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quest to finding the best saddle for your body

Old 10-23-15, 07:22 PM
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quest to finding the best saddle for your body

how did you find your perfect saddle? just sit on a lot of saddles and weed out the ones that instantly feel 'wrong?' after that, then what? there are plenty of saddles that feel good initially, but suddenly have problems after 20 or so miles (like the softer type). then there are saddles that feel weird at first, but get better with time (like brooks). And these are thing you can't really demo for 5 minutes in a bike shop.

that said, are there cues that we can look for while sitting on the saddle to try to determine whether or not it will be a good saddle for long distance touring? I'd like to find something I can ride multiple centuries in a row without chamois padding. I mean they're just too much of a pain to maintain on the road.

by now, I know to look for a few things that fit my needs:
  • narrower nose
  • wider base
  • curved in the middle
  • kind of firm padding
  • cutout to preserve circulation to the family jewels

I want to like the brooks, but I think the leather is a little too firm, even though I tried ones that weren't broken in. Also, the middle tends to get into the tissue, although the firm surface should minimize that.

anyway, how did you find your saddle?
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Old 10-23-15, 07:28 PM
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I bought a Brooks B17 and broke it in by riding it for a month or two. End of story.
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Old 10-23-15, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
I want to like the brooks, but I think the leather is a little too firm, even though I tried ones that weren't broken in. Also, the middle tends to get into the tissue, although the firm surface should minimize that.

anyway, how did you find your saddle?
If you want to try a Brooks, but are concerned about the middle of the saddle you could try the Imperial with the cutout. Other than that, it is just trail and error. The B17 Imperial is the end of story for me.
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Old 10-23-15, 09:15 PM
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I've done a couple of saddle searches. Both times I knew about what I wanted in terms of plan form, but of course you can't really tell without riding. IME there are two tests. The first is like you say, just sit on a saddle for a few minutes and see if it feels reasonable and seems to suit your anatomy. The second test is the 4 hour ride. I say you can't tell if a saddle will work until after the 3rd hour. I put a candidate saddle on the bike, spend maybe 1/2 hour getting it adjusted to what seems right and head out, taking my Allen wrench set with me. If I come back with complaints, like a raw spot or numbness, etc., I go on to the next saddle. If it seems OK, I'll leave it on the bike and probably wind up keeping it, even though I may find another, better saddle later.

My basic procedure is to order three candidate saddles at a time from Performance Bike. The ones that don't work, I wash and repack in their original packaging exactly like they were, with zip ties and all, and send them back. That means I'm very careful with them and their packaging. Your seatpost clamp will not mar the saddle rails, so you don't have to worry about that.

If none of the three work, I modify my selection criteria and order three more. I use Performance because they have the widest variety of quality saddles I know of, and they will accept returns without questioning.

I've also included Specialized saddles in my searches, getting them from my LBS. However my LBS wasn't good about letting me return them, even perfect in their packaging, without eventually buying something. They were like, "One of these saddles has got to work for you. They work for everyone else!" Except that in my case, none of them worked.

Many folks on BF have found perfection in this Performance saddle:

Forté Pro SL Saddle

I now have 3 of them, replacing another Forte saddle of which I also had three. My butt changed, hence new saddles. This is about the same as a Specialized saddle, but with better material and design and 1/3 the price.
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Old 10-23-15, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
I've done a couple of saddle searches. Both times I knew about what I wanted in terms of plan form, but of course you can't really tell without riding. IME there are two tests. The first is like you say, just sit on a saddle for a few minutes and see if it feels reasonable and seems to suit your anatomy. The second test is the 4 hour ride. I say you can't tell if a saddle will work until after the 3rd hour. I put a candidate saddle on the bike, spend maybe 1/2 hour getting it adjusted to what seems right and head out, taking my Allen wrench set with me. If I come back with complaints, like a raw spot or numbness, etc., I go on to the next saddle. If it seems OK, I'll leave it on the bike and probably wind up keeping it, even though I may find another, better saddle later.

My basic procedure is to order three candidate saddles at a time from Performance Bike. The ones that don't work, I wash and repack in their original packaging exactly like they were, with zip ties and all, and send them back. That means I'm very careful with them and their packaging. Your seatpost clamp will not mar the saddle rails, so you don't have to worry about that.

If none of the three work, I modify my selection criteria and order three more. I use Performance because they have the widest variety of quality saddles I know of, and they will accept returns without questioning.

I've also included Specialized saddles in my searches, getting them from my LBS. However my LBS wasn't good about letting me return them, even perfect in their packaging, without eventually buying something. They were like, "One of these saddles has got to work for you. They work for everyone else!" Except that in my case, none of them worked.

Many folks on BF have found perfection in this Performance saddle:

Forté Pro SL Saddle

I now have 3 of them, replacing another Forte saddle of which I also had three. My butt changed, hence new saddles. This is about the same as a Specialized saddle, but with better material and design and 1/3 the price.
sounds good. that forte pro sl saddle looks a lot like the selle italia series, which I hated. I still remember doing my first century in one of those, thinking it's expensive, it must be good!... **** me... it was like medieval torture, though bonking also played a huge factor.

i'll give the b17 another shot. the shop i just started working at gives me good deals.

I've tried the imperial. honestly, wasn't too pleased with it, considering the cutout was very noticeable. Also, the fact that there is less material there means that it stretches more easily. my understanding is that the imperial came out many years ago, but they discontinued it for some reason.

Last edited by spectastic; 10-23-15 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 10-24-15, 12:15 AM
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I'm a big fan of Specialized saddles, mostly because they have different widths to handle different sized people. They even have a specific tool that you go sit on for a bit that will determine the width of your 'sit bones' in your pelvis and recommend which size range to use. That's awesome, because I can't tell you how many times I loved a saddle for other reasons but it was too narrow.

They also have a nice range of padding and shape options. I dig their Avatar Gel line, it's got a thin layer of gel that is really good for long rides, the shape allows me to move around to get comfortable on steep climbs vs. long flats, and the shell is the right balance of slippery and grippy.

IMO it's the most ergonomic line I've found, and with the multiple sizes, the easiest to get a perfect fit.
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Old 10-24-15, 08:32 AM
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anyway, how did you find your saddle?
At a Bike Shop I got a saddle put it on a bike and rode it ,

if I didnt like it I adjusted or replaced it.





My Brooks Pro, is 40 years old.. still in fine shape..

but for wet weather And my local rides locked up while I go into Shops, I have a Fizik Vitesse CP3..

I got it on close out several years Ago.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-24-15 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 10-24-15, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
sounds good. that forte pro sl saddle looks a lot like the selle italia series, which I hated. I still remember doing my first century in one of those, thinking it's expensive, it must be good!... **** me... it was like medieval torture, though bonking also played a huge factor.

i'll give the b17 another shot. the shop i just started working at gives me good deals.

I've tried the imperial. honestly, wasn't too pleased with it, considering the cutout was very noticeable. Also, the fact that there is less material there means that it stretches more easily. my understanding is that the imperial came out many years ago, but they discontinued it for some reason.
Just sayin' . . . for $40 and a no questions return policy, it's worth including . . .
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Old 10-24-15, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic

by now, I know to look for a few things that fit my needs:
  • narrower nose
  • wider base
  • curved in the middle
  • kind of firm padding
  • cutout to preserve circulation to the family jewels

I want to like the brooks, but I think the leather is a little too firm, even though I tried ones that weren't broken in. Also, the middle tends to get into the tissue, although the firm surface should minimize that.

anyway, how did you find your saddle?
For about 20 yrs I rode a Concor and related saddles but when I got old, fat, vasectomy, etc. where bars needed to be closer to seat height I went to a Specialized Avatar one size wider than their buttometer recommended. It really is an excellent fit. In 45 yrs of riding I never found leather saddles worth the break-in period. IMHO leather saddles are designed to the limits of a sheet of leather not the anatomy of a rider. That they work for many doesn't mean they're ideal for everyone.
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Old 10-24-15, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
how did you find your perfect saddle?.
A saddle merry go round which looked like a children's playground device.

"Kinda firm padding"

This is a hard one because so often Marketeers like "comfort or light/racey". Tweener saddles are a tough sell.

I ride w/o shammy and use nylon + a smidgen of spandex drop crotch boxers. For 2016 REI finally offers them. In the winter I'll use standard non shammy compression baseware.

Don't discount female saddles. Then tend to have a wider seat area which is a good thing for touring.
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Old 10-24-15, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
...
I'd like to find something I can ride multiple centuries in a row without chamois padding. I mean they're just too much of a pain to maintain on the road.
...
Chamois, maybe buy some of the cycling underwear with a chamois, they are much more compact and light to carry than another pair of shorts. You could carry a spare pair (or a few) and wear them with some other types of non-cycling shorts. But with a Brooks it is best to stay with black since the leather stain can migrate into the shorts, so keep that in mind if you go shorts shopping. I have a nice pair of khaki cycling pants that I learned the hard way get stained by wearing them on a Brooks.
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Old 10-24-15, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
sounds good. that forte pro sl saddle looks a lot like the selle italia series, which I hated. I still remember doing my first century in one of those, thinking it's expensive, it must be good!... **** me... it was like medieval torture, though bonking also played a huge factor.

i'll give the b17 another shot. the shop i just started working at gives me good deals.

I've tried the imperial. honestly, wasn't too pleased with it, considering the cutout was very noticeable. Also, the fact that there is less material there means that it stretches more easily. my understanding is that the imperial came out many years ago, but they discontinued it for some reason.
If you want to give the B17, or any other Brooks, a try, I would recommend ordering from wallbike.com | Wallingford Bike Parts they have a six month unconditional guarantee their saddles. Try it for six months and if you don't like it, send it back for a refund. They are seriously great to deal with.
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Old 10-24-15, 06:15 PM
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i think i will order through the shop on the cheap and just sell it if it doesn't work out. shipping cost is a drag.

I rode around on the brooks in the shop today on my mtb (rainy outside). can definitely feel the pressure points more than a padded saddle. but I can see how the smoothness and lack of padding can reduce chafing. the padding makes the normal mtb saddle feel more comfortable. I'll have to test out the brooks for a few rides to really figure it out...
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Old 10-24-15, 11:47 PM
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I've found zero correlation between price & comfort in saddles. Brooks are great but their pattern doesn't fit everyone.
  • narrower nose
  • wider base
  • curved in the middle
  • kind of firm padding
  • cutout to preserve circulation to the family jewels

Consider SQlab saddles (made in Germany): They're available in multiple widths & styles. I'm testing the 610 active Fitness version, the Trekking is a bit cushier. Plastic shell underneath sitbones designed to flex w/adjustable elastomer dampeners. They have a scooped-out section in the middle & frontwards plus nose is very narrow. So far working quite well up to 80 km rides. Only drawback is that one needs to pay constant attention to posture to keep sitbones back on the 'shelf' to prevent rolling off the padding to narrower mid-portion. It's a weird design but actually encourages better hip-forward style.

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Old 10-25-15, 10:06 AM
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Don't know how this compares to a brooks b17 with regard to width. I put a Selle Anatomical X on a couple hundred miles ago. Took about 50 miles and a couple of adjustments to get comfortable. Does have the cutout and a narrow nose. I do ride shorter rides without padding. Was actually planning to do a longer ride today without padding to figure out some cooler weather riding gear.
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Old 10-25-15, 10:16 AM
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I got several Fizik Vitesse HP .. made for Brompton , Black narrow nose Unisex width

they're coming from old store stock bought from dealers as they dont make them as such any more..

Vitesse is selling them more in 'Women's' colors... now .. Ti rail .


Synthetic Chamois are not a PIA . though not having several pair on a tour to always have a clean pair daily

will be a real source of pain.. infected skin. pain.



Try Bike shop take-offs they're cheap and the shop may let you swap through several to ride each for a while.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-25-15 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 10-25-15, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
i think i will order through the shop on the cheap and just sell it if it doesn't work out. shipping cost is a drag.

I rode around on the brooks in the shop today on my mtb (rainy outside). can definitely feel the pressure points more than a padded saddle. but I can see how the smoothness and lack of padding can reduce chafing. the padding makes the normal mtb saddle feel more comfortable. I'll have to test out the brooks for a few rides to really figure it out...
Kinda funny how you're doubling down on the leather after your generally negative experiences. I had a bike shop 30 yrs ago, rode an Ideale enough to break it in and was never comfortable with it, tried friends broken in saddles and didn't like the perineum pressure. Tried a couple leather saddles after that and it was obvious for me leather saddles will not do what a shaped saddle does.

If something isn't working why repeat it especially when there are many more alternative?
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Old 10-25-15, 10:40 AM
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After fighting off saddle sores on many other saddles, the Brooks B17 let me know when the correct saddle was found.
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Old 10-25-15, 10:53 AM
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I solved saddle sores by Hygene.
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Old 10-25-15, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
Kinda funny how you're doubling down on the leather after your generally negative experiences. I had a bike shop 30 yrs ago, rode an Ideale enough to break it in and was never comfortable with it, tried friends broken in saddles and didn't like the perineum pressure. Tried a couple leather saddles after that and it was obvious for me leather saddles will not do what a shaped saddle does.

If something isn't working why repeat it especially when there are many more alternative?
because i want to abuse my bike shop discounts? and i want to believe that the brooks will be as good for me as most people say for themselves. so I'm giving it a second shot.
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Old 10-27-15, 02:52 AM
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I rode a B17 saddle into the sunset... When she finally died of Stretched Out Leather Disease (SOLD), I replaced her with her younger sister, the C17. The C17 is just like the B17, but maintenance free, no BS and even more comfortable....

(Would also make the perfect woman)
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Old 10-27-15, 07:55 AM
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My derriere seems to be fickle. I was super satisfied for some time with both a Terry Fly and Specialized body geometry saddle but then all of a sudden they became unbearable. My best luck has been with Brooks or other leather saddles. The softer B-17 is great for casual and shorter rides and I have toured on it but my current favorite is the B-17 N which is a little firmer and narrower.
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Old 10-27-15, 12:08 PM
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I experimented with many saddles then I measured my sitz bone width (by measuring dimples placed in bag of rice). I order a saddle that is wider than most (175mm) and it proved to be comfortable enough for me to replace all my saddles, including Brooks, with an inexpensive saddle, the Velo Plus v31 (can be found on ebay for about $18).
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Old 12-28-15, 02:59 PM
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i've been on my brooks for a couple of months now, with short daily commutes, and a few longer rides. it feels like a glove now. the question now is whether i can ride on it with no chamois for consecutive days at a time.
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