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Old 10-18-10, 09:38 AM   #1
dengidog
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Women--really embarrassing question about bike seat

This isn't an easy question to ask, but...necessary.

For older women, could you please recommend a good bike seat? Right now, I'm using a Trek that clearly wasn't made for a woman's anatomy and while the gel is comfortable, the front seems designed to squeeze an extremely delicate item. Obviously, this is a man's seat.

I'm in the beginning stages of training (in a year's time) for a cross-country trip and the ups and downs of the local roads mean that I'm moving quite a bit and I think this particular spot is getting "pinched". To make it worse, I'm overweight, so I'm sure the less-than-taut legs aren't helping things any while I work out.

Many red-faced thanks in advanced.

Dengi
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Old 10-18-10, 09:43 AM   #2
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Try going to a local bike store and trying a few out. Especially the adjustments, that can make a big difference. Less padding will be more comfortable in the long run, and saddle preference is really personal. Expect to hear a multitude of opinions, and congratulations on your upcoming trip.
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Old 10-18-10, 10:34 AM   #3
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Many long distance touring cyclists like the thick un padded leather Brooks saddles.
their range includes several wide shapes for women, some offer a pair of coil springs .

as you sit up more the style of saddle that works will tend to be a bit wider
as the % of your weight on your arms goes down.

advantage to leather is it pases moisture, sweat , thru it.

Terry is another designer she has long made womens bikes , and offers a range of composite saddles
thin leather over foam on a nylon base..

.. there are Thousands of different saddle varieties , surely one will be useful.
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Old 10-18-10, 10:38 AM   #4
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Nothing embarrassing about the question!
Definitely look for a female saddle. I love my Terry Liberator, but we're all different and you may need to try out a few before you find a saddle for you. Good luck!
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Old 10-18-10, 11:30 AM   #5
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If your weight is on the front of the saddle, that's not right. The nose of the saddle is there for stability, not to bear weight - the weight should be on your sit-bones, and they should be on the wide part of the saddle at the back. Make sure the saddle is horizontal or fractionally nose-up - if it tilts downwards, there's a danger that you slide forward onto the narrow part. And like the others, I'd suggest that less is more where padding is concerned.
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Old 10-18-10, 11:40 AM   #6
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What label a saddle is is irrelevant. I've ridden both, and have settled on a men's saddle for right now (I am female) and will likely never use or buy another women's saddle. Why? Because women's saddles are the wrong shape for me. The shape is what matters. This cannot be determined unless you try saddles out, so it's a good idea to find a local bike shop that allows you to test saddles out to find the one that works. In addition, as others have said, you don't want some big fat gushy monstrosity unless you are riding a cruiser for a couple miles. What the minimum amount of padding is needed for long-term comfort is a personal preference, but thick gushy seats compress the soft tissues, causing pain.
Do you have good shorts? If you aren't wearing good shorts, or aren't wearing cycling shorts at all, that's part of the problem.
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Old 10-18-10, 12:35 PM   #7
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saddles are difficult to recommend and difficult to find, they are so personal, and there are so many factors, you have to just try as many as you can til you find one.

that said...WTB makes great saddles, and they make really good women specific saddles. many shops have a WTB test ride board, where for about $5, you can take a saddle out and test ride it all day.
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Old 10-18-10, 01:15 PM   #8
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My wife loves a sheepskin cover on her seat!
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Old 10-18-10, 02:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dengidog View Post
This isn't an easy question to ask, but...necessary.
....
I'm in the beginning stages of training (in a year's time) for a cross-country trip and the ups and downs of the local roads mean that I'm moving quite a bit and I think this particular spot is getting "pinched". To make it worse, I'm overweight, so I'm sure the less-than-taut legs aren't helping things any while I work out. ...
Don't be embarrassed at all, saddle pain is almost certainly the #1 complaint of regular bicycle riders, and even more so for heavier people. ....You're already in a good position because you have a whole year to figure out a solution here.

--------

First, you can look at some of the noseless saddles out there. I don't think too highly of any of these because the position that a normal bicycle frame puts you in (with the pedals nearly beneath the saddle) is the problem,,, and a different saddle won't change that. Some only decrease the seat pain by forcing you to lean over more forward, which increases the hand pressure and neck strain... But anyway, some people do have good luck with them.

One in particular I have heard a few people liked was the Moonsaddle. http://www.moonsaddle.com/

There was also another one that looked like a "U" shape, but you put it with the two sides pointing forwards, not back. People said it worked pretty well too, for slow/casual riding. I can't recall the name, sorry.

-----------

Secondly, I am neither female or -uhh,,, well,,, not real old. I got tired of the riding discomfort of "normal" bicycles a number of years back and got into recumbent bikes. The comfort on a recumbent is VASTLY better than ANY of the dozen or so of upright bikes I'd owned before. Padded shorts are not necessary, but unpadded lycra still does help. You do still get pain from sitting in the seat for a long time, but it takes far longer to occur, and is far less severe than an upright bike saddle would cause you. Neck strain and hand pressure are basically non-existent.

Recumbents are also nice because you don't need to wear cycling-specific clothing, which can be tough to find in sizes big enough for fatter riders. You can just buy layered shirts, jackets and pants from any sporting goods store. (On a regular bicycle, you need the shirt and jackets cut extra-extra-long to keep your back covered and your pants from falling down while riding,,,,, but not on a recumbent. Since you're sitting on them they stay where they're supposed to and your butt doesn't end up showing)

The current bike I ride is similar to the current-model Cycle Genius Falcon LS:
http://www.cyclegenius.com/falcon_ls.html

Recumbent bikes are more difficult to buy (less dealers) and more difficult to transport (won't fit on many car-carriers) but the riding experience is simply fantastic.

-----------

There is also a "third way".
A few years back, RANS (a recumbent bicycle company) came out with a line of "crank-forward" bikes that are basically uprights, but use a much-more-comfortable seat, and that put you in a position that dramatically reduces hand pressure and neck strain. I bought one because so many other recumbent-bike owners online said how great the ride was.

A lot of people don't like the idea of being stared at everywhere they go because they're riding a "wierd bicycle", and for them a crank-forward is a great choice. It is not as comfortable as the recumbent--but it is still much better riding comfort than a normal bicycle, but still looks fairly normal.

The one I got is the RANS Fusion:
http://www.ransbikes.com/Fusion10.htm
but there are more variations now.



Switching to a recumbent bike or a RANS crank-forward is not cheap, but either will give you a far more comfortable ride than anything you can add on to any upright bike.
~
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Old 10-18-10, 05:17 PM   #10
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Speaking as a woman who has logged a lot of miles over 20+ years of cycling ...

Get rid of the gel saddle. Gel allows you to sink into it and when you do that, there's pressure everywhere.

A few other tips:

1) Make sure your bicycle fits you. Go online to find fitting tips: http://www.cyclemetrics.com/Pages/Fi..._fit_links.htm and if you've got a really good LBS near at hand, have them help you with the fit. Make sure to tell them what kind of cycling you do. Some LBSs think that everyone races and will try to fit you into a racing position, but if that isn't your style of cycling, you have to let them know.

2) Work on your core. Do crunches etc. to build up a strong core. This will help you sit properly on the saddle. You need to be sitting on your sitbones and not on the middle bits, and part of that involves holding your abs in ... which is much easier if you've got a strong core.

3) Sit on the bicycle with good posture. Stand up with your best posture (and you might compare it to good posture diagrams and images you can find if you google it). Now tuck your pelvis under just a little bit, suck your abs in, and lean forward ... that is basically the posture on the bicycle, and will keep you on your sitbones. You can even try this when sitting on a hard chair ... sit up straight, tuck your pelvis under just a little, suck in your abs, and you'll notice the middle bits lift. Now ... it takes a reasonably strong core to keep that up during a ride.

4) Experiment with saddles. Personally, I like the Brooks B-17 men's saddle. I have had three of them so far, and I'm currently in the process of breaking in the third. Although the breaking in process takes a bit of time and patience (and you have to remember that these saddles will never become soft), it has been well worth it. My first Brooks had about 50,000 km on it before it was stolen. I'd still be riding it now otherwise. But even during this break-in process, my sitbones are sore and that's to be expected until the saddle breaks in, but not the middle bit.

A hard saddle like a Brooks allows your sitbones to support your body and if you sit on the saddle as described above, the middle bits either don't come in contact with the saddle at all, or only just barely ... but no pressure.
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Old 10-18-10, 05:45 PM   #11
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Planet Bike's a.r.s. saddle saved my life, and my....y'know.
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Old 10-19-10, 12:07 AM   #12
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Holy hell that thing looks uncomfortable
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Old 10-19-10, 08:38 AM   #13
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I am not a woman (that I know of) but I can offer some general advice -

(agreeing with others) don't be fooled by the softenss of some saddles. A softer saddle will often be less comfortable over a long ride. A saddle of the correct shape for your anatomy that is more firm is better able to focus the pressure in less sensitive areas. On a softer saddle you sink in and the pressure goes everywhere.

The problem will be getting used to a firmer saddle, but generally the discomfort when getting used to a properly shaped saddle is on less sensitive areas, like on the 'sitz bones' (the two bones in your bum that should be supporting most of your weight.

Go to the LBS and ask if you can exchange a saddle for a different style if you don't like it after a couple rides. Most will be ok with this. Also make sure the saddle is as close as possible to level, but don't be afraid to adjust it a notch or two up or down to suit your body. Carry the allen key or necessary tool and learn how to do this adjustment. If you are not sure ask at the LBS and they should help. If your LBS is unwilling to help then find another.


Other things to try: Chamois butter or'body-glide' style anti-friction creams, good bicycle shorts with a thin chamois. No loose shorts and no cotton for riding - these are a sure fire way to get chafing and sores.
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Old 10-19-10, 10:26 PM   #14
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The Moonsaddle is great. I have 3 with a total of more than 6000 miles on them. No rubbing, no squeezing, no discomfort. There is a 60-day money back guarantee so you can try it without risk. www.moonsaddle.com
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Old 10-20-10, 10:14 AM   #15
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Brooks all the way. Being a female, I find that the wider saddles tend to cover too much area on my rump so I did away with them. For many it takes many miles to break in a Brooks but for me, it was only a few miles or so until I felt completely comfortable. Try one out and don't be afraid of the price or firmness. It will be money well invested.
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Old 10-21-10, 01:27 PM   #16
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I believe Specialized dealers have a set up where they can check the width between your sitbones and recommend the appropriate saddle from their range. Check with their website for your nearest dealer offering the service
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Old 10-21-10, 01:32 PM   #17
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Planet Bike's a.r.s. saddle saved my life, and my....y'know.
I also have found that a saddle with a cutout is more comfortable for me.
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Old 10-21-10, 01:49 PM   #18
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My wife has some junk in the trunk so her needs may be different from other skinny girly cyclists. She loves the Specialized gel Dolce. Cutout saddle for about $50. Soon after installing it on her roadie, she enjoyed an 84 miler with no discomfort at all.

But her shorts are made by Terry. VERY nice, thick constuction and a nice chamois. Heck I'm jealous! About $80 per pair but worth it. Nice and thick plus high waisted so no plumber worries!

We did pick up a Terry Liberator gel for the tandem just as a test. She seems to like it alot but only do 50 mile stops on tandem rides.

Might look at a Performance bike shop if they have one near you. I believe they let you return a saddle within 30 days if not happy. Might check on that policy too with the way the economy is changing nowadays.
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Old 10-21-10, 02:05 PM   #19
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I wonder if OP ever comes back to read all this great advice....

I prefer the non gel Liberator myself, but overall it's a great saddle. I have it on both bikes.
I am curious about Brooks though, I may pick one up next season.
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Old 10-21-10, 02:23 PM   #20
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I was going to offer the same advice as the prior comment: saddles are extremely personal. I, personally, have had the squishy, padded saddles and not enjoyed them on long distance rides. Now I have Brooks saddles (one for my upright and one for my touring bike). The city bike's saddle is awesome and works perfectly, but I'm actually on a mission myself to figure out a different saddle for my touring bike. I think my sit bones are just wide enough to make my current Flyer model uncomfortable. Best of luck on your mission, and as a side note, I don't think you should be embarrassed at all for your question. No one should have to endure pain while riding.
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Old 10-21-10, 04:14 PM   #21
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Quote:
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My wife has some junk in the trunk so her needs may be different from other skinny girly cyclists. She loves the Specialized gel Dolce. Cutout saddle for about $50. Soon after installing it on her roadie, she enjoyed an 84 miler with no discomfort at all.

But her shorts are made by Terry. VERY nice, thick constuction and a nice chamois. Heck I'm jealous! About $80 per pair but worth it. Nice and thick plus high waisted so no plumber worries!

We did pick up a Terry Liberator gel for the tandem just as a test. She seems to like it alot but only do 50 mile stops on tandem rides.

Might look at a Performance bike shop if they have one near you. I believe they let you return a saddle within 30 days if not happy. Might check on that policy too with the way the economy is changing nowadays.
It is called a treasure chest. Get it right!
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Old 10-21-10, 04:18 PM   #22
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It is called a treasure chest. Get it right!
Yes, yes it is!
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Old 10-25-10, 08:56 AM   #23
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Thanks so much; it made a world of difference to adjust the seat so that I wasn't sliding forward! I still need a better seat, but at least now I'm not walking--errr--bow legged.

Also...all of you have given me some GREAT advice. I should have mentioned that I live in Mexico, so testing a bike seat isn't quite as easy althought I'm close to Guadalara (and biking is pretty popular here). Difficult, but not impossible and something that I clearly need to do. I realize that 99% of it is personal preference, but I'm still new to all of this so getting pointed in the right direction really helps.

THANKS & HUGS!!!

Cheri

Last edited by dengidog; 10-25-10 at 09:05 AM. Reason: added more
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