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Old 05-10-07, 04:54 AM   #1
revlives
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Seat Help? Pants being worn out too quickly.

Hi Everyone,

I'm an American grad student who is currently living and studying in the Netherlands. I doubt you can find a more bike friendly environment and I hope everyone can visit here at least once to see the difference from most places, including my hometown of Yonkers, NY.

But, unfortunately, the consequence of the daily and extended bike riding seems be rapidly wearing out and fraying of my pants - the part in contact with my bike seat. I ride two practical three-speed road bikes, a Rambler Voyager and Union Safari. One of the seats is a gel seat, the other is basic rather soft seat. Both came with these bikes. This problem has been especially noticeable with a pair of khakis that developed a tear but is also found with my jeans.

I have asked some Dutch friends about this phenomenon and they have confirmed that this happens regularly with many riders. (I had initially thought it was more a issue with shabby pants or overly violent washing machines!) I imagine it's a friction problem caused by the seat.

So, is there anything that can be done to minimize this? Due to the reality of bike situation here, I can't buy an expensive seat (theft is very common and it would disappear real fast) or use specialized pants (In this context, it would be unheard of and inconvenient as the bikes are used almost every time I leave my room).

I'm curious to hear if anyone has any suggestions. Thanks in advance for any insight.

Best regards,

Rob

PS I tried searching in the forums for this question, but couldn't find anything. Sorry if this has been covered before.
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Old 05-10-07, 06:55 AM   #2
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My guess is that it's the shape of the saddle. In the past year I've ridden nearly 4,000 miles in jeans and khakis without having this problem. I dumped the wide, "comfort" saddle that came with my bike in favor of a narrower one. Considerably less rubbing on the thighs.

Not sure how that fits with the theft problem you describe. Perhaps a locking seatpost clamp (like Pitlocks) or the more traditional method of looping a length of bicycle chain between the seat rails and a seatstay.
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Old 05-10-07, 07:30 AM   #3
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Get a Brooks
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Old 05-12-07, 06:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
Get a Brooks
YUP. I second that.

First of all, you are correct in noticing that your pants will wear-out a bit faster as a cycle-commuter. You can extend the life of your pants if you are sure to use a pant's cuff band (such as an ankle reflector band) every time you ride or at least tuck your right pants cuff into your sock. In the winter or wet weather, use gaitors.

As for your butt and crotch, you will notice a lot less friction and a lot longer pants life if you switch to a smooth leather saddle. Two fabulous European companies for leather saddles are Brooks (England), and Lepper (Netherlands). Both produce excellent saddles that you will fall in love with and want to pass on to your children in your will
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Old 05-12-07, 10:12 PM   #5
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Those are typical beater bikes. Personally, I never had a problem with that. How much/how far/how fast are you riding? I would guess that a thin racing-style seat on that wouldn't work, apart from how ridiculous it would look. Perhaps try a thinner version of the saddle you have already?

My experience would say seat theft is not a problem. My Sirrus with carbon seatpost has yet to be interfered with.
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Old 05-12-07, 10:13 PM   #6
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p.s. welcome to cycling utopia
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Old 05-12-07, 10:17 PM   #7
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p.p.s. oh SNAP Leiden! Well, if you see a nut with hiking boots on a Sirrus whipping through town that's me (though I probably won't hear you as I ride with music pumped to the max )
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Old 05-12-07, 10:41 PM   #8
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I heard some bad things about Lepper saddles, but they are cheaper than Brooks, should be easy to obtain in Netherlands and perhaps are less attractive to thieves?..
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Old 05-13-07, 01:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by chephy
I heard some bad things about Lepper saddles, but they are cheaper than Brooks, should be easy to obtain in Netherlands and perhaps are less attractive to thieves?..
I have a Lepper saddle and I LOVE it. I don't know where the criticism of the Lepper saddle comes from, but having ridden a Lepper saddle and Brooks for years and thousands of miles, I can tell you that both are excellent.
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Old 05-13-07, 07:08 PM   #10
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Perhaps your seat(s) are too high and causing your hips to rock in the saddle. If not you could get some 3M spray glue and re-do your saddles in kahki.


jim
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Old 05-15-07, 05:13 PM   #11
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Thanks for the suggestions. Advice taken!

Hi everybody,

Thanks again for all the suggestions. I was away for a while and was really pleased to get such thorough replies.

Let me run through the comments:

-Like others, I think the wide shape of the saddle has something to do with the pants wearing down. I was an avid bike rider in the US on a mountain bike and Dahon folder and had never noticed this before. Since all of the responses, I have begun to pay attention to how much additional friction there is on these wide, soft seats.

-I was not aware that smooth leather saddle, such as the Brooks or Lepper brands, would make a difference, and will take a look at these.

-Yes, these bikes are what some may consider "beater bikes," but the Rambler Voyager is in really good shape and I often ride it around the countryside on the weekend. I typically ride between 6 and 12.5 miles (9.7 to 19.3 kilometers) a day between classes, shopping, meeting friends, going to the gym, etc., and often more on weekends. I keep the Union Safari, which is much more battered, near Amsterdam Central when I make my weekly trips to Amsterdam.

-Regarding the seats being too high and hips rocking in the saddle, I never thought about that. I'll keep an eye on this as well. I'm not sold on the 3M spray glue "khaki seat" though!

Once again, I appreciate all of your ideas. Being able to do much of my commuting and getting around here in Leiden via bike is a real treat. But, I certainly don't want it to come at the cost of frayed and worn down pants. After all, I'm trying to live the thrifty student life as well.

Best regards,

Rob
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Old 05-15-07, 10:18 PM   #12
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to add a question to this:

is it true that leather saddles can stain light/white pants? from leather dye and/or conditioning oils?
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