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Saddle Test!

Old 03-01-22, 11:45 PM
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I'm a 30 year+ recumbent rider (P-38, Metaphysic, M5CHR, Cruzbike S40), and have only done one SR series and that was on the P-38. I've done lots of double centuries and a couple 300K's on uprights. Plan is to do at least an SR this year and would like to do the SFR Adventure Series, and at least the Marin Mountains 200K is an absolute no-go on a recumbent.

When I decided I'd start doing doubles on the upright ~2010 I got a Selle Anatomica due to Tom Milton's (SA's founder) association with the California doubles scene. The saddles were everywhere around then. After a couple doubles I gave up on it though ... it was comfortable on the first ride, but over time not so much.

I found a dealer in NorCal that did Selle SMP demos and worked my way through a bunch of saddles. There are a bunch, and the differences between them are very subtle. It's now going on 10+ years, and I have Selle SMP's on all my uprights. I was certain the Selle SMP Dynamic was the saddle for me after a couple test rides then riding the Sierra Century with it (and bought it), then did the Mt Tam Double soon after and I was dying by the end. I then tried the Drakon (very very slightly wider) and it felt good like the Dynamic to start, and was still fine by the end of a double.

I did ride a 200K last weekend on the recumbent, and looked at my 20% fewer kJ's than had I ridden it on the upright, and wondered if I'm making a mistake with the upright, but I'd like to get back to the social aspects of randonneuring, and that doesn't work when you ride off the front on the flat rides, or are perpetually trying to catch back up on the long hills. So at least for the next couple months, plan will be to let my butt recuperate during the week on the recumbent, and ride the Selle SMP's on the weekends.

So my suggestion would be go test out a number of Selle SMP's. I think they're broken up into a couple lines based on the padding (way less padding than the Selle SMP that was posted above), so find the line that works for your sit bones and then work through the variations to find if one perfectly fits. It's important to get the tilt just right. I can't imagine riding any other saddle now.

Last edited by anotherbrian; 03-01-22 at 11:49 PM.
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Old 03-08-22, 04:22 PM
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Update.

Terry Fly 300k ride. Comfort was okay for the first 200k but became less so after. I found myself sliding forward off the sit bones, causing discomfort. I considered a mid ride adjustment, but decided against. When I'd force myself to stay on the back of the saddle, it felt okay. The next day i moved the saddle slightly forward and tilted up a bit, and rode a few miles. Even with a tender butt, it was decent. With that, I've decided to go ahead and purchase this saddle. It's not a pricey saddle, since I'm going with the cromoly version. Essentially I'm extending the test duration, as the library limits checkouts to one week.

Recommendations section:
  • Selle SMP TRK,

Tests
  • Specialized Romin 150mm: No, too narrow. Consider the 158mm version.
  • Specialized Power 168mm: Maybe. Consider for a longer test.
  • Fizik Tempo Argo 160mm: No. Sit bone area pain 35 miles into 200k.
(pause in test, rode two 200k brevets on my Selle Anatomica. Which reminded me this is not the right saddle for me)
  • WTB Koda 145mm test. Very short test as I got sick mid-week. Maybe too short. The Ergon is similar so I'll do that next...
  • Ergon SM sit-bone pain at 25 miles into 200k. Maybe try wider version.
  • Giant Approach in process: decent, maybe tweak adjustment.
  • Terry Fly: best yet. Purchase
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Old 03-18-22, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42
Yesterday I rode a 200k using my original Selle Anatomica. With vacations and holidays I'd returned my loaner saddles and didn't have an opportunity to get another loaner.

Verdict: As noted, supremely comfortable for a while, then not so much.

After reading ad nauseum about saddles, I want to try something that's more flat (less rounded).
Have you tried a tighter or looser screw on your Selle Anatomica? You haven't mentioned it. I find anything from Ĺ turn to a full turn at a time can be significant. In your pics, a tighter screw moves you toward the flatter condition on the right hand picture.
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Old 03-18-22, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Have you tried a tighter or looser screw on your Selle Anatomica? You haven't mentioned it. I find anything from Ĺ turn to a full turn at a time can be significant. In your pics, a tighter screw moves you toward the flatter condition on the right hand picture.
Agreed. Personally, I found the SA very mediocre until I laced it which helps keep it from sagging. There is only so much you can do with the tensioning bolt. If I added enough tension to make it comfortable (before I laced it) then it would simply stretch out after a couple rides and I was back where I started. Lacing was the key for me.
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Old 03-18-22, 05:49 PM
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I've been thinking about the rubber SA, my experience with the rubber brooks wasn't great so I dunno why I'd try again with another brand, but I've been doing alright on my specialized toupe at 155mm, but they've discontinued them it seems and I haven't had any luck on ebay or pinkbike lately... and they aren't the most durable saddles either, I've had the shell crack on one, and snapped a titanium rail on another.
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Old 03-18-22, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan
Have you tried a tighter or looser screw on your Selle Anatomica? You haven't mentioned it. I find anything from Ĺ turn to a full turn at a time can be significant. In your pics, a tighter screw moves you toward the flatter condition on the right hand picture.
Yes. Snugged up it was better, but still too much nerve pressure. Living on the PNW, a leather saddle isn't the best choice anyway. I'll put it up for sale this spring.

For now it's the Terry Fly. I have a 400 km ride in a few weeks - that will be the true test
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Old 03-19-22, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42
Yes. Snugged up it was better, but still too much nerve pressure. Living on the PNW, a leather saddle isn't the best choice anyway. I'll put it up for sale this spring.

For now it's the Terry Fly. I have a 400 km ride in a few weeks - that will be the true test
I used to ride a Terry Fly, maybe 15 years ago. It was a good saddle for me, but I found that the foam broke down much sooner than I would have liked. Perhaps they've fixed that now. My guess is that we have similar butts. Now I have this saddle on one of my bikes: https://www.selleitalia.com/en/saddl...een-superflow/
It's a bit hard but is a good fit. I'm tempted to try the Comfort+ version which has thicker padding: https://www.selleitalia.com/en/saddl...ort-superflow/
Pretty inexpensive saddles. The one I have now is on my rollers bike, which I don't ride for more than an hour and half at a time. Note the differences in suggested application on the Selle website. Performance Bike carries both of these and they have a return policy.
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Old 03-27-22, 08:32 AM
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I put new leather onto my Berthoud and did a 200km on it but it was not the most comfortable. So, I started messing around with seat angle and tension but could not find the right spot until yesterday, just one turn and voila, I was back in love. Or maybe the leather broke in miraculously butt saddles are one finickly accoutrement
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Old 04-05-22, 04:47 PM
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My goal for the year is to do San Francisco's Adventure Series on an upright, so I've been trying to avoid falling back on the recumbent.
https://ridebike.org/sfr/adventure/

My Selle SMP Drakon on my road bike is still working well. In March I did a 130, 300, 200, and 400 in that order, and at least for the 300 and 400 I second guessed the upright choice as I drove to the start, but the Selle SMP worked out well.

In April it'll be a Fleche, a 200 or 300K, then a 600K, and I'm hopeful the upright will be fine.
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Old 04-17-22, 05:31 AM
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Iíve following this thread to see if the OP finds the holy grail of saddles!

After toying with my own saddles (two of the same Selle Italia on different bikes), I recalled how important is saddle set up. I had been fitted on both bikes and while this saddle was the correct width re: sit bones, didnít cause any perineum pressure or other issues down below, I didnít feel stable on it and on both bikes I was getting sore neck, shoulders and sometimes tingly hands. Figured it was saddle tilt (too down) so I corrected and that made a world of difference. I was about to try another saddle, again, and I may still do so...now that I believe I have it correctly set up. The experience reminded me that the saddle needs to be set up up correctly for the rider, and then be judged for comfort (short to long distances).

I wonder how many saddles Iíve given up on over my 20 years of cycling due to set up issues?
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Old 05-14-22, 09:53 PM
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Recently I've been experimenting with the Infinity Seat (E2 series) and despite its looks, my initial impressions are that they're the most comfortable I've sat on yet. However, I've yet to take it out on a really long ride (i.e. audax) yet so I'll reserve judgement until then. It's unfortunately leather though (at least the few bits of it that are actually covered).
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Old 08-21-22, 05:57 PM
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OP here with an update on this slightly old thread.

The Terry Fly saddle that I ended up selecting did not fare well at London Edinburgh London. In fact i abandon at 520 miles, just over half way, due to saddle related pain. I had saddle-shaped deep bruising at the, uh, saddle to butt interface. I rode much of the last 100 miles out of the saddle, and towards the end all I could think about was ending the pain. Following my own advice, I didn't quit until I was out of time, but time off the bike wasn't enough to improve the situation.

So it's time to try more saddles.

I picked up a Selle Italia Model X used for $30; it's a little wider and a very different shape. Good reviews. It was decent on a 25 miler today, with my butt still a little tender from LEL, but that's no real test. I'm riding a 200k next weekend so we'll see then.

I have a 1000k on the schedule in a few weeks. If nothing better comes along, I'll throw my original saddle back on - a Sella Anatomica. I did finish a 1200 on it, though but that was so painful it kicked off this whole saddle search.

I have noted all the suggested saddles in this thread, I'm just not rich enough to buy them all.
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Old 08-22-22, 07:30 AM
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My limited experience with leather saddles wasn't great.

Thread is too long now to read, but when I searched I didn't find "aliante." There are endurance versions. You may be able to find a shop that has test saddles.
Don't bother with the normal ones, you'll never be able to sit again.
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Old 08-22-22, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42
OP here with an update on this slightly old thread.

The Terry Fly saddle that I ended up selecting did not fare well at London Edinburgh London. In fact i abandon at 520 miles, just over half way, due to saddle related pain. I had saddle-shaped deep bruising at the, uh, saddle to butt interface. I rode much of the last 100 miles out of the saddle, and towards the end all I could think about was ending the pain. Following my own advice, I didn't quit until I was out of time, but time off the bike wasn't enough to improve the situation.

So it's time to try more saddles.

I picked up a Selle Italia Model X used for $30; it's a little wider and a very different shape. Good reviews. It was decent on a 25 miler today, with my butt still a little tender from LEL, but that's no real test. I'm riding a 200k next weekend so we'll see then.

I have a 1000k on the schedule in a few weeks. If nothing better comes along, I'll throw my original saddle back on - a Sella Anatomica. I did finish a 1200 on it, though but that was so painful it kicked off this whole saddle search.

I have noted all the suggested saddles in this thread, I'm just not rich enough to buy them all.
I think there are a couple other ways to minimize the bruising. Larger tires at lower pressure, frame material/design, and a suspension type seatpost.

Have you tried a suspension type seatpost? I use a Specialized CG-R on my Mg framed bike. The elastomer has around 15 mm of movement. With plump tires and a leather saddle, almost all road vibration is muted or almost eliminated. I had been using a Redline suspension stem on another bike and it is also quite nice pared with a flat aero top carbon handlbar (it is kind of bendy and the flat part is comfy for my hands). I think redline makes a seatpost, too.

https://bikepacking.com/index/suspension-seatposts/
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Old 08-22-22, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
I think there are a couple other ways to minimize the bruising. Larger tires at lower pressure, frame material/design, and a suspension type seatpost.

Have you tried a suspension type seatpost? I use a Specialized CG-R on my Mg framed bike. The elastomer has around 15 mm of movement. With plump tires and a leather saddle, almost all road vibration is muted or almost eliminated. I had been using a Redline suspension stem on another bike and it is also quite nice pared with a flat aero top carbon handlbar (it is kind of bendy and the flat part is comfy for my hands). I think redline makes a seatpost, too.

https://bikepacking.com/index/suspension-seatposts/
I was just looking at suspension seatposts yesterday!

I'm currently running 32mm tires at 50/55 psi. My frame will easily fit 35mm or more on 700c wheels. I have a 650b wheelset with 42mm tires; even with fenders that's an easy fit.

I tend to think my issue is more about saddle shape etc.

Cheers
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Old 08-22-22, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
My limited experience with leather saddles wasn't great.

Thread is too long now to read, but when I searched I didn't find "aliante." There are endurance versions. You may be able to find a shop that has test saddles.
Don't bother with the normal ones, you'll never be able to sit again.
I guess you're talking about this
https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/revie...nte-gamma-kium

I'll see what's available locally.
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Old 08-23-22, 11:46 PM
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I recently picked up the Specialized Power Mirror Saddle. Immediately got a chance to ride a 400k after buying it and it was a perfect saddle (for me at least). I’ve had absolutely no butt pain on it relative to the Berthoud I was riding for PBP 2019 which caused major saddle sores.
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Old 08-24-22, 05:12 AM
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One point perhaps not mentioned is that when installing a different saddle, I have found some saddles to have a large height difference requiring a lowering or raising of the seatpost. If the saddle is too high, like it is with 90% of riders, the torso will not be stable when pedaling. This lack of stability will be felt eventually in the deeper tissues at the sit bones.

I had not solved my derriere pain issues and went for a fit. It isn't clear yet whether it helped. She moved my saddle about 2 cm all the way forward and put me into a 150 mm stem. Says my bike is too small. Seems I am merely more forward onto my hands now with maybe an additional 10 mm reach to the bars. Just mentioning fit as a possibility to improve the butt pain. My stem is now -6 instead of up 6 degrees, too. These changes make a difference on how I sit and how it feels; I just don't have enough long rides to know if successful.
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Old 08-24-22, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
One point perhaps not mentioned is that when installing a different saddle, I have found some saddles to have a large height difference requiring a lowering or raising of the seatpost. If the saddle is too high, like it is with 90% of riders, the torso will not be stable when pedaling. This lack of stability will be felt eventually in the deeper tissues at the sit bones.

I had not solved my derriere pain issues and went for a fit. It isn't clear yet whether it helped. She moved my saddle about 2 cm all the way forward and put me into a 150 mm stem. Says my bike is too small. Seems I am merely more forward onto my hands now with maybe an additional 10 mm reach to the bars. Just mentioning fit as a possibility to improve the butt pain. My stem is now -6 instead of up 6 degrees, too. These changes make a difference on how I sit and how it feels; I just don't have enough long rides to know if successful.
Funny you mention the height difference. When I switched from my Selle Anatomica leather saddle to a more modern saddle, I failed to compensate for the ~1.5cm difference in saddle height (modern saddle is taller). I rode at least one 200k, and had at best a vague sense something was off. I have a hard time reconciling that with some people reporting they can feel a 1mm change in saddle height. Once I realized what was going on, I made the necessary adjustments, and have been paying attention to saddle height as I've done more testing.

I did go to a pro fitter about a year ago. The big change was lowering my saddle significantly, to reduce low back pain. That worked. IIRC he also moved my cleats forward a bit, and rotate my bars a bit. It helped across the board, but did not make the bike disappear beneath me, which is the dream.
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Old 08-24-22, 02:28 PM
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YMMV, but I am pretty sure that longer reach removes some weight from your hands. Lowering the bars would tend to put it back. Moving the seat forward puts more weight on your hands. Although human bodies are floppy things and not mechanical structures.
I know the following are in conflict: I can feel 6mm difference, but my seat was 1 inch low on PBP 2019 and it didn't really bother me until my knee started complaining on the way back from Brest. Going to take a tape measure the next time I have to take the seat off.
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Old 08-24-22, 03:01 PM
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1.5 cm difference in saddle height is a lot. I notice 5 mm but can compensate to some extent by moving around on the saddle.

WRT to my fitting, my problem was a twisted torso so to speak. My left sit bone was forward and more center on the saddle and the right cheek was more rearwards and almost off the saddle. My power balance left to right was 45/55% and the big issue, my left hamstring or the muscle that attaches to the greater trochanter would get very sore as in painful on a hard effort of say 10-12 minutes. Her changes have helped a little. I am closer to 50/50. I am a little more centered in the saddle but do not feel planted.

I need a new comfortable frame with around 405 mm reach and about 610-630 stack. My current frame is 396mm reach and with that I need 150 mm stem. I have a 135 or 140 in there now, it seems ok. Not easy to find a 150 mm stem.

Long story short, the fitter felt my position was giving me problems and also I needed to see a Chiro......I had fractured my Great Trochanter so no surprise the muscle connecting there gets painful when climbing moderately hard. Complicated post but there could be two things going wrong as is apparently my case. I never ever had these issues in my past. Determined to solve them.
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Old 08-30-22, 11:22 AM
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One way I have found to quickly test how comfortable a saddle will be is to ride on flat route continuously for an hour or more at a tempo pace and constant RPM without moving out of the saddle for this test period.
If your hurting at the end of this test with one saddle, but with another one it is mildly uncomfortable it might be an indication which saddle should be used for a longer test ride.
This will not replace a longer evaluation say a 200 klm brevet, but it will give you an initial evaluation.
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Old 05-12-23, 06:42 AM
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Just to add to Downtube42's thread, I've been experimented with a bunch of saddles lately. My new bike uses a 7x9 seat rail mount, limiting my choices.

On brevets, my bottom would long for my B17 or Aravis.

I bought a Brooks C13 158mm and despite only 20 miles on it, put it into service on a very bumpy (think bombed out Beirut roads) 400K and it was fine and even good riding on aero clip ons although mine are not very low because they serve really just for comfort, they are level with the saddle. It seems like the Aravis in that regard, probably not as comfy sitting straight upright as on the B17, good at 45 degrees at least for me. An advantage of the C13 (there is a C15 and C17, not sure the difference) is the saddle covering is a textured, rubbery material that should be fine in rain. I took a risk, it was discounted at $136 online but so far it seems like a keeper.
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Old 05-20-23, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by yannisg
One way I have found to quickly test how comfortable a saddle will be is to ride on flat route continuously for an hour or more at a tempo pace and constant RPM without moving out of the saddle for this test period.
If your hurting at the end of this test with one saddle, but with another one it is mildly uncomfortable it might be an indication which saddle should be used for a longer test ride.
This will not replace a longer evaluation say a 200 klm brevet, but it will give you an initial evaluation.
I've been testing several saddles myself in the last few months... I can be comfortable on a number of saddles on a 200k, 300k and up to 400k brevets. I haven't found a saddle yet that is ok for longer rides. Currently trying a leather Berthoud open saddle. I don't like the weight (about 500 g) but I'm hoping this will be the end of the search. I did a 400k with minimal break in period (only 200k) and was OK. I will be trying it in a week for a 1000k brevet. Wish me luck as the saddle will only have about 900k prior to setting off.
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Old 05-31-23, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62

The saddle or seat that I have not tried is an Infinity. Some endurance riders swear by them.
the Infinity works for me. Its the only saddle ive ever been comfortable on all day.
Unfortunatly ridiculously over priced.
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