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Saddle Question

Old 09-23-19, 08:24 PM
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Saddle Question

I'm interested in upgrading my saddle on what is essentially a converted gravel bike used mostly for road riding. Problem is that I've never had the usual issue with saddles most people have. I can ride 60 miles or more on pretty much any saddle without feeling any pain anywhere.

The problem is perineum/testicular area. I don't get pain per se but there's the discomfort and numbness. I'll have to hop off from time to time and walk it off or spend a good 15 minutes or so riding out of the saddle to get relief. I realize there are a lot of saddles out there with relief in that area now but I don't know where to start as I don't want to waste money on something that won't work.

Keep in mind that I'm not too picky about most saddle features other than this. I've been eyeing the Brooks saddles, namely the B17 Imperial(with the cutout) and the non-leather equivalent, the C17 "Sculpted" and the Selle Anatomica. There are also the ISM saddles that have piqued my interest like their PR series. But again, I don't want to spend the money on something that's still going to leave me unsatisfied.

Last edited by Jeff of Vt; 09-23-19 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 09-24-19, 05:41 PM
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I fought numbness for 2-3 years. Went through an Avocet Touring and a fizik Aliante. Then a B17 Imperial -I got numb after 12-15 miles on that. The Selle Anatomica looks like it might be better than the B17 Imperial. The C17 looks like it may be better, too.

I tried out an ISM saddle, but I have forgotten which one. It put too much weight on my pubic rami, IMO, but it solved the numbness problem for rides up to 25 miles.

I've been riding a Selle SMP TRK for 3 years (2500 miles) with pretty good success, but recently I've been getting some numbness again. Since that has happened only after I've slogged for 10 miles against a 15+ mph headwind, maybe it's my poor cycling and not a saddle problem. Also, I'm 25 lbs lighter than 3 years ago, though, I may need new shorts. Once I change shorts, who knows what else will have to change?

I think the cure for numbness is to remove pressure from the perineum. If the TRK stops working, I think my next experiment might be a Rido (rido-cycling.com)....

Last edited by philbob57; 09-24-19 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 09-24-19, 06:03 PM
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Get a saddle with cut out and make sure that your saddle is not tilted up in the front would be my recommendations.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57
I fought numbness for 2-3 years. Went through an Avocet Touring and a fizik Aliante. Then a B17 Imperial -I got numb after 12-15 miles on that. The Selle Anatomica looks like it might be better than the B17 Imperial. The C17 looks like it may be better, too.

I tried out an ISM saddle, but I have forgotten which one. It put too much weight on my pubic rami, IMO, but it solved the numbness problem for rides up to 25 miles.

I've been riding a Selle SMP TRK for 3 years (2500 miles) with pretty good success, but recently I've been getting some numbness again. Since that has happened only after I've slogged for 10 miles against a 15+ mph headwind, maybe it's my poor cycling and not a saddle problem. Also, I'm 25 lbs lighter than 3 years ago, though, I may need new shorts. Once I change shorts, who knows what else will have to change?

I think the cure for numbness is to remove pressure from the perineum. If the TRK stops working, I think my next experiment might be a Rido (rido-cycling.com)....
Thanks for your firsthand experience. This is what I really wanted to hear. I wonder why the C17 carved would be better than the B17 Imperial? Seems to work on a similar principle but maybe with better rails. The top is more arched from the pics I see. I'm only speculating though. Upon checking out the online sources on the Selle SMP's and the Rido, the Selle SMP's interest me more. You have the TRK which from what I understand is their more budget model. This model is described as more padded which allegedly can shift more material and pressure toward the perineum. I wonder if their less padded, higher end models may be better for this reason(but they seem twice as expensive). I don't like the idea of the Rido's flat hard nose without cutout so I think I'll pass on that.

I think I'm going to try the Selle SMP, probably the TRK and if that gets me closer to the ideal, I may upgrade to one of their better saddles and transfer the TRK to the trail bike. I think the ultimate solution may be both a saddle upgrade and somewhat elevated stem.

Speaking of clothes, I don't wear shorts. Usually track pants. I'm not really a shorts-wearer(except when swimming). I don't know if I should try a non-padded cycling short as an undergarment or if there are any good cycling pants(a limited market, I'm sure).

Originally Posted by sumgy
Get a saddle with cut out and make sure that your saddle is not tilted up in the front would be my recommendations.
I keep mine level or if any tilt, nose slightly downward. Adjustments are a good point. I thought about adjustments and the fact that on my trail bike, I don't have this issue anywhere near as much. My trail bike has a newer saddle and a much better cutout but I pondered if the more upright position helps and that perhaps I had my saddle too far back, causing me to slide more pressure down on the area. Upon bringing my saddle, which was positioned all the way back, to the mid-point and bringing it slightly higher to compensate, it did make a slight but noticeable improvement. This leads me to believe that an elevated stem may bring some more improvement.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:39 PM
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Make sure your saddle is not nose up. Also check to make sure your saddle is not too high.
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Old 09-25-19, 08:54 PM
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I assume the rubber in the Cambium flexes more than the leather of the B17 Imp, and I imagine it's more comfortable.

I'm on a tight budget, so I first tried the TRK for it's low cost - maybe $50 at Amazon, IIRC. A year or 2 ago, Backcountry/Comp Cyclist had a sale on some of the higher end versions. I tried out a Glider, I think, and it didn't work at all. My guess is that for the SMPs, the sit-bones to pubic arch measurement is critical. If you look at their patent application, the sensitive bits are supposed to hang out over the nose. The distance from the bottom of the dip to the nose for the Glider was too long, so it didn't solve my specific numbness problem. The TRK fits me, even though I dislike the heavy padding.
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Old 09-25-19, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57
I assume the rubber in the Cambium flexes more than the leather of the B17 Imp, and I imagine it's more comfortable.

I'm on a tight budget, so I first tried the TRK for it's low cost - maybe $50 at Amazon, IIRC. A year or 2 ago, Backcountry/Comp Cyclist had a sale on some of the higher end versions. I tried out a Glider, I think, and it didn't work at all. My guess is that for the SMPs, the sit-bones to pubic arch measurement is critical. If you look at their patent application, the sensitive bits are supposed to hang out over the nose. The distance from the bottom of the dip to the nose for the Glider was too long, so it didn't solve my specific numbness problem. The TRK fits me, even though I dislike the heavy padding.
Some good information about the SMP range of saddles here .
No info on the TRK though as it is one of their "comfort" saddles so may not have been on Steve's radar.
I would think that the Glider might be similar though?
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Old 09-25-19, 09:25 PM
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So did I, and it is certainly similar. It's covered by the same patent, after all. The distance from the deepest part of the dip to the highest part of the nose was at least 10 mm longer for the Glider I had than for either TRK I've had. I've forgotten the actual difference, though - it might have been closer to 20 mm. Doesn't matter - I expect that dip to nose is the critical measurement that makes the difference between those who swear by the SMP and those who don't.
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Old 09-25-19, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57
So did I, and it is certainly similar. It's covered by the same patent, after all. The distance from the deepest part of the dip to the highest part of the nose was at least 10 mm longer for the Glider I had than for either TRK I've had. I've forgotten the actual difference, though - it might have been closer to 20 mm. Doesn't matter - I expect that dip to nose is the critical measurement that makes the difference between those who swear by the SMP and those who don't.
Biggest trick with the SMP's is to get the set up right.
I have had people tell me that they hate SMP's but when I look at their setup they have the front section level, with the tail up high.
The correct setup should see the tail and the highest section of the nose almost level, and the dip between those points.
I always say that these saddles should almost feel like they are "cupping" you.
Once people get this setup right, theyoften change their mind on SMP's.
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Old 09-26-19, 08:33 AM
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My own experience is that I need the nose down about 10mm to prevent numbness. I base my setup on Steve Hogg, Colby Pearce, and especially the patent application, which is IMO essential reading for anyone interested in Selle SMP. The patent app is available here, for example: BICYCLE SADDLE - SELLE SMP S.A.S. DI MAURIZIO SCHIAVON

Albcici (Selle SMP in the US) says their saddles are usable with tilts of +10mm/-25mm, although they suggest starting with the saddle level.

Hogg is very informative about Selle SMPs. He says that most of the SMPs are designed to be ridden at varying degrees of nose down. A Colby Pearce asserts 'The nose angle should be set as low as possible, provided the rider is stable....' (SMP Setup Tips - Pearce Coaching and Fitting) Pearce goes into some detail on that point, and I recommend reading his words on SMPs, too.

But this is a question of comfort on a bike which makes the assumption that the saddle is the element that needs to be gotten right. The assumption itself may be invalid.

We can't predict what saddle will suit specific people. I'll agree there's a correct setup for Selle SMPs for each individual who uses one. I can't agree there's ONE correct setup (as in 'the correct setup'), and I can't agree that the Selle SMP will be liked by all riders.

Last edited by philbob57; 09-26-19 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 10-03-19, 07:45 PM
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Just an update to this thread. I brought the nose to my old saddle even further down which seemed to mostly have resolved the issue. I don't know the exact degrees but it the nose has a fair amount of downward bias. This is a relief as if this is working for a mostly worn out saddle then my options for a quality saddle are broader.
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Old 10-04-19, 05:10 AM
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I've gone through the saddle gambit over the past year. I've tried 5 different saddles before I finally found 2 that I truly enjoy.

Started with a Specialized Toupe, too small. Bought a Nashbar CF1 which was wider and had a little bit of padding and was much better on the posterior but cutout was too small and front would go numb.

Bought a Selle Italia SLR with a huge cutout and had no problems at all up front but the saddle did not have proper support across the back and the saddle would flex. This flexing would cause the saddle to fold in slightly on the sides and would make my legs go numb on long 25+ mile rides.

Finally tried an SMP F30 and it was pretty darn comfy. Large cutout, nice flat area and easy to get good positioning on it. Took a little to dial it in but was far better than anything I have ever ridden.

I bought my wife the SMP Avant and after a few rides she did not find it that comfortable. So I tried that seat out on my road bike and it was awesome. I call it my Lazy Boy saddle. I could ride that seat for 20 hours.

So I've now got the F30 on the gravel bike and the Avant on the road bike. Both are great to ride. I keep them at a -2.5 /-2.8 degree angle which is just enough to open the hips but still be able to support my torso without too much weight on the hands.

The rails are slightly longer and you are working with alot of angles on the SMP so itll take a few rides to get the saddle dialed in. Pocket your allen key on the first few rides.

They are on the heavier side compared to most saddles but for a heavier rider with a large posterior they are worth the extra grams.

Last edited by Wilmingtech; 10-04-19 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 10-05-19, 12:11 PM
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I disagree with the saddle nose-down thing. That's always going to put weight on your hands because you're always pushing back. That's not good for riding any distance. Instead of tilting the nose down, try to find a saddle that doesn't have any saddle where the stuff that's making you numb is. I level the exact part of the saddle where my bones are perched, not the entire saddle, which, no matter how flat they look are usually not exactly flat. The perfect position in the perfect shorts on the perfect saddle does take some time and experimentation to arrive at, that's for sure, a many year's journey for some of us.
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Old 10-05-19, 12:14 PM
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Some further thoughts....

I had to tip the nose of the Brooks up a bit; otherwise, I kept sliding forward on the smooth leather. I believe it's common, though not universal, for riders to tilt the Brooks up slightly.

If you tilt a saddle too far down, you'll put extra stress on your arms. Protect yourself.

My take is that anything that presses on the pubic nerve or blood vessel can cause perineal numbness. I think that's most saddles.
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Old 10-05-19, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57
Some further thoughts....

I had to tip the nose of the Brooks up a bit; otherwise, I kept sliding forward on the smooth leather. I believe it's common, though not universal, for riders to tilt the Brooks up slightly.

If you tilt a saddle too far down, you'll put extra stress on your arms. Protect yourself.

My take is that anything that presses on the pubic nerve or blood vessel can cause perineal numbness. I think that's most saddles.
Brooks.
Enough said.
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Old 10-05-19, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57
Some further thoughts....

I had to tip the nose of the Brooks up a bit; otherwise, I kept sliding forward on the smooth leather. I believe it's common, though not universal, for riders to tilt the Brooks up slightly.

If you tilt a saddle too far down, you'll put extra stress on your arms. Protect yourself.

My take is that anything that presses on the pubic nerve or blood vessel can cause perineal numbness. I think that's most saddles.
Not a properly fitted saddle. I can sit on my rollers for at least an hour, no breaks, no numbness. Out on the road, I stand about every 10 minutes, partly to stretch and use different muscles, partly to make my butt last forever. I've probably been through 20 saddles over the decades as my fitness and butt shape changed and saddle technology evolved. Some gave me numbies, some gave my saddle sores, but the best were just fine for a century right out of the box. Brooks are definitely in the numbies category for me, though I understand not for everyone. But that's the reason that there are hundreds of different saddles out there, to fit the hundreds of different butt shapes.
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Old 10-05-19, 07:23 PM
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I just received -- but haven't yet tried -- and ADJUSTABLE saddle (https://bisaddle.com/). You can adjust not only the width -- front AND back -- but the "roundness" (viewed from the rear) as well. Can't wait to experiment with that.
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Old 10-08-19, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech
I've gone through the saddle gambit over the past year. I've tried 5 different saddles before I finally found 2 that I truly enjoy.

Started with a Specialized Toupe, too small. Bought a Nashbar CF1 which was wider and had a little bit of padding and was much better on the posterior but cutout was too small and front would go numb.

Bought a Selle Italia SLR with a huge cutout and had no problems at all up front but the saddle did not have proper support across the back and the saddle would flex. This flexing would cause the saddle to fold in slightly on the sides and would make my legs go numb on long 25+ mile rides.

Finally tried an SMP F30 and it was pretty darn comfy. Large cutout, nice flat area and easy to get good positioning on it. Took a little to dial it in but was far better than anything I have ever ridden.

I bought my wife the SMP Avant and after a few rides she did not find it that comfortable. So I tried that seat out on my road bike and it was awesome. I call it my Lazy Boy saddle. I could ride that seat for 20 hours.

So I've now got the F30 on the gravel bike and the Avant on the road bike. Both are great to ride. I keep them at a -2.5 /-2.8 degree angle which is just enough to open the hips but still be able to support my torso without too much weight on the hands.

The rails are slightly longer and you are working with alot of angles on the SMP so itll take a few rides to get the saddle dialed in. Pocket your allen key on the first few rides.

They are on the heavier side compared to most saddles but for a heavier rider with a large posterior they are worth the extra grams.
As a PSA, the Specialized Toupe is offerred in three (or more?) different widths. The dealers offer a service to determine what width would best fit your sitbones.

I've found that "too narrow" can result in the feeling that one of your buttbones is falling off the side, with the accompanying cheeks. For me the 143 mm width works best. I also find that I end up with a little bit of nose up. Finally, I fine-tune the saddle height to eliminate painful hip rock and to reduce pressure to the perineum. I find this overall method works even with unique designs such as Selle AnAtomica.
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Old 07-20-20, 05:12 PM
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Sorry to start this conversation again but actually I was facing testicular for many days due to a long bike ride and looking for the reason and solution our the Internet. I read an article on Bike Reviews Hub and then the conversation here. The way you explained the reasons and then tips are very good but actually the problem is that this pain started just a few days ago. Otherwise, I am cycling since my childhood but never came through such problem. Can you please suggest me some tips or tablets to get rid of it without any side effects?
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Old 07-21-20, 10:19 AM
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All else there are bike seats* with no nose at all, just 1 pad under each of those hip bone portions you sit on..

* i would not call them saddles..
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Old 07-21-20, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AdamWilson
Sorry to start this conversation again but actually I was facing testicular for many days due to a long bike ride and looking for the reason and solution our the Internet. I read an article on Bike Reviews Hub and then the conversation here. The way you explained the reasons and then tips are very good but actually the problem is that this pain started just a few days ago. Otherwise, I am cycling since my childhood but never came through such problem. Can you please suggest me some tips or tablets to get rid of it without any side effects?
See a urologist right away. Testicular pain is not a normal issue with saddles, no matter how ill-suited to the rider. Testicular torsion?
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