chair. When I wanted power output, I could move forward on the saddle & really apply power without pain. This experience is the opposite of my experience with the same saddle on the Klein.

    Suggestions? Thanks again!

  14. #14
    jcm
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    Ok, we may be getting somewhere. I was 270 when I started and had the same problems between two dif bikes/same saddle. I think you are having problems relating to down pressure because you're a big guy. The pain inside the upper thigh/hamstring is a charlie-horse, yes? This is caused by almost subliminally trying to get off the saddle!

    Q: Are you at or near your target/comfort weight?
    Asking because if you are losing weight, who knows where you will end up in a few months. I went through a few saddles as I lost 45 pounds. Ended up on a Brooks B-67. I lost the lard but the bones don't change position - they're still wider than average, thus, the -67.

    If you're already at your comfort weight, we start from there. Big guys need big saddles. Unfortunately, the market doesn't offer much in the way of quality for the big guys. What I found was mostly gel-junk or some type of padding that caused heat build-up and chafing. The other end of the spectrum was expensive, but too narrow, racing/road types.

    I have to suggest a Brooks at this point - and a big one, like mine. At about $85 you can spend alot more on others, believe me. I think you need springs and the subtle 'give' of thick hide. I think you can benefit from the slickness of polished leather which will alleviate hotspots and chafing while breaking it in. At 270, it won't take but 150 miles or so. It was that way with me.

    Bottom line is, (no pun) that setup is killing your enjoyment. You may be looking at a different saddle for each bike, Brooks or no.

    So, another Q: What Brooks did you hate so much? You definitely don't fit the bill for a Pro or even a B-17. At 170mm, the 17 is quite narrow. The 67 is 230mm. You've probably seen my pics but if you want, I'll post them again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm
    ...Q: What Brooks did you hate so much?...
    When I had my Kona Dew Deluxe, I tried (extensively) a B-17, a B-67, and a B-72. All were uncomfortable, the leather sagged badly unless I tightened the tension nut significantly, and nose-tilt didn't help. As you say, though, different bike - different saddle...

    I'd love to lose 50 pounds, (down from my current 270 to 220), but I can tell you it will be some time in coming. My wife has forbidden me to lose weight quickly, and the longer the road, the less my will power. It has to be done, though, because at 53, the extra baggage is something my body won't tolerate forever.

    I'm reasonably healthy now except for the blubber (no blood-pressure problems, no respiratory problems), but it can't last. I know that unless I lose the 50 extra, my life will be shorter and less pleasant. I'm focusing on making dietary changes a habit instead of something I have to consciously focus on every moment.

    I expect that with 50 less pounds, my saddle needs will change. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me now. I have the time and willingness to ride for a couple of hours per day. I just can't stand the saddle pain that keeps me from riding.

    I think I'm going to throw out the bike shop's "fit" and experiment with moving the saddle around (fore and aft PLUS up and down) to see if I can get better comfort. If this fails, my next move is to try changing stems to get a bit more (or less) extension and see how that affects things.

    If worst comes to worst, I'll just go get that recumbent I've been thinking about!

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    Having gone out this morning for a couple of hours, I tried saddle adjustment using the following method:

    Make a change (saddle tilt, height, or fore-aft, but only one)
    Ride 10 or 15 minutes - better or worse?
    If worse, reverse adjustment & try another. If better, leave adjustment & try another.

    What I found after 9 or 10 adjustments, was that my saddle was significantly farther back and lower than what the LBS had determined as "most efficient" fit. The ride is almost comfortable now (using the Specialized Milano on the Klein Navigator frame).

    I wonder if this has something to do with my body geometry? I'm bow-legged and flat-footed and my feet angle out at the toes. When the LBS fits, they insist on having my feet soles-flat-on-the-pedals and parallel to the plane of the frame. This isn't "normal" riding geometry for me since my feet normally contact the pedals only on the outside of the platform.

    In any case, I'll continue to experiment. Something's got to work...

  17. #17
    jcm
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    Yes, the weight will definitely catch up to you. I lost the 45 lbs just riding - not by diet. I'm not that disciplined. The fit from the LBS is what they understand to be 'in the slot.' I think if you have done the saddle rodeo, you might as well go ahead and play with the adjustments. Maybe by fine tuning to your body, you'll find the sweet spot. I wish you luck and good health. Take care, and be careful of your knees, big guy!

  18. #18
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    all I know is that everytime I try a different saddle I screw myself up big time and
    I have learned through breaking Murphy's law stay with what works.
    San Marcos Era saddle is on all of my rideable bikes.
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  19. #19
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    I had a problem finding a comfortable saddle until last August when I found one made by Saddleco. It is the most comfortable one I have ever found and it solved a problem that I had of getting prostatitis whenever I did a really long and hard ride.. Cyclingnews.com reviewed it and gave it a 4.5 rating out of 5. It costs about $100 - you can buy it direct from saddleco.com or performancebike.com.

    One restriction though is that Saddleco does not recommend their saddle for anyone weighing more than 200 pounds although a friend who weighs 230 uses it, and has had no problems with it.

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