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Old 06-18-10, 11:16 AM   #1
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Saddle "break-in" - fact or fiction

I'm sure this question has been addressed in other forums, but I'd like to get some opinions from the mature folks (like me). I can see how break-in applies to real leather saddles (like the Brooks models), but can you really "break-in" a board-flat, foam-padded saddle? Aren't you just breaking in your derriere?

Opinions?
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Old 06-18-10, 11:48 AM   #2
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Saddle won't vary much unless you are heavy and it has a few years riding on it. But the Butt will adapt to a saddle that fits. However if it is the wrong saddle- you will have butt ache for a long time.

Saying that- I have had saddles that are fine to start off with but 6 months later have gone "Off". This has happened on a couple of Fizic saddles but has not so far occurred with my San Marco "Aero" or the Flite "Gel Max" after 3 years.
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Old 06-18-10, 12:28 PM   #3
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Mostly fiction. It's your undercarriage that needs to go through adaptation. If one's saddle doesn't match their sit bones, it's never going to be comfortable. Most people can get comfortable on most saddles; it takes time..... saddle time.
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Old 06-18-10, 01:49 PM   #4
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Mostly fiction. It's your undercarriage that needs to go through adaptation. If one's saddle doesn't match their sit bones, it's never going to be comfortable. Most people can get comfortable on most saddles; it takes time..... saddle time.
Guy,
I see from the link in your sig line you sell bike tires. I therefore assume you must have some references about saddle fit & wear for the information you have provided, maybe some industry study that tested a lot of people - could you please provide these so that the rest of us uninformed can learn more?
Thanks
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Old 06-18-10, 02:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
Guy,
I see from the link in your sig line you sell bike tires. I therefore assume you must have some references about saddle fit & wear for the information you have provided, maybe some industry study that tested a lot of people - could you please provide these so that the rest of us uninformed can learn more?
Thanks
I'm betting that he's just providing his opinion. Like the rest of us.

My opinion : No break-in for modern saddles.
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Old 06-18-10, 03:32 PM   #6
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No studies or "official" references. Having been an active and avid rider, racer, commuter, I do have a bit of experience in this area. Most of the people I know who have saddle issues are casual riders, and never spend the time (ride the miles) to acclimate their points of contact with their saddle. They ride once or twice, their undercarriage gets sore, and they proclaim: "My saddle is uncomfortable".

Some people actually have wider or narrower than "normal" sit bones. A good bike fit person can make this determination, and then recommend an appropriate saddle.... of course they have to get kind of up close and personal with your nether regions to do the measuring.

If one doesn't want to take my word for it, perhaps Sheldon Brown's wisdom would be more acceptable.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

Sheldon does state that a good tensioned leather saddle (Brooks) will "break-in" over time, but again, someone actually has to put in enough time in the saddle to make this happen. I have ridden many kinds of saddles over the past 20+ years, and the only time I have ever had a problem was doing too many miles on early season rides. Now that I ride year round, I can jump from saddle to saddle and not have any issues.

Last edited by Kojak; 06-18-10 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 06-18-10, 03:41 PM   #7
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I ran a Brooks Swift on one of my two bikes for several years.
It got about 50% of my 5,000 miles/year.
The break-in period definitely exists.
My butt broke in nicely.
After several years I finally had to admit the Brooks still wasn't as comfortable on the really long rides as my trusty old 1990's Selle Italia Flite.
I went on to eBay and picked up another Flite, then eBay'd the Brooks.
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Old 06-18-10, 06:20 PM   #8
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I've never had a Brooks. All of my saddles have had a shell underneath them. Some of the padding under skin and over the shell degraded. That is not the same as breaking in. Some shorts or bibs had "chamois" that degraded.

It was always my ass that broke in or HTFU.
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Old 06-18-10, 07:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
No studies or "official" references. Having been an active and avid rider, racer, commuter, I do have a bit of experience in this area. Most of the people I know who have saddle issues are casual riders, and never spend the time (ride the miles) to acclimate their points of contact with their saddle. They ride once or twice, their undercarriage gets sore, and they proclaim: "My saddle is uncomfortable".

Some people actually have wider or narrower than "normal" sit bones. A good bike fit person can make this determination, and then recommend an appropriate saddle.... of course they have to get kind of up close and personal with your nether regions to do the measuring.

If one doesn't want to take my word for it, perhaps Sheldon Brown's wisdom would be more acceptable.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

Sheldon does state that a good tensioned leather saddle (Brooks) will "break-in" over time, but again, someone actually has to put in enough time in the saddle to make this happen. I have ridden many kinds of saddles over the past 20+ years, and the only time I have ever had a problem was doing too many miles on early season rides. Now that I ride year round, I can jump from saddle to saddle and not have any issues.
Guy,
Thank you for the pointer to Sheldon Brown - GRHS, I missed that and it was interesting - Sheldon's work is always a good reference.
My experience from reading peoples experiences as posted on this site are a little different than what you stated, as you stated, if the sit bones don't fit the saddle the saddle will never fit the sit bones and be comfortable - on that the data seems to agree. However on the second point, most people can be comfortable on most saddles does not agree, many people here seem to need the right saddle.
Also - one thing you may not be aware of, Specialized has what has been called the ass-o-meter which measures sit bones so they can be matched to the right width saddle.
As for me, as you suggest I seem to be pretty tolerant of saddles, but what I found recently though with a bike I could never get comfortable, my tail would hurt after 4 hours riding using 4 different saddles (including one that worked well on another one of my bikes) - I found it a 20mm shorter stem solved the problem.
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Old 06-20-10, 10:35 AM   #10
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All-leather saddles such as a Brooks will break-in just like a good pair of leather boots. My Brooks Pro that I had on my old Raleigh Professional Mk IV was hard as a board when new but broke-in after a few hundred miles (and a road race in a thunderstorm). That's not to say that your ass doesn't "adapt" as well. Just make sure your bike is sized and set-up properly or no saddle will be comfortable.
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Old 06-20-10, 01:25 PM   #11
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"Specialized has what has been called the ass-o-meter which measures sit bones"





You've got to take the ass-o-meter with a grain of salt. I measured at a recommended 155mm. The saddle that I've had the most comfort with is 130 mm.
Go figure!
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Old 06-20-10, 04:08 PM   #12
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"Specialized has what has been called the ass-o-meter which measures sit bones"
How is ass-o-meter pronounced? Is it "ass-oh-meeter" or ass-omm-etter? Just curious.
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Old 06-20-10, 08:29 PM   #13
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IMO: Leather saddle= fact. Others= not-so-much.

Speaking for myself, it is only on longish rides that one learns the true nature of the "rumpus-to-saddle" relationship. I do agree with Kojack that beginning riders may sort of overreact to early saddle discomfort that doesn't really mean much.
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Old 06-21-10, 09:26 AM   #14
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If a saddle doesn't fit you from the git-go, it never will. Leather, plastic, carbon, whatever. A leather saddle's fit may improve with age, but if it's not good to start out, try something else. Over the (35) years, I've found exactly 3 saddles that fit me well: Brooks B17, Unicanitor 55 (the plain nylon unpadded one), and one particular Brooks Pro. I've got 2 (old but sound) B17s and 3 Unicanitors on bikes or stashed away. That should be enough to get me thru the next couple decades.

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Old 06-21-10, 09:49 AM   #15
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IMO: Leather saddle= fact. Others= not-so-much.
And I would add that much of what is said about leather saddle break-in is fiction, or at least gross exaggeration.
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Old 06-21-10, 09:58 AM   #16
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Speaking for myself, it is only on longish rides that one learns the true nature of the "rumpus-to-saddle" relationship. I do agree with Kojack that beginning riders may sort of overreact to early saddle discomfort that doesn't really mean much.
For me it takes at least 40 miles to tell.

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And I would add that much of what is said about leather saddle break-in is fiction, or at least gross exaggeration.
My experience agrees - My Sella Anatomica although fairly comfortable, never really changed much over the year I have been riding it.
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