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How do y'all saddle?!

Old 04-16-24, 01:29 PM
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How do y'all saddle?!

New to the site, haven't ridden a bike since I was 17? (32 now).

Just grabbed a Schwinn Crosscut, and MY GOSH, this saddle is so uncomfortable. (schwinn pro gel leather? it's old)

How do you pick a saddle? I would have thought the more cushion the better, but now I'm reading that's not true.

I don't plan to do any long rides, ~10 miles round trip to the lake, those type of rides.

Any help or threads I should head to would be awesome! Cheers!
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Old 04-16-24, 01:50 PM
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The previous owner may have switched the saddle. The specs show it had a Bontrager Commuter Comp saddle. That one came in two widths, 165 mm and 185 mm. He may have switched it out for a narrower saddle. If you get one too wide it will chafe your thighs. I used to think that my rear end would eventually get used to riding a narrow saddle and I would just have to break it in each Spring. The older I got the less well that worked so now I ride recumbent bikes and trikes where that is not a factor. REI carries the OEM saddle for $26 if you think that might work better.
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Old 04-16-24, 02:19 PM
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1. It's going to take your butt a couple of weeks to adapt to sitting on a saddle.
2. Saddle shape is often a much more important factor than padding.
3. Saddles are like shoes - everyone's fit is different, and what is great for me might be hell for you.
4. Padded bike shorts/bibs can be very helpful for comfort.
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Old 04-16-24, 03:35 PM
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For shorter rides, a saddle with more padding may be more comfortable. For longer rides, there tends to be a strong preference for a firmer saddle for support. Then there are mutants like me that like a cushier saddle for all ride durations - 5 minutes or 24 hours.

One important factor for comfort is a saddle pan (the base part) that can flex as needed. Most inexpensive saddles have hard plastic pans - no matter how much padding is piled on top, it may not ever be comfortable except for very short rides. Better saddles have a flexible or sprung pan which gives as needed under load. And leather saddles are both slightly flexible (it's a thick cowhide hammock between the rails at front & rear) and eventually mold themselves to the bone structure of the rider.

But everyone's preferences are different. If you have a shop that allows test-riding saddles, try that. Or if you have a bicycle co-op in your town that sells used saddles at a low price, look there for something to test without breaking your wallet.
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Old 04-16-24, 04:31 PM
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So the important factor in saddles is the shape, the size (which will very depending on how you ride) and actually riding on it for a period of time to get used to it.

Everyone will prefer a different shape there is nothing universal in that. The size will depend on the width of your ischial tuberosity (sits bones) and the riding style. As you get more upright you are putting more of your whole butt into the equation whereas a sportier position will have you using less of it. The riding is just doing some longer rides and adjusting it to you. A lot of times people will not adjust the saddle to them. You need to not only make sure the height is correct but where it sits on the seat post fore and aft and the tilt. Generally tilt wise you don't want it point too far down as you will then be supporting yourself by you hands putting all the pressure there which is not good and tilting it up will mean sliding off the back but also hitting your taint on the nose of the saddle (which is a critical component on a saddle as it allows you to control your bike better so I can ride and not have to turn my bars to avoid a pothole or something I can just use my body English to move the bike and that cannot be done without that nose). You may find that you need a more setback seat post or rarely a set forward (and that is usually the case on a too big bike or mainly for triathletes)

Basically adjust first ride it a bunch let your butt get used to it and then give your local shop that feedback and then they might be able to make a better recommendation.

In terms of padding my Brooks Cambium saddles have ZERO padding just rubber and cover over the top and to my rear end they are quite comfortable and with some padded shorts they are great for long rides. However I do have other saddles with some padding and that is not a bad thing. The bad thing is padding you just sink into and doesn't give you support. A good saddle should be supportive because if you have to compress padding before getting support means you are creating pressure points down there on sit bones and those pressure points cause pain and that pain is bad. For really short very rare rides a super padded saddle is OK enough because you won't be riding it ever so you won't be able to get used to anything and under 3 miles isn't very far. But if you are riding more often or further I would make sure to get the right saddle and that might take some time. I know it took me a bit to find my favored saddles

If you do find after some riding that, the saddle you have currently is truly wrong for you then a good place to potentially start is Ergon, I cannot say it will be right for you or anyone else but Ergonomics is their name and ergonomics is their game and their grips are the best out there and I do like the saddle of theirs I do have. However this is not to change any of what was said above at all. Ergon could be wrong for your butt but it could be a baseline to go from (again riding it for some time and distance adjusted for you)
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Old 04-16-24, 05:23 PM
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The advice above is good. I am just going to suggest that you approach this with patience. Finding the right saddle can take a while, in part because as you ride more, your riding position is near certainly going to change and your butt will adopt to the idea of sitting on this very different object. For an analogy, think of a native American (or bushman of another continent) who has never seen, let alone worn, shoes. Now he's being told he lives in the city and must wear them the entire time he's out of his home. "Go to the shoe store and buy a comfortable pair." I'm guessing the odds of the first pair being it are pretty low.

I couldn't see any hints on where you live so I have no idea what shops you might access to. It used to be "buy it and if you don't like it, tough luck." That's changing. Better shops are seeing saddles as 1) very personal, 2) critical to having happy customers and 3) being generous with returns can lead to customers coming back for larger purchases (new bikes). Many allow you to bring back seats in exchange for a better fitting one, often after real time has passed and you've acquired enough miles to know. A shop in Portland takes this a step further. They have a saddle "library". You buy a $25 card and can take out any of roughly 2 dozen seats for a week. Just like a library book. Return it and try another. As many times as you like Find one you want to own and they give you a new, boxed one and return your $25.

Ask at your local shop or shops what their policy is. And how many seats they have access to that you can try.

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Old 04-16-24, 05:58 PM
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After decades of riding, I’ve settled on the Brooks B17. I have 6 of them on 6 different bikes, and can ride a mile century in regular (not cycling) shorts. They have a break-in period where they start out hard and uncomfortable, but they and your backside eventually get on good speaking terms. I have no issues whatsoever with saddle comfort, hand comfort is the only issue I have on longer rides.
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Old 04-17-24, 08:34 AM
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I grab her round the nose, get on her, and ride.

I must have an iron bum since I have adapted to most of the saddles I have ridden. One trick is to use the biggest tire you can fit, the other is to ride more and your butt will adapt.
When I get taint tingles I adjust the seat so I don't anymore. If I have to much weight on my hands I nose up and maybe raise the bars/adjust them.
It takes time.
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Old 04-17-24, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by apdogtown
How do you pick a saddle? I would have thought the more cushion the better, but now I'm reading that's not true.
As others have suggested, butt shape (the bones, width, and how you ride) differs for every person.

Easiest would be to find a decent local shop that has the means of measuring your saddle shape (the 'sits' bones and ischial tuberosity pressure points). At which point, you'll have a fair idea of the measurements for the saddle that's likely to fit well enough for you. Padding and curvature might be additional features beyond that essential "measurement" fit to consider.

Myself, I tend to like the Brooks leather saddles (or similar), or the Brooks Cambium saddles. I find them moderately comfortable. Have one of each, and they're appropriately sized for my own backside's measurements. I also ride mostly upright; if I were to ride in an "aero" or "athletic" position then the pressure weight distribution and thus pressure points would be different and necessitate a different size/choice of saddle.

Most people, so far as I can tell, seem to try out a few saddles before they find "the one." Likely you'll be typical, in this regard. But starting out with a good measurement at a competent shop would be a decent beginning.

https://www.brooksengland.com/en_us/...ned-short.html
https://www.brooksengland.com/en_us/c19-carved.html
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Old 04-17-24, 08:55 AM
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A large part of the problem of saddle discomfort comes from people thinking that it is a "seat". Wikipedia defines a saddle as "a supportive structure for a rider". Although their definition is more in the context of riding a horse, the same definition applies to bicycle saddles. Far too many people "sit" on a bicycle saddle like it is a Barcalounger. No amount of padding is going to make a saddle comfortable in that situation.

Instead, you should try to make the saddle a true saddle where your feet on the pedals lift you off the saddle (slightly) as you pedal. You are in contact with the saddle just as you would be on a horse but you are using the pedals to take pressure off your nether regions like you would with a pair of stirrups...which predate the rest of the saddle, by the way.

Finally, no saddle "breaks in". You get used to the saddle and adapt to it.
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Old 04-17-24, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
1. It's going to take your butt a couple of weeks to adapt to sitting on a saddle.
2. Saddle shape is often a much more important factor than padding.
3. Saddles are like shoes - everyone's fit is different, and what is great for me might be hell for you.
4. Padded bike shorts/bibs can be very helpful for comfort.
↑ This.

For me, I've found a main comfort factor is to not have the seat smashing into the prostate area. I finally settled on a Selle Anatomic X-2, with the cutout in the prostate area. It has no cushion, but since it's one-piece leather, you just adjust the tension with an allen bolt under the front to your liking, and it supports me like a comfortable hammock.

Another thing about leather is that it breathes, and that is a factor in keeping your underparts from going to sleep.
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Old 04-17-24, 09:25 AM
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For a ten mile trip, once you get use to it, then most any saddle will do. For short trips like that you could benefit more from some cushioning. A maybe even a wider saddle if you do a leisurely ride with the saddle lower than it should be. Though after one or two rides that are 20 miles or more and you'll be back in the same hurting situation with your butt.

The more energetic your riding and the longer they are the more you will likely find that those hard tiny saddles are better. Though you probably won't believe it until you've played the saddle swap game several times.
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Old 04-17-24, 11:20 AM
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Saddle comfort is equal parts saddle, saddle adjustment, and overall bike fit. Throw in tire width, road surface, ride length, and body adaptation.

If it's all good, everything is great. If there's a problem, finding the cause or causes can take a long time.

For example if your saddle is too high causing your hips to rock side to side, butt and low back pain are common even if everything else is perfect.

Another example, if you are constantly sliding forward and shifting back, that causes unnecessary pressure and movement that will cause discomfort with any saddle. Fix that before buying a saddle.

Some adjustments are counter intuitive, like fore/aft. Too far forward will cause sliding forward. Kinda weird.

Read up on saddle adjustments. Opinions vary; you'll have to form your own.

I suggest starting with a reasonable saddle, figure out height, tilt, fore/aft, ride some on that, and tweak those adjustments until you decide it's good enough, or it's not. If not, try another saddle. Repeat as necessary.

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Old 04-17-24, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Finally, no saddle "breaks in". You get used to the saddle and adapt to it.
You have uttered BLASPHEMY! Recant forthwith! If you refuse, you will be brought before a Tribunal which will determine an appropriate punishment. Death by boiling (in oil) is only one of several punishments for BLASPHEMY.
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Old 04-17-24, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
Death by boiling (in oil) is only one of several punishments for BLASPHEMY.
Neatsfoot oil, or liquefied Proofhide?

Also, you're being very unreasonable in demanding death - you should just apply enough for conditioning of the natural material for suppleness and weather resistance.
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Old 04-17-24, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
You have uttered BLASPHEMY! Recant forthwith! If you refuse, you will be brought before a Tribunal which will determine an appropriate punishment. Death by boiling (in oil) is only one of several punishments for BLASPHEMY.
Yeah, a good leather saddle will eventually mold itself more or less to your behind. Even so, not all leather saddles fit. I can't handle a Brooks B-17, for example, but the Professional is very comfortable.
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Old 04-17-24, 01:29 PM
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If the discomfort is directly on your crotch, and you feel as though you may as well be straddling a rail, try a Selle SMP TRK.
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Old 04-17-24, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm
You have uttered BLASPHEMY! Recant forthwith! If you refuse, you will be brought before a Tribunal which will determine an appropriate punishment. Death by boiling (in oil) is only one of several punishments for BLASPHEMY.
The defendant would like to offer the following into evidence:

Exhibit one: Brooks B17 Special with titanium rails, new in box. Never been installed.



Current saddle (4/17/2015) with 4064 miles of my embarrassingly ample posterior on it. It looks factory fresh.



Another view. No deformation.



Exhibit 2: Brooks Pro upon install on the bike in 2007.



Bike in 2009 with 4722 miles of my, again, embarrassingly ample posterior on it.

But wait, there’s more.



Same saddle 12 years and 17,500 mile on it. Why is the saddle off the bike, you might ask?



My embarrassingly ample posterior had managed to crack the frame after roughly 22,000 miles.



Today, the frame has been repaired and it is doing service on my tandem (with an additional 500 miles). My embarrassingly ample posterior has not gotten any less ample but the frame was replaced and the saddle continues life in its unaltered condition.




No observable divots caused by my embarrassingly ample posterior.

The defense rests.
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Old 04-17-24, 07:53 PM
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There is no easy one-saddle-fits-all answer. As stated a few times already a saddle is a VERY personal choice and the only way to find one that's comfortable for YOU, is try try many. Over the last 55 years of serious riding my preference is a Brooks Pro. A Brooks B17 works for me as well. Once broken in, I can ride all day on my well worn Pro. A have a new-ish B17 that is still like a hatchet to ride. Another couple hundred miles and it will be fine. The Brooks Cambium saddles are good for me also and I have a C17 on one of my fixed gear bikes. They require no break-in but are a little on the squishy ride for me.

Advantages of Brooks saddles is once they are broken in, for many riders, they offer a very comfortable ride.
Disadvantages are they are like sitting on a hatchet during the break-in...usually about 500 miles and they are the expensive side.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a saddle but for the most part, yes, you get what you pay for in saddles. I've had many different saddles over the years but I seem to always come back to Brooks.

Ask your local bike shop if they have any "take-off" saddles you can try before purchasing one. A take-off is the saddle that comes with the bike that people take off to upgrade to a better saddle. But, take-offs are all different and offer a similar ride to their more expensive counterparts, so it gives you the opportunity to try a saddle style before buying one.

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Old 04-17-24, 08:56 PM
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I went years buying various saddles and bike shorts, even a recumbent bike. Then I bought a Brooks B17 on sale...I can ride it forever and never feel discomfort. Spend the few bucks more and get a Brooks, well worth it.
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Old 04-18-24, 11:23 AM
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Dang it guys you made me order Brooks B17. At $150 it's 3x more than I paid for the bike!
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Old 04-24-24, 06:13 AM
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Super happy with my Brooks C15 on my gravel / commuter bike. Comfortable even without bike shorts, and with bike shorts I have ridden it up to 300km in a day with no discomfort whatsoever. It's got well over 15000km on it and it still looks good as new - if it broke tomorrow I'd buy another just like it to replace it. It's considerably more comfortable to me than the B17 I have on my folding bike, and weatherproof to boot.

The Giant Fleet SL on my road bike, however, isn't quite as good, but it's not bad enough to warrant replacement at the moment.
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Old 04-24-24, 06:28 AM
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Just tested C17 Brooks yesterday and it felt great! Amazing how thin hard plastic could be comfortable, but it didn't even feel like I was sitting.
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Old 04-24-24, 08:11 AM
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Most shops can measure your sit bone width. That’ll get you into the right ballpark for a seat.

Everything else matters more though.

Handlebar positioning, seat height, seat tilt, fore/aft position of the seat, and just how much time you’ve spent on the saddle this week.

Start with a level saddle that’s pretty mid on the markings of your rails. Wear padded shorts. That’s going to get you started and other adjustments or seat changes should be easier to determine from there.
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