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Breaking in your seat or breaking in your rear ?

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Breaking in your seat or breaking in your rear ?

Old 05-13-20, 09:10 PM
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Tomm Willians
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Breaking in your seat or breaking in your rear ?

As I’ve become more committed to cycling I find my choice of saddle to be changing (evolving?) I originally preferred saddles with substantial padding but keep moving towards a firmer seat.
On my Wilier Imperiale I have a Selle Italia SLR 125g that came with the bike (both used) which I took on a 33 mile ride this afternoon. By the time I got back I was mildly sore but probably could have made it an even 40 without great discomfort.
At what point can you determine if the seat is worn out in regards to comfort or if I just need more time using that saddle? I must say the experience of using such a saddle over a thickly padded one was eye opening, it was not as uncomfortable as I was expecting and I felt like I was pedaling more effectively. ( or I was imagining it?)
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Old 05-13-20, 09:17 PM
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I have always found padded saddles feel good initially, but when they start to hurt, they HURT. Usually it is the padding compressing and you are on a hard substrate. My one exception was an old Avocet. It was great with a thin leather top.

I am now using an original Brooks Cambium. It is good, but I am still getting used to it, Unlike leather saddles, the Cambium (and others) will not get softer, your butt has to get used to them. Leather will mould to your shape.
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Old 05-13-20, 09:31 PM
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The geometry of the saddle-- and therefore the fit, are what's important, not the padding. Plenty of folks (myself included) ride on shaped or tensioned leather saddles, which have no padding at all.

If you're relatively new and can get 30+ miles on a saddle without issue, that's pretty good. So long as you can discern between discomfort and pain, you'll know exactly when you need to go shopping.

A saddle that doesn't fit will let you know almost immediately.
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Old 05-13-20, 09:45 PM
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I ride on leather saddles, Ideale and Brooks. This type of saddle will break in to your anatomy. Sometimes it takes time and sometimes it takes a baseball bat, but they do break in.

The type of saddle you are riding, at least in my experience, either fits your anatomy or it doesn't. Your ischial tuberosities and a wee bit of flesh that covers them are not going to break in a plastic substrate. If it is comfortable for 30 miles or more it is very likely going to be a workable saddle for you. Ride it for a while and work up the distance.

If, on the other hand, you find it uncomfortable you will have to try a different saddle.

Strangely, interestingly, and funnily, one of the most comfortable saddles I ever had was one of the very first plastic saddles that came out. It was a cheap piece of crap that didn't have any sort of cover over it. Just black plastic. But it fit and fit well! I had it on a crit bike and even did a couple of centuries on it. I kept it around for quite a while after I quit crit but it eventually went away in a Great Junk Purge.
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Old 05-13-20, 09:56 PM
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A problem I discovered with vinyl padded saddles is heat retention in the summer, which leads to heat rash and abrasion.

Brooks B17 solves that for me.
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Old 05-13-20, 10:06 PM
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get a wide saddle with strong springs and handlebars that rise up enough to comfortably sit up as you ride and don't look back. Your 5% efficiency penalty will just make your calves that much bigger mine are already 19 inches and shredded.
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Old 05-13-20, 10:57 PM
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If you ride far enough,your hands will be killing you and you'll forget all about yout butt......
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Old 05-14-20, 02:39 AM
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I like that Selle Italia style -- I have one that's very similar, minus the cutout. My other bikes have Selle San Marco and Bontrager saddles with very similar designs.

Bike fit and clothing have a significant effect on saddle comfort. But a typical road bike saddle can be quite uncomfortable with an upright bike, including a drop bar bike set up with the handlebar higher than saddle height. Put the same saddle on a road bike with a slightly more aero/aggressive setup and it may turn out to be perfectly comfortable for long hours and miles.

There's also a balance between padding on saddles and shorts. Too much or too little can be like Goldilocks and the three bears. I have a couple of more thickly padded road bike saddles by Selle Italia and Origin8 and can hardly tolerate them on my road bikes. Too much padding. They're okay on a hybrid from shorter casual rides. But my favorite hybrid has an older Selle San Marco road saddle that's very comfortable -- barely any padding, but a flexible split-rear shell that absorbs road shock. The cover is very worn but the saddle isn't worn out and hasn't really changed fit. My other upright comfort hybrid has a thickly padded saddle that's perfect for that bike, but not for any other bike.

With all synthetic saddles I doubt break-in is, or should be, a factor. Mine look and ride the same as when new. I'd be disappointed if they changed due to any "break-in." That's why I didn't buy a leather saddle. I don't want the saddle to change with time. If my body or bike fit changes, sure, or if the saddle wears out or is damaged, I'll consider another saddle. But I don't want it to sag or change with age and use.
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Old 05-14-20, 04:20 AM
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I have Selle saddles on two of my bikes. I don't think they "break-in" at all, at least not compared to leather saddles or the ones with actual springs underneath. There is so little padding, and so much cutout, that there isn't really much to break--in! I agree with the size/shape is important comment.

When I bought my new road bike in 2017, it came with a discounted professional fitting session so I did that for the first time. That included a bit on an instrumented saddle and he made recommendations on saddle width and length. The bike shop let me borrow a few to try out that fit the dimensions he recommended - and on a hilly long rides there was a noticeable difference and I ended up going with a Selle SMP and still am loving it. I don't think in 3 years it has broken in at all!

Many bike shops have saddle manufacturer sizing devices that they'll use for free as part of trying to sell you a saddle.
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Old 05-14-20, 08:07 AM
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A lot of new bicyclists or ones who haven't ridden very far at a time, think that a padded saddle is good. Unfortunately what happens over the course of a longer ride is that the padding where you sit gets compressed a lot but the padding where the family jewels are doesn't compress and that can lead to a lot of discomfort and then pure pain.

With an unpadded or low padding saddle (not an all leather one like Brooks) as you ride more your butt muscles toughen up and a saddle can feel more comfortable the more it's used because you are getting tougher where you sit.

Riding position too can dictate which type of saddle is more comfortable. An example is my buddy who rides a road bike but does so in a very upright position. He prefers a wider flatter saddle t o the narrower rounded racing saddles.

Saddle choices and comfort are a quite individual choice.

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Old 05-14-20, 08:53 AM
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I will probably catch hell as usual. But except in the case of racer boyz and mountain bikers, a recumbent bike or trike gets rid of all the seat pain. Even the first ride on a bent in the spring produces no seat pain.
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Old 05-14-20, 09:01 AM
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Very true about the recumbents, but they are sort of expensive and somehow it would not feel right to me. Only time I've had any discomfort is on very hard racing seats and I have done plenty of 30+ mile rides and am well over 200 (was over 300 for a while but now much less). If you're going to ride like lance armstrong then no surprises it won't be very comfortable people do that for speed no comfort. Like someone said the hands are going to hurt way way more than the lower regions on a longer ride anyway. Good news is both of these problems are fixable with a more natural sitting and grip position where all your weight is not on your hands and crotch! Resting on your hands is actually very bad for you and your anatomy is not made for that at all, hanging on the other hand is something your body is designed for and you can do all day long if you have the conditioning. Raise those handles up and get a nice wide and springy seat and you will never have discomfort again. It will also make you less likely to be plastered in an accident on the road or mup because you keep looking at your front tire while riding!
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Old 05-14-20, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill in VA View Post
I am now using an original Brooks Cambium. It is good, but I am still getting used to it, Unlike leather saddles, the Cambium (and others) will not get softer, your butt has to get used to them. Leather will mould to your shape.
The Cambium is just like any other saddle with a plastic base. The plastic doesn’t “break in”, you just get used to it. On the other hand, I’ve never had a Brooks leather saddle “break in” either. I have 4 of them and they all look factor fresh without any dents, divots, or even sagging. One of them, a Brooks Pro, is about 12 years old and has 25,000 miles on it. If any “divots” were going to develop, they would have happened by now.

Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The geometry of the saddle-- and therefore the fit, are what's important, not the padding. Plenty of folks (myself included) ride on shaped or tensioned leather saddles, which have no padding at all.

If you're relatively new and can get 30+ miles on a saddle without issue, that's pretty good. So long as you can discern between discomfort and pain, you'll know exactly when you need to go shopping.

A saddle that doesn't fit will let you know almost immediately.
Too much is made of the geometry...i.e. the width...of a saddle in my opinion. I have 8 bikes with 7 different brands and models of saddles on them. The width of the saddles are all over the place. Two of the bikes have Selle Italia Flites (140mm wide) while the others have a mish mash of brands. I have 4 Brooks: Swift (145mm), B17N (140mm), B17 (160mm) and that Pro from above (145mm). I also have Sella Italia Flite Gel (140mm) and a Serfas Moots which is my narrowest one at 125mm. Not one of them feels any different from the others. The plastic ones are all on mountain bikes while the Brooks are on road bikes. I don’t use the Brooks for off-road because they are slippery and have a shape that doesn’t allow for getting off the back of the saddle as easily.

The only saddles that I know don’t fit almost immediately are the marshmallow saddles...i.e. the ones with 4” of padding.

I will also add that a saddle to me isn’t a “seat”. I don’t sit on a saddle, the saddle supports me. Far too many people think of the saddle like a chair and sit on it like a sack of potatoes. If you use it as a support, the saddles are far more comfortable.
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Old 05-14-20, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
...a recumbent bike or trike gets rid of all the seat pain. Even the first ride on a bent in the spring produces no seat pain.
You trade in the seat pain for leg pain whenever you encounter even a modest grade. I fly by recumbents on 2% grades like they're barely moving, because they're you know... barely moving.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Too much is made of the geometry...i.e. the width...of a saddle in my opinion. I have 8 bikes with 7 different brands and models of saddles on them. The width of the saddles are all over the place. Two of the bikes have Selle Italia Flites (140mm wide) while the others have a mish mash of brands. I have 4 Brooks: Swift (145mm), B17N (140mm), B17 (160mm) and that Pro from above (145mm). I also have Sella Italia Flite Gel (140mm) and a Serfas Moots which is my narrowest one at 125mm. Not one of them feels any different from the others. The plastic ones are all on mountain bikes while the Brooks are on road bikes. I don’t use the Brooks for off-road because they are slippery and have a shape that doesn’t allow for getting off the back of the saddle as easily.
So your undercarriage is indifferent-- lucky you. I have two widths of the Fabric Line-- the narrow one is fantastic, the wider model is absolutely awful. It actually hurts. All of your saddles are ~10mm wider than mine-- I could not comfortable ride any of them. My saddle-to-bar-drop doesn't work with Brooks, so those are out... for me. Saddle fit is highly individual. I've never found a Fizik saddle that wasn't an utter ass-hatchet, but plenty of folks ride them happily. I ride three very different saddles in terms of geometry, and I can instantly tell the difference between all of them. I wish I couldn't. I wish my nethers weren't particular about saddle shape and width. But here we are.
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Old 05-14-20, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
So your undercarriage is indifferent-- lucky you. I have two widths of the Fabric Line-- the narrow one is fantastic, the wider model is absolutely awful. It actually hurts. All of your saddles are ~10mm wider than mine-- I could not comfortable ride any of them. My saddle-to-bar-drop doesn't work with Brooks, so those are out... for me. Saddle fit is highly individual. I've never found a Fizik saddle that wasn't an utter ass-hatchet, but plenty of folks ride them happily. I ride three very different saddles in terms of geometry, and I can instantly tell the difference between all of them. I wish I couldn't. I wish my nethers weren't particular about saddle shape and width. But here we are.
Your saddles are 10mm narrower than which of my saddles? I range from 125mm to 160mm. The “narrow” of the Fabric Line you reference is about 10mm wider than my narrowest one.
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Old 05-14-20, 05:42 PM
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Oh, so we're splitting hairs now? Cool. Cool cool. Well, my Cervelo is fitted with an ISM PN 3.0, which is 120mm at the widest portion, but the part I actually sit on is about 60mm wide. Another bike has the absurdly named Selle Italia Novus Boost Gravel Heritage Superflow, which is listed as 135mm wide, but the sides fall off so rapidly that I'm sitting where it's edge-to-edge about 90mm wide. So my saddles are significantly narrower than all of yours.
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Old 05-14-20, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Oh, so we're splitting hairs now? Cool. Cool cool. Well, my Cervelo is fitted with an ISM PN 3.0, which is 120mm at the widest portion, but the part I actually sit on is about 60mm wide. Another bike has the absurdly named Selle Italia Novus Boost Gravel Heritage Superflow, which is listed as 135mm wide, but the sides fall off so rapidly that I'm sitting where it's edge-to-edge about 90mm wide. So my saddles are significantly narrower than all of yours.
Uh-oh, now this looks like it will become interesting...
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Old 05-14-20, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The Cambium is just like any other saddle with a plastic base. The plastic doesn’t “break in”, you just get used to it. On the other hand, I’ve never had a Brooks leather saddle “break in” either. I have 4 of them and they all look factor fresh without any dents, divots, or even sagging. One of them, a Brooks Pro, is about 12 years old and has 25,000 miles on it. If any “divots” were going to develop, they would have happened by now.
My Brooks only has around 3000 miles on it, maybe a bit more, and it doesn't have any divots or dents in it either. It has "broken in," though, in that if I poke at it, squeeze the sides, etc. I can bend it around a bit. When it was brand new it was much harder to get any kind of bend or movement while prodding at it. I'm convinced that this is what "broken in" means with a Brooks.

I was glad to read that the width doesn't make a difference to you. There's another leather saddle that's on my list of possible future purchases, though it's not at the top because the B17 has been awesome. Thing is, it's like 10-15mm narrower than the B17, and I didn't know if that would be an issue. Maybe it will be, maybe it won't, but your comment makes me think it probably won't be.
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Old 05-14-20, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Oh, so we're splitting hairs now? Cool. Cool cool. Well, my Cervelo is fitted with an ISM PN 3.0, which is 120mm at the widest portion, but the part I actually sit on is about 60mm wide. Another bike has the absurdly named Selle Italia Novus Boost Gravel Heritage Superflow, which is listed as 135mm wide, but the sides fall off so rapidly that I'm sitting where it's edge-to-edge about 90mm wide. So my saddles are significantly narrower than all of yours.
With those saddles you're definitely splitting something, but I have the feeling it's a lot more than hairs.
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Old 05-14-20, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Oh, so we're splitting hairs now? Cool. Cool cool. Well, my Cervelo is fitted with an ISM PN 3.0, which is 120mm at the widest portion, but the part I actually sit on is about 60mm wide. Another bike has the absurdly named Selle Italia Novus Boost Gravel Heritage Superflow, which is listed as 135mm wide, but the sides fall off so rapidly that I'm sitting where it's edge-to-edge about 90mm wide. So my saddles are significantly narrower than all of yours.
You sit on the nose? All of my saddles “fall off” as well. I measured the actual width.
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Old 05-14-20, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
My Brooks only has around 3000 miles on it, maybe a bit more, and it doesn't have any divots or dents in it either. It has "broken in," though, in that if I poke at it, squeeze the sides, etc. I can bend it around a bit. When it was brand new it was much harder to get any kind of bend or movement while prodding at it. I'm convinced that this is what "broken in" means with a Brooks.
Mine don’t bend any at all. The Professional and the Swift are both thicker than the B17 and B17N so they deflect less even out of the box. I will say that Arizona is harder on Brooks saddles than Colorado is. I treat mine about once a year but my daughter needs to do it almost quarterly.
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Old 05-14-20, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Mine don’t bend any at all. The Professional and the Swift are both thicker than the B17 and B17N so they deflect less even out of the box. I will say that Arizona is harder on Brooks saddles than Colorado is. I treat mine about once a year but my daughter needs to do it almost quarterly.
It's not floppy or anything like that, I have to push fairly hard with my fingers to bend it, but it does bend a little that way. As far as treating goes, I treated the crap out of it when it was new, and a few times after that, but then I read the advice not to overtreat and haven't done it in a while. To be honest I have no idea what the signs would be that I need to do it again. I may treat it again later this year just because, whether it needs it or not. Out of curiosity, what leads your daughter to believe she's gotta treat it every quarter? I'm asking out of curiosity, not to be contentious. I'd like to know so if there are signs I can look for them on mine.
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Old 05-14-20, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
It's not floppy or anything like that, I have to push fairly hard with my fingers to bend it, but it does bend a little that way. As far as treating goes, I treated the crap out of it when it was new, and a few times after that, but then I read the advice not to overtreat and haven't done it in a while. To be honest I have no idea what the signs would be that I need to do it again. I may treat it again later this year just because, whether it needs it or not. Out of curiosity, what leads your daughter to believe she's gotta treat it every quarter? I'm asking out of curiosity, not to be contentious. I'd like to know so if there are signs I can look for them on mine.
Her saddle looks cracked and dry. Proof Hide from Brooks really doesn’t soften the leather but it will seal it and moisturize it.
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Old 05-14-20, 10:17 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You sit on the nose? All of my saddles “fall off” as well. I measured the actual width. I suppose I could go and fudge the numbers too.
I'm not fudgiing anything. ISM saddles don't have a traditional shape-- you sit all the way on the front, sitbones are not involved. The Novus Boost is similar. But for you, admitting that the shape (or as I said geometry) of the saddle makes a difference is a bridge too far, apparently. I went from an ISM PN 1.1 to a PN 3.0, and the difference was significant. Kinda like how a volleyball and a bowling ball are similar sizes and shapes, but they work just a little bit different.

See if these words make any sense to you: Saddle. Fit. Is. Very. Personal. There's a guy out there that could slap a chunk of 2x4 on top of the seatpost and ride it all day. I am not that guy. I have a drawer full of saddles to attest to that very fact. Fizik saddles are awful. Brooks feel like, well, sitting on a chunk of 2x4. To me. What saddles work for you is meaningless to me, and everyone other than you.
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Old 05-14-20, 10:27 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
It's not floppy or anything like that, I have to push fairly hard with my fingers to bend it, but it does bend a little that way. As far as treating goes, I treated the crap out of it when it was new, and a few times after that, but then I read the advice not to overtreat and haven't done it in a while. To be honest I have no idea what the signs would be that I need to do it again. I may treat it again later this year just because, whether it needs it or not. Out of curiosity, what leads your daughter to believe she's gotta treat it every quarter? I'm asking out of curiosity, not to be contentious. I'd like to know so if there are signs I can look for them on mine.
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Her saddle looks cracked and dry. Proof Hide from Brooks really doesn’t soften the leather but it will seal it and moisturize it.
Sun can do a number on some leathers and can actually 'sunburn' it with UV or heat. I have seen new leather goods like tack and holsters darken rapidly in the desert sun. A vintage set of pigskin cycling gloves darkened in a month in the Northeast summer.

I have an old Ideale 39 leather saddle from Peugeot that still looks good after 40+ years, but is still hard as a rock even with regular Proofhide treatments. I stopped using it as it never 'broke in'. Must have been petrified dinosaur hide..
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