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Old 05-29-11, 08:49 AM   #1
thesearethesuns
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Is a Saddle with Springs for a Bad Back Appropriate?

Hello everyone. I was just wondering if I should look into getting a saddle with springs on it like a Brooks Flyer series because I have a back issue. My concern is that the springs would somehow exacerbate any bumps in the road I hit because of the recoil of vibrations that a spring holds for those few seconds, and am therefore worried that I would feel any sort of road shock longer in my back, albeit, the shock itself would probably be less intense overall.

Would it be advisable to look into one of these saddles, or do you think I am better off with a standard saddle that does not have springs?
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Old 05-29-11, 11:54 AM   #2
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Buy, perhaps, a suspension seatpost , like thud-buster by cane creek,
and you can use a saddle that your 'Tush' likes.
the long travel post has a density range of elastomers, 2 sections,
for adjusting to your weight.
short travel version you change the whole elastomer
it also takes up less length of the seat post,
if you don't have a lot of post showing ,,

USE, a British company, makes a telescopic suspension seatpost,
that also has internal parts you can exchange to adjust for your weight
combination of elastomers and coil springs.

you probably need help with bike fit, in general,
but that is not something that can be done on a keyboard,

Ibuprofen ..
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Old 05-29-11, 01:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by thesearethesuns View Post
Hello everyone. I was just wondering if I should look into getting a saddle with springs on it like a Brooks Flyer series because I have a back issue. My concern is that the springs would somehow exacerbate any bumps in the road I hit because of the recoil of vibrations that a spring holds for those few seconds, and am therefore worried that I would feel any sort of road shock longer in my back, albeit, the shock itself would probably be less intense overall.

Would it be advisable to look into one of these saddles, or do you think I am better off with a standard saddle that does not have springs?
The flyer is really good at damping road vibration; however, it's not the solution for really big bumps. I'd take it over a suspension seat post though.
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Old 05-29-11, 01:11 PM   #4
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Larger tires inflated to moderate pressure will do more to reduce small bumps than a sprung brooks saddle. A high quality suspension seatpost would do better on big bumps. Using both together would be the best case if you really want to reduce road shock to aid a bad back.
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Old 05-29-11, 02:54 PM   #5
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I had lower back issues that lasted a little over a year a while ago, but it was muscular. My sprung Brooks saddle helped a little, mainly because it works best if you're seating upright on the bike. You may want to consider a combination of gear to dampen bumps on the road. Also include professional fitting if you can. For many of us with back problems, strengthening the injured back with Yoga or Pilates has paid off more than anything else. If your back condition is serious, a recumbent is another solution.

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Old 05-29-11, 03:09 PM   #6
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I like sprung saddles. I like soft tires. They both help keep my back happy. Don't care for suspension posts at all; never saw one that didn't have more side-side and fore-aft play than I cared for.
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Old 05-30-11, 01:36 AM   #7
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My husband has the B67 while it is a decent ride it does nothing much for my back (one thing I don't like is the noise it makes, squeaking). I don't know your situation but you could consider a recumbent, they make great tourers and is the only way to be truly back friendly on a bike.
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Old 05-30-11, 03:15 AM   #8
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I simply stand up (out of saddle) momentarily until I clear the bump.

This works better than a sprung saddle or a suspension seat post. If you have a serious lower back problem, this is the only approach which ensures shock is not transmitted to your spine. Maintenance-free, and free of cost.
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Old 05-30-11, 06:06 AM   #9
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thesearethesuns, If the pain is in your lower back a sprung saddle or suspension seatpost is certainly worth a try before shelling out for a 'bent, or worse yet, to cease riding. A good local fitter with recommendations is another logical tip.

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Old 05-30-11, 07:42 AM   #10
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Everyone is different so YMMV, but after years of back trouble I found that for me the best thing was to avoid and upright posture on the bike. I now ride with my bars well below (4-5") the saddle and riding no longer bothers my back. Sitting upright allows the road shock to go right up your spine. A program of stretching helps as does staying well hydrated.

If you decide to try this, I do not recommend forcing the issue though. Ease into the lower bars a bit at a time while staying is shape with stretching and some abdominal exercises.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:42 AM   #11
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My husband has the B67 while it is a decent ride it does nothing much for my back (one thing I don't like is the noise it makes, squeaking). I don't know your situation but you could consider a recumbent, they make great tourers and is the only way to be truly back friendly on a bike.
Unless you get a suspended bent many of the rigid ones transmit more shock to your back than a DF simply because you can't unweight the seat and take the bump with your legs.
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Old 05-30-11, 08:54 AM   #12
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Everyone is different so YMMV, but after years of back trouble I found that for me the best thing was to avoid and upright posture on the bike. I now ride with my bars well below (4-5") the saddle and riding no longer bothers my back. Sitting upright allows the road shock to go right up your spine. A program of stretching helps as does staying well hydrated.

If you decide to try this, I do not recommend forcing the issue though. Ease into the lower bars a bit at a time while staying is shape with stretching and some abdominal exercises.
I am the opposite, my back is worse when I lean too far forward. I have not had back pain for several years by running a short stem and the top of my bars is about a half inch below top of seat allowing me to sit more upright than I used to.

I have a Brooks Conquest on each of three bikes. It is a discontinued model, it is sprung but shaped like a Brooks Pro. I find that the springs are quite stiff and are useful for smoothing out rough road vibration when I use high pressure tires (700cX28mm at 120 psig) but when I use low pressure tires (26X2.0 at 65 psig), the tires provide a lot of dampening and the springs offer very little dampening.

I used to weigh about 210, when I got on the bike, the springs deflected about 5mm, so the springs did not move very much.

You still have to stand on the pedals when you approach a big bump. Don't assume that the springs give you a Cadilac floating-on-air kind of ride.

You did not say how much you weigh. If you are a lightweight, the springs are unlikely to be noticed, other than occasional squeaking. But if you are heavier and run high pressure tires, the springs deflect more and are nice to have.
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Old 05-30-11, 09:24 AM   #13
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Good advice here. IMHO, the order to try is:
1) confirm fit with the help of a professional. Also
2) run the widest tires you can fit on your bike at 80% of maximum inflation. If you still have back problems, then
3) sell your diamond frame bike and investigate recumbents.

At 160 lbs I noticed no improvement with the Conquest. I exchanged it for an unsprung B17 and have been happy enough.

Thud Busters are useful for stokers who can't see bumps coming, but I think they are not so helpful if you already "stand" for the hits. That could be why I noticed no difference with the Conquest. Dunno.
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Old 05-30-11, 09:30 AM   #14
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I have a Brooks Flyer on my touring bike. The spring action is so subtle I'm not sure I can feel it. I keep the saddle on because it's comfortable and I spent a lot of money on it; I don't want to replace it unless I'm sure I'm getting something better.

I just built a 29er for a ride on the Great Divide this summer. It has suspension forks, but is a hardtail, so I put a Thudbuster seatpost on it to help cushion the bumps and washboard. I can definitely feel it! I've tested it twice. There's a little bobbing when I pedal, but that only gets "bad" when I up my cadence really high, or pedal in my lowest low. When I'm flying fast downhill it seems wonderful. It really helps smooth out the bumps.

That's all I know at this point. You may have to buy one of these and try it to see if it does what you want. (Nashbar had a sale on the Thudbuster when I bought mine; I don't know if it's still on.)
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Old 05-30-11, 07:12 PM   #15
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The springs don't bounce enough to make back pain worse.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:57 PM   #16
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As has been mentioned, your riding position makes a big difference. The more upright your posture, the more your lower back becomes the shock absorber. On my fully upright bicycle, I replaced the Brooks B67s (single set of springs) with the B190 (double springs) and was happy with the change. The second set of springs dampens the recoil and saves my back. At a hair over four pounds, though, it's not for the "weight aware".
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Old 05-30-11, 08:41 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
I had lower back issues that lasted a little over a year a while ago, but it was muscular. My sprung Brooks saddle helped a little, mainly because it works best if you're seating upright on the bike. You may want to consider a combination of gear to dampen bumps on the road. Also include professional fitting if you can. For many of us with back problems, strengthening their injured back with Yoga or Pilates has paid off more than anything else. If your back condition is serious, a recumbent is another solution.
Yeah, I actually talked to someone today who recommended a recumbent. I never thought I'd actually consider it, because I enjoy the romantic experience of riding up high on a bike (akin to riding on a horse) but it seems to be something to consider.

My mother happens to be a chiropractor and after asking her advice on the recumbent idea, she promptly told me that since extension is not so great for my particular injury (I have a fracture on one of my vertebrae in my lumbar area) that she would not recommend me riding recumbent because of the slightly extended positioning required. But hey, I suppose they are better suited for other types of back injuries, or maybe just lumber pressure related discomfort.

I have also been recommended Pilates by a friend, so I will look into this. I used to do Yoga, and yes it's great (along with Martial Arts) for strengthening muscles in the back, among other places.


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As has been mentioned, your riding position makes a big difference. The more upright your posture, the more your lower back becomes the shock absorber. On my fully upright bicycle, I replaced the Brooks B67s (single set of springs) with the B190 (double springs) and was happy with the change. The second set of springs dampens the recoil and saves my back. At a hair over four pounds, though, it's not for the "weight aware".
Good points all around about posture. My first major back injury was a result of poor posture (not while riding, actually walking a fully loaded bike the wrong way down a steep grade, and twisting my lower back, but that's another story...)

Do you experience any rocking on the B190 Saddle because of the double springs, and having both forward and rear springs?
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Old 05-30-11, 09:29 PM   #18
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Do you experience any rocking on the B190 Saddle because of the double springs, and having both forward and rear springs?
Yes, I experience some rocking; but then, I don't have the smoothest pedaling technique. If you use your thighs to help guide your bike via the seat, this would be a problem (which is why I haven't put one on the mountain bike).
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Old 05-31-11, 07:31 AM   #19
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I just know I like the sprung saddles I have better than the suspension seatpost on my winter bike. I don't have any particular problem, but I don't see how it can hurt.

Marc
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Old 05-31-11, 06:29 PM   #20
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I used to use a suspension seatpost and maybe it was a cheap one but I didn't like the way it felt -- too much boinging. I prefer my Brooks Flyer. The springs are pretty stiff but they do make a difference.

I agree that an important way to avoid problems with bumps is to get out of the saddle and let the bike pivot on your pedals. Wider softer tires also help.

I don't have a great back but thus far riding a bike isn't a problem for me. Knock on wood!
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Old 05-31-11, 07:20 PM   #21
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My Koga WTR came with an Airwings seatpost, it moves when i take hits,
but feels solid other than then.
have a Cane Creek on my Bike Friday Pocket Llama, put the Black elastomers in
as appropriate for a 200 pounder, they included 2 more pairs, in case i lose weight. %^)
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