Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

The Last Thread on Saddle Comfort

Notices
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

The Last Thread on Saddle Comfort

Old 08-13-10, 11:04 AM
  #1  
surgeonstone
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
surgeonstone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: South Bend IN
Posts: 11,212

Bikes: 1976 FRESCHI, 2004 Crumpton.

Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 918 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
The Last Thread on Saddle Comfort

I have tried many different saddles, gels, cutouts, leather and plastic over nearly 40 years of cycling. I cycle 200 - 250 miles a week and I have learned, the hard way, that only one thing makes a difference. The width of the saddle. Plastic, leather everything else is irrelevant. You need to have proper support and it is here that people get into trouble.
When a person starts cycling seriously he or she deveolps an idea of what a race bike should look like based on marketing forces at work. A sleek bike demands a sleek narrow saddle. The trouble is this model is based on a 140 pound, 28 inch waisted, narrow hipped european racer. Hardly the configuration of most of us.
Forty years ago I went on my first 80 mile ride and returned panic stricken with a numb crotch and dribbling urine. I had not even started my sex life and I feared all was lost. Over the years I settled on a Brooks Professional saddle and cycled in comfort for many thousands of miles. Then I decided to update my bike with a sleek new carbon fiber cycle. An ancient Brooks simply would not do, too dorky looking. So I searched and tried different models and settled on a Fiziik Arione. Pretty comfortable but after 20 or 30 miles it felt like some large object was being rammed up my but. No matter how many miles or how many different adjustments, I still suffered. I was constantly getting out of the saddle to relieve the pain and numbness.
Finally I had enough and purchased a Brooks Swallow, sleek, narrow and it looked good. I still had numbness. I tried this for 2 years and though better than the Fiziik, It still hurt.
A new concern entered the equation when visiting my family doc and found my PSA elevated to 15.9. Was it prostatitis or cancer? Was it from cycling?
Fast forward a few months and my Brooks collapsed with the tensioning bolt overextended. I needed a new saddle , I retried the Arione with the same results and started looking. All the adds promised the same results, no pain, no numbness, all for 200 or more dollars.
In desperation I went through my garage and found an old Brooks Professional Women's model and threw it on and went for a ride. It looked really strange, honey colored with copper rails, insanely wide, a strange sight on this beautiful bike. 10 miles into the ride- no pain, no numbness. 20 miles, 30 miles, into 40 then 50 with absolute, I kid you not, pain free, numb free bliss. I did not get out of the saddle once, did not need to. I came home and had my wife measure the distance between my sit bones - 135 mm. The Brooks saddle was 170. The Fiziik and Brooks Swallow- 140.
So whats the answer, have a saddle wide enough to support you. I am convinced most americans are riding on saddles so narrow they are being thrust into your pelvis rather than being supported by it.
By the way a recently checked PSA is down to 6, I bet in another month it will be normal.
surgeonstone is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 11:12 AM
  #2  
jfmckenna
Tiocfáidh ár Lá
 
jfmckenna's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The edge of b#
Posts: 5,475

Bikes: A whole bunch-a bikes.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 422 Post(s)
Liked 96 Times in 59 Posts
To test your hypothesis you need to buy a plastic saddle at the same width as the woman's Brooks of 170 and see if it works for you.
jfmckenna is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 11:27 AM
  #3  
Yaniel
SLO-1
 
Yaniel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,691

Bikes: '09 BMC Road Racer SL01

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Tons of Americans ride saddles that you find to narrow, and do it for 100, 200, etc miles at a time with no problem. Just because they don't work for you doesn't mean all Americans are built like you. I'm glad you like your saddle though.
Yaniel is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 11:50 AM
  #4  
spinwax
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 831
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I sound like I am preaching what I practice and a broken record of sorts, but have you had a professional fit? A fit will make all the difference on how you feel on the saddle. It sounds like you may have underlying fit issues.

Changing saddles all the time rarely fixes the problem of comfort. A fit will change the whole dynamics of the way you sit on the bike from perineum pressure to sit bone issues. If you are not sitting on the saddle neutral like it was intended, it will never be comfortable no matter what you ride.

Just because someone is 140lbs and 6foot doesn't mean they need to ride a 128mm skinny race style saddle. I have fit many folks that are larger in stature yet end up riding a narrow saddle. I have also fit those 140lb climber/racers that end up on a Selle San Marco Regal. Visual body size doesn't determine the width of the sitbone or saddle choice. Sitbones in my opinion DO NOT determine the width of saddle you should ride.

The Specialized sit bone measure device is not an end all to measuring what size of a saddle someone should purchase or use. It is a VERY basic guide of sit bone width only. My sitbones are about as average width as you can get although I am 6ft and about 153-56 at race weight. Yet I end up on the narrowest hardest saddles available because of where I end up sitting neutral and comfortable. They just work for me. If I went off of the Spec BG fit deal, I would be riding a 143mm or wider saddle. A wider saddle does not work for me.

Good luck in your venture.
spinwax is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 11:58 AM
  #5  
AngryScientist 
Lost
 
AngryScientist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: nutley, nj
Posts: 4,519
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 3 Posts
how pompous of you to think that your "wise words" will be the end all of saddle discussions.

we're glad you found a saddle that works for you, but its foolish to think that what works for you is true for anyone else but yourself. do you honestly think that the hundreds of guys in the pro peloton are riding saddles too narrow for them for the sake of vanity? the pro's ride exponentially more hours then you do, and my guess is that most of them are doing just fine health wise. i didnt see any women's brooks saddles in the TDF or giro coverage this year either.
AngryScientist is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 12:08 PM
  #6  
curdog
Senior Member
 
curdog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Nags Head NC
Posts: 359

Bikes: Cannondale Synapse

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I measure at 155 mm on Specialized Butt-o-Meter, but saddles at this width have not been comfortable. The saddle I'm riding now is a Cobb, which is 130 mm. This saddle fits very well on rides at least up to 100 km. Planning on doing a couple of centuries in October.
curdog is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 12:16 PM
  #7  
surgeonstone
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
surgeonstone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: South Bend IN
Posts: 11,212

Bikes: 1976 FRESCHI, 2004 Crumpton.

Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 918 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
To all the anger mongers out ther, chill. I am not suggesting that this works for all and I am sure that many with narrow hips do fine on the typical racing saddle. The point I was trying to make is that IF you have problems with saddle comfort and numbness issues than MAYBE a check of the distance between your ichhial tuberosities or sit bones may guide you onto a more comfortable saddle. To angryscientist- have a nice day
surgeonstone is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 12:39 PM
  #8  
AngryScientist 
Lost
 
AngryScientist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: nutley, nj
Posts: 4,519
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by surgeonstone View Post
To all the anger mongers out ther, chill. I am not suggesting that this works for all and I am sure that many with narrow hips do fine on the typical racing saddle. The point I was trying to make is that IF you have problems with saddle comfort and numbness issues than MAYBE a check of the distance between your ichhial tuberosities or sit bones may guide you onto a more comfortable saddle. To angryscientist- have a nice day
dont take what i said personally, just laying out some perspective, thats all, and your thread title was a bit presumptuous. in any event, i agree with what you're saying above, cheers
AngryScientist is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 01:12 PM
  #9  
tiggermaxcocoa
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 67
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It's incorrect to say that you need a saddle 170mm wide because the Brooks feels good to you. The useable area on a Brooks is far less than what the saddle measures side-to-side, due to the relatively large steel/Ti frame that holds up the leather. Most synthetic saddles have more useable area than a Brooks, so you wouldn't need a 170mm wide one.

It also has a lot to do with your bike setup. I have a bike with a relatively upright position and the B17 feels good. On my road bike, with a more aggressive setup, I have a team pro. If I switch these saddles between the bikes, I am not comfortable at all.

The reason saddle fit is so universally difficult is because they are so many factors that seem to affect people to different degrees. Riding style, bike fit, physical condition, and sit bone width are all important. But to say that width is the only factor is oversimplifying a very complicated and often times frustrating problem of cycling.
tiggermaxcocoa is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 06:59 PM
  #10  
bellweatherman
Senior Member
 
bellweatherman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Austin
Posts: 2,104

Bikes: Too many to count

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by surgeonstone View Post
When a person starts cycling seriously he or she deveolps an idea of what a race bike should look like based on marketing forces at work. A sleek bike demands a sleek narrow saddle. The trouble is this model is based on a 140 pound, 28 inch waisted, narrow hipped european racer. Hardly the configuration of most of us.
.
.
.
.
I came home and had my wife measure the distance between my sit bones - 135 mm. The Brooks saddle was 170. The Fiziik and Brooks Swallow- 140.
So whats the answer, have a saddle wide enough to support you. I am convinced most americans are riding on saddles so narrow they are being thrust into your pelvis rather than being supported by it.
By the way a recently checked PSA is down to 6, I bet in another month it will be normal.

Contrary to what some people say on here, I agree with much of what you said. However, there are a couple minor points that I am not sure I agree with.

1) I believe that you are right in that width is a HUGE factor in the comfort of a saddle. A too narrow saddle for a wide butt is a recipe for disaster. The most important measurement is the width between your ischeal tuberosities (aka, sit bones). I don't agree though that your ischeal tuberosities (sit bones) increase in distance as one ages and gets fatter. It may be true that a person puts on more fat on their rump. However, the distance between their sit bones do not change. So, if you were that skinny azz hipster at 20 years old, with the narrow distance between your azz bones, then you will still have the same narrow distance between your azz bones when you get old and fat. Only now, you got lots more fat padding around your rump. So shake that rump! Your sit bones does not change in size, or distance between them.

2) How in the hell did your wife measure your own sit bones?!
bellweatherman is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 07:03 PM
  #11  
Sprocket Man
Prefers Aluminum
 
Sprocket Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Honolulu
Posts: 2,669

Bikes: Wife: Trek 5200, C'dale Rush Feminine, Vitus 979 Me: Felt S25, Cervelo Soloist, C'dale Killer V500, Miyata Pro (fixie)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 1 Post
The Last Thread on Saddle Comfort


No. Also, your post is way too wordy.
Sprocket Man is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 07:03 PM
  #12  
sojourn
Senior Member
 
sojourn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: San Marcos, CA
Posts: 826

Bikes: Madone 6.2

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bellweatherman View Post
How in the hell did your wife measure your own sit bones?!





sorry......wider is better IMO BTW......as far as saddles go.....just to clarify.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
gloved hand..jpg (23.1 KB, 3 views)
__________________
sojourn is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 07:18 PM
  #13  
znomit
Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk
 
znomit's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 4,336

Bikes: Giant Defy, Trek 1.7c, BMC GF02, Fuji Tahoe, Scott Sub 35

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 422 Post(s)
Liked 491 Times in 248 Posts
Originally Posted by surgeonstone View Post
By the way a recently checked PSA is down to 6, I bet in another month it will be normal.
To summarize, using a womans brooks saddle cures cancer.

znomit is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 08:15 PM
  #14  
hammy56
coffee-stained punk
 
hammy56's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 6,630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Pro fit/trial and error are the only things that will solve any saddle issues. Im 5-11 153 lbs. I was surprised when I finally had my sitbones measured and they are 146...I purchased a SMP Pro 148mm. And

oh, and saddle threads are a 41 staple...there will be many more.
hammy56 is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 08:40 PM
  #15  
PaulRivers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 6,397
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 509 Post(s)
Liked 26 Times in 24 Posts
Originally Posted by spinwax View Post
I sound like I am preaching what I practice and a broken record of sorts, but have you had a professional fit? A fit will make all the difference on how you feel on the saddle. It sounds like you may have underlying fit issues.
I have personally gone to 2 different fitters, and neither one has been able to to do a damn thing to really eliminate the discomfort down there (it's more discomfort than serious numbness), despite being recommended, being a "real" fitter (their business is bike fitting, they're not an employee in a bike store who got an hour of training or something), and claiming to know what they're doing.

They can fit you better to the bike, but beyond that they don't see to be able to do anything for problems that they can't see in motion, like how you are hitting your saddle while riding. Helped immensely with clipless and knee pain, as well as lower back pain, but weren't worth a damn for foot pain either. In fact, my feet would have been far more comfortable sticking with my mountain bike shoes than they were in the road shoes I got, which caused foot numbness within a couple of *minutes* of riding. Had to try 3 different insoles before I found one that "helped"...had to buy a whole different brand of shoe to help more, and it's still not perfect, not by a long shot...

I find the OP's post very interesting - I'll have to get a super wide saddle for the next one I try (was already thinking about it, but this lends more weight to actually doing it).
PaulRivers is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 10:07 PM
  #16  
surgeonstone
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
surgeonstone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: South Bend IN
Posts: 11,212

Bikes: 1976 FRESCHI, 2004 Crumpton.

Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 918 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
No, a wider saddle does not cure cancer but in keeping the saddle out of my perineum, it may prevent prostate problems, prostatitis and other issues well documented in cyclists.
Yes the bike was professionally fitted for me but this but without improving the above problems.
The title, by the way, was meant to be tongue in cheek.
I appreciate the feedback and will try to keep future posts shorter.
surgeonstone is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 10:25 PM
  #17  
ianbrettcooper
Senior Member
 
ianbrettcooper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Silver Spring, MD, USA
Posts: 612
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I must admit the subject of saddle comfort always confuses me. I've never ever got saddle sore, never felt a saddle was uncomfortable, never felt any numbness or experienced any prostate problems, and I've ridden cheap saddles for tens of thousands of miles. Maybe my sit bones are just impossibly close together and no saddle in the world will ever be able to defeat them.
ianbrettcooper is offline  
Old 08-13-10, 10:39 PM
  #18  
bellweatherman
Senior Member
 
bellweatherman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Austin
Posts: 2,104

Bikes: Too many to count

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
If this is not fake, then tell us how your wife was able to measure the distance between your "sit" bones?
bellweatherman is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 01:30 AM
  #19  
GP 
Senior Member
 
GP's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by AngryScientist View Post
i didnt see any women's brooks saddles in the TDF or giro coverage this year either.
That's what they want you to think. It sounds like a little white spray paint and a Fizik stencil fooled you suckers.
GP is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 02:14 AM
  #20  
Machka 
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,061

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 140 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3177 Post(s)
Liked 464 Times in 273 Posts
Originally Posted by surgeonstone View Post
I have learned, the hard way, that only one thing makes a difference. The width of the saddle.
It took me a handful of rides to figure this out. I had a saddle which was hard plastic with a suede covering, but it was wide enough for me and I was reasonably comfortable on it. I rode my first century on that saddle, and a 3-day 100 km/day tour on that saddle ... plus a lot of other rides.

Then my father gave me a saddle which he had used and liked and thought it would work for me. My first ride lasted about 5 minutes. OW!! Thinking it was just me, and that my butt needed to get used to the new saddle, I tried again a few more times but it just wasn't working at all. Very painful.

So I went out and bought a new, wider saddle ... world of difference!!

Your saddle should be wide enough for your sitbones to sit comfortably on the saddle ... but of course not too wide. There's a happy medium.

But you have just stopped at the discovery that width matters. There's more to it. The shape of the saddle matters as well. I have tried both completely flat saddles and saddles that curve up in the back a bit, and have discovered that I need a saddle that curves up in the back a bit. All the saddles I own which are even somewhat comfortable curve up in the back, and when I tried flat saddles, I didn't feel like I was getting the support my back needed. The longest ride I tried on a flat saddle was 100 km, and my lower back was uncomfortable the whole way around. On a saddle that curves up in the back, my lower back is just fine.

And so, for me, the Brooks B17 works.
Machka is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 02:31 AM
  #21  
PeddlingPilgrim
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: people's republic of eugene oregon
Posts: 744
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Sprocket Man View Post
The Last Thread on Saddle Comfort


No. Also, your post is way too wordy.

TLDR, horrible formatting... did he copy and paste all of that? WTF... who paid for the english comp classes?
PeddlingPilgrim is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 03:36 AM
  #22  
lazerzxr
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 1,204

Bikes: Colnago C59 Italia Di2

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
im nearly off the bottom of the scale on the spesh arsometer with some readings at about 55mm and an average of 60. Im 6'2" and 165. I'll take the skinney race saddle every time. The skinnier the better
lazerzxr is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 07:08 AM
  #23  
surgeonstone
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
surgeonstone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: South Bend IN
Posts: 11,212

Bikes: 1976 FRESCHI, 2004 Crumpton.

Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 918 Post(s)
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
How my wife measured my sit bones. Really quite easy. Kneel on the floor, bend over with your but in the air, palpate your sit bones and measure. The tuberosities are easy to feel unless your way overweight.
surgeonstone is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 07:21 AM
  #24  
RacerOne
Hills hurt.. Couches kill
 
RacerOne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Brazil, IN
Posts: 3,370

Bikes: 1991 Specialized Sirrus Triple, 2010 Trek Madone 6.5 Project One, 2012 Cannondale Caad10, 2013 Trek Crockett

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If it's all about width, then please explain why a Bontrager Inform RL makes me want to lie down in bed and cry but I never think twice about what I'm sitting on a Specialized Toupe when they are both (darn near) the same size?

Saddles come down to bike fit, body geometry and personal choice. All is well in the world when you find the combination that works.
RacerOne is offline  
Old 08-14-10, 08:13 AM
  #25  
ciocc_cat
"Chooch"
 
ciocc_cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Prairieville, Louisiana
Posts: 1,659

Bikes: Late 1990s Ciocc Titan

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I used to ride a Selle Italia Super Turbo with no problems. When I started riding my Ciocc again after a 17-year hiatus I noticed that my "male part" was going numb after 20 minutes in the saddle. Same bike, same set-up/riding position as when I rode years before, so the only thing different was . . . me. I exercised to strengthen my core thinking maybe that would help, but still experienced numbness. Maybe 55 year-olds are more prone to nerve compression problems - I don't know.

I switched to a Selle SMP and solved the chronic numbness problem. End of story.
ciocc_cat is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.