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Blue Order 04-07-06 06:31 PM

Saddle Advice
I used to commute by bicycle every day, and I used to have *very* sore bones where I sat, like I had a deep bone bruise or something. It never got better, just painful all the time, like a bruise that kept getting bruised. It really made riding a pain in the a$$. Literally. I changed to a gel saddle, and it was softer, but the pain never went away (as I recall, the pain wasn't there when I first bought the bike years before, even though I had commuted every day then as well). Then I started to work out of home, and stopped commuting, and at about that time, retired my one and only bike to the "needs to be fixed" "bench." Then I moved to go to school, and left my bike behind. Eventually I shipped my bike to my new place, but it still needed repairs, and I was a dead-broke student now with no money for repairs, etc. etc. etc., so it sat unused.

Anyway, I've been without a bike for a while, and the bruises have long since healed, and I decided a while back to get another bike so I can have a city bike to ride while my bike undergoes a proper overhaul. So I've been looking and looking and looking... I bought a frameset, but it wasn't a complete bike, obviously, so I kept looking and looking and looking... I even found a bike I was seriously thinking about buying-- I had some reservations about it, but was thinking about it. I test rode it, and guess what? Immediately, the saddle felt very uncomfortable, right where my bones used to feel bruised-- as if the bruises were just waiting to get started again. Well, I decided I wanted the bike, but then the seller changed his mind about selling. So I kept looking and looking and looking...

So now, finally, I've managed to scrape some money together and buy a bike. And it's my 90s dream bike, the one I wanted then but couldn't afford, and the price was unbeatable. I haven't even ridden it yet-- it'll be here next week. So while my head's in the clouds, I want to be realistic and take some pro-active steps to prevent that old pain from returning (I was even getting numb before, in addition to the bruises, so maybe it was a related issue). So what should I do? Is there a type of saddle I should be looking at? Should I be thinking about saddle angle? Something else I haven't thought of (it never got better after "toughing it out")?

Suggestions welcome...

barba 04-07-06 06:46 PM

Paradoxically, soft "gel" saddles are often the worst for comfort. I would avoid them. The only one I ever had made me limp after a few hours. I think people confuse saddles with seats. When you sit in a chair, soft is good. On a bike, it is about fit and support not cushion. Many people swear by Brooks saddles, and I am a semi-convert. I have a B-17 leather saddle, and it is very nice. It is worth a try, and they have versions with springs that are supposed to be very comfy for long rides.

Machka 04-07-06 07:07 PM

Brooks saddles are the way to go for comfort! :)

But here are a couple other suggestions too.

-- bicycle fit ... go to a shop, take a look at this article: , do whatever it takes to make sure you've got the bicycle set up properly. If the saddle is too low, you'll be putting too much pressure on everything. If the saddle is too high, you'll be rocking from side to side.

-- clothing ... bicycle shorts, with padding can help make a saddle more comfortable. I would not recommend those with gel padding, but most of the rest should be OK, and don't wear underwear under them. You will have to try various pairs of shorts because what works for one might not work for the next person.

alanbikehouston 04-07-06 07:10 PM

Correct set up is a major factor in bike comfort. Many folks have saddles that are too high, and that increases discomfort. Although I very rarely wear cycling shorts, you may someone who would benefit from wearing high quality cycling shorts, with good padding.

My experience has been that I am most comfortable on very firm saddles that keep my sitbones on top of the saddle, rather than sinking down into the padding. I like the Specialized Body Geometry saddles, and have no problems after switching over to them. Most bike shops push male customers toward narrow racing style saddles. Many/most people benefit from a wider support platform, especially at the very back of the saddle. One of my favorite saddles was advertised as a womens saddle...well, it fits me very well.

Try to give your rear a rest while riding. When I am braking for a stop sign, I put the pedals level with each other, and raise my rear a half inch up off the saddle, and coast to a stop. And, in my neighborhood, there is a stop sign every hundred yards or so. Every twenty minutes or so, I ride out out the saddle for a minute or two. A good workout, and it gets the blood circulating.

Siu Blue Wind 04-07-06 07:13 PM


Originally Posted by MERTON
i really like my specialized avatar gel... it's pretty firm, my sit bones are getting used to it (when i do ride it that is).... and i don't feel like i'm sitting on mr. wang.

Who's Mr. Wang?

free_pizza 04-07-06 10:42 PM


Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind
Who's Mr. Wang?


jcm 04-08-06 12:03 AM

You don't describe your riding posture. Do you ride flatback or more upright? Here's a look at a Brooks B-67. If you ride more upright, I recommend trying one. Both of mine were comfortable right out of the box.

sngltrackdufus 04-08-06 06:35 AM

Yeah , alot of t depends on saddle adjustment. As for my self i like SDG saddles . i perch on a Bel air for 3 or 4 hours & have no comfortability issues.
No padding at all is sometimes better than a little for me.

Lolly Pop 04-08-06 06:40 AM

Blue Order, you don't indicate whether you are male or female. Have you considered a sex-specific saddle?

Blue Order 04-08-06 07:28 PM

Responses to previous comments:

1) I'm male, and yes, I think I'm going to check out the sex-specific saddles, because the old saddle was causing numbness. :eek: But that was only a small part of the problem. The most pain was in the sit bones-- felt like they were bruised.

2) The original saddle was a suede Selle Italia job that came with the bike. When I first bought the bike, no problem, despite lots of everyday riding. Then at some point, years later, the bones started to hurt, so I switched to an Avocet Gelflex mtb saddle. It actually helped in the sense that I felt less tender when riding, but the pain never really went away. Maybe I just wasn't giving it time to heal?

Anyway, that test ride I took in January was immediately very uncomfortable, and reminded me about all that pain I had forgotten about. And it wasn't a gel saddle-- it was leather, if I remember correctly.

3) Riding position: My bike is a road bike, and I tend to ride on the uprights, and use the drops only for battling headwinds. My bike is disassembled right now, so I can't say with any degree of certainty how it was set up, but my recollection is that the saddle was set at a height that gave my knee just a bit of flex on the bottom of my downstroke, and the saddle was set level, and the handlebars were set at the same height as the saddle.

Blue Order 04-08-06 07:37 PM

Another thought. Here's what's weird to me: When I first bought the bike, no pain, despite everyday commuting. And no pain on any other bike, ever. Then, for some reason, that bruised pain started up. And what's really weird is that a couple years later, I get on a bike and the pain appears almost instantly. Probably a bad saddle or something on that bike, but that's what I'm trying to head off with the new bike.

Which reminds me, the new bike is a 29er (Bianchi Project 7) with flat bars. Eventually, I'm going to build up my other frameset, which is a Project 3 (almost the same bike) into a 29er/city bike, using the bars from the Project 7, and put drop bars on the Project 7, which will become my daily commuter/cyclocross bike. Anyway, I thought that maybe that would be relevant info, because the new bikes are obviously going to be different geometry and maybe different riding positions.

Vis a vis the saddle, my goal will be to be comfortable on every bike I have...

jcm 04-08-06 08:31 PM

An admirable goal. My failed attempts are hanging on my shop wall. The Brooks did it for me. Good luck.

Nachoman 04-08-06 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by MERTON
my prostate, penis, and nuts.

Too much information! ;)

Nachoman 04-08-06 08:54 PM


Originally Posted by MERTON
my prostate, penis, and nuts.

Too much information! ;)

Blue Order 04-08-06 09:48 PM


Originally Posted by jcm
An admirable goal. My failed attempts are hanging on my shop wall. The Brooks did it for me. Good luck.

I'll check the Brooks out. Thanks!

jcm 04-08-06 10:07 PM


Originally Posted by Blue Order
I'll check the Brooks out. Thanks!

Well, if the problems with ischial discomfort are as acute as you say, the Brooks may not be for you. I was just saying that they work for me. As shown, I use a B-67 on both of my main bikes. But, this is in conjuction with North Road bars which sit me up a bit, though not too much as I have them level with the saddle.

I had a B-17 with drop bars on my Trek 520 before going to the current setup. It caused me alot of discomfort but I knew why; the saddle was too narrow and was pushing the ischials apart. So, I just got the NR's and a wider saddle with springs. Comfortable from the start. Centuries are no challenge - except in the energy department.

This issue is really a tough one. So subjective, but very important. If I hadn't stayed in the hunt for the right saddle, I probably would have quit cycling by now.

phoebeisis 04-08-06 10:10 PM

I like gel saddles.Trico sports makes a very thick gel saddle-ultralounger I think-that is very comfortable.
It also has a cut out for obvious reasons.I'm not a Brooks fan for 3 reasons.
1)They take a long time to break in-months-before you really get the "spread out support" that the brooks fans like so much.Heck,they are hard stiff leather..
2)They are hard stiff leather with very little give.Compressed gel always has a bit of give when you hit a big bump.With the brooks you get a little shock attenuation with the spring,but none from the leather.With the gel you will actually have more of your butt in contact with the surface during the max shock period-more area means less pressure pre sq inch.
3)No cut out.Many-most-bike riders haven't gotten the message that any pressure on the delicate areas is too much pressure.They are literaly supporting themselves on the nerves and blood vessels that supply their wedding equipment.Sitting on their urethra also-crushing that tube just can't be doing any good.
Now a lot of folks like Brooks,but I would look to something more modern(and a lot cheaper-$35 vs $100) .Luck,Charlie

Siu Blue Wind 04-09-06 12:07 AM

:lol: :roflmao: I thought you were talking about some Chinese.......oh nevermind. Merton, you're a funny guy indeed.....:D

edit: Merton, I'm still cracking up!!!!!!!

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