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  1. #1
    High Plains Luddite
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    How to determine if a used saddle is for a man or a woman

    I'm back to cycling this summer after twenty or so years away from the sport. I commute to work most days and love taking longer rides on the weekends. My idea of a long ride right now is 20 miles round trip, but I want to ride more.

    I have an older saddle on my main bike that doesn't have the center cutout like the new ones do. From where I get sore from my current seat, I think I need a saddle with a cutout.

    I have been stunned at what saddles cost in LBSs. I realize Things Cost Money but I'd rather buy another $100 craigslist bike than pay $100 for a saddle, especially when people say riders often try several saddles before finding one they really like. I don't mind doing that but not at $100 each, or even $50 each.

    Naturally, that brings me back to craigslist, which I enjoy using. There are a bunch of saddles for sale at prices I can more easily afford. Some sellers say if it's a mens or womens seat and provide the brand and model number, but many don't.

    Is there a way to tell from looking at a picture?

    Does it even matter? I assume it does or they wouldn't be labeled...but maybe that's just marketing?

    For what it's worth, I'm a 6'2" man and I weigh 210 lbs now - down from 225 at the beginning of the summer when I started riding. I don't know if that makes my seat needs any different than a smaller person, but I thought I'd mention it.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    The size of the saddle is of more importance than any gender specific label.

    Go to a Specialized shop and have them measure your sit bones and then take a look at their lower priced offerings. Their entire 'Recreational' line is $50 or below; I've been eyeing their cheapest 'Road' model for a while myself.

    Alternatively, quite a few people swap out saddles on a new bike even before leaving the store and a bunch of shops have a box/crate of take off or used saddles that can be had for cheap.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    "Dies it even matter?". Probably not, if you can ride it comfortably.

    Also, with respect to Specialized, their lowest priced road saddle, the $29 Riva, is a hell of a buy if it agrees with you. I rode one for a year or so, comfortably, and have it on my back-up bike now.

  4. #4
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I don't think it matters.

    The Nashbar FC1 saddle costs only $20 and some people like it.

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  5. #5
    High Plains Luddite
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    Thanks for the ideas and links, gents. $29 and $20 seem to me like more what a seat ought to cost...in my cheapskate fantasy world.

    "Go to a Specialized shop and have them measure your sit bones..."

    While I know you're serious, and I will do this (hey, why not?), I'm imagining what the guys in the shop must think when a big ugly guy like me walks in and says, "Measure this, will ya?"

    That Specialized Riva looks cool for a road saddle, and as I was recently given (yes, given) an older Specialized steel frame road bike, I might get one for that bike. The bike needs a lot more than a new saddle but it will be a fun fall/winter project, I hope.

  6. #6
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    No1mad beat me to it, but I second checking with bike shops for saddles that have been swapped out after little or no use. Also, fit is very important. The saddle is more adjustable than any other part of a bicycle, since it can be moved in three planes. Just a couple millimeters can make a real difference in comfort as well as pedaling efficiency.

    It can take a couple hours to get a really good fit for a saddle. I usually make an adjustment, ride for a few minutes, then readjust as needed. Remember to tweak it in all three planes-- up and down (seat post), forward and backward, and the horizontal angle. When it feels right, take your 20 mile ride and see how it feels then.

    I do feel that you might be at a stage in your cycling career when you're particularly prone to ass issues. You're at a point where you're increasing time spent in the saddle, but you haven't yet developed that ass of leather that hard core riders have. So be very careful at this time with both the type of saddle and the fit. You don't want to be sidelined just when it's really getting to be fun.

    Also think about wearing padded bike shorts for long rides, if you don't already. And make sure you're keeping both your clothing and the skin meticulously clean.


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  7. #7
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    Hi,

    Mens saddles are generally flatter and less wide at the rear, womens
    wider at the rear and a more pronounced curvature to the top shape.

    rgds, sreten.

  8. #8
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    +1 on going to a Specialized dealer and getting measured. Make sure you wear your usual cycling shorts when you go.
    My last 3 saddles were Specialized. I gave my oldest one to my 13 year old grandson (he's as tall as I am). The other two are stil on my current bikes. They're very comfortable but both were over $100.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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    I don't know if this is common, but bike shops around here have boxes of take-off saddles for $10 or so. I've bought three or four, for beaters and kids' bikes. You may even talk them into letting you try one for a day or so and swap it for another if you don't like it. Doesn't cost them anything if you do the wrenching.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    You can measure your sit bones in the comfort of your own home. You can google ways to do it, but here's the easiest, and perhaps the most accurate.

    First, watch parts of this video to understand what the pelvis looks like.



    That video helps because when the pelvis is rotated you can understand the shape of the sit bones.

    Next realize that it is easy to feel those bones with your fingers. Just sit on your hands on an office chair, and put your right and left middle fingers onto the tip of the sit bones (the ischial tuberosities).

    Finally, leave your fingers where they are, rise up a bit, and call your wife over and have her measure the distance between those two fingers.

    One other thing: You can do a one-handed version of this while riding (when no one is looking). That is, you can feel exactly where your sit bones are on your saddle. You can see how it changes as you lean forward, or when you pedal.
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  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
    Does it even matter?
    It doesn't matter.

    Get one that fits YOU.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    Mens saddles are generally flatter and less wide at the rear, womens
    wider at the rear and a more pronounced curvature to the top shape.

    rgds, sreten.
    Not necessarily.

  13. #13
    High Plains Luddite
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    Thanks to all who replied. A follow-up to the suggestion about having the guys at the Specialized dealer measure my backside.

    I thought they'd use a tape measure. Really.

    I was in a Specialized dealer recently to inquire about a chain tool and happened to see their measuring device. It's a board with a gel pad on it and some kind of calipers and a ruler behind the gel pad. You sit on the pad and then stand up, turn around, and adjust the calipers to match the indentations on the pad and that's your size. Very cool!

    Not having the money to purchase a saddle on this visit, I didn't try it, but I know where to go when I'm ready.

    You guys probably all knew this but maybe someone who doesn't will read this and learn something, just like I did in this thread.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Manufactured inanimate things don't really have genders, but to describe things like
    plug ends on patch cords people say they have them ..


    you can buy gender changers for computer plugs..


    Call a saddle Unisex, if not an obvious Men's Racing one , those are "A**Hatchets".

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Not necessarily.
    Hi,

    Given I said generally your comment is pointless.
    Womens saddles are not flat and narrow.
    Mens saddles are not wide and curved.

    Some men prefer womens saddles and and some
    women like mens saddles, doesn't change the type.

    I've a unisex in my folder and a mens on my road bike.

    The design of mens and womans saddles is influenced
    by the shape of the sit bones, flatter in men, curved in
    women, which makes mens saddles not good for women.

    The curve in my unisex saddle is fine for me, but I can't
    move forward and back like I can on my mens saddle.

    Some women need a very curved saddle, and generally
    women can't move forward and back as much as men,
    they need a saddle that is comfortable in one position.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-21-13 at 02:05 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squeeze View Post
    Thanks for the ideas and links, gents. $29 and $20 seem to me like more what a seat ought to cost...in my cheapskate fantasy world.

    "Go to a Specialized shop and have them measure your sit bones..."

    While I know you're serious, and I will do this (hey, why not?), I'm imagining what the guys in the shop must think when a big ugly guy like me walks in and says, "Measure this, will ya?"

    That Specialized Riva looks cool for a road saddle, and as I was recently given (yes, given) an older Specialized steel frame road bike, I might get one for that bike. The bike needs a lot more than a new saddle but it will be a fun fall/winter project, I hope.
    Dude, you're SOO outta touch; they don't need to put so much as a finger on you to measure your sit bones, LOL (which is what's needed for saddle fit); you sit on a thin foam pad, which indents where your sit bones are, so they can measure THAT. That said, yeah -- a lot of chops have take-offs. My LBS sells most of 'em for $20.

    I'm glad you said "cheapskate fantasy world", because --like bikes -- the day when you could buy quality for that price was about 30-40 years ago. Houses have gone up exponentially, cars, too, a gallon of milk is ridiculous -- why would bike prices stay the same? Come on, now......

    I was one who tried a multitude of saddles over the years; guess what? They were ALL under $30, I didn't find the right one until I spent $65.

  17. #17
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    Hi,

    The cheap saddle (about 10) on my folder is way better than the saddle
    it came with, and good for about 25 miles a day normal clothing, and my
    road bike saddle for about 15 does the job fine with cycling shorts.

    The right sort of saddle that fits counts more than the cost.
    If both are right an expensive saddle is nice, but their are
    some very cost effective decent budget saddles out there.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-21-13 at 02:19 PM.

  18. #18
    Grammar Cop Condorita's Avatar
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    My saddles, like my bicycles, have neither ovaries nor testicles. However, since the owner of the saddles, and the bikes to which they're attached, is a female, I suppose you could describe them as "women's saddles."
    That which does not kill me has made a massive tactical blunder.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    Given I said generally your comment is pointless.
    Womens saddles are not flat and narrow.
    Mens saddles are not wide and curved.

    Some men prefer womens saddles and and some
    women like mens saddles, doesn't change the type.

    I've a unisex in my folder and a mens on my road bike.

    The design of mens and womans saddles is influenced
    by the shape of the sit bones, flatter in men, curved in
    women, which makes mens saddles not good for women.

    The curve in my unisex saddle is fine for me, but I can't
    move forward and back like I can on my mens saddle.

    Some women need a very curved saddle, and generally
    women can't move forward and back as much as men,
    they need a saddle that is comfortable in one position.

    rgds, sreten.
    Brooks B17 or B17S. Not curved, loved by more women cyclists than I can count, all ages, shapes and sizes. I am not thin or young, and I can move along my narrow,flat, comfortable saddle with ease.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Yep ... the only difference, of any significance, between the men's Brooks B17 and the women's is that the women's is slightly shorter.

    I don't ride in skirts, so I prefer the men's Brooks B17 and have them on most of my bicycles. Although I do have a women's B17. I'll likely put it on my mtn bike. So far, I've logged in excess of 50,000 km with my men's Brooks saddles, including one 1000K randonnee and two 1200K randonnees.



    From the Wallingford Bikes site:
    http://www.wallbike.com/catalog/sadd...sprung-saddles

    Brooks B17
    170mm wide by 280mm long


    Brooks B17S
    177mm wide by 245mm long

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    From the Terry website:
    http://www.terrybicycles.com/Saddles

    A comparison chart with sizes etc. between all the Women's Terry saddles
    http://www.terrybicycles.com/2011-Terry-Womens-Saddles

    A comparison chart with sizes etc. between all the Men's Terry saddles


    Not much difference between the men's and women's sizes, and in fact, the narrowest saddle is the Damselfly 10.5" x 5.1" ... and that's a women's saddle. And if you look at the shape, it's pretty much the same between men's and women's. The most significant difference between these two is that one has white thread and the other has pink.




  22. #22
    Don from Austin Texas
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    The saddle I like best is a Specialized sold as "woman's specific." I don't know what about it makes supposedly of the wrong gender for me, but my ass likes it

    Don in Austin.

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    There's a lot of overlap between men's and women's pelvic width, as this chart shows:
    http://rivetcycleworks.com/which-sad...-right-for-me/
    A very tall man may need a wide saddle and a very small woman a narrow one.

  24. #24
    Bill Laine
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    Women's saddles are generally shorter than most. Taller people might not get along well with a shorter nose. A shorter saddle has a shorter frame which can mean less fore-aft adjustment on the seatpost clamp.

  25. #25
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    Hi,

    Whilst loads of people can disagree with me, which is fair enough,
    faced with a range of saddles that are allegedly male, unisex and
    female, I've a good idea which are which, not necessarily what
    is claimed, but especially extreme saddles intended for women.

    YMMV. Your butt and your saddle is your business. There are
    differences in the sit bones of men and women generally.

    Of course if you can make a womens saddle by changing
    the stitching of a unisex saddle to pink from the colour
    used for the allegedly mans version, good marketing.
    Even better marketing if its still really a mans/boys saddle.

    rgds, sreten.
    Last edited by sreten; 09-26-13 at 07:26 PM.

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