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Saddle chafing: chamois cream or saddle?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Saddle chafing: chamois cream or saddle?

Old 08-18-16, 06:30 PM
  #26  
philbob57
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Thanks. I think I see your point. (I know nothing about auto design, so the analogy is lost on me.)

My own experience leads me to conclude that some sort of balance between pedals, seat, and bars has to be struck, but that balance is specific to a person on a specific bike equipped in a specific way.

I started experiencing numbness unexpectedly on my B17 imperial after riding for 2 weeks this year, so I've tried 3 other seats - in order, an Aliante XM, an ISM PR 2.0, and an SMP TRK. I was already in a multi-year effort to reduce weight and discomfort on my hands.

My process was first to swap the Brooks and the Aliante several times (Brooks won conclusively), then the Brooks and the ISM (ISM won conclusively), and finally the ISM and the SMP (SMP won conclusively).

I say the Brooks beat the Aliante badly, but I preferred the increased setback I could get with the Aliante - my hands hurt less than with the Brooks, but the numbness started at 2-3 miles. My arms hurt less than with the Brooks with the ISM, too, but the ISM caused too much pressure for me on my pubic rami. My arms hurt a little worse with the SMP than with the ISM at first.

I pedal mostly on my mid-foot, but I accelerate with the balls of my foot, which means my effective seat height varies as I ride. That part of seat setup can't be fixed, since I like using both positions.

I used more setback with the ISM than with the Brooks, which increased saddle-bars distance, reduced effective seat tube angle, and increased effective seat height. I rode farther and also faster on the ISM (because I spun faster) than on the Brooks. That seemed to indicate my setup with better with the ISM than with the Brooks because of setback (but the Brooks was set back as far as it could go).

I use less setback with the SMP than I did with the ISM; in fact, the SMP is located where the Brooks was, but I'm still dialing it in. I spin just about at the same rate on the SMP as on the ISM, despite the different effective seat tube angles and heights. I also at least doubled my butt-pain-free mileage by using the SMP.

As I said, my hand pain was about the same on the ISM and the SMP, at first. As I ride the SMP more, I've learned a technique for using some core muscles to hold myself up more effectively. I have no way of knowing if that's a function of the SMP or of just finding a groove; I suspect the latter.

In any case, my experience is that saddle B in position B is clearly more ridable for me than saddle A in position A, but saddle C in position A is more ridable than saddle B in position B. Clearly, I'm not measuring everything that's important.

The conclusion I draw is that 'There are more things in heaven and earth ... Than are dreamt of in (our) philosophy' of bike fitting.
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Old 08-19-16, 06:55 AM
  #27  
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For what it's worth...I briefly had this discussion with a professional bike fitter with many years of experience. The bike fitter believes that, although many factors come into play, chafing is usually a problem with the chamois/shorts. I found this interesting, as I tended to think that my chafing issues were because of the saddle.
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Old 08-19-16, 08:20 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Back and hand comfort are about handlebar to seat relationship and the tilt of your seat, ie pelvis tilt. All that can be very comfortable and still leave the rider with a seat that is too high or low, forward or back causing both seat pain issues and pedaling inefficiencies (and quite possibly, knee issues). What I am saying is that the seat issue comes first. Yes, you may well have to mess around with handlebars to keep the bike rideable while you dial in the saddle, but don't mess with the saddle to get the upper body issues right. One you have the saddle where it should be, now play with the bars, brakes, etc.

Ben
Thanks but no, I did not change my saddle position to get a comfortable hand position. I set up my saddle using the conventional wisdoms of bike saddle adjustment first (fore-aft position with KOPS, height with leg being very slightly bent on the downstroke). I do make minute adjustments to the saddle height based on back comfort when putting a lot of power down, but this does not change the setup much.

Originally Posted by Samuraidog View Post
For what it's worth...I briefly had this discussion with a professional bike fitter with many years of experience. The bike fitter believes that, although many factors come into play, chafing is usually a problem with the chamois/shorts. I found this interesting, as I tended to think that my chafing issues were because of the saddle.
Interesting suggestion. I was thinking it is because of the saddle, because it was much worse on some wider saddles than on the narrower ones. That being said, I might try different shorts and see if that improves things.

I found this interesting thread on this forum: Do I need more t-shaped??
They claim this kind of chafing is caused by using a saddle that is too pear-shaped versus T-shaped. This means the transition from rear to front is too gradual (too wide), causing chafing in that area.

I might try a Specialized Toupe saddle next, since that seems to be one of the more T-shaped saddles.
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Old 08-19-16, 08:35 AM
  #29  
Samuraidog
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Thanks but no, I did not change my saddle position to get a comfortable hand position. I set up my saddle using the conventional wisdoms of bike saddle adjustment first (fore-aft position with KOPS, height with leg being very slightly bent on the downstroke). I do make minute adjustments to the saddle height based on back comfort when putting a lot of power down, but this does not change the setup much.



Interesting suggestion. I was thinking it is because of the saddle, because it was much worse on some wider saddles than on the narrower ones. That being said, I might try different shorts and see if that improves things.

I found this interesting thread on this forum: Do I need more t-shaped??
They claim this kind of chafing is caused by using a saddle that is too pear-shaped versus T-shaped. This means the transition from rear to front is too gradual (too wide), causing chafing in that area.

I might try a Specialized Toupe saddle next, since that seems to be one of the more T-shaped saddles.
I kind of took a shotgun approach to my chafing issues. I changed my saddle, shorts, and got a professional bike fit. Although the jury is still out (I've only got a couple of hundred miles since then), so far, the chafing issues seem to be gone (fingers crossed).

If it helps at all, I changed to a Forte Sweep Gel saddle and Ultra shorts. Both are great so far and are sold at a very reasonable price point.
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Old 08-19-16, 09:31 AM
  #30  
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How do you use this anit chaff stuff?

Originally Posted by Samuraidog View Post
I kind of took a shotgun approach to my chafing issues. I changed my saddle, shorts, and got a professional bike fit. Although the jury is still out (I've only got a couple of hundred miles since then), so far, the chafing issues seem to be gone (fingers crossed).

If it helps at all, I changed to a Forte Sweep Gel saddle and Ultra shorts. Both are great so far and are sold at a very reasonable price point.
Do you put it on the chamois or your bum. LBS needs to do a class on use.lmao
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Old 08-20-16, 12:17 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Unless he's a woman, he doesn't have a taint:


https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-called-a-taint

A losing argument IMO.

Language is not static, and the source that you cite has the term being only six years old!

Would you say that 'horse's ass' can only apply to equines?
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Old 08-20-16, 02:41 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
My process was first to swap the Brooks and the Aliante several times (Brooks won conclusively), then the Brooks and the ISM (ISM won conclusively), and finally the ISM and the SMP (SMP won conclusively).
The SMP TRK is a very heavily padded saddle. When the padding on the saddle compresses, that can cause chaffing issues. Generally the TRK is only recommended for heavier riders, lighter riders tend to prefer a less padded saddle like the SMP Dynamic. See the following link for model descriptions (https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...ll-about-smps/).

With the SMP or ISM saddles you generally need to give it some time for your sit bones to get used to the extra pressure.

I have found the chamois creme helps, especially if you're riding several days in a row.
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Old 08-20-16, 05:25 PM
  #33  
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SMP TRK was $51 including shipping. SMP Plus/Avant/Pro - 5 times as much.

I gave the ISM 15 hours, and the pain came earlier and earlier in each ride as the hours mounted. My last ride was an hour, the last 3rd of which wasn't fun.

Despite the padding, my butt likes the TRK so far. I'm going to ride it more before investing in a less padded, more expensive SMP, if my limited budget allows. Hogg makes a lot of sense; as it happens, I've been digesting his words on the SMP range for some months. He covers only the expensive ones, though....

BTW, I think ISM and SMP are great candidates for anyone to try out, especially if s/he has trouble with numbness, but I have no idea what will work for anyone else. There are lots of saddles on the market, because there's such a wide variation in what people like or will put up with.
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Old 08-21-16, 08:55 AM
  #34  
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Saddle fit, yes, but sweating is a significant source of crotch irritation because it increases friction. If you're having the problem now but not in cooler weather, this may be it.

Can be shorts, too. I have one pair of shorts I have to use chamois cream, another not. I think its because the chamois holds sweat more than then other.

Lastly, if you are kind of a "thunder thigh" guy like me, I find a narrow nose saddle better.
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Old 08-21-16, 01:41 PM
  #35  
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How does perspiration increase friction?
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Old 08-21-16, 03:34 PM
  #36  
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Chamois cream, and strengthen your leg muscles so there is less downward pressure on the saddle. Oh, and ride out of the saddle regularly, if not often.
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Old 08-26-16, 12:40 PM
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Change the product

Try changing the product you are using. I can't tell you how many times I had to switch products because it wasn't reacting too well with me and it was giving me butt chafing from my butt sweat. I thought it was my seat and I actually change the compression shorts a couple of times. But I noticed that the problem was still there. I tried a great product called Anti Monkey Butt original formula that worked really well. I continued wearing the compression shorts until the rash went away and then I really could wear whatever I wanted. This anti-itch powder really worked miracles. So please before you start changing the seat of your bike, check the product and what you are wearing first. I hope this helps.
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Old 08-26-16, 03:01 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by DrRobert View Post
sweating is a significant source of crotch irritation because it increases friction.
Originally Posted by TimmyStevenson View Post
giving me butt chafing from my butt sweat.

Again, how does perspiration cause friction or chafing?
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Old 08-26-16, 05:31 PM
  #39  
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Out of curiosity, I checked diaper rash products, although sweat is not urine (fortunately). At any rate, zinc oxide is the main active ingredient for infants. At the end of my ISM experiment/early in my Selle SMP experiment, I felt a little chafing. Zinc oxide cleared it up very quickly, and it's a lot cheaper than any bike-specific product.
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Old 08-26-16, 07:08 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
As I ride the SMP more, I've learned a technique for using some core muscles to hold myself up more effectively.
can you share a link? suggestions? I find I am top heavy and always falling forward..
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Old 08-26-16, 07:42 PM
  #41  
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I'm doing planks every day that I think of it, but I sure can't hold a plank for long. Tom Danielson's Core Advantage would be helpful if I did the exercises regularly. Also, bending my elbows as much as possible while riding on the hoods/slopes/tops sort of force me to hold myself up. It's still just a matter of very brief periods. But seconds add up, slowly, and any relief is welcome.
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Old 08-26-16, 08:49 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Again, how does perspiration cause friction or chafing?

You know how when you take a shower & don't dry off all the way,

& it's hard to get a t shirt on?

Like that- more friction.
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