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Thread: ? from a noobi

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    ? from a noobi

    hi all me and my wife just bought bikes to get some exercise. the question i have is the bikes came with narrow seats that seam hard on the bum, i saw other seats at the store that were bigger and softer. do most people replace these small hard seats with larger softer ones ?

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    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Depends. Believe it or not, soft seats can be the worst for rides that are longer than a few miles. All that padding can put pressure on soft tissues (causing numbness and pain in places you esp. don't want those things). What kind of bikes do you and your wife have? Riding posture means quite a bit.

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    Your question is very typical of a new rider. Most fall for the notion that a saddle should be big and puffy like their couch. They are wrong. Click the following link to learn about saddles. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinjun
    hi all me and my wife just bought bikes to get some exercise. the question i have is the bikes came with narrow seats that seam hard on the bum, i saw other seats at the store that were bigger and softer. do most people replace these small hard seats with larger softer ones ?
    This is a typical problem with "normal" bicycles, and there is no way to really "fix" it.

    If you want to ride in comfort, get a recumbent bicycle (or two!). The Sun EZ-1 and Cycle Genius Starling are lower-end bikes, both cost around $600.

    Once you get used to riding a recumbent, you will wonder why you ever put up with riding "normal" bicycles.
    ~

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    NJS my life! roughrider504's Avatar
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    Larger softer saddles, after a few minutes, are worse than smaller saddles. You can always get a Brooks!

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    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Your butt is gonna be sore for awhile if you just started riding. If the bike doesn't fit you well, it will also cause you some discomfort. Best thing to do is to ride for a while and let your butt toughen up a bit, while also ensuring that the bike is set up well for you. Your local bike shop, where I suppose you bought the bikes, should be able to help you get them adjusted properly. Of course you may have to make some small adjustments yourself as you ride more...to get it just right for you.

    If, after adjustments and a few weeks of riding you are still uncomfortable, then you can start shopping for new saddles - some of the saddles that come on new bikes are just plain junk. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with a Brooks B17 leather saddle.
    Last edited by chipcom; 12-19-06 at 09:21 PM.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Please do not listen to the "sit bone zealots". They will tell you the only thing that should contact the saddle is your sit bones. They will tell you that the gel saddles are garbage and they will inhibit circulation. Well that may be true for some gel seats and some people but not for all.

    I have a Nashbar gel seat and can put a 60 mile ride into it whatsoever. And I'm sure I can get another 40 with no problem.

    The fact is what works for one does not work for someone else. Try to find a LBS that is willing to take a saddle back after you have put some longer rides into them and see what you like.

    I understand Nashbar will take a saddle back after it has been used but i have not tried it myself.

    Chipcom gives good advice. Make sure you get used to the saddle and it is adjusted correctly before you go out and buy.

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    Keep your stock saddle and get a bigger, cushier one as well. That way you can switch them around as you please. Maybe you'll like the larger saddle, maybe you'll like the stock saddle. Nashbar sells an Air Ride saddle for $25 which is currently marked down to $15. That's cheap enough that even if you hate the saddle you won't kick yourself for buying it.

    I've read reviews that absolutely trashed the stock Jamis saddle but I've really grown to like it. I did buy the Nashbar Air Ride saddle which I plan to put on my winter beater bike. It's gotta be more comfortable than the monstrosity that's on the bike now and I figure for a 3 mile commute I can deal with the cushion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    If, after adjustments and a few weeks of riding you are still uncomfortable, then you can start shopping for new saddles - some of the saddles that come on new bikes are just plain junk. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with a Brooks B17 leather saddle.
    Brooks saddles are good since they're made of leather and will over time conform to the shape of the rider's bum. But it doesn't really make sense shelling out the $$ for the Brooks to install it on what might be a rather cheap bike that'll only see a couple hundred miles a year. I have no idea what sort of bike the OP has and how much he's going to ride it, but most people who own bikes do not ride them very much, so such an expense will not really be justified for them. They might not even ride the bike enough to break a Brooks in!

    Now onto the question. Comfort and softness/cushiness have nothing to do with each other. In fact, broad soft seats may be less comfortable because you'll likely to get chafed thighs riding on them and because they can really numb your bum because they put pressure everywhere even where there should be no pressure. For some people the effect may not be as pronounced as for others, but it exists. Most people who ride a lot prefer rather hard saddle for this and a couple of other reasons (such as a better feel of the bike).

    Anyway, on to saddle comfort. First of all, there are two bones in your bum called "sit bones". A bike seat is supposed to support them. If your sit bones are spaced widely apart (as is the case with most women as compared to most men), the saddle will not support the bones and you'll be sitting on.. well, different body parts which are not made for sitting on. It can be very agonizingly painful. Also if your sit bones are narrowly spaced and the seat is very wide, they will not be placed on the seat where they're meant to be and that again may cause discomfort. So the number one thing in picking the right seat is making sure it's the right width. It's usually not too difficult: you can locate your sit bones quite easily (you know, those hard bits of your bum) and you can tell if they're resting on the saddle or not. Some people try to solve this problem by buying gel covers for their seat, and that's just very stupid. They are just wasting money and not solving the fundamental problem.

    The next thing to consider is, um, genital comfot. Some seats end up pressing rather hard against your tender bits, numbing them or causing them pain. Sometimes people would tilt the saddles a bit downward to relieve the pressure on the jewels/soft tissues but then they end up constantly sliding forward and supporting a lot of weight on their arms which starts causing problems in that department. So you should just really pick a good seat. Unfortunately, it's not easy to tell which seat is going to be good. Some have cutouts in the middle portion of the saddle (this is especially common on women's saddles) which might help.

    Ultimately, anatomies are unique and there is no one good saddle that will satisfy anyone. Moreover, the only way to predict if a saddle is going to be good for you is to try it out. Sometimes it just takes a second to realize that the saddle is not going to work, sometimes that only becomes apparent after several hours of riding. Find a store that will allow you to return a slightly used saddle if it doesn't work out. Since an uncomfortable saddle basically ruins the cycling experience, it's worth investing some time and a few dollars to make sure you get a saddle that's good for you. It might be wise to try to get used to the saddles you have now (most newbies' bums get sore when they first start out riding), but if after some regular riding they still feel bad, it might be time to get a replacement.

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    If you ride in a very upright stance you put more weight on your bum and generally want a softer saddle. Riders who do longer distances prefer to shift more weight onto their arms by leaning forward more. They dont sit on the saddle but rather perch on it and find that using a harder saddle is more comfortable.
    If you do anything more than 3 miles on a regular basis you may want to try the second method.

    Cycling, like any new activity, stresses your body in new ways. It can take a short while to get used to this. Limit your rides to start with to about 20 mins and try and ride every day. After a week you will be in much better shape to try longer outings.
    Make sure that bike is setup to be comnfortable with saddle and bars at the correct height for you. Also, dont push hard against the pedals, pick an easy gear and spin more rapidly.

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    I know this doesn't seem right but those large, wide, hard seats are very hard on the bum in less you plan on doing very short, slow rides.

    After purchasing a new bike usually the first thing I do is replace the saddle. There is nothing wrong with a narrow saddle, all mine are, but you need to find the right narrow saddle. I cannot recommend a good man's saddle, but for a woman look at the Terry Butterfly or something like that. Alot of men I know like the Fizik Arione.

    It really depends on the amount of riding you plan on doing and the style of bike you have. If you are very upright, not leaning forward, on the bike, then one of those wide soft saddles maybe OK. Keep in mind most riders don't like wide saddle cause it causes friction and soreness in the groin area (think leg seams) while peddaling. If the position on your bike is leaning slightly forward, then it's a must to have a narrower saddle. A wide saddle will place too much pressure on the nether region.

    Also there is just something called "seat time" . Even with a comfortable saddle, if I have been off the bike for awhile, getting back on means I have to get used to the seat again. It's like you need to develop a callus there or something. Give the saddle a month's time (at least 4 - 5 rides) and if no improvement, look for something else.

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    thanks for all the info guys and gals. i'll try getting used to saddle i have for a while and go from there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinjun
    thanks for all the info guys and gals. i'll try getting used to saddle i have for a while and go from there.
    Just what I was going to suggest. It will take a while for the saddle to wear in and for the butt to wear to the saddle. Stock saddles are not always the best items on a bike but do not give up on them for a good few weeks riding.

    I normally use a very narrow saddle and like this style of saddle on both the road bike and the MTB. Then there is the Tandem. This is a different style of riding and you sit down a lot more- cannot move around much and the stance is more upright. This is where I do use a wider saddle. Not on the nose of the saddle but on the rear of it where it flares out. On the Subject of Gel. You either love it or hate it. I have never found a gel product that works- Gloves, saddle or shorts. The Gel migrates and does not soften the impact on the parts you want to protect. 40 minutes on a gel saddle and I am in pain.
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    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    Brooks saddles are good since they're made of leather and will over time conform to the shape of the rider's bum. But it doesn't really make sense shelling out the $$ for the Brooks to install it on what might be a rather cheap bike that'll only see a couple hundred miles a year. I have no idea what sort of bike the OP has and how much he's going to ride it, but most people who own bikes do not ride them very much, so such an expense will not really be justified for them. They might not even ride the bike enough to break a Brooks in!
    The 'break in' for a Brooks is more myth than fact, especially with the B17. True, they get better over time, but they are more comfortable than most saddles out-of-the-box. If one is uncomfortable, the root cause is usually adjustment, not the fact that it's a leather saddle. They can also be found in the $50-65 range, which is comparable to any decent plastic or gimmic saddle on the market. Who cares how much one rides when you have a saddle that can easily last 20+ years - they can be moved from bike to bike ya know.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Know why there are so many different saddles? It's because there's somebody who loves every blessed one of them. I think that finding the right saddle is a hunt and peck process. What I personally like or what somebody else likes or what some majority of peiple like might still not be the right saddle for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Know why there are so many different saddles? It's because there's somebody who loves every blessed one of them. I think that finding the right saddle is a hunt and peck process. What I personally like or what somebody else likes or what some majority of peiple like might still not be the right saddle for you.
    My LBS has had this HUGE padded saddle sitting in the shop for at least a year - the thing has to be like a foot wide and has more padding than my couch. I thought it would finally go a week ago when some HUGE gal came in looking for a new saddle - but she bought one of them little ass hatchets like the old Selle Viper!
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    You need a fairly firm saddle that is wide enough at the back for your sit-bones and narrow at the front so it doesnt rub your thighs when pedaling. If it is sloping down at the front you will tend to slide forward off the wide part sit on the narrow nose. If you lower your handle bars a bit, it will put more of your weight over the pedals rather than on the seat. I am happy with my $15 saddle. The suggestion of asking the shop if you can swap back unsatisfactory saddles after a thorough trial is worth following.

    Having the seat at the correct height ,so your legs are almost stretch straight at the bottom of the stroke, will make it easier to take your weight on your legs. This may seem too high when you come to a stop, but you can either lean the bike to the side a bit, or move forward off the saddle.

    Good luck! What sort of bikes did you get?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    They can also be found in the $50-65 range, which is comparable to any decent plastic or gimmic saddle on the market.
    $50-65 is quite reasonable for a good saddle but it still might not be worth it if you hardly ever ride. It's possible to find a much cheaper saddle that'll be plenty comfortable enough. Although the good thing about Brooks, of course, is that it's probably more likely to fit than just about any other saddle you can get... at least according to the many loyal fans.

    Who cares how much one rides when you have a saddle that can easily last 20+ years - they can be moved from bike to bike ya know.
    There are plenty of people who only ride a couple of hundred miles in all those 20+ years. Also, it's not to difficult to ruin a leather saddle if you don't take proper care of it - and lots of people might not want to put any effort into saddle maintenance if they aren't very much into biking. Just throwing it into a dark corner and forgetting about it for a few years could make the saddle dry out and crack (or am I misinformed about this? I never actually stuffed away any leather saddles for years to observe the results, I must admit. ) Subjecting it to excessive humidity may also be bad.

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    Fat Guy in Bike Shorts! manual_overide's Avatar
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    you probably just need to give the seat a little bit more ride time to get your butt used to the thing. Personally I love the stock saddles on my bikes. I have 2 Specialized BG saddles and some Bontrager thing on my Trek that is pretty decent. I've done many many 40-50 mile rides and a metric century on the stock Specialized saddles.

    If you look at a human skeleton and look at the pelvis, you'll see 2 points sticking out where the butt should be. Those are your sit bones. If the back part of your saddle will properly support those points, then the saddle fits you. Too narrow, and you've got a torture device. Too wide is less of an issue, but most saddles that are too wide in the back are too wide in the front, and will rub the insides of your legs raw.

    I don't know which store you bought your bikes at, but every store I've gone to in the city will help you fit your saddle and will likely take it back and have you pay the difference on a different one.

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    There are seatposts with shocks built in to them. If you are not 'petite' you will likely need to pay extra for something like a product made by Thudbuster. You might try adjusting the tilt ect on the seat.
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    Wide-soft tractor seats look comfortable and work well for short test rides around parking lots but fail to actually be comfortable. Find a saddle you like and ride. Find a good LBS that can help you find a comfortable saddle.

    Just to save you from rant by the picky in the future: recumbents have seats and traditional bikes have saddles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Know why there are so many different saddles? It's because there's somebody who loves every blessed one of them. I think that finding the right saddle is a hunt and peck process. What I personally like or what somebody else likes or what some majority of people like might still not be the right saddle for you.
    I used to think that, before I got into recumbent bikes.
    Now I think the upright bike is just a poor design, and it really isn't possible to fit any sort of comfortable saddle or seat to it.
    I had a few fairly-nice upright road bikes over 15 or so years, I spent quite a bit of money on different accessories for them--but I don't ever remember that any one was particularly more comfortable than any other. And the stuff I see in "normal" bike shops today looks pretty much like what I was spending my money on 15+ years ago.

    "Butt pain" is probably the most-common complaint that bike shop employees have to deal with, and yet most recumbent bikes have only one style of seat available. You normally don't have that choice at all. There are a couple common riding complaints among recumbent riders, but seat pain isn't one of them.

    If you want to ride without pain, you simply must get a recumbent bike. The first 100 miles on it will teach you everything that is wrong with upright bicycles.

    I don't have any upright bikes anymore, the last couple I gave away, as I hadn't rode them in over two years. I don't have any more padded riding shorts or padded gloves either. My butt and neck never ache from riding anymore, and my hands never go numb.
    ~

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150
    I used to think that, before I got into recumbent bikes.
    Now I think the upright bike is just a poor design, and it really isn't possible to fit any sort of comfortable saddle or seat to it.
    Maybe none that is comfortable for you. But I will not exaggerate one bit if I say that the saddle I have right now for my primary upright bike is far more comfortable than any chair I ever sat on. This is partly because it supports exactly the right bits and puts pressure nowhere it shouldn't and partly because the bum on an upright bike supports less weight than the bum of a person sitting on a chair.

    Seriously, I've had this trouble for the last few months: sitting on flattish surfaces, soft or hard, seems to do something bad to the bum, makes it go numb. In fact right now I'm standing on my knees in front of the monitor to give the bum a rest. I NEVER feel this way after riding a bike. A recumbent might not just work out for me...

    My butt and neck never ache from riding anymore
    My neck sometimes does but only because my glasses are such that I look over them when riding a bike so I have to constantly lift my head. If I had normal vision or contact lenses or different glasses, the problem would not exist. Although, granted, the bike I ride is not the most aerodynamic kind. But it ain't no beach cruiser either.

    and my hands never go numb.
    And neither do mine.

    It's kind of silly and presumptous to suggest that whatever works for you will work for everybody and whatever doesn't work for you can't work for nobody.

  24. #24
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    I never actually stuffed away any leather saddles for years to observe the results, I must admit. ) Subjecting it to excessive humidity may also be bad.
    I've found bikes with old leather saddles that had been sitting for decades, as well as baseball mitts, horse saddles, boots and such. Excess of anything will have a negative impact, obviously, but most that are not exposed to excesses in environment, ie they sat in a barn, garage, basement, attic, are just fine, needing only a little TLC. My favorite pair of boots, passed down from my dad, are 30 years old!
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    .....It's kind of silly and presumptous to suggest that whatever works for you will work for everybody and whatever doesn't work for you can't work for nobody.
    Yes but--if one hasn't done extensive use of both, then it's a bit difficult to discuss them comparatively, isn't it?
    -------
    It's very disappointing to see people with the same problems over and over, and the same non-solutions get suggested. And sorry it's true: the most common problems with riding pain that people tend to have on upright bikes, pretty much don't occur with recumbents at all.

    A lot of people get hung up on the fact that recumbents tend to cost more--but then, a bicycle that is so uncomfortable that you won't ride it is simply no bargain, at any price. And at least in the US, we've got plenty of those types already.
    ~

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