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Help me troubleshoot saddle woes

Old 05-23-20, 01:29 PM
  #1  
guadzilla
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Help me troubleshoot saddle woes

Need some collective wisdom here to help me figure out saddle issues.

I used to ride a Sell San Marco Aspide Arrowhead in a 130mm width for many years. All my bikes had the same saddle, I've ridden 200km on it without issues, etc. Over the past year or so, as I switch to doing more tris, I have also adopted a more aggressive, stretched out position on the bike (about 20mm longer reach, and maybe 10mm lower stack). Related to this, my old saddle became an absolute ass hatchet.

Used the Specialized Ass-o-Meter and ended up with a 143mm Power, which didnt work. Got a Power Arc, which worked much better. Am also trying out a few other saddles and have a tested of a Pro Stealth right now, to see if there is anything better.

So far, am having a lot of mixed luck with the saddles - the same saddle can be comfortable on one ride and uncomfortable on another. Sometimes, even on the same ride - today, it was hurting like a mofo after my 2x20 intervals but after 10 minutes of easy pedalling, the pain went away. And stayed away even during VO2 efforts where i was getting very low. The pain is almost as if a nerve is being pinched just below my sit bones - it gets quite sensitive/painful (no taint numbess issues).

In my riding position, I am not actually sitting on my sit bones except when i am completely upright - my hip is rotated forwards and the weight when i am riding seems to fall just below the sit bones. I suspect this is what is driving the saddle discomfort.

I am obviously going to keep trying saddles, but anyone faced a similar issue and have some tips on trying to trouble shoot? The fact that most saddles work ok atleast some of the time makes me think it is a setup/positioning issue, but i am not sure how to approach troubleshooting, other than randomly keep changing stuff.

(And yes, i realize it is a long shot and that i likely will have to just keep plugging away via trial and error).
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Old 05-23-20, 01:42 PM
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Be sure you have good quality cycling shorts, not cheap stuff. The padding in a short can bunch up and cause discomfort.

I found smp saddles work great for me. I just followed the smp recommendations for width and got a model with standard padding. That was a stratos for me. SMP makes cheap cushy models in addition to their expensive models. The trick is figuring out your sitbone width. Smp merely suggests that people with larger waist size (excluding excess fat) will have wider sit bones. It may be luck, but it worked for me.
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Old 05-23-20, 01:48 PM
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Tilt becomes critical when getting low. You probably need to drop the nose just a bit.
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Old 05-23-20, 04:13 PM
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I've had enough difficulty diagnosing my own saddle woes in the past so scoping someone else's woes would be near impossible. However, post #3 is something to consider. In a low position, saddle tilt may be crucial.

For me, I need a saddle that is wide under the sit bones but narrow just a bit further forward. To get the narrowness I need, I use a heat gun to warm the plastic under the padding so that it softens up then squeeze that area of the saddle until it is narrow.
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Old 05-23-20, 09:39 PM
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If you're doing time trials, even without aero bars but trying to get as long and low as possible, it might be time to consider a shorter nose split saddle like an ISM.

I wouldn't bother with a conventional saddle with cutout. I've tried several of those and they didn't offer much advantage: a Selle Italia Q-Bik, Bontrager Ajna, Cobb (V Plus, I think, it's in a box in the closet) -- all conventional long nose saddles with cutouts. No real advantage over my solid top Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio when really low and aero.

Tilting the saddle nose down is a poor compromise. It relieves some pressure on the perineum but you'll waste energy just keeping yourself in the saddle.

I see ISM split nose shorter saddles often on craigslist or elsewhere used, often pretty cheap. I suspect that, as with tri-bikes, the serious tri-folk crave new stuff every couple of years and upgrade often, while most folks try it for one or two seasons and quit, so they sell it all cheap.

The pandemic probably means many triathlons will be postponed until 2021, so this year may be a good time to scout around for good used ISM and similar saddles.
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Old 05-24-20, 02:52 AM
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Thanks, guys. I will play around with tilting the saddle I have downwards just a smidge and see if that helps with how my weight falls on the saddle.

I can go 3 hours in the tuck on my TT/tri bike and not feel any saddle discomfort - but i am perched right on the edge there (it is a shortnose Bontrager saddle). Sitting up and moving backwards isnt as comfortable - but i see ISM now has a variant with a narrower nose up front, Maybe I'll give that a go.
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Old 05-24-20, 07:32 AM
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Maybe reassess your front end fit? What are you trying to achieve there? Would you be able to have a similar result with more comfort with some tweaks? One thing to look at is reach vs. drop. For example, you may be able to achieve the same torso angle by having more drop and less reach, and this might cause less saddle discomfort by not pulling you forward as much.
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Old 05-24-20, 07:56 AM
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I'm a recent convert to the theory that there's some benefit to independent butt-cheek suspension... liking the Selle Italia SP-01; though the "Boost" version of SP-01 might be worth trying if you can find access to one.
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Old 05-24-20, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
Maybe reassess your front end fit? What are you trying to achieve there? Would you be able to have a similar result with more comfort with some tweaks? One thing to look at is reach vs. drop. For example, you may be able to achieve the same torso angle by having more drop and less reach, and this might cause less saddle discomfort by not pulling you forward as much.
Yeah, that's certainly factor. The logic for going longer/taller was to approximate a torso position that is closer (although not exactly the same) as on my TT bike and to be able to get my forearms more or less horizontal on the drops during hard efforts (supposedly a more aero position than going into the drops). Other than the saddle issues, this actually feels quite good and my hip rotation and fore/aft is closer to that on the TT bike - and I am hoping the transition from road bike to TT bike will be smoother, in terms of being able to hold power in the tuck (going to move to doing more workouts on the TT bike from June onwards as i get into a more event-specifc phase of training). Because i have a short torso, i feel less crunched in this position as well.

But you are correct - it may be worth swapping back a shorter stem and dropping my bars a bit to go back to my older fit, and seeing if that eliminates the issue.
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