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Bicycle saddle for bike touring

Old 03-03-20, 10:32 AM
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Histman1
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Bicycle saddle for bike touring

Hello all,
I do not like the saddle that came on my Trek 520 for bikepacking. It's okay for 10 to 12 mile rides but I need something more comfortable for mult-day rides. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-03-20, 10:36 AM
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May I be the first to suggest a Brooks B17. Just be sure you don't set it too high or you will feel pain. Adjusted correctly, it disappears underneath you. It is not forgiving of a too high seat heigh though, and 10mm too high can make the difference between pain and nirvana. I had issues with pain originally, but after getting the seat height correct, I can ride all day, and get on the next day with no pain. 70 mile days are fine.
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Old 03-03-20, 10:48 AM
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Try another saddle? First up is of course the fit and conditioning of the rider. After this has been narrowed down (as opposed to finalized, a new saddle will affect the fit) as best possible and the problems remain then try another saddle.

More and more shops and saddle brands are offering some sort of "comfort warranty" where one has 30 days to use it and still be able to return for exchange (maybe credit/refund). We sell a couple of saddle brands that offer this trial period. We have a pretty good rep for bike fit and generally the first saddle our customers get works well. But we do see exchanges and the different saddle gets the same trial period. We have collected a number of saddles in our fitting "department" and will do loaners often outside of any purchase policy/offer.

We don't know where the OP is or if they have access to any LBS. This type of problem and search for a better saddle is as old as cycling is. The only solution that has worked consistently for over a hundred years is to try a different saddle until one is found that works. Obviously doing this via UPS can get expensive and/or take a lot of effort with repackaging and returning to the online seller. Andy
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Old 03-03-20, 03:09 PM
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As Andrew said, try adjusting the tilt and fore-aft position of your current saddle.

If that doesn't work, and if you have a B-17 shaped bottom, a B-17 will be wonderful to ride on. Best saddle I've got, though some people's behinds just aren't shaped right for them.
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Old 03-03-20, 03:11 PM
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Different saddles work with different arseular geometry, and the only way to tell if one will work for you is to try it.

If you can make some determinations or assumptions about how your current saddle is causing discomfort - too narrow, to round, too flat, etc - then you can look at and/or try saddles that are shaped so that they are less likely to cause the same issues. Talk to the LBS and see if they will accept an exchange after a few test rides.
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Old 03-03-20, 11:50 PM
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Agree with the B17. Mine felt great out of the box. For less than 4 hr rides I don't even need to use padded shorts. I was a little bothered by having to tilt the saddle up a little to avoid sliding forward, but I got used to it
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Old 03-03-20, 11:55 PM
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As mentioned above, the best saddle varies with each rider. One good starting point is getting your sit bones width measured. If you don't have access to a shop with a tool for measuring such, you can sit on aluminum foil on a carpeted stair and rock forward to approximate your riding position--the sharpest indentations are what you want to measure, and then can match that to marketed saddle widths. ‘Narrow’ sit bone width would be 100mm or less, medium 100-130mm, wide over 130mm. This is a sane starting point, anyways.

A lot of distance cyclists do swear by Brooks saddles and similar hammock-style leather designs. They require some break in time but do conform to your butt. They're relatively heavy, though. I used to have a B17N (narrow) that was extremely comfortable for me, but I've since found I'm equally happy with a number of more mainstream foam/plastic saddles. Probably the most comfy saddle on any of my bikes now is an old WTB SST. I also really love the hilariously expensive Bontrager XXX saddle I bought when I was an employee at a Trek dealer (was still way too expensive, but I was feeling extravagent), it's shockingly comfortable for a 68 gram chunk of unpadded carbon. This supports the theory that having a shape that works well for you trumps large amounts of padding.


Ultimately if you have a local shop you like trying saddles through them is great for the brands that offer a fit guarantee, which is a lot of them. Or they may have demo saddle programs.
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Old 03-04-20, 06:13 AM
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My perfect saddle may feel like the box it came in for you. That was my experience with a B-17. I'm good with any plastic/foam/leather saddle that fits right. Minimal padding for me. I'm more concerned about heat transfer.

In my experience, clothing matters also. Sort of like getting the right sock combination when hiking.

If you're lucky and have lived a good life, you may find a good combination early on.
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Old 03-04-20, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Histman1 View Post
Hello all,
I do not like the saddle that came on my Trek 520 for bikepacking. It's okay for 10 to 12 mile rides but I need something more comfortable for mult-day rides. Any suggestions?
Good Morning, and welcome to the forum. This may be the most difficult question in all of bicycling. We are all shaped differently, have different riding positions and different needs for comfort. On top of that what feels good when you first straddle a saddle may not feel good after an hour and vice versa. What feels good after a couple of hours in a new saddle may not feel good after the saddle is broken in.

It seems like most distance riders use Brooks or similar. I cannot ride them at all. I have gone to Adamo recreational seats. There may be something else better out there for me, but I am happy enough with them that I don't feel the need to continue experimenting. I did my one and only century on one and have logged many 50+ mile days.

If you deal with a shop, they may have a "take-off" bin and be happy to let you try before you buy. They may also have a manufacturer demo program on certain saddles.
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Old 03-04-20, 08:49 AM
  #10  
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I will second the suggestion to raid the "take-off" bin at your local shop. Try lots of different shapes - wide/narrow back, triangular/narrow nose, short nose, cut-out, curved top, etc. and you will converge on a shape that works for you. Experiment with tilt to see what works best. If you are lucky, you will find a shop with a saddle library and you can try lost of saddles for a fixed price which can often be applied to the cost of a new saddle. One down side to the saddle library is that you can often use each saddle for only a week or two. This is plenty of time to determine if a saddle is wrong, but it really isn't enough time to know if a saddle is right.

Resist the urge to try several saddles and then drop big bucks on the premium, carbon/Ti rail version. If you decide Brooks is right for you, start with the $90 B17. If you like it after six months, then splurge for the Ti-rail swallow for $300. It took me a couple of years to find my perfect saddle (a Performance Bike exclusive) but after I rode a double century on that saddle with no problems, I converted three bikes to that saddle, and I bought three extras when performance went out of business. Now, I can just look at a saddle and know if it won't work.
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Old 03-04-20, 10:40 AM
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depends also on the road you will hitt, a pothole and crappy thirdworld road needs a saddle with some springs, if i would hit latin america roads or india i will go with a B72
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Old 03-06-20, 12:41 PM
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B33

I'm loving my b 33
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Old 03-07-20, 10:12 AM
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I tried over 30 saddles, and couldn't find a good fit. I even tried shaving the foam underneath the cover to reshape it.

Comfort will depend on your anatomy and it will be very different for each person.

I finally went back to the B17 Flyer Imperial that I was originally using. It was causing me groin discomfort because of the hammock shape. So I cut off the top of the bridge. Now the pain is gone. However, Brooks saddles are very stiff and hard when new. It was about 1 year before it got much softer and flexible.

I also tried over 10 different big brand shorts/bibs and had trouble finding one that gave generous groin space without pressure. Most of them are very tight in front. The best I found was taking the ASSOS Equipe EVO, Equipe S9, or Cento EVO, and trimming the foam at the front half. The front of the foam was folding over and giving me pressure in the groin. The Cento has a strange pocket in front with the panel not having much material width, so even though it's supposed to stretch, there isn't much material to stretch with, making it uncomfortable when standing, but it's thin up front so very cool. The older Equipe EVO is much wider up front, but the material is bulky and hot, but very relaxed when standing up. Newer Equipe S9 is narrower and slightly tighter than the Equipe EVO, but the material is thinner up front so less bulky and cooler. The Equipe S9 would have been great if they made it as wide as the Equipe EVO. So If you need more loose, then Equipe EVO. If you need cooler than less bulky, then Equipe S9. If you don't mind narrow front and want even cooler, then Cento EVO.

I don't have photos of how I trimmed the foam, but you simply flip it inside out, cut the stitch thread at the front tip of the foam, carefully unlace the stitch up to the point you want to trim the foam without breaking the thread, tie the thread into a knot, cut the excess thread, and optionally add a new stitch to the cut edge of the foam. I can't remember, but I think I cut around 7 to 10cm from the front of the foam.







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Old 03-07-20, 08:25 PM
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IMHO the most comfortable saddles have plain old coiled steel springs on them,

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Old 03-08-20, 07:42 AM
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As an alternative to the Brooks, I bought a Selle Anatomica and once it stabilized and stopped stretching its been the best saddle Ive ever had the pleasure of sitting on. May not be for everyone but it was fairly supple when new and does a good job flexing under you when pedaling.
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Old 03-08-20, 08:29 AM
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Selle Anatomica has much more banana hammock shape than Brooks, so if curvature causes you pain, then Selle Anatomica is not for you.
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Old 03-12-20, 06:55 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post
Selle Anatomica has much more banana hammock shape than Brooks, so if curvature causes you pain, then Selle Anatomica is not for you.
If you fall down into the front part of the hammock of an SA, that is a recipe for pain. If yo u tilt up the nose just right and position it well, your butt bones remain seated on the wide part of the saddle so pressure is on the bones, not on softer tissues in front of them.
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Old 03-12-20, 07:25 AM
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I believe someone mentioned training as a factor in saddle comfort. If the OP hasn't done a lot of longer rides and the 520 is new I'd train a little before starting the search for a new saddle. I don't think anyone has mentioned the role bike fit plays in saddle comfort. As I age, my back likes shorter reach and higher bars. That puts more weight on my derriere and the saddles that I thought were just the best are no longer comfortable. I had to go to a saddle that was slightly wider with more padding to achieve day long comfort. It definitely isn't an expensive sleek carbon/titanium model. The OP doesn't say if the 520 is new to him or if he had a previous bike/saddle that provided all day comfort.
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Old 03-12-20, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
If you fall down into the front part of the hammock of an SA, that is a recipe for pain. If yo u tilt up the nose just right and position it well, your butt bones remain seated on the wide part of the saddle so pressure is on the bones, not on softer tissues in front of them.
It depends on anatomy. No level of tilt adjustment of the SA was pain free for me. Tissue in front was always in contact with the bridge of the nose, because tissue was almost at the same level as the sit bones. That's why I cut down the bridge of my Brooks, which also widened the slot, and that solved my problems.
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Old 03-12-20, 09:45 AM
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I would not say you are wrong, but I don't think I have that problem. I'm really glad that "Brooks butchering" helped, and it's brilliant to use multiple lacings to reinforce the skirts and make the horn more rigid (People!! we'll have none of that!). Have you smoothed and finished the new top of the horn?

Have you ever tried a Swallow? They are narrower than a B17 but have a very firm horn due to the leather under wrap. Rivet uses that same construction, and has saddles in both wider and narrower widths.

I think I never totally lose contact with the top of the saddle horn. Two other things happen: The pressure at the sensitive areas is reduced because my weight is back and is borne by the wide platform, and abrasion is reduced because my hip rocking is reduced. The hip rocking is reduced because I incrementally (about 1 mm at a time) adjust the entire saddle downward in steps until the abrasion due to hip motion (usually perineal abrasion, for me) is no longer painful. I don't go any lower, generally, because going too low leads to knee pain when I don't keep my cadence up. I also fine-tune the saddle fore-aft positioning to make sure my most natural sit-bone location is on the wide saddle platform area - this reduces any natural tendency to scoot forward, if I'm not time-trialing (who, me??? nahh!).
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Old 03-12-20, 11:34 AM
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Where's the discomfort? Sit bones? Perineum? Numbness? Other? For numbness, I use a Selle SMP TRK - too much padding, but the design and dimensions of that seat worked for me for the last 3.5 years, and I hope it works again.
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Old 03-12-20, 04:03 PM
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The SMP TRK was so bad for me. The upward curved beak nose was squishing and smashing my balls. Trying to tilt the nose down to prevent that would cause the sit area to slope down so much that I'd slip forward.

Discomfort for the Brooks was mostly perineum, but when it got bumpy, the really hard nose would bump the balls. Cutting off the top of the bridge removed all of the discomfort. Only instance would be if I slip forward on the saddle on a bumpy stone road and accidentally sit on the sharp walls of the bridge, now that the top is gone. But it rarely happens.

I have around 13cm sit bones, but I need at least 16cm minimum saddle width with a not so curved to the side surface, otherwise it will feel like my sit bones are slipping off the edges. Most of the saddles I tired that said 16cm were either physically or effectively (due to cuvature) 14.5cm, and therefore too narrow for me. There were also some that were too soft so I sink in. The excess material pushed forward would dig into the flesh on the underside of my legs on the downstroke when pedaling, and I get bruises after 30 minutes. Others were extremely flat but with a sharp falloff at the edges, like a knife, which also digs into the flesh. Overall I could categorize all the saddles I tried into these main problem categories: too narrow, too soft, too sharp, raised nose.

The brooks is wide enough (I tried the narrow in the past and it was horrible). The lack of padding means no excess material to dig into the flesh, and it has good enough curvature so that there are no sharp edges. Raised nose was a problem, but cutting off the bridge solved this. The leather is too hard to begin with, but gets softer after some time of usage.
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Old 03-12-20, 09:39 PM
  #23  
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The best and most important thing to comfort is getting an actual bike fit from someone who knows what they are doing and is doing a dynamic fit. Your fitter can make sure your saddle is in the right position and recommend a saddle based on your shape and size and do actual measurements to figure out what might work better for you. Certainly the saddle might not be for you but it could just be maladjusted for you and rather than doing the guessing game a fitter can actually get you in the optimal position on that bike and recommend things to help get you even better.

After having gotten a Retl fit I can say I am way more comfortable on my road bike than I ever was and while I found my favored saddle through trial and error my fitter did back up that it was a good fit for me and now that it is in the right spot and my seatpost height is correct I feel so great. Yes a fit can cost money but being supremely comfortable on a bike is well worth it. Also it is not just for those who race it is literally for everyone and you will be quite surprised on that first ride how good you feel. I did my fit in the morning before work and was extra tired by the end of the day but I probably hit one of the fastest times home and with no pain at the end or feeling that legs were worn out. I almost wanted to ride further at that point which is rare for a commute home.
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Old 03-14-20, 12:41 PM
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The SMP TRK was so bad for me. The upward curved beak nose was squishing and smashing my balls.
That means either you either sat on it wrong or, much more likely IMO, the saddle just doesn't fit you.

Per the Selle SMP patent application, genitalia need to be positioned in front of the highest part of the peak. They float in space. That doesn't work if the distance between your sit bones and genitalia is too short. In my case, the TRK works, but their Glider was too long between the valley and the peak.

Saddle fit is a LOT more than distance between sit bones. I'm not sure we even know all the dimensions that affect saddle comfort. Even if we did, we'd each need a couple of xrays to know what our own diemnsions are. That's probably why saddle choice is so individual.
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Old 03-14-20, 02:00 PM
  #25  
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A friend of mine prefers a saddle that's nearly perfectly flat transversely. He sits fairly upright when riding. Saddle fit is so varied from person to person that it's nearly impossible to tell someone else what'll work for them. In many cases it's a matter of trying different saddles until you find one that's comfortable for you.

Cheers
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