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  1. #1
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    How does one baby one's backside on a week long 500 mile journey...?

    That's the question that I would like some advice in hopes of an answer. For the most part, a long ride for me due to time constraints is a 25 mile round trip either on one of my solo bikes, or with one of the kids or my wife on one of our tandems. No problems in seat discomfort on such a distance - that is unless I do it three or four days in a row. Which leads me back to last summer's experience on RAGBRAI where we spent quite a few hours in the saddle every day (not that the mileage was that much as I think it averaged around 70 a day, but the hours in the saddle with a child stoker on 26" wheeled tandems add up).

    I didn't get saddle sores, but I did get saddle sore - as in deep muscles that did not take kindly to day 5, 6 and 7 of a 7 day ride. My seat on the tandem seems to be adjusted and dialed in to where I like it and I have not been using anything designed in particular for long distance riding in the way of a saddle (a Bontrager FS2000):
    http://www.trekbikes.com/accessories...ategory_id=277

    I guess this saddle is more geared for mountain biking and may not be the type of long distance saddle I need for proper sit bone/muscle support on a tandem. I just happen to use it on my mountain bikes and since it was broken in decided to use it on the tandem as well. I would dread sitting on the seat in the morning after the first few days of RAGBRAI last year. All I can do to describe it is a deep muscle pain that would not go away.

    For those of you that have been through the trial and error process of finding a good supportive saddle that limits the soreness from saddles over longer distances on a tandem tour - what have you found or learned that helped address the soreness, or at least help limit it?

    BB

  2. #2
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    Tandems are much tougher on the butt than singles. I take a lot of quick stand-ups when riding the tandem. At least one every 15 minuets. Don't wait until you start aching to do it, start during hour one, day one.
    The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. M.L.King

  3. #3
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Why is a tandem tougher on the rear than singles?

    Would somthing like a nice Brooks saddle help my cause?

    BB

  4. #4
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    For those of you that have been through the trial and error process of finding a good supportive saddle that limits the soreness from saddles over longer distances on a tandem tour - what have you found or learned that helped address the soreness, or at least help limit it?
    Concur with Blwyn, butt-breaks are VERY important on rides where you don't find yourself standing and riding out of the saddle to crest hills and such. The time interval is also about right; at least every 15 minutes.

    Other considerations:

    - Excessive saddle soreness is often times an indication of a frame fit problem where, as a result, too much weight is carried on the sit bones OR you find yourself rocking side-to-side or sliding forward or backward on flat sections of road where you should be in a neutral position in the middle of the saddle.

    - A firm saddle is better for long-distance road riding than a soft or padded version. Soft only "feels" good at first; it's when your tweeners go numb that you realize why too much cushioning is a bad thing.

    - Saddles with anatomic cut-outs work well for a many riders, but not all riders. Moreover, inexpensive anatomic cut-out saddles don't hold up as well around the cut-out as premium models.

    - Similar to shoes, never switch to a new saddle before a long ride or trip. Go with a proven and broken-in model that you're familiar with. If you must change saddles shortly before a major event or trip, try to get as many miles on the saddle in advance of the trip as possible to begin the break-in process.

    - Always keep Tylenol in your saddle pack and don't be afraid to take a few at the onset of muscle soreness or pain. It will help and often times gets you "over the hump" associated with spending more time in the saddle than you may be accustomed to.

  5. #5
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    Why is a tandem tougher on the rear than singles?
    Because most folks who ride singles and tandems don't stand nearly as often as they do on their single bike when riding the tandem. For most folks who ride single bikes, standing for short climbs or brief sprints is done almost without thinking about it. For most tandem teams, climbing or sprinting out of the saddles is either not an option because they haven't learned to do it and/or takes more effort and as such doesn't happen as often. Moreover, for stokers who stay clipped-in throughout the ride, they don't even get a break at intersections where at least the captain gets the benefit of a brief break while standing and holding the tandem up.

    Would somthing like a nice Brooks saddle help my cause?
    It might, but as already mentioned, you'd want to make that change well in advance of your long ride or trip. Think back to your days in little league and of how much effort it took to break-in a new glove. Its' the same process with a Brooks saddle; it won't "feel right" until you soften it up a bit and/or your tookus has time to conform to the shape of the saddle.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    Why is a tandem tougher on the rear than singles?

    Would somthing like a nice Brooks saddle help my cause?

    BB
    Riding a tandem on something like RAGBRAI and real mountain biking are polar opposites insofar as saddle comfort is concerned.

    When you mountain bike, you tend to move around a lot on the saddle. You slide forward for big climbs, slide way beck for steep descents and are pretty much up and down quite a lot between times. RAGBRAI, especially on a tandem, is pretty much plant your seat on the bicycle seat and grind away the miles.

    After I acquired my first mountain bike and had ridden it in the hills quite a bit, I took it for a 20 mile ride on the tabletop-flat KATY trail. Talk about agony! I thought that saddle was going to cut me in two. I learned that a saddle that is quite comfortable for mountainbiking might not do at all for more sedate riding.

    To answer your second question, the people who use Brooks saddles love them and are quite vocal in trying to convert everybody else to the cause. In that way they are alot like Jehovias Witnesses. Here's the other side of that story:

    Back in the olden days, when men were men and bikeframes were steel, Brooks leather saddles and their clones was pretty much all there was. Since that time, most riders have found reason to switch to something else leaving just a hardcore few Brooks riders. I'm not saying Brooks saddles are worse than anything else, I'm just saying that most people, myself included, have managed to find something that they like better.

    I think that saddle selection is pretty much a hunt and peck process. You just have to try out a few on rides that are at least a couple of hours long until you find the one that matches your heinie. What I think is a comfortable saddle might feel like a picket fence to you.
    Last edited by Retro Grouch; 03-18-04 at 10:53 AM.

  7. #7
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    saddle search...

    I couldn't agree with you more that off road mountain biking is a different animal than daily grinds on RAGBRAI. Somehow, we made it on our mountain biking saddles (all 4 of us, 2 Bontrager FS2000's and 2 WTB saddles for the ladies). So I know I can complete the trip on such a saddle - I'm just looking to see if I can ease the discomfort of the last few days. I guess a bottle of pain killer is one way and I did use that method last year as well as doing frequent out of the saddle work with my son which we both mastered and used each day at times along with frequent butt breaks, rest stops every 10 - 15 miles, vaseline, padded riding shorts and any voodoo you could think of to ward off the morning pain when mounting the tandem.

    Where do I even start the hunt and pick process of some sort of a saddle for such long grind riding (aside from the hunt and pick and now trying to reject process of using my Bontrager FS2000's - which I love using off road, by the way) that might be more comfortable than the mountain bike saddles?

    BB

  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    It can be a real crap-shoot. One of the better deals out there is Terry's 30 day money-back guarantee. If you try one of their saddles and aren't satisfied with it you can return to an authorized dealer for exchange or refund. http://www.terrybicycles.com/FAQ/sadfaq.html#Q5

    They offer several models.
    http://www.terrybicycles.com/Saddles/msad.lasso

    My personal saddle history goes something like this...
    Selle Italia Flite for years and years... pre-tandem.

    Tandem comes along.
    - Selle Italia Flite ain't cutting it; just "different" vs single bike fit.
    - Avocet 40R (O2 Air) w/Ti rails. Great fit, no discomfort but covers wore-out prematurely and I snapped a seat rail at 5k mi (Note: 160lb rider).
    - Experimented with Selle Italia "TransAm" (anatomical cut-out) version of Flite -- Too narrow at nose for cut-out which put too much pressure on tweeners.
    - Experimented with Selle Italia "TransAm" Flite Max -- Too wide for my body geometry.
    - Experimented with Selle Italia Flite Genuine Gel; better than "TransAm" models but still left me with some discomfort and the synthetic cover over the gel sections began shedding after only 500 miles.
    - Experimented with Selle Italia ProLink "TransAm" (non-gel version; now discontinued). Bingo, this turned out to be the saddle for me. At first I was very skeptical as it fit like no other saddle I'd ever ridden. It was contoured to raise the rear portion of the saddle for max. contact with the sit bones and had a relatively flat but narrow nose section with the cut-out placed a bit further back than the Flite models. I have since fitted all six bikes with these saddles and have no regrets, other than the potential issue with regard to finding them in the future. PricePoint recently had some on close-out that I grabbed up. http://www.pricepoint.com/detail.htm...%20AM%20Saddle

    Moral of the story? It can be expensive outfitting a fleet of bicycles with different saddles as you work your way through the trial and error process. However, short of taking long-term test rides, e.g., 30-60 mile rides on two days in succession, it can be difficult to find the right saddle. It's nearly impossible to "guess" which saddle will feel right just by looking at them and cheaper models seem to break-down over time. Terry's program is somewhat unique and their saddles are good enough to make it an attractive brand to experiment with.

    If you are inclined to want to try out other name brands like Selle Italia, San Marco, Avocet, etc... check out rec.bicycles.marketplace for used saddles as a hedge against losing too much money if you find you need to try something else. I have easily made 12 other cyclists quite happy with the great deals they have gotten on as many nearly new saddles that I have sold over the past two years.

  9. #9
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Thanks for the information and experience, Mark. It sounds like it is a common and natural selection process that everyone must go through to find a saddle that fits their unique sit bones. I guess the reality is I have to try a few solutions in order to know and feel the difference. The program from Terry sounds very reasonable and realistic for what one must go through in the hunt.
    I was, just for fun, looking at Sheldon Brown's site and reading all about the Brooks saddles and about saddles from Brooks with springs. Any thoughts on the springed versions that anyone might have experience with?

    I was trying to review my set up on the Cannondale MT800 because you had mentioned one of the things that may lead to saddle sore is excessive rocking of the hips. I will admit that due to my child stoker's inability to provide as much power as an adult that I may find myself "working" more than when my wife is the stoker or when I am on a single bike. I don't know if that involves rocking, but how would I know if this is indeed a result of working too hard? How does one know if they are "rocking" their hips enough to creat problems. Would a seat being too high, too aft, too low or anything lead to excessive rocking?
    Although the Cannondale MT800 is sized as a XL captain and S stoker - because I am 6'4", the XL portion of the tandem does not match my XL single bikes. I found that I was leaning over in a much more aggressive position to reach the bars than on any other bike that I own with the stem and bars that came on the bike - and the seatpost was extended a tad beyond the maximum point to get my leg position more where I like it. This position was not really bothering me on offroad rides or short trail rides of one or maximum 2 hours time. But daily rides of 70 are another story. Not sure the reach would lead to problems with saddle sore due to rocking or some other cause and effect, but I am open to the idea that anytime the fit is off slightly in one area it could drastically effect another area. So I have a new Salsa stem at an "extreme" angle that gets the bar up to a much more comfortable position that is closer or as close to my solo bikes as I could get without going to a steerer tube/stem extender or a riser bar (no room for any more spacers). By eyesight, the distance drop between seat and bar is still a tad more on the tandem than my solo off road bikes and my commuter. I have been using the Salsa stem this past month as we begin training for this summer's RAGBRAI and my position feels more "comfortable" than the old stem.

    Anyway, maybe I have some fit issues to deal with in addition to the saddle choice that is all contributing to saddle sore on a week long ride.

    BB

  10. #10
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Saddles?

    What works as a saddle on a single usually does not work on a tandem.
    Next bicycle swap meet buy a few used saddles (cheaper) and try them.
    Generally the harder the saddle that you can tolerate the better off your buns will be. I ride a Selle Italia SLR . . . hard as a rock to some, but comfortable to me.
    IF you have saddle problems on your 500+ mile 1-week ride (done many of 'em)
    try this easy trick: Slip on a second pair of padded cycling short over the first pair; yes it will be more comfy. Also, my stoker's idea: on longer rides (centuries) she usually carries a real sheepskin saddle cover. DON'T put it on when you start!
    However, when buns get a bit sore, slip on the woolly cover . . . relief! When done riding: remove the cover 'til next time it is really needed.
    Also put on MORE miles . . . ride more in the drops so there is less pressure on the sitz bones; possibly LOWER handlebars so more weight is on the arms than the buns; fool around a bit (minutely) with saddle angle/forward/backward + up/down. Keep trying & good luck!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy & Kay, Zona tandem

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Specialized Body Geometry for me.

    I've got Comps on most of my bikes, including my tandem, and a Pro-ti, that I picked up at a swap meet, on my go-fast bike. I obviously like them, but I've met more haters than people like myself. Like say, you have to hunt and peck.

    Anybody who has BG Comps or better that they want to sell cheap, give me a post.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown
    My seat on the tandem seems to be adjusted and dialed in to where I like it and I have not been using anything designed in particular for long distance riding in the way of a saddle (a Bontrager FS2000):
    http://www.trekbikes.com/accessories...ategory_id=277

    BB
    On my mountain bike I use a Flite Titanium saddle, and have had no problems, although I have just changed to a more modern type with "some" gel and a cutaway for the pelvic bone.
    When I tried this type of saddle on the Tandem, I regretted it. That was Painfull. I was advised to go to a slghtly wider saddle, with the pelvic cutaway, and this worked to a degree, but caused Chaffing on the upper thighs. (The wider saddle). Then I tried the wifes bike, and this has a Terry saddle with plenty of padding, and is a womans specific type of saddle. Although Wider, no pelvic cutaway, and not supposedly suitable for the male fraternity. It worked. I finished up with a Selle Transam, female saddle, and it is comfortable. It has a pelvic cutaway, extra thick padding compared to the flite, no gell, shorter in length, and about 3 times as wide.
    The other point I found was that it was easier to set the saddle up, when the backside still had some pain in it. I adjusted the nose angle, height, fore and aft movement, until there was less pain than before, And the following weekend went out for 2 consecutive days riding, with NO pain at all. All I then had to do was run the saddle in, and away we went for our 12 hour ride. The pain on this ultra comfortable saddle did not come in untill 8 hours, and was only relieved by coasting off the saddle for a minute or so, and then I could sit for around 10 minutes before the pain came back.

  13. #13
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    If I might add this a single rider. I do a lot of tours 5-7 per year. The first one always hurts. To train for a week tour, I will ride at least two weekends of 60 miles on Sat and 60 miles on Sun, and I will ride at least the longest day of the tour 1 or 2 times before actually going on the tour. If the tour has climbing, I will also add climbing to the training. Once I'm on tour, I pop ibuprofuen daily each morning after the first day. I can ride my husbands' single which is 56 or my hybrid or my roadbike size 53 for up to 50 miles without any soreness, it is after 60 miles or more that you can tell if you are not fitted properly or on multiple day events that you can tell whether you have trained for the ride. You might want to add longer rides to your training program.

  14. #14
    Just Say No to 26" Wheels
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    Yes, we were planning on doing some 50+ mile on Saturday/Sunday build up rides as we move closer to the end of July RAGBRAI. Just how big a bottle of Ibuprofen should I plan on hauling with me? :-)

    BB

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    Well, it's funny you should ask. My medicine bag is now larger than my cosmetics bag.

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