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Long distance saddle choice

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Long distance saddle choice

Old 09-20-17, 04:04 AM
  #1  
yannshukor
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Long distance saddle choice

Every year I travel home to Nice, on my own, from a European capital with my bike ex. Paris, Salzburg, Naples, etc.
Last year I started off from Madrid, and this year from Berlin; both of these trips took me nine days (~1500 kms).

I ride a Giant Defy Advanced bicycle equipped with disk brakes and Zipp 303 wheels.

My current saddle, ASTUTE Skylite, replaced the original Fizik saddle that came with the bicycle; I was told that most manufacturers equip their bikes with 'lesser' versions of saddles in order to trim the overall cost.

Previously I rode a TREK fitted with a Selle Italia saddle.

Sizewise I'm 1,72m and 68kgs

I wear an Assos T.Cento bib designed for long distances (purchased 2015) and apply copious amounts of Assos chamois cream

In preparation, during the year, I cycle once a week 60-80k with at least a 500m climb

My main difficulty during these trips is my back side

The sit-bone area becomes swollen with a sore on each side which gets understandably quite painful; Compeed and Doliprane/Neurofen are my only recourse

Each evening I wash my clothes with shampoo in my hotel room

Having adopted a vegan diet I have also chosen to avoid leather based products.

I'm still searching for THE saddle that will allow me to pursue such trips without the suffering.

I'm currently considering a Brooks C15 (or C13 145) saddle

Should I accept that it is the mileage and duration of these trips, or even lack of preparation, that are to blame for my plight and will remain thus whatever saddle I may choose ?

cheers

Last edited by yannshukor; 09-20-17 at 05:56 AM.
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Old 09-20-17, 04:22 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by yannshukor View Post
Every year I travel home to Nice, on my own, from a European capital with my bike ex. Paris, Salzburg, Naples, etc.
Last year I started off from Madrid, and this year from Berlin; both of these trips took me nine days (~1500 kms).

I ride a Giant Defy Advanced bicycle equipped with disk brakes and Zipp 303 wheels.

My current saddle, ASTUTE Skylite, replaced the original Fizik saddle that came with the bicycle; I was told that most manufacturers equip their bikes with 'lesser' versions of saddles in order to trim the overall cost.

Previously I rode a TREK fitted with a Selle Italia saddle.

My main difficulty during these trips is my back side; which is what led me to your comprehensive article.

The sit-bone area becomes swollen and blistered and understandably quite painful; Compeed and Doliprane/Neurofen are my only recourse

Having adopted a vegan diet I have also chosen to avoid leather based products.

I'm still searching for THE saddle that will allow me to pursue such trips without the suffering.

I'm currently considering a Brooks C15 (or C13 145) saddle

Should I accept that it is the mileage and duration of these trips that is to blame for my plight and will remain thus whatever saddle I may choose ?
Your problems may be due to a multitude of reasons.
The padding in your biking shorts may be incompatible to you, your saddle, or both. I suggest you try a set of bib shorts from one of the bigger, better liked manufacturers (castelli, assos, rapha etc.)

Swollen and blistered sounds a bit weird since usually there's chafing and saddle sores which are infected hair follicles. Blistering sounds more like a burn or a chemical burn or an allergic reaction. Do you use a type of chamois cream when you ride? If you do it may be something in that which is causing the issues. Or if you are not using a chamois cream maybe consider using one.
Also you do wash your riding shorts after every day of riding right? And rinse them properly to remove any and all residue of detergent? Cause residue detergent will do bad things to your skin especially if chafing is involved.

What helped me immensely with my saddle sore issues was swapping my skin care regime. It turns out that the skin on my bottom is really sensitive and requires care with a low ph-washing liquid as well as a base cream moisturizer that is packed with humectants and not moisturizers. Soap and petrolatum were apparently a very bad idea.
Different skin types and different people prefer different moisturizing methods, some work well with plain soap and petrolatum based products while my arse likes glycerin, carbamids, lactic acids, vegetable oils and other humectants. And NO soap!

It could of course be the saddle but I would start by ruling out various other factors since your issue does not sound like a traditional saddle issue.
Always use clean properly washed shorts
Try chamois cream
Let your butt rest every once in a while by pedaling while standing up a minute or so every 10km or so. And in uphills etc.
Check what you are washing yourself with and confirm you are not having an allergic reaction to that substance
Check that your saddle is not too high as that will cause chafing.
Is your saddle wide enough to support your sitbones?

I'm sure others commenting in this thread will come up with more suggestions.
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Old 09-20-17, 04:46 AM
  #3  
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Brooks B17. It's leather and you will need to break it in. Sometimes you don't need to break it in.
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Old 09-20-17, 05:26 AM
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Thanks Elcruxio for taking the time to respond in such depth

I was a little afraid to include too many details and end up with a two page post.

I wear an ASSOS T.CENTO Comfort fit designed for long distances purchased in 2015
I use copious amounts of Assos Chamois cream
I wash my riding clothes each evening with shampoo available in my hotel room
In preparation, during the year, I cycle once a week 60-80k with at least a 500m climb

I was wrong to call them blisters; they are in fact two sores, each located beneath my sit bones

Last edited by yannshukor; 09-20-17 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 09-20-17, 07:00 AM
  #5  
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There are many competing theories on saddle design.

1. Hammock saddles (usually leather) provide more or less uniform support. Leather is preferred because it will eventually conform to your anatomy.

2. Sitbones first saddles, such as SQlab, are designed to relieve pressure on the soft tissues. They concentrate support under the sitbones which are supposedly better able to support the rider's weight. I've recently tried one and felt quite uncomfortable. It apparently requires some time for the tissues to adapt. I don't have that kind of patience...

3. Sitbone relief saddles, such as the Infinity take the exact opposite approach. Their support is around the sitbones. They are said to be comfortable for short rides. May not be for longer ones, but you may want to explore this option.

---

Leather saddles such as the Brooks are very popular among tourers. If they are against your beliefs, you may want to try the Brooks Cambium, a hammock design where the leather is replaced by rubber. Reviews are usually good, but mixed, as the saddle will not conform to your anatomy. If you were a moderate vegan, considering leather as acceptable recycled waste from the meat industry, you may want to take a look at Selle Anatomica. Comfortable out of the box, slotted design and water resistant (although you should protect the underside).

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that your butt should eventually adapt to whatever saddle you are using, if you ride progressively longer rides. Skin and soft tissues will toughen, like the sole of your feet becoming leathery if you walk barefoot. If your long ride home has you going from the office cubicle to 10x150kms overnight, sores are probably unavoidable.

Last edited by gauvins; 09-20-17 at 07:11 AM.
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Old 09-20-17, 07:11 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by yannshukor View Post
I was told that most manufacturers equip their bikes with 'lesser' versions of saddles in order to trim the overall cost.
That, and like pedals, everyone has something different that they like. Why equip a nice bike with a $100 saddle and a nice pair of pedals and increase the cost, when the majority of purchasers are immediately going to replace them with something else?

As to the saddle thing, it is personal, best you can do is just try a bunch until you find one you like. Don't discount anything because it doesn't hit a certain price point or perceived quality, my favorite came in pretty rough shape on an $85 vintage bike I bought that I decided to give a try instead of just throwing away. I now own a pile of that model for all my bikes, grabbing them off eBay when I can find them for $20-30. Would have never otherwise considered trying one, had it not been sitting in front of me.

All of that said, riding 60-80km a week in preparation for a trip you are riding that three times that distance in a day is probably not enough.
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Old 09-20-17, 07:15 AM
  #7  
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I found the Cambium to be an ass hatchet, and since went with the same saddle I have on 4 bikes: WTB Rocket V. Also use a Spesh Toupe on my road bike, which is fairly minimal, but comfortable for that riding position. Beyond trying a bunch of saddles and finding what works for you, asking for saddle advice is like asking what is the best bike. All anyone can say is what works or doesn't work for them.
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Old 09-20-17, 07:31 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Beyond trying a bunch of saddles and finding what works for you, asking for saddle advice is like asking what is the best bike. All anyone can say is what works or doesn't work for them.
True, but there are certainly basic principles that deserve to be discussed.

Many years ago, hiking boots were heavy and made of leather. You'd wear two pairs of socks to avoid blisters, etc.

Today's trail runners and light approach shoes are infinitely superior and I can't help but feel sorry for the nostalgic weekend hiker sticking to old school heavy boots.

I find it interesting that most tourers advocate saddles that are essentially identical to those of a century ago. This would be an extraordinary example of a technology that hasn't been improving.

I've personally gone through the process of searching for a different saddle because my Brooks flyer, purchased without any doubt, turned out to be defective.

I understand the argument that "every butt is different so try as many saddles as you can". But the same could be said for shoes, yet there are definite design alternatives, and myths (such as heavy leather boots prevent sprained ankles) to debunk.
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Old 09-20-17, 07:47 AM
  #9  
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Thanks all for your contributions

My research has brought me to look at the Well model developped by Selle SMP

The resellers are able to lend you a saddle in order to try it out for a few days, which is exactly what I plan to do
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Old 09-20-17, 10:05 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
True, but there are certainly basic principles that deserve to be discussed.

Many years ago, hiking boots were heavy and made of leather. You'd wear two pairs of socks to avoid blisters, etc.

Today's trail runners and light approach shoes are infinitely superior and I can't help but feel sorry for the nostalgic weekend hiker sticking to old school heavy boots.

I find it interesting that most tourers advocate saddles that are essentially identical to those of a century ago. This would be an extraordinary example of a technology that hasn't been improving.

I've personally gone through the process of searching for a different saddle because my Brooks flyer, purchased without any doubt, turned out to be defective.

I understand the argument that "every butt is different so try as many saddles as you can". But the same could be said for shoes, yet there are definite design alternatives, and myths (such as heavy leather boots prevent sprained ankles) to debunk.
Do you hike? Ever been hiking while in a rainstorm? Wet feet are fun and all but I'd rather keep my feet dry and warm. Also heavy boots at least to me aren't there to prevent sprains (you'd need proper high hunting boots for that) but simply to reduce foot fatigue in demanding conditions. I've hiked in trail runners, minimalist shoes, practically barefoot, but I always come back to the trusty heavy hiking boots since there's just no comparison to them. I suppose it's preference.
As a reference in ordinary life I prefer minimalist footwear with zero drop and ~5mm thick soles.
Also, properly worn in good fitting leather shoes don't cause blisters. They mold to your foot like a leather saddle does to a butt. Synthetic shoes like trail runners etc need to be perfect from the get go or they are going to cause issues to the foot or they are going to break. A leather shoe will have some give over time.

As to leather saddles, they work for some people and I can see why. They are a good system for a certain pelvic orientation, plumbing and bone structure. There have not been many good ways to imitate that other than the Brooks Cambium but a lot of people don't seem like those as much as the genuine leather saddle. Perhaps it is the lack of molding and it could be replicated by some sort of thermal molding (like skiing boots) but there does not seem to be evidence of custom saddles made that way. Using a fabric like ripstop nylon instead of leather could work but haven't seen that in action either.
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Old 09-20-17, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by yannshukor View Post
Thanks all for your contributions

My research has brought me to look at the Well model developped by Selle SMP

The resellers are able to lend you a saddle in order to try it out for a few days, which is exactly what I plan to do
Give it some serious mileage while trying it out and fiddle with the angle, setback and height A LOT! It's a good saddle and one I might still go back to but it seemed to be too narrow for me. I may have had it setup badly though.
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Old 09-20-17, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
Do you hike? Ever been hiking while in a rainstorm?
Yes. Both. 2000kms 3 years ago. But no high altitude mountaineering or technical terrain or freezing temperatures.

This is probably not the space to discuss hiking. Let's just say that I prefer ultra light (under 8kg bag) and use sandals precisely because they make wet feet a moot point.

Regarding saddles, it would be instructive, to me at least, to focus on design principles.

Please note that I have nothing against leather. My current saddle is made of leather. Now, it looks like the market share of these saddles is minuscule. But they seem to be the overwhelming choice of tourers. It is tempting to conclude that it is because leather hammocks are superior for this type of use. This is what I believed until I met a round-the-world tourer who had built a strange looking contraption and proceeded to explain to me what was wrong with conventional wisdom. He had good arguments
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Old 09-20-17, 11:15 AM
  #13  
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You point something out that could also 'maybe' be an issue that no one is talking about...except you. Get out and ride. Get yourself and your butt, literally, in shape. I'm not sure by what you say if you are talking saddle sores as they are standardly thought of or if you are talking just having a sore butt because you don't have enough saddle time to get the butt muscles use to riding and having a saddle stuck up your butt.
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Old 09-20-17, 01:09 PM
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I also avoid leather products and found the Brooks Cambium C17 to be very comfortable. Although as you can see, not everyone agrees on that. However, when I mulling it over, I decided to ask one of the guys at my local bike shop, and he said that pretty much everyone in the shop ended up putting a Cambium cutout version on their bike after trying it.

But look at the other thread that was just started about this saddle. Brooks has just released another version that is listed an all-weather and more durable. The materials are slightly different, and I don't know how well it's been tested yet, so I don't know how it will compare to the original Cambium, which I thought was also "all-weather."
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Old 09-20-17, 01:18 PM
  #15  
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My first thought when I read your post, yannshukor, was that your seat is too high. Have you considered it's bike fit rather than saddle?
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Old 09-20-17, 01:24 PM
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Brooks Cambium C17 Carved .... designed for long distance and I have them on both my bikes (100% waterproof aswell and comes with a 10 year guarantee when you register the serial number on the Brooks website)

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Old 09-27-17, 03:24 PM
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I'm a fan of the Fizik Kurve, awesome saddle that flexes under me. Pair with good shorts I can ride all day long.

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/f...U6MTo0OktVUlZF


recently did 550miles in 6 days using this saddle, 1 recovery day in there. And I'm 90 kilos
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Old 09-27-17, 03:41 PM
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C 19 is the widest version.


Anecdotal name dropping: My choice , for my many long tours... a Brooks team Professional, I got mine in the middle of the 1970's

on a traditional Campagnolo 2 bolt seat post..


I had been riding on the Brooks team pro for 10 + years , before going on a long tour in Europe, using it.. we were used to each other by then.





....

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Old 09-27-17, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dim View Post
Brooks Cambium C17 Carved .... designed for long distance and I have them on both my bikes (100% waterproof aswell and comes with a 10 year guarantee when you register the serial number on the Brooks website)

I've had good result with this saddle too. Notwithstanding that saddle choice is inherently personal, I've found a cutout saddle to be the big difference, with a strong preference for a firmer saddle as well as a saddle of the correct width. As an example, I found the popular B17 Brooks to be completely unsuitable due to being too wide and having no cutout., Currently I'm using an aliexpress carbon saddle at 145mm width, which I did not expect to be comfortable, but which is surprisingly useable, due to the width and the presence of minimal padding and a cutout..
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Old 09-27-17, 08:26 PM
  #20  
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My cheeks give another vote for the Brooks Cambium C17 Carved, I have 2 of them and a C13 carved in the same width (it just has crabon rails). I wish I had the new All-weather one for my cross and touring rigs but that may happen in the future. Certainly get measured though and make sure the C17 is right for you size wise.

I would also recommend using a good chamois cream. I like Chamois Glide as it is like a small deodorant stick (easy to apply) and it is vegan (no testing or animal ingredients in any of their products currently unless something changed). Keep your taintal area clean as well. If you are in a hotel then take a nice shower and use a good soap (Dr. Bronner's is the best and also happens to be vegan and can be used for many things other than body washing) and maybe some tea tree oil. Make sure to get it nice and dry afterwards with as much time to breathe as possible. When I do get sores I tend to go with Florasone (not tested on animals and as far as I can tell no animal ingredients)

One other useful tip take some time off the bike and give everything time to heal. If you have the time, give your saddle a little bit of cleaning as well.
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Old 09-28-17, 09:04 AM
  #21  
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I always used whatever saddle came with the bike.

More recently I started using Brooks. You are a Vegan and leather it too much trouble in wet weather. Also, they are nothing special. And HEAVY.

My basic belief is that you will get used to any saddle unless it is too narrow or too wide. If you ride every day and after a month you still get sores I would go see a doctor and ask for advice.
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Old 09-28-17, 10:37 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
I always used whatever saddle came with the bike.

More recently I started using Brooks. You are a Vegan and leather it too much trouble in wet weather. Also, they are nothing special. And HEAVY.

My basic belief is that you will get used to any saddle unless it is too narrow or too wide. If you ride every day and after a month you still get sores I would go see a doctor and ask for advice.
Not a vegan, but I otherwise agree.

I have a wide variety of saddles on various bikes ranging from wide leather brooks saddles, to very narrow hard carbon fiber saddles. The saddle material, amount of padding, and aspects of saddle shape (other than width) don't seem to have an impact on comfort...at least not to me. For me, saddle comfort depends on four things....

1. Matching rider position to saddle width: The more upright the position, the wider the saddle.
2. Matching the saddle to effort level: Higher wattage means less weight on the saddle
3. Saddle position: Having the saddle slightly too high or tilted too forward or backward can make an other wise comfortable saddle very painful. Slight changes in saddle position can have dramatic effects on comfort.
4. Spending time riding: the more time I spend in the saddle (any saddle) the less prone I am to develop soreness or discomfort

Last edited by mihlbach; 09-28-17 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 09-28-17, 10:37 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by waddo View Post
My basic belief is that you will get used to any saddle unless it is too narrow or too wide. If you ride every day and after a month you still get sores I would go see a doctor and ask for advice.
That may be true, but it's also a question of what you're willing to put up with. Getting used to something isn't necessarily the same as being comfortable. And riding frequently, like my daily commute, is not always a measure for how comfortable something will be for an extended ride. I tried a few saddles and the real test was an all-day ride. Commuting could reveal some obvious and immediate shortcomings, if present, but only after a good day of riding did you learn where/if the sore spots were. Before the Cambium, my go-to saddle was Specialized Body Geometry. Did the job fine for commuting, and even a long day of riding, but day 2 could be rough until I got used to it. Even then, getting used to it meant learning to deal with the fact I might not enjoy the first moments of the next day when I sat back on the seat. My solution was to rotate in some padded shorts to change up the pressure points, and it worked pretty well. But the Cambium has worked pretty well from the get-go. I keep the practice of rotating some padded shorts every third day or so, just to be safe, but it doesn't seem as necessary. It's precautionary, rather than a reaction to the pain of sitting back on the saddle after a long day of riding.
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Old 09-28-17, 11:29 AM
  #24  
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I haven't read all the posts above. I have ridden bicycles a long time, have many miles and have done many long rides. Many of those miles and long rides have been done on fix gears which are more demanding saddle-wise since coasting and giving your butt a break is never an option (and downhills become the ultimate saddle test).

Our butts vary as much as our faces. No, I do not know that from visuals, thank you, but I look at what works for me and what works for others and the range is pretty incredible. Many bike manufacturers get this and supply less than the most expensive simple to keep costs to both them and the consumer down when they know full well the first thing that an experienced rider is going to do is pull off that seat (whatever it is) and put on his favorite.

You need to find the seat that works for you. (And when you do, you will find any shorts without seams and a kind surface will work just fine. I have ridden Portland's crazy midnight ride now on most of my bikes. Nothing works just fine.) In the US, better bike shops now are adopting policies of letting buyers of saddles return them ridden but undamaged for full credit toward a different saddle, recognizing that saddle fit is so individual and that whether it works cannot be known from just a test ride. (This costs the shop but makes for great customer relations.) One shop in Portland takes this a step further. They have a "library" of about 25 saddles. You pay $25 for a "library card" and pick a seat. Ride it for a week, bring it back and if it wasn't the one you want, take out another, as many times as you need. When you find "the" one, your $25 goes toward a new in-the-box seat.

I have no idea how things are done in Nice, but if the shop owners there ride, they "get" saddle fit. Maybe they would be open to doing something like these approaches.

A good seat should feel "right" the first time on it and still feel good after a 160 km day. A chamois cream may be required for chafe issues. (For me, it's a matter of no longer being young and the hairs down there getting longer. I rode 200 km Sunday with no cream. Only saddle issues were soreness from the hairs being pulled. Too much information, I know.)

I ride the Terry Fly saddles. They are basically the older Selle Italia saddles with a cutout. I raced the Selle Italia's 40 years ago, loved them and rode them exclusively afterwards until my mid 40's when my body changed. The pressure on my perineum now caused real discomfort and I had broken my tailbone so sitting up and riding no-hands to relieve my perineum meant days of pain from my tailbone. So I am riding with the cutouts that spare the most sensitive places and have a wedge notch for that tailbone but I am still on a seat that supports much of my weight on soft tissue. I have two issues with seats that target the sit bones. 1) I am bony and skinny. I end up with bruised sit bones which makes sitting in hard chairs after less pleasant. 2) those seats are often significantly less comfortable when I slide forward off the sit bone supports; something I do all the time - get further into the drops for going hard or upwind or just a change and 3) often those seats are wide enough at the sit bone supports that if I push back more like I do powering uphill on the tops of the handlebars, the seat starts cutting into leg blood circulation.

We are all very different. Find what works. The local shop can be a real aid here as only by having that seat in hand and on your bike will you really know.

Ben
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Old 09-28-17, 11:36 AM
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Here at the LBS there is sales of saddles in the middle of a tour to people who were not happy with the one they started the trip using.
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