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Old 06-20-08, 01:22 AM   #1
TheRCF
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Why can't I ride anymore?

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration - but I can't ride much and I can't figure out why. This is gonna be a little long, but I want to cover everything so people can make the best evalution..

I'm 59. I started rding in early 2002 on a comfort bike, typically riding 12-13 miles, relaxing for about 90 minutes and then riding back, but I also did some much longer rides - even did a century once, though with resting and all, it took me over 12 hours!

After 9 months I got my first road style bike (actually a touring bike). At end of first year had done 4200 miles. 2nd year road more often and more longer rides - totalled 6500 miles. Third year was almost all on my first racing bike (Felt F-35). Did a lot of every other day riding and totalled 7600 miles. Fourth year was starting to do a lot of rides of 50 or more miles (sometimes over 70) and totalled 7800 miles. Fifth year started much bigger, but a schedule change because of a new job cut me down at the end so I totalled 6100. Sixth year was completely dominated by the job schedule so only managed 2200 miles and pretty much all short - 26 miles total (split into two parts usually) would be a long ride at this point.

Then I stopped at the end of December, just starting up again about 6 weeks ago and it is killing me.

My riding situation isn't long rides - at least not now. My longest is something like 15 miles and that was done in parts as I had various errands to run. Today I did 8 miles and barely made it!

What is killing me mostly is a lot of irritation to the skin under the bike shorts. Mostly it seems to hit me at the very top of the inner thighs, maybe tending a bit to the back. I know that today, after I was back in regular clothes, it felt like my jockey shorts were bunched up when I was standing, sort of toward my butt. They weren't bunched up - that was just the impression because of the pain in that area.

Now, besides being in worse shape - though certainly better than when I first started riding! - I had made a change to my bike before I resumed. I was hoping to create a situation where I could wear regular clothes because most of my riding now is going to be a lot more casual and I don't want the hassle of having to wear bike shorts for hours as I run a series of short errands for the most part.

I knew I couldn't do that with my old bike setup and I can afford another bike right now (If I could, I may look at a Trek 7000). So I put on a wider, more padded seat (Bontrager) to hopefully eliminate the need for the padded shorts.

Since the "leaning over" position is also less comfortable and would increase bunching of regular clothes, I also lowered the seat a little and slid it more forward - doesn't make me much more upright, but I figured it was better than nothing. These things were done over a period of time as each step failed to let me get by with regular clothes.

Only thing left to try that I can think of is to add a spacer to raise the stem a few inches.

So why the heck am I getting so much irritation at distances which are a tenth of what I used to do regularly, even though I'm still wearing the bike shorts? I really can't see why moving the seat position would cause that. The fact the saddle is quite different could, though I don't see why. I guess I could just give up on riding in regular cloths and go back to the old saddle, but I'd like to avoid that - and it might not be the solution anyway.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:54 AM   #2
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Sorry to hear your troubles. I would find a quality place in town and have them fit you on the the bike with the Fitkit.

Maybe try a diffrent saddle, the bontrager saddles are torture devices.. i boughta forte classic, made an improvement. The brooks saddle is also a good choice

hope you get it all sorted out
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Old 06-20-08, 02:48 AM   #3
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Well, I was fit for the bike when I got it, but since changing the saddle and making the adjustments I mentioned, it's not set the same.

I may be wrong, but I thought that the changes I made in position would not be comfort issues. Lowering and sliding the seat forward would reduce maximizing the pedal stroke, but I see no reason why they should cause the irritation.

I'm not familiar with all the saddles you mentioned, but I've heard of Brooks and it is a pretty hard road saddle - in other words, pretty much the kind of saddle I'm trying to avoid so I don't need to wear bike shorts.

That's why I got the wider, padded, Bontrager. I don't think it is as big or padded as on my comfort bike, but it is much more than you normally find as stock on a road/racing bike.

Like I said, maybe that kind of saddle just won't work for me. When you talked about Bontrager being torture devices, were you referring to the normal road saddles (narrow and pretty hard) or to ones like I described?

Let me mention some other things, but before anyone jumps on them for being wrong, keep in mind that they are what I did for almost all the miles I rode:

I have bag balm and sport stick. I've tried them but have never really been satisfied with them - maybe I don't use them right. I have no idea how much you should use or do you put it over everything (butt, scrotum, upper thighs). What I have found that worked okay before was simply a bunch of baby powder and that's what I did today.

But I still really want to get away from bike shorts. Just very inconvenient for my situation. But with all the trouble I've had even with the shorts lately, I'm worried that even if I buy a Trek 7000 or something to get the upright position and a little suspension in the seat post to, hopefully, let me go back to simplified riding, what if the problem doesn't go away even then!!! I'd have to test ride a bike for probably 20 miles to be pretty confident it won't be an issue and bike shops don't let you do that! Besides, it is not in my budget for a long time.
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Old 06-20-08, 07:34 AM   #4
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different horses for different courses....you need a different bike for what you want to do, I'm 52, still fit and ride 80 mile club rides but for around town and "suit-n-tie" commuting I live the 20# road bike at home and ride a classic 3 spd English (Pashley) roadster. The answer to your saddle problem is a nice wide sprung Brooks 66 leather saddle. Those padded plastic saddles don't work worth a damn for normal clothes IMO
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Old 06-20-08, 07:35 AM   #5
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Correct me if I'm wrong but - wouldn't lowering your seat/saddle make your knees hurt and make you feel like it's harder to pedal? If you want to ride in regular clothes, you might want to test ride the bikes that give you the sit up and beg position. The bike geometry for those type bikes is more relaxed, with seat back farther, handlebars above the saddle, etc. I ride a Giant Suede which has that style geometry. Trek Pure, Schwinn Coffee, others also have that upright positioning.
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Old 06-20-08, 07:52 AM   #6
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I knew I couldn't do that with my old bike setup and I can afford another bike right now (If I could, I may look at a Trek 7000). So I put on a wider, more padded seat (Bontrager) to hopefully eliminate the need for the padded shorts.
Besides the change to the set up, the idea behind the new seat is wrong. Yes, you would expect the padded seat to eliminate the padded shorts, but the wider seat requires a entire different posture for your ride, and if two wide for your sit bones, irritations as described will result.

For street type or casual clothing, look at a Brooks saddle or other smooth finished design. I do all my riding in shorts or jeans, and since I starting using a Brooks B17, no issues with ghost saddle affect, or soreness elsewhere.

Return your bike setup as before, original seat, and confirm suggestions. Then approach from different view with the insight already provided.

My hybrid was provided with wider, padded seat, and was uncomfortable (about mile 5), until I made the upgrade to narrower and smooth covering.

Some suggest having sit bones measured, apparently there is correct geometry for seats and this measurement and LBS maybe able to do this as well.
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Old 06-20-08, 08:18 AM   #7
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The classic, moderate racing bike position evolved for a reason. Not only is it more efficient, it's more comfortable on long rides, even though it may not seem like it if you're just sitting on the bike in your living room. The more you get away from it, the more problems you have, because everything becomes unbalanced and you get too much weight where you don't want it. If you lower your saddle as you did, there is really, truly, a tremendous drop in pedaling power. This is not imaginary. Fine for a cruiser rider, but not someone who is serious enough to keep riding a road bike (a touring bike is a road bike, after all). This may be why you suddenly feel like you're less fit than you were.

Then there is the wider, more padded saddle idea. This is almost ALWAYS a bad idea on a road type bicycle. They compress and put pressure on all of your crotch, they chafe more... just bad news all around.

I'm not exactly a powerhouse either. I'm 55 and I have lots of medical issues, including an organ transplant and asthma. But I've always found that because of it, rather then detuning my road bike position, I need all the help I can get in terms of making the most of what I have. So for me, that's a road bike ridden in a moderate road racing position. I actually went through what you did, thinking that I was now too old and sick to ride like that. But it turned out to be the opposite. I gradually realized that much of the advice that can be found on the internet about "comfortable riding position", fat tires and all that are just crap.

What's a moderate road racing position? Well for me, it's my saddle adjusted a little higher than the heel on pedal method, but not as high as the "LeMond" method. It's my fore-and-aft position just a touch behind what KOPS gives me, and it's my handlebars about an inch below the saddle top but with the proper reach for me at that level. It might not work for everyone, but I would suggest that if you want to ride a lot, it's a good starting point. When you ride a road or touring bike and you deviate too much from this, this is when you willingly get on the never-ending tinkering merry-go-round because nothing feels right.
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Old 06-20-08, 11:32 AM   #8
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Wider saddles are not necessarily the path to comfort! A wider saddle can cause increased chafing. Lowering a saddle puts more weight on your "sit bones" as you take weight off your feet and hands. It seems to me that you eased into cycling originally, and now you should ease back into it, but making a change in the saddle may not be the best idea. You changed two variables, and now have a problem. It would have been easier if only one variable had changed.

I don't know what you mean by bike shorts being inconvenient. If appearance is the issue, wear baggier shorts over them, or street clothing.

This is just my $0.02; I am younger than you by a few years, have never used the same saddles as you, don't know your dimensions, and how you fit on your bike. A professional fit at a good local bike shop is never a bad idea!
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Old 06-20-08, 12:29 PM   #9
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different horses for different courses....you need a different bike for what you want to do, I'm 52, still fit and ride 80 mile club rides but for around town and "suit-n-tie" commuting I live the 20# road bike at home and ride a classic 3 spd English (Pashley) roadster. The answer to your saddle problem is a nice wide sprung Brooks 66 leather saddle. Those padded plastic saddles don't work worth a damn for normal clothes IMO
Well, maybe I'm crazy, but while I know about different bikes for different purposes, besides money issues for a new bike, I'd like the best speed I can get for a given effort. That is, even though my riding now isn't going to be trying to go fast, a bike like mine (lighter and narrower tires) would be faster than, say, the Trek 7000 with whatever effort I put into it.

I don't know what my saddle is made of, but it doesn't have the smooth surface with padding under it. It has sort of dense sponge surface. Aren't the Brooks rather hard? I know from reading comments from users before that some love them - and some hate them, though I don't know about specific models.
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Old 06-20-08, 12:34 PM   #10
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Correct me if I'm wrong but - wouldn't lowering your seat/saddle make your knees hurt and make you feel like it's harder to pedal? If you want to ride in regular clothes, you might want to test ride the bikes that give you the sit up and beg position. The bike geometry for those type bikes is more relaxed, with seat back farther, handlebars above the saddle, etc. I ride a Giant Suede which has that style geometry. Trek Pure, Schwinn Coffee, others also have that upright positioning.
I'm sure lowering the saddle would make the peddling less efficient. Not sure about the knew issue. I've heard of it, but would that matter if you aren't pushing hard for extended distances? I thought maybe it was the high rpm at a fairly high effort that may cause that problem. I did test a trek 7000 and it seemed nice enough - but could only test it in a parking lot so can't really tell if I'd still have my problem on a longer ride.

But don't forget, the problem I'm having on my present bike is WITH bike shorts and I never used to have that - at least not in such a short time.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:13 PM   #11
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Besides the change to the set up, the idea behind the new seat is wrong. Yes, you would expect the padded seat to eliminate the padded shorts, but the wider seat requires a entire different posture for your ride, and if two wide for your sit bones, irritations as described will result.

For street type or casual clothing, look at a Brooks saddle or other smooth finished design. I do all my riding in shorts or jeans, and since I starting using a Brooks B17, no issues with ghost saddle affect, or soreness elsewhere.

Return your bike setup as before, original seat, and confirm suggestions. Then approach from different view with the insight already provided.

My hybrid was provided with wider, padded seat, and was uncomfortable (about mile 5), until I made the upgrade to narrower and smooth covering.

Some suggest having sit bones measured, apparently there is correct geometry for seats and this measurement and LBS maybe able to do this as well.
I never thought that a wider seat would have that effect - but what if I raise the handlebars several inches? Are you riding a road bike in regular clothes (just want to make sure since you also mention a hybrid). I researched the Brooks saddles years ago and while some loved them, others hated them. Since they are apparently pretty hard, I have to wonder if I could avoid bike shorts. Another poster mentioned the Brooks 66.

Had my sit bones measures at a local Specialized shop and they said the bike seats I'd been using were fine. I've never had a seat I would call comfortable - but never had this problem either. At least not for short rides.

I may have to go back to the original seat just to see if the problem goes away and if it does, start over to see if there is a saddle I can ride with regular shorts. One issue with that is if I'm still leaning over, any regular shorts bunch up.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
The classic, moderate racing bike position evolved for a reason. Not only is it more efficient, it's more comfortable on long rides, even though it may not seem like it if you're just sitting on the bike in your living room. If you lower your saddle as you did, there is really, truly, a tremendous drop in pedaling power.

Then there is the wider, more padded saddle idea. This is almost ALWAYS a bad idea on a road type bicycle. They compress and put pressure on all of your crotch, they chafe more... just bad news all around.

What's a moderate road racing position? Well for me, it's my saddle adjusted a little higher than the heel on pedal method, but not as high as the "LeMond" method. It's my fore-and-aft position just a touch behind what KOPS gives me, and it's my handlebars about an inch below the saddle top but with the proper reach for me at that level. It might not work for everyone, but I would suggest that if you want to ride a lot, it's a good starting point.
I can understand the reason for the riding position, but I also figure it is factoring other normal desires - like going faster. I want to go fast, but only in the relative sense compared to riding a comfort bike (heavier, wide tires). Right now, I wouldn't mind the problem of sitting more erect on a racing bike, though I haven't raised the handlebars to find out if that works - can't budget the epense of the part, labor, and some new cables needed as a result.

I've read about bike fitting systems, but not in the specifics so your description is unclear right now, but I'm sure I can research your references. At the moment, my seat top is the same as the top of the handlebars (measured by the stem) - 36 inches.

You mention a higher seat, but I would thing that higher would be less moderate.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:27 PM   #13
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I'm not familiar with all the saddles you mentioned, but I've heard of Brooks and it is a pretty hard road saddle - in other words, pretty much the kind of saddle I'm trying to avoid so I don't need to wear bike shorts.
Psst...the Brooks B17 is exactly what you need so you don't have to wear bike shorts.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:35 PM   #14
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Wider saddles are not necessarily the path to comfort! A wider saddle can cause increased chafing. Lowering a saddle puts more weight on your "sit bones" as you take weight off your feet and hands. It seems to me that you eased into cycling originally, and now you should ease back into it, but making a change in the saddle may not be the best idea. You changed two variables, and now have a problem. It would have been easier if only one variable had changed.

I don't know what you mean by bike shorts being inconvenient. If appearance is the issue, wear baggier shorts over them, or street clothing.

This is just my $0.02; I am younger than you by a few years, have never used the same saddles as you, don't know your dimensions, and how you fit on your bike. A professional fit at a good local bike shop is never a bad idea!
I can understand the more pressure on the sit bones, but then, when I started riding with a comfort bike, almost all the pressure was on the sit bones.

As for easing back in, I am. I started out my riding on that first bike riding twice a week about 12 miles each way with a 90 minute break in between. It was very hard and I needed the 2-3 days rest in between. I remember the front of my upper legs being sore, as if bruised, for a long time.

Now I'm riding much shorter trips than that and a two or three day gap is the shortest rest period!

Not sure what you mean by changing two variables. I changed the seat then, later, tried lowering it. Then tried lowering it a bit more. Then tried sliding the seat forward more. Nothing worked though, but I made one change at a time.

Bike shorts are inconvenient because they are not comfortable to wear for long periods anyway (may not hurt, but not what I'd want to wear). There are many times I might thing about going someplace, run into a number of stores, etc. If I could just jump on the bike, fine. But knowing I have to wear the bike shorts is a real downer for me - appearance or not.
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Old 06-20-08, 01:39 PM   #15
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Psst...the Brooks B17 is exactly what you need so you don't have to wear bike shorts.
Okay, let's pursue this angle.

First, two people have recommended the B17 and another the 66. Comments on these choices?

Second, one of the problems with regular clothing that I've noticed is that in that leaning over position on a road bike, regular shorts bunch up a lot in front, causing problems. How would a Brooks saddle solve that?!
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Old 06-20-08, 03:11 PM   #16
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1. I never thought that a wider seat would have that effect - but what if I raise the handlebars several inches?
2. Are you riding a road bike in regular clothes (just want to make sure since you also mention a hybrid).
3. I may have to go back to the original seat just to see if the problem goes away and if it does, start over to see if there is a saddle I can ride with regular shorts. One issue with that is if I'm still leaning over, any regular shorts bunch up.
1. I included image of original hybrid seat, and new Brooks, (Imperial version for test, not on market). Handle bars are higher, but yet lean into the bars, so included bike image to get perspective of the relationship.
2. I did ride road bike with shorts, (20 years ago) not bike, and learn about seat rash, ghost saddle effect, the hard way. Returning to a old road bike, with Brooks style seat, is smooth finish, and cut the same, but finding I need to raise the handle bars higher for ride comfort, for more of a touring type style. This maybe option for you to consider. I got idea from review of the Surly Long Haul Trucker design, with seat and top bars at same level. Some hybrids also follow this concept, so same or higher may provide you some relief.
3. Depends on design of the original seat, also check out MTB type seats. But my thoughts are the narrower, deeper nose will provide more comfort than a wider, short nose saddle.

I am also a 2XL type guy, 6'4" and 275# presently. Seat height is the most critical adjustment, and then seat to bars, my second setup concern. The hybrid is most comfortable for my riding presently, but for more distance I am refreshing my 80 steel Schwinn Continental, as its gearing allows for good speed on flats and, and with my bulk, added bike weight on climb (36#s) is non issue. I may add a Brooks B17 to this rider, or invest in bibs for longer rides.

All the best.
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Old 06-20-08, 03:15 PM   #17
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Okay, let's pursue this angle.
How would a Brooks saddle solve that?!
Many commuters are Brooks believers, street clothing is the bike fashion standard.

The comfort is provided because the leather does give and conforms to your sit bone. Also the smooth surface allows material to move back and forth with your form, and not gather. As experience on other seat materials I have experienced.
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Old 06-20-08, 03:52 PM   #18
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there is no right or wrong answer here, Everyone's anatomy is diffrent and have different expectations for comfort. so we are justl relating what works for each of us. You will have to figure out for yourself what is best for you.

A brooks 66 saddle works best for me when the bars are at the same or higher than the seat which transfers more of my weight to the saddle. Comparing a brooks B17 to a B66 when sitting on a wider B66 your weight is being supported over a larger area of your butt. Think on a narrow tire versus a wide tire in the sand.

Bab2000 has an excellent explanation of what a brooks does differently from a plastic saddle
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Old 06-20-08, 05:20 PM   #19
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Okay, that's a slight exaggeration - but I can't ride much and I can't figure out why. This is gonna be a little long, but I want to cover everything so people can make the best evalution..

...What is killing me mostly is a lot of irritation to the skin under the bike shorts. Mostly it seems to hit me at the very top of the inner thighs, maybe tending a bit to the back. I know that today, after I was back in regular clothes, it felt like my jockey shorts were bunched up when I was standing, sort of toward my butt. They weren't bunched up - that was just the impression because of the pain in that area....
This could be a lot of things, but anyway. Allow me to over-react and skip right to the extreme measures:

....consider a recumbent bike. RANS, Bachetta, Volae, Cycle Genius and Actionbent are a few names. The seats these use don't put any untoward pressure in the area you speak of. In fact,,, you won't need padded shorts at all (and recumbent riding shorts don't have padding in them, for this reason).

I used to have upright bikes; I don't have any now but I remember them well. A lot of the pain of riding an upright bike never really happens on a recumbent, and what pain does happen usually takes a lot longer to arrive.

...consider a RANS crank-forward bike, like the Fusion or Dynamik. This is kind of like a cross between a recumbent and an upright. They look fairly normal but ride much more comfortable--way bigger seat (no padded shorts required here either!) and no hand pressure or neck strain. The seats these use are much wider than normal but don't interfere with pedaling.

I have a RANS Fusion. It is not quite as comfortable as the recumbent is, but it is still much better than a normal upright bike and it is quite a bit more relaxed than an Electra Townie. As far as I've heard (online), nobody else is really making bikes similar to what RANS offers.

-----

For riding comfort, a recumbent is absolute tops--no upright bike compares.
The crank-forward bikes are still pretty nice however, and still look and feel mostly like a "normal" bike.
~
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Old 06-20-08, 06:30 PM   #20
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I could not get used to riding my townie electra so I traded it for a specialized expedition, the new model. Not having my legs under me made it really hard to pedal. I have ridden the explorer 13 miles at most. If it were not for that I wouldn't be able to ride at all so for that I am grateful. I hope to be able to ride my jamis after my shoulder issues are resolved.

When I was test riding geezer bikes the small ones (I am only 5'4'') felt very cramped, I felt like a circus monkey. I wound up with a mens medium, I'm not really scrunched up. I think with clipless pedals I could really get a workout but that would just be silly. Since it is so easy to ride I just hop on and ride for 4 or 5 miles, more than once a day even!




I am considering options just in case I can never ride my road bikes again. I saw a bianci commuter at the bike store today, can't remember which model. I also have an old mongoose hilltopper that I am hybridizing. I know it's a travesty but that frame is probably the most comfortable I have ever ridden. I have some downhill bars on it and have ordered a brooks flyer. I have brooks on my other bikes.



What that article said about feet out being effeciant didn't make any sense to me except in the case of a recombent.
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Old 06-20-08, 06:38 PM   #21
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You're not wearing underwear under your cycling shorts, are you?
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Old 06-20-08, 06:38 PM   #22
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You made changes, and the results were poor. That would seem to indicate that things were closer to right originally, and that you should go back to that configuration and start over.
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Old 06-20-08, 06:42 PM   #23
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I don't think brooks are for everyone. I use a fizik arione with jeans and have never had a problem with it.
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Old 06-20-08, 07:40 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by bab2000 View Post
1. I included image of original hybrid seat, and new Brooks, (Imperial version for test, not on market). Handle bars are higher, but yet lean into the bars, so included bike image to get perspective of the relationship.
Well, hard to tell how much difference it would be with a hybrid vs a road bike style. Made note of your info though.

Thanks.
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Old 06-20-08, 07:42 PM   #25
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Many commuters are Brooks believers, street clothing is the bike fashion standard.

The comfort is provided because the leather does give and conforms to your sit bone. Also the smooth surface allows material to move back and forth with your form, and not gather. As experience on other seat materials I have experienced.
But there is still that difference between a hybrid and a road style bike. What works on one may not work on the other when using regularl clothes.
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