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Old 10-03-10, 08:29 AM   #1
speedlever
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seat comfort

I don't know if this is specifically 50+ related or not, but since I fall in that category I figure it's worth a shot here.

I just finished my first ever 1000+ mile month in September. Had one 300+ mile week... both of which are PRs. I have been enduring some butt discomfort that really became evident during that time.

My typical ride is 40-60 miles with an occasional shorter ride and more often, a 60+ miler. I find that after a while, my butt just starts to burn. My scrotum burns... and I have to stand up for a bit to get some relief. At some point, I'm getting up and down pretty often.

Is this just to be expected on a semi-long ride or do I likely have some positioning issues? I've not had a professional fit, but have had experienced cyclists help/confirm my position on the bike.

I've just toughed it out thus far figuring it was normal but thought I'd run it by you guys and see if I'm suffering unnecessarily.

This is the OEM saddle and I have over 7000 miles on it.
2008 Madone 5.5 with an Ultegra triple.
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Old 10-03-10, 08:58 AM   #2
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Hard question and the subject of many threads on this and most other bike related forums. Many factors could be causing your discomfort. Could be the tilt of your saddle. Could be the fit of your bike and the resulting weight distribution. Could be that your saddle is too wide or too narrow for your specific anatomy (sit bone width etc.) The saddle may be too soft or poorly shaped. Could be the problem is with what you wear while riding.
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Old 10-03-10, 11:37 AM   #3
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Sounds like what you're saying is that in a perfect world, I should have a comfy ride no matter how long the ride is. However, it seems to be a common malady. Has anyone found relief by changing seat tilt, fit, saddle, etc?

One complaint I have about the 2008 Madone's seat post/mount is that there is no way to fine tune the tilt. If you loosen the seat, you have to bang it free to move it... which negates the ability to fine tune the position. A really poor design, IMO.
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Old 10-03-10, 11:55 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by speedlever View Post
Sounds like what you're saying is that in a perfect world, I should have a comfy ride no matter how long the ride is. However, it seems to be a common malady. Has anyone found relief by changing seat tilt, fit, saddle, etc?

One complaint I have about the 2008 Madone's seat post/mount is that there is no way to fine tune the tilt. If you loosen the seat, you have to bang it free to move it... which negates the ability to fine tune the position. A really poor design, IMO.
That's my experience -- after a fair amount of trial and error, I settled into saddles that suit me, no matter what the distance. Occasionally I'll get a little uncomfortable on a ride, but I'll be OK the next day.

As for adjustments -- I recently put a Thompson Elite seatpost on one of my bikes -- really has a good adjustment mechanism for fine-tuning saddle positions. Not all seatposts are created equal; some are pretty difficult to work with, in my experience.
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Old 10-03-10, 12:01 PM   #5
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I think it is reasonable to expect pain free rides for the kind of mileage you put in. I've had similar miles and some months with more, and I don't expect pain from the saddle. I'm currently riding five road bikes on a rotating basis. While I have a favorite saddle, there are three models in use between the five bikes. All are adjusted slightly differently because of differences in things like top tube length, stem length, and handlebar height. If I were experiencing what you describe, I would sure try making some minor adjustments/variations to seek relief. Generally, I think it best to make one change at a time. If you change more than one thing at a time, you don't know which change caused what.
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Old 10-03-10, 01:17 PM   #6
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Sounds like I need to get busy and figure this out. The 2008 Madone seatpost is not round. I'm not sure what my options are in that regard.
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Old 10-03-10, 01:30 PM   #7
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First of all get the saddle in the correct height and fore and aft. Make certain that the Sit Bones are on the wings of the saddle and then adjust the tilt of the seat so that underneath is just being supported. Then check the ride- May find you are slipping forward so adjust up just a fraction till you stop slipping.

All of this is completely wrong if the saddle doesn't fit the width- is a brooks saddle that is set up differently or is a Bontrager saddle or you cannot fine tune the saddle-----Sounds like you may not have a brooks saddle so back to the LBS and get them to sort out the post at least.
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Old 10-04-10, 01:26 AM   #8
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First, you need to be wearing a good pair of cycling shorts with a thick chamois. You can try using chamois butter or similar product to lube the shorts as some synthetic chamois tend to "burn," especially if you ride in the rain and get them wet.

Next, you want to make sure the saddle is dead level. If there is no "swayback" in the top, just set the bike on a dead flat surface, then make sure the saddle is dead flat. If there is swayback, make sure the nose and tail are at the same height.

Make sure the saddle is at the right height. You find the starting point by taking off your shoes, getting on your bike, then putting your heels on the pedals and pedaling backwards. The leg should just straighten (without coming off the pedals) at the bottom of the stroke.

Next, while you ride, take note of where you are sitting on the saddle - in the middle, too far forward, or too far back. If the natural position is not right in the middle, move the saddle back or forth until it is. The saddle fore-aft adjustment is meant to properly position your knee over the pedal at 3/9 o'clock, but this is a pretty broad range. This also assumes you're using the right length stem and proper reach bars.

I've always found that getting the saddle dead level is the biggest factor in having a comfortable saddle. You will really notice the difference when you dial it in. This comfort should be attainable with just about any saddle. The reason you would want a different saddle is because this comfortable feeling lasts longer with certain saddles. For example, I could set a San Marco Era saddle to be comfortable, but after a couple of hours, it would start to feel uncomfortable. Switching to a San Marco Regal allows me to be comfortable to two, three, four hundred kilometers, so I use one on randonneur brevets.

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Old 10-04-10, 04:55 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the tips guys.

I have a slight uptilt to the seat... maybe 2.5*. Because it's so difficult to fine tune the tilt, I'm not quite sure how to work that part of the equation. Anyone have any tips on fine tuning the saddle on the 2008 Madone seatpost (actually, seatmast)? Once the press to tighten adjuster is tightened, it is very difficult to fine tune it, even after it has been loosened.

This is not my bike... but is shown as an example of the seatmast system on the Madone. I think Trek has gone away from this for the most recent models. Not sure about the mount itself, but I think they may have done away with the aero design.



Otherwise, I'm comfortable that the seat height is pretty close to right. I haven't experimented with different length stems, but that might be an option too.

Edit: I have the usual assortment of cycling shorts... some are Pearl Izumi... etc.
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Old 10-04-10, 08:14 AM   #10
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I have basically the same saddle clamp configuration on a aero seat post. It is a pain to adjust, but it can be done with patience. Clamp needs to be very loose to adjust.
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Old 10-04-10, 08:29 AM   #11
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Being a noob to cycling I have no specific advice to offer. Being a compulsive tinkerer, I would say keep messing with the problem including trying as many saddles as necessary. For myself, in dealing with the same issue, I've taken an industrial heat gun to the bottom of a saddle to reshape the plastic. I've also cut out a slot from the bottom of that saddle in the taint area and removed some foam cushioning to reduce pressure. This seems to be working as after the last ride I wasn't even thinking about the saddle.

I grew up in a rural, agricultural area of N. Y. state. There were a few farmers still using horses in 1945 - 50. Many farm implements had cast iron seats that could be sat in all day, day after day. In an era of technical sophistication, the current state of cycling saddles is a fail. Saddles don't even have moving parts. In the world of skiing, insulating boot liners are made of a heat moldable foam. The liners are heated to 200 F or so in a special oven, reinserted in the boots, followed by insertion of feet, and when the foam cools 10 minutes later, there is a perfect fit. Putting titanium rails on a modern saddle is like putting LED safety lights on a Conestoga wagon.
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Old 10-04-10, 11:53 AM   #12
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I have basically the same saddle clamp configuration on a aero seat post. It is a pain to adjust, but it can be done with patience. Clamp needs to be very loose to adjust.
I can get it falling off loose and still have to bang it with my hand to free it... which totally destroys any chance of fine tuning it. I had a Trek Pilot 5.2 before the Madone and it was a breeze to fine tune the saddle position. Sometimes I really miss that Pilot. (but I saved the Ultegra triple off it and put it on my Madone in place of the compact double!).
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Old 10-04-10, 12:48 PM   #13
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I can get it falling off loose and still have to bang it with my hand to free it... which totally destroys any chance of fine tuning it. I had a Trek Pilot 5.2 before the Madone and it was a breeze to fine tune the saddle position. Sometimes I really miss that Pilot. (but I saved the Ultegra triple off it and put it on my Madone in place of the compact double!).
You really shouldn't have to bang it. With this particular type of seat post if you over-tighten it, it compresses the two barrels into the opening in such a way that they are indeed difficult to move. Not wanting to risk destroying the seat post, I'd encourage you to take it back to the Trek dealer and have them examine the post and show you how to adjust seat fore/aft and angle.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:54 PM   #14
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I've had success fine tuning tilt even on seat posts that require a bit of force to loosen by working against a wall and putting a piece of masking tape on the wall parallel to the top of the saddle. It gives a point of reference so you know if you have made the change you want as you are tightening it down.
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Old 10-04-10, 06:30 PM   #15
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You really shouldn't have to bang it. With this particular type of seat post if you over-tighten it, it compresses the two barrels into the opening in such a way that they are indeed difficult to move. Not wanting to risk destroying the seat post, I'd encourage you to take it back to the Trek dealer and have them examine the post and show you how to adjust seat fore/aft and angle.
I have done that and the post has been replaced... no change. My LBS agrees with my assessment of the design! I don't know why Trek had to redesign it... except they probably saved a few grams of weight this way. I'll take the old way, thank you very much... and just sweat off the difference!

Fore and aft are no problem, it's the tilt that is the issue. I have it set slightly nose up on purpose, but would like to experiment some with different tilt just to see... if it weren't so difficult to adjust.

I may have to try CACycling's suggestion of using masking tape.
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