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  1. #1
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    which brooks for the stoker?

    Hi everyone

    Because many here have spoken highly of their brooks saddle, I'm thinking about trying a one on our tandem (I'm the stoker). I use a terry butterfly which I like on my single, but it starts to get painful after about 30 miles on the tandem. We do butt breaks, etc. We did a week-long, supported tour last summer that ended painfully. We have another week tour planned for this summer which has a lot of climbing, so I'm thinking of trying a different saddle.

    I'm just not sure which brooks to try. I have a shock post, so I'm assuming an unsprung saddle. I've been looking at the b17 S and b68 S, but would like to hear some recommendations on which saddles to consider?

    thanks
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    My wife uses the Terry Butterfly on her road bike and the tandem. We cannot offer any help with Brooks but suggest the following. Is the problem chafing or pressure on the sit bones? If it is chafing, then the shorts and / or the chamois butter or lack there of may be the problem. We use Assos and bag balm for chamois lubricant. Saddle comfort means a saddle that is the right width for your sit bones and is adjusted properly (tilt and height) and shorts that have a good chamois that stays in place and is well lubricated.

    Also, most LBSs allow you to buy a saddle and for some period of time swap it out for others. I know of cyclists that have swapped out 6 saddles before they found one they liked. Good luck.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    The B17 is Brooks biggest seller so I'd guess that would be a good place to start.

    I bought a Team Pro last summer and liked it enough to get a second one this Spring for my half of the tandem (I'm the captain if that matters). I decided to stick with the Team Pro because why change what works? My wife wasn't interested in trying a different saddle. Since she's happy with what she has I'm not going to try to change her mind.

  4. #4
    SDS
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    Edited after further thought:

    Couple thoughts on keeping your bottom happy that you did not mention:

    1. The wrong liner in your shorts will tear you up no matter what saddle you are on. Ask other women which cycling shorts have the best liner.

    2. Slippery stuff (Lantiseptic, Bag Balm) smeared in the right place will save your bottom.

    3. Your fit has to be right. If your single bike doesn't tear up your bottom and the tandem does, see if you can figure out what the difference is and fix it. Two possibilities are that you don't have proper single bike fit on the back of the tandem, and that you may not have enough space between the riders to use your single bike fit the same way you would on a single bike. In the latter case, you need a tandem with greater bottom bracket spacing to put more distance between the single bike fits.

    4. You probably know to stand up frequently. Keep the blood circulating and everything works better.

    5. Lots of women in this area who do not use the Terry Butterfly use the Selle Italia Lady Gelflow and recommend it. One or two use the men's Specialized Body Geometry saddle with that groove down the center. They have been using it for years and haven't switched.

    6. Brooks makes a saddle for another company (can't remember the name, maybe Selle Anatomica?) that has a cutout (hole like some other women's saddles) and a tensioning bolt like a Brooks. This one is also highly recommended by the few women that use it.
    Last edited by SDS; 03-04-07 at 06:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    You may want to check out this recent thread about chamois lubricant. Best Chamois Butter Ever
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudmouse
    I use a terry butterfly which I like on my single, but it starts to get painful after about 30 miles on the tandem. I have a shock post, so I'm assuming an unsprung saddle.
    Have you tried switching out the shock post for rigid just to see if that makes a difference?

    What else is different about your riding position on the tandem compared to your single bike?
    - Is the saddle set-back the same? This is the distance from the center of the crank axle to a plumb line dropped from the nose of your saddle
    - How about the reach? This is the distance from the nose of your saddle to the center of your handlebar
    - Handlebar height in relation to the saddle height?
    - Nose tilt / angle of the saddle?

    Sorry for all the questions, but if you have a saddle that works well on your single bike it "should" work pretty well on the tandem, all other things being equal noting that you sound like y'all are doing everything else such as proper riding attire, butt breaks, etc....

    I'd just hate to see you getting into the sometimes never-ending cycle of saddle swapping if the saddle isn't the root cause of your discomfort.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-04-07 at 06:26 PM.

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    Consider your sitting positions- are you stretched forward or do you sit more upright? The b17 is a great seat for the more traditional position , The sprung seats(duchess, b67) might be better for a more upright position. I would recommend Walbike because of their 6 month return policy. you could give one a try and if it doesn't work try another.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Years ago Kay put 30,000+ miles on a Brooks B-72 on our Assenmacher tandem and she liked it until she broke a seatrail on a century ride (no, she ain't heavy . . . 112 lbs). Bought another B-72 and she never really got used to that one . . . must've been a tougher cow?
    She's used many saddles since then, but currently is happy with a Serfas Cosmos . . . she likes it so well, we've bought another one and holding it 'in reserve'. We've never had a suspension seatpost on any of our personal tandems. She claims she has 'tough *ss'!
    Agree with all of the proper positioning/fit suggestions but you can play ring-around-the-rosie with saddles for a while 'til you find one that suits your anatomy . . .

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  9. #9
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes
    My wife uses the Terry Butterfly on her road bike and the tandem. We cannot offer any help with Brooks but suggest the following. Is the problem chafing or pressure on the sit bones? If it is chafing, then the shorts and / or the chamois butter or lack there of may be the problem. We use Assos and bag balm for chamois lubricant. Saddle comfort means a saddle that is the right width for your sit bones and is adjusted properly (tilt and height) and shorts that have a good chamois that stays in place and is well lubricated.

    Also, most LBSs allow you to buy a saddle and for some period of time swap it out for others. I know of cyclists that have swapped out 6 saddles before they found one they liked. Good luck.

    Some chafing, but more like sit bones that feel bruised. Chamois butter helps some. We've tinkered with tilt and height, but it doesn't seem to make much difference with regards to the backside. I've tried some other saddles including a terry liberator and the specialized saddle that came with my single bike, but they feel odd as soon as I sit on them, and don't do any better with the pain.

    My other thought is that I just need to spend more time on the bike & see if I can build up some endurance.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  10. #10
    Señor Mambo
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    My wife also used a Terry Butterfly with a suspension seatpost and had numbness issues and soreness.

    On advice I read here (or in another subforum), firmness was recommended since the softer set-ups initially start more comfortably, but tend to get wearying as the ride gets longer. After I swapped her set up with a regular seatpost and a Brooks Countess, she's had no comfort issues at all! The first time she tried it she remarked the saddle was hard. At the end of the ride (about 25 miles) she said she could have gone on longer. After the past 6 months, she's still had no issues and doesn't complain about saddle soreness. Just tired thighs. Oh, she also tends to sit more upright and uses North Road bars. She also likes wearing knickers and has never really used bike-specific clothing. OK... she wore some one time...

  11. #11
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    Edited after further thought:

    Couple thoughts on keeping your bottom happy that you did not mention:

    1. The wrong liner in your shorts will tear you up no matter what saddle you are on. Ask other women which cycling shorts have the best liner.

    2. Slippery stuff (Lantiseptic, Bag Balm) smeared in the right place will save your bottom.

    3. Your fit has to be right. If your single bike doesn't tear up your bottom and the tandem does, see if you can figure out what the difference is and fix it. Two possibilities are that you don't have proper single bike fit on the back of the tandem, and that you may not have enough space between the riders to use your single bike fit the same way you would on a single bike. In the latter case, you need a tandem with greater bottom bracket spacing to put more distance between the single bike fits.

    4. You probably know to stand up frequently. Keep the blood circulating and everything works better.

    5. Lots of women in this area who do not use the Terry Butterfly use the Selle Italia Lady Gelflow and recommend it. One or two use the men's Specialized Body Geometry saddle with that groove down the center. They have been using it for years and haven't switched.

    6. Brooks makes a saddle for another company (can't remember the name, maybe Selle Anatomica?) that has a cutout (hole like some other women's saddles) and a tensioning bolt like a Brooks. This one is also highly recommended by the few women that use it.

    Different shorts are a thought. The ones I have are all the same brand and style, and the only ones I've ever tried. Well, I have a pair of capris from performance, but they're kind of light duty...

    I'll check out the saddles you mentioned. The Selle anatomica sounds intriguing since I like saddles with cut outs generally.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Have you tried switching out the shock post for rigid just to see if that makes a difference?

    What else is different about your riding position on the tandem compared to your single bike?
    - Is the saddle set-back the same? This is the distance from the center of the crank axle to a plumb line dropped from the nose of your saddle
    - How about the reach? This is the distance from the nose of your saddle to the center of your handlebar
    - Handlebar height in relation to the saddle height?
    - Nose tilt / angle of the saddle?

    Sorry for all the questions, but if you have a saddle that works well on your single bike it "should" work pretty well on the tandem, all other things being equal noting that you sound like y'all are doing everything else such as proper riding attire, butt breaks, etc....

    I'd just hate to see you getting into the sometimes never-ending cycle of saddle swapping if the saddle isn't the root cause of your discomfort.
    Hi Tandemgeek,

    Well, I should say I like the butterfly better on my single, but it's not perfect. First few miles feel perfect, but eventually I'll have problems on either bike. Say about 50 miles on the single before the squirm factor sets in. Around 30 on the tandem. And more tenderness in the days to follow. Would be nice to find something comfy for the whole ride if possible. Our regular rides fall into the 40-60 mile range, generally, and just on the weekend, at least until the days get longer.

    Our first tandem didn't have a shock post at first. We added a thudbuster, which didn't help the soreness, but did smooth out the bumps. I haven't tried our current tandem without one.

    When we got the Santana they set us up on it, the whole thing. But of course in the mean time we've been fussing & trying different seats and angles, so it may be mucked up. I don't have measurements, but we have the seat level and about even with the handle bars. Feels like the seat could be a bit higher. It's a small frame and I don't have as much room as my single. At 5'2 I feel a bit stretched out on my single (51 cm wsd).

    Last year after our week long tour ended in pain, I said I wouldn't tour on the tandem again. Well, now that this year's summer plans are coming up, I'm finding I really do want to take the tandem again, but this year's tour is 1 day longer, and much more climbing. It would be nice to still be able to sit on the saddle at the end of the ride. I don't know if I just need to spend more time in the saddle I currently have, or try something else?

    No one that we ride with uses a brooks, but so many here have said they've had good luck with them it has peaked my interest in trying one. My husband did the whole seat-swapping regimen, so I really don't want to do that again if I can avoid it.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Years ago Kay put 30,000+ miles on a Brooks B-72 on our Assenmacher tandem and she liked it until she broke a seatrail on a century ride (no, she ain't heavy . . . 112 lbs). Bought another B-72 and she never really got used to that one . . . must've been a tougher cow?
    She's used many saddles since then, but currently is happy with a Serfas Cosmos . . . she likes it so well, we've bought another one and holding it 'in reserve'. We've never had a suspension seatpost on any of our personal tandems. She claims she has 'tough *ss'!
    Agree with all of the proper positioning/fit suggestions but you can play ring-around-the-rosie with saddles for a while 'til you find one that suits your anatomy . . .

    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
    Broke a rail - ouch!

    My husband did the saddle search thing and ended up liking a body geometry saddle. But it's not one you can buy, it's one that comes with their bikes, so the lbs held an extra one back for him the next time they swapped one out. Once those two are used up, he may be out of luck. He didn't like the other Body geometrys, and he didn't have any luck with other seats either. Oh, and it looks real painful to most of us, but he loves it.

    I've been putting off the seat issue. We weren't going to tour this year at all, but darn it anyway, we seem to have caught the tour bug after all.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  14. #14
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudmouse
    Feels like the seat could be a bit higher. It's a small frame and I don't have as much room as my single. At 5'2 I feel a bit stretched out on my single (51 cm wsd).
    Do you have a local bike shop with a certified bike fitting tech on staff? If you've never had a professional fitting session it might be worthwhile as a good tech will identify most of the mechanics issues along with the fitting as they often go hand-in-hand. Even with the women's specific design, 51cm sounds like it could certainly be a bit longish unless you have long arms.

    Debbie's 5'2" as well and I have her on a custom 49/49 Ritchey Road Logic with a tall head tube and very short stem, recently made even shorter after her visit to our bike fitter for a "tune up" on her riding position. Our tandems were made long enough in back to allow her to replicate her single bike riding position so she doesn't have to deal with bike transition issues. Off hand, I want to say that her saddle set back is really short (< 2cm) with a saddle height of 75cm measured from the center of her pedal in the down position to the seat rail, a reach of 42cm from nose of the saddle to center of the bars, with the bars level and her saddle nose raised slightly.

  15. #15
    BudLight
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    Ahhh, the search for the holy rail……it can make or break the sport of bicycle riding and I firmly believe that, aside from fear of riding with cars, it is a prime reason why the sport is not more popular than it is.

    When I got my wife into riding two years ago, I was apprehensive only because I never really found the perfect seat for my first wife. And while there may be Freudian or Jungian implications to that, far beyond the sport, it was nevertheless a continuing sore point for her. (Pun intended.) We had tried everything out there, including two Brooks models. We learned to stay away from all the hopped up gel seats because they got “hot” and the gel hardens with time. It was extremely frustrating for me because I’ve always used seeming rock hard wedgies that “disappear” after a couple hundred miles every spring.

    When my new wife found that she hated the seat that came with her new road bike, I thought, great, here we go again. Then we stumbled into a Specialized dealer owned by a woman, and she had my wife on a little foam pad to see the impressions where her sit bones were. She measured the distance between the impressions and then found a (BG) seat with pressure relieving points that matched. It happened to be an inexpensive ($35) women’s mountain bike seat. She loved that seat and it now adorns all three of her rides. I will be buying a spare this year before it inevitably becomes obsolete.

    So…..FWIW. Was it the BG stuff, or the attention from a very competent woman cyclist? Don’t know, but it worked. Good luck in your important search.

  16. #16
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    I tried many saddles & liked the Milano the best. You may need to try men's saddles if you aren't getting the right fit with the women's saddles. DO NOT wait for your long tour to try a new saddle (I'm sure you already know this!).

  17. #17
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Mudmouse:
    Here's an inexpensive way to possible cure the seat issue that stoker Kay used for several years.
    Doing a century, or some such foolish distance, she packed a real sheepskin saddle cover.
    When things got uncomfortable (usually 60/70 miles) we'd stop and put the sheepskin on her saddle . . . enough of a change, for her, to continue on comfortably.
    After the ride, take off that sheepskin . . . repeat as needed on the next long ride TWOgether.
    Funny story on the 'broke a seatrail' . . . we were about 70 miles into a hilly century when the seatrail broke. Stopped to check it out and her instant solution: 'Find a rock and jam it between saddle and the rear rack!' She finished the event riding a saddle literally 'as hard as a rock.' What a stoker!!!

  18. #18
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    I've been switching saddles quite a bit for my GF and stoker. The current saddle is a "Nashbar Air Ride Saddle". There was lost to complain about on the last century we rode (rain, strong headwinds, cold, lousy food,...), but she didn't complain about saddle soreness. Since the saddle has a Schrader air valve, you can even adjust the cushiness of the saddle at a stop on the ride.

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...t%3A%20Saddles
    TH 1.81 (133kg*62)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDS
    Brooks makes a saddle for another company (can't remember the name, maybe Selle Anatomica?) that has a cutout (hole like some other women's saddles) and a tensioning bolt like a Brooks. This one is also highly recommended by the few women that use it.
    Selle Anatomica was developed by DBC member Tom Milton over several years, and is now on the market -- I think it was introduced at Interbike in 2005. A photo of mine ended up being used in the literature for this saddle, and we got a complimentary saddle two months ago that has yet to be tried out. We hope to demo it and get feedback to Tom. It is a tough decision for both of us since we already are happy with our current saddles on all our bikes.

    The quality of the saddle appears to be excellent, and reminds me of an old Brooks Pro I put zillions of miles on from 1967-1975.

  20. #20
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TandemGeek
    Do you have a local bike shop with a certified bike fitting tech on staff? If you've never had a professional fitting session it might be worthwhile as a good tech will identify most of the mechanics issues along with the fitting as they often go hand-in-hand. Even with the women's specific design, 51cm sounds like it could certainly be a bit longish unless you have long arms.

    Debbie's 5'2" as well and I have her on a custom 49/49 Ritchey Road Logic with a tall head tube and very short stem, recently made even shorter after her visit to our bike fitter for a "tune up" on her riding position. Our tandems were made long enough in back to allow her to replicate her single bike riding position so she doesn't have to deal with bike transition issues. Off hand, I want to say that her saddle set back is really short (< 2cm) with a saddle height of 75cm measured from the center of her pedal in the down position to the seat rail, a reach of 42cm from nose of the saddle to center of the bars, with the bars level and her saddle nose raised slightly.
    We do. In fact our last club meeting, the guy that does bikefit, did a demo at our meeting. I just haven't pursued it. Biking has been somewhat on the back burner since our tour last summer. No big rides over the winter, etc. And until recently, we weren't planning a tour this year, so it's been sort of a non-issue. Bike fit would probably help me with my other bikes, as well.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Mudmouse:
    Here's an inexpensive way to possible cure the seat issue that stoker Kay used for several years.
    Doing a century, or some such foolish distance, she packed a real sheepskin saddle cover.
    When things got uncomfortable (usually 60/70 miles) we'd stop and put the sheepskin on her saddle . . . enough of a change, for her, to continue on comfortably.
    After the ride, take off that sheepskin . . . repeat as needed on the next long ride TWOgether.
    Funny story on the 'broke a seatrail' . . . we were about 70 miles into a hilly century when the seatrail broke. Stopped to check it out and her instant solution: 'Find a rock and jam it between saddle and the rear rack!' She finished the event riding a saddle literally 'as hard as a rock.' What a stoker!!!
    Dang! You got one tough stoker there!

    Sheepskin sounds like a good idea. Real sheepskin as opposed to synthethic? I'll check the local stores & see if we can find one.
    Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Zonker's Avatar
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    I used a Terry Fly for the first six months...and it was good to go up until about the 45 mile mark. I took the Brooks B.17 Champion Special off my touring bike, and it was comfortable to the century mark, with the exception of whenever I was down in the drops (it's too wide). On my new Waterford Road Sport Touring, I have a Brooks Swift, which is more narrow and no problem in the drops. Both have titanium seat rails.

    Somone mentioned "Walbike" which is actually Wallingford Bicycle Parts. http://www.wallbike.com/

    They are great to deal with, and very knowledgeable, and do indeed have a six month unconditional satisfaction guarantee on Brooks saddles. Proprieter Bill Laine told me once the B.17 is the least returned, FWIW.
    waiting for a (Bike) Friday!

  23. #23
    Senior Member mudmouse's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Debbie's 5'2" as well and I have her on a custom 49/49 Ritchey Road Logic with a tall head tube and very short stem, recently made even shorter after her visit to our bike fitter for a "tune up" on her riding position. Our tandems were made long enough in back to allow her to replicate her single bike riding position so she doesn't have to deal with bike transition issues. Off hand, I want to say that her saddle set back is really short (< 2cm) with a saddle height of 75cm measured from the center of her pedal in the down position to the seat rail, a reach of 42cm from nose of the saddle to center of the bars, with the bars level and her saddle nose raised slightly.[/QUOTE]

    If I measured right... on the tandem it's 77cm pedal to rail (but the shock post scrunches down some when I sit on it, so that probably makes it different. 43 cm nose to mid-bar.

    hmmm, now I gotta go check the roadie - see what you started! 76 cm rail to middle of bolt hole on the crank..it's sans pedals at the moment. 48cm nose to bar - no wonder I don't ride in the hoods much!
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  24. #24
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudmouse
    If I measured right... on the tandem it's 77cm pedal to rail (but the shock post scrunches down some when I sit on it, so that probably makes it different. 43 cm nose to mid-bar.hmmm, now I gotta go check the roadie - see what you started! 76 cm rail to middle of bolt hole on the crank..it's sans pedals at the moment. 48cm nose to bar - no wonder I don't ride in the hoods much!
    It's always interesting to check and see how your single bikes line up with the tandems...

    General notes to those tuning in...

    - Obviously, riders of the same gender and height won't necessarily have the same inseam, reach, or other similar body dimensions / physique so various bit fitting dimensions will also vary... sometimes by quite a bit.

    - The correct seat height dimension to use is taken from the center of the pedal axle in its lowest position to the top of the saddle, not the seat rail. However, if you use the exact same model of saddle on various bikes (as we do and which MM indicated she did) you can "cheat" by measuring to the center of the seat rail for comparison purposes / benchmarking your saddle height adjustment. If you have different saddles chances are there will be some variation in the actual height of the saddle measured from the rails to the top of the cover, e.g., Debbie's actual saddle height is 81cm.

    - For bikes with shock posts, it's best to have a helper check your actual saddle height with you sitting on the bike to allow for your weight to pre-load the suspension system and lower the saddle to it's ride height, much the same way that you check for 'sag' on a mountain bike's suspension fork or frame shock.

    - Most tandems do not have stoker compartments that are long enough to allow stokers to achieve a normal single road bike riding position without shoving the handlebars well under the captain's saddle or at all if they are taller than average. Moreover, often times stoker saddles are installed on set-back seat posts or pushed all the way back on the seat rails to "create" more reach which usually results in far too much saddle off-set, which can have adverse impacts on efficiency and comfort as well. The other way that more "room" is created is by simply having the stoker sit more upright. For stokers who also ride single bikes, this more upright sitting position causes them to put more weight on their sit bones as well as changing the pedalling mechanics used on their single bike.

    - Taken in aggregate, any riding position that is not a "natural fit" -- which is to say, one that changes a rider's orientiation to the bike or doesn't place the touch points (saddle, handlebars, and pedals) where their body wants them to be and that properly distributes body weight between the sit bones and hands -- can lead to all kinds of discomfort. Now, our bodies can clearly adapt themselves to a number of different riding positions as many cyclists ride mountain bikes, road bikes, track bikes, or tandems interchangeably without much trouble or pain. The trick is getting that "natual fit" dialed in on each bike. Tandems seem to magnify fit issues if only because so much of the time on the tandem is spent seated and/or because stokers in particular never achieve that "natural fit" for a variety of reasons: not enough time in the saddle to "season" the sit bones or a poor fit being the most common.
    Last edited by TandemGeek; 03-06-07 at 05:03 PM.

  25. #25
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    My missus is picky about saddles, and not used to riding long distances. Since we intend to work up to a 40 mile loaded ride for camping in the summer, I'm thinking that getting the saddle right would be wise once I pick up my tandem. I'm thinking Brooks B67.......

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