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  1. #1
    Rabid Member KillerBeagle's Avatar
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    Saddle soreness of the third kind - sit bones

    I know there are plenty of types of saddle soreness, such as that caused by friction and that caused by bacterial / dermatological issues. I've been blessed so far not to experience those (knock on wood), either in my college cycling career or in my renewed interest that started last fall.
    Unfortunately, I've been suffering from persistent sore "sit bones" (you know the real name) this time around. I have tried several different saddles including at least one that's often recommended here (Fizik Aliante). The only way I can stay marginally comfortable is with an add-on gel pad over top of the saddle - and this even with pretty thick padding on my shorts (PI Elite and Pro).
    My past experience, and what I've read on the forums here, is that with conditioning the muscles between the skin and the sit bones should develop and end this problem. However, I've been riding consistently (2-3 times per week, 15 -30 miles each ride) and things aren't really improving. My sit bone area ends up sore, to where sitting on hard chairs is somewhat uncomfortable, for a few days after a longer ride.
    My position is fairly, but not very, upright - bars and saddle are about level and I usually ride on the hoods.
    Any suggestions on how to get to where I can ride comfortably on a normal saddle without a gel pad and without soreness afterwards?
    P.S. not interested in recumbents at this time
    2006 Trek 2100, 1973 Crescent Mark XX, 196x Peugeot PX-10

  2. #2
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Have you had a "good" bike fit?
    Chief Executive In Charge Of Diddly Squat.

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  3. #3
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    My own Trek 1 stock saddle is very hard. At first I thought I would not like it but after putting in over 4000 miles last year I find it is not so bad. What I do is periodically get up out of the saddle so circulation and new muscles come into play, Even just a minute or so seems to help. Keep thinking I am going to get a softer saddle but never get around to it. One thing I like is that, since it is hard, there is minimum contact and therefore minimum chafing. It does depend on the road surface too. A nice smooth road makes it all easier to bear. Lately the spring potholes and ruts are not that pleasant.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    The Cobb V-Flow+ is the best I've found so far, though its still not the "perfect" saddle. My advice is to try one, as their return policy is the best in the industry. But everyone's milage will vary with saddles. No one fits all.



  5. #5
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    I began cycling about this time last year. My experience with saddle pain was much the same as yours until at long last finding one that worked for me for up to 50 miles so far. Another aspect of comfort is learning the best position in which to sit. There is an excellent thread on this on the Road Forum here. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion-Discovery I've begun to implement the concepts discussed with some immediate success. Read through and you may find useful ideas.

  6. #6
    Hump, what hump? horatio's Avatar
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    Perhaps you need a different saddle width, and/or contour. I had similar issues until last fall, when I bought the Secteur. It came with a Specialized Riva 143mm saddle - nothing fancy by any means, but it's the most comfortable I've ever ridden. I, too, had sit bone soreness after long (2+ hour rides), even in the beginning with this saddle, but now I can ride about four hours without significant discomfort. For me, I think getting comfortable was a matter of finding the right shape and width for my anatomy, then getting accustomed to that. I have a 143mm Alias on my Trek, but it's flat at the widest part, whereas the Riva is more rounded. The Alias is not as comfortable after 2+ hours. I also find I'm sitting further back on the saddle now, which places the sit bones in an area where there is more support. Unless you have a Brooks leather saddle, you're breaking in your rear end, not the saddle. LOL Finding the perfect saddle can be a lieflong quest, if you believe some of the posts you read here. Once you find the perfect mate for your posterior, stock up!
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  7. #7
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    bike fit could be the issue, since you are sitting more upright you will need to find a saddle that fits well.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  8. #8
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KillerBeagle View Post

    My position is fairly, but not very, upright - bars and saddle are about level and I usually ride on the hoods.
    Brooks B17.

    Narrow saddles are for a more aggressive riding position.
    You have the traditional position, and the traditional saddle will work.

    Gel pads should go back to the Hell they came from.

    You have some choices....

    My usual advice is to get the B17 Special. It's worth the extra dough.

    However, they have one with anatomic cutouts now, called the B17 Imperial.
    I have one, haven't tried it yet.

    And then there is the Brooks Flyer, which is a B17 with springs.
    That take some getting used to, but it will definitely take some stress off the sit bones.
    I've used one. It's on an old bike I gave Sis. She likes it.

    After a while I realised I didn't need it, and on rides lasting a few hours the slight bit
    of extra energy that gets wasted made me tired faster. YMMV.

    The B17 needs to sit slightly more forward than usual, and slightly tilted up.
    A good bike shop will place it correctly. There is also a break in period.

    But it's the most popular saddle in history for a reason.
    One of the shorts I use with it has no padding at all. The chamois
    is three layers of fabric, with the middle layer being super slippery.
    I prefer the new style pads in expensive shorts, but I have done
    60-70 mile days using it. IOW, with no padding at all.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I can't offer any suggestions, but I can commiserate. I never did find a saddle that was nice to my butt, although I toughened up to the point I could do 50-milers without getting *too* sore.

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    Just a guess, maybe back your mileage down for a couple of weeks and let things settle down,heal up,even a few days off. Then go easy.And increase mileage from there.

  11. #11
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    What shorts are you wearing?
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  12. #12
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Recommending specific saddles will guarantee one thing - a boost in the economy as you spend lots of money trying one saddle after another. I think it best to approach this from a different angle. First, an upright position will place more weight on your sit bones. Now the question becomes, "Is the saddle is wide enough to allow you sit bones to be on the right place on the saddle?" All saddles are designed with an ideal region where the sit bones should meet the saddle. So, where and how do your sit bones now rest on the saddle? This is something I would want to know so I could compare it with other saddle widths and contours. Second, I would think about the firmness of the saddle. As you probably know a firm saddle allows that sit bones to perch on top. A softer saddle allows the sit bones to sink into the saddle, often creating a different kind of pressure on the sit bones and areas around it. As back-wards as it seems a softer saddle can often cause more sit bone soreness than a firmer one. If it were me, I'd make a trip to a shop with one of the devices to measure just how wide your sit bones are. I'd then take this measurement and see where this places my sit bones on my current saddle. If they are in the center of the intended area, I'd then look at density. If they are not, I'd adjust saddle width accordingly. Unfortunately, IMO, it is a trail and error process with density. It took me a long while to find out that very subtle differences in density make a big difference in comfort. For example, two saddle I like and use seem to work best in different situations. I have the Selle Italia SLK Gel saddle (even with the gel it is fairly firm, because the gel is very, very thin). On some days this saddle is a bear the first 10 minutes of a ride. It feel uncomfortably hard. Yet, on rides over three hours it is my saddle of choice. I also use a Koobi Xenon and it's great up until about two hours. It's slightly softer than the SLK and after two hours my sit bones just aren't as happy on this saddle.

    I hope this question isn't offensive, but what are you sitting on hard surfaces after a ride where you sit bones end up being sore? I'd sure work to avoid complicating the situation by not allowing recovery. I would think that sitting on hard chairs is not the best way to facilitate recovery, but I could be wrong on this.


    Ah, what the heck. I'll show you how weird the whole saddle thing can be. Below are the five saddles that I currently have in use and with which I have no problem. If there's a discernable pattern I don't know what it is.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by NOS88; 04-14-11 at 03:18 PM.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    My '85 Trek 460 has a shock absorbing "System 1" seat that is fairly narrow and not too thick. It's great on the rump, really. For the tailbone pain I usually do what was already suggested in standing up periodically. On downhills I'll stretch back a little and then reposition back into "the groove" when resuming the cadence/pace. I can do 25mi in the saddle without a break by doing this, though when it comes time for that break things are bit uncomfortable back there. And that is the nature of biking in my world.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Checkout this thread if you haven't already:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion-Discovery

    I discovered that part of my pain was surface pain, although I thought it was sit-bone pain. Using better bike shorts pretty much fixed it.
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  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Take it that you have given enough time for the butt to harden but saddle fit is critical. First of all is saddle width and the buttometer at Specialised dealers can help on this. Wide comfy saddles are fine for a few miles but in general a firmer saddle is required. Not the rock hard ones but just a bit of cuchioning by foam or gel as in the Flite Gel Max saddles do help.

    Next is saddle position in relation to height and fore and aft. This does take a bit of adjustment to get right and a friendly LBS to advise will help.

    Then there is saddle tilt. I normally start with the saddle level to the ground and adjust from there. I like to get it so that I am taking the weight on the sit bones which should be on the wings of the saddle. Then adjust tilt so that I can just feel the saddle on the pubic bone. Then ride. If It still hurts the pubic bone then tilt the nose downwards. If I am sliding forward on the saddle them adjust the nose upwards.

    Can take a fair time to get right but if the butt cannot get comfortable then it is down to trying new saddles---In the plural. For some of us it takes a long time to find the comfy saddle for a 100 miler.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member az_cyclist's Avatar
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    The Bontrager saddle that came with my 2006 Trek 1500 was fine. When I needed to replace it, I tried a Selle Italia gel, but my sit bones became extremely sore after about 75 miles. I switched to a men's Terry Liberator Y, and was happy with it from the start.
    Last edited by az_cyclist; 04-15-11 at 09:09 AM.

  17. #17
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    Well, I am a relative newbie also. My first summer of serious riding was last summer. I say that to encourage you to take in all you read but to not concentrate too much on specific saddles. They seem to make a difference once you get toughened up but not before.

    However, in the midst of all my pain I discovered one thing that no one had mentioned. My problem was not the saddle. As I said a butt will adapt to a lot of different saddles. It was chafing. Once I started putting something on my butt my comfort level went up markedly. I put it right on the area behind the scrotum and following the medial portion of the glutes around to the tail bone. In other words the exact areas that make contact with the saddle. I use Vaseline Lip Therapy.

    So far this year my longest ride has been just shy of 40 miles and no pain (in the butt that is). The legs are another matter.

    Also, keep in mind that different body types lend themselves to different sports. It may be your body (butt) type is such you may never get over the pain. I know some people like that. They just have to limit their miles or accept the pain.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    selle anatomica saved my butt

  19. #19
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    There are lots of good suggestions here. I really like the notion of getting out of the saddle regularly to improve the circulation. I used to live in the flattest land in the West (Sacramento Valley), and everyone seemed to figure this out pretty quickly since there were no hills that would encourage standing anyone who didn't get out of the saddle every so often would find their rear and often their knees would be unhappy.

    Have you considered that you are just not riding hard enough to get the load off your saddle and onto your pedals? The faster you ride the less of a beating your rear end will take.

  20. #20
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Saddle fit and comfort is a mystery to me. Last year I rode with a Selle Italia Trans Am Gel Flow (now there's a mouthful) until mid-season when I switched to a Selle San Marco Arrowhead that is aptly named. Why? I have no idea. It just seemed like the "guy thing" to do. At age 65 you'd think I'd be over that macho thing. In any event neither saddle was a problem. This year I went out for the first 6-7 rides on that arrowhead and had nothing but soreness. Switched back to the first saddle (I am not typing that entire name again.), moved the saddle forward a bit to spin better and.....no soreness. I don't get it but I'm not changing back. At least I don't think so.

  21. #21
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berner View Post
    I began cycling about this time last year. My experience with saddle pain was much the same as yours until at long last finding one that worked for me for up to 50 miles so far. Another aspect of comfort is learning the best position in which to sit. There is an excellent thread on this on the Road Forum here. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion-Discovery I've begun to implement the concepts discussed with some immediate success. Read through and you may find useful ideas.
    +1: For rotating the pelvis and getting off those sit bones.

  22. #22
    Rabid Member KillerBeagle's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions - the tax man has interfered with me responding in a meaningful way before now.

    Phil and others suggested a good bike fitting, and that is something I had planned, and forgotten, for after I got set up with clipless pedals (which I have been using for a month or so now). I have some good references for a local guy to try.

    I did see the "riding position discovery" thread when it first started, but now I see there is MUCH more information in there. I've read through it once, but I think it will take several more reads before I fully comprehend it.

    I went on a 50-mile charity ride with my niece and there was not much of a problem until about 40 miles, and then only on the right side for some reason. I have been standing up every few miles, weight off the saddle, previously, but made even more effort to do so on this ride. I think that helped. I'm not riding at max speed since I'm with my niece, so I could probably get more weight on the pedals riding alone. I didn't have much soreness afterwards, but I definitely would not have been able to do many more miles, and I'd really like to build up to full centuries by the end of this season.

    There is only one hard chair in the house that makes me notice; the thing that really made me notice the sore sit bones was when I was at a party and ended up sitting on the stone fireplace slab for half an hour.

    I attached a picture to give somewhat of an idea of my "typical" position. I flipped the stem when I first got the bike, because the lower position was making my hands/wrists numb almost immediately. If I understand the "ride position discovery" thread, raising the bar may have been the wrong thing to do. However, when I started, I had very little core strength - couldn't even do 10 situps. Now I can do 40 (urged on by my niece, who can do 130), so again if I understand that thread, lowering the bars could actually reduce the weight on my hands by causing my core to hold up the upper body instead.

    So, first to get a bike fit - I am pretty happy with my saddle height, but I think the forward/back and bars need some adjustment to get a more efficient position. Then I'll start experimenting with the "ride position" ideas and finally work on the saddle itself when my position is "finalized".

    me.jpg
    2006 Trek 2100, 1973 Crescent Mark XX, 196x Peugeot PX-10

  23. #23
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    After thinking I had solved this problem, I went on an 80 mile ride yesterday with excellent Aerotechdesigns bib shorts, and still had pain for the last 30 miles! Like you, the problem is mostly on one side, and I'm considering angling the seat slightly to one side (as recommended by Cobb).

    Not for the faint-hearted, but after a ride in which you were sore, take a mirror and check out your butt. You may see red skin, which suggests that there is at least some surface component to the pain.

    Too many variables:

    Seat height relative to handlebars
    Seat height relative to pedals
    Seat fore/aft
    Seat pitch
    Shorts & Chamois
    Butt cream present/absent
    Saddle
    Saddle yaw
    Ride distance
    How hard you ride
    Positioning (spill the bowl or not)
    Cleat position
    Last edited by TromboneAl; 04-20-11 at 02:15 PM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Typically if I have sits bone pain my seat is to high, in your picture it looks like it might be to high. Try lowering it in 1mm increments. When my saddle is to low my knees will start talking to me. There IS a happy medium.

    Wayne

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