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Differences between Brooks normal, narrow, and S?

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Differences between Brooks normal, narrow, and S?

Old 03-31-19, 09:36 AM
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tomtomtom123
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Differences between Brooks normal, narrow, and S?

For the Brooks B17 Imperial, does anyone know exactly which zones are different between a normal, narrow, and S?
I know that the narrow is "narrow", and the S is shorter.
But for the narrow, is the general shape of the sit area similar to the normal? Is the middle and nose also narrower or the same as on the normal?
For the S, is it only the nose that is shorter, or also the sit area that is shorter?
Would the narrow and S have the same "hammock" profile or more flat?

I had a B17 flyer for 8 years for touring, but the middle-nose sometimes gave me pain in the forward perennial. After maybe 3 hours it would become annoying. Tilting down and the pain goes away but I start to slip forward. I eventually made a cutout and most of the pain went away, but it's since stretched too much now, and into a banana shape. The curved shape rose the nose and the forward perennial pain started again.

So I bought a B17 Flyer Imperial, but I have a similar again with pain in the forward perennial, usually after 1 hour. Tilting down makes me slip forward. I was theorizing maybe the springs causes too much change in nose elevation when riding, causing changes in pressure around the perennial.

So I was thinking to switch to a B17 Imperial without springs would keep the nose height stable and controlled. I have since gotten a seatpost suspension, so springs would be somewhat redundant. But I prefer a less hammock or banana shape, so was wondering how different are the shapes (curvature) of the narrow and S. Does anyone have experience riding the different sizes and can explain how they feel? Thanks
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Old 03-31-19, 09:50 AM
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online shopping?

Need someone to measure them for you? I'm only riding the Team pro, (1st one bought in 1975)

so I cannot do that for you .

N is narrow , S is Shorter (typically for women's market..)







....

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Old 03-31-19, 10:56 AM
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The springs on my Conquest are about the same as the Flyer springs as far as I can tell. I estimate that when I am on the Conquest that I depress the springs approximately 5mm. That however is tough to estimate with any accuracy when I am trying to measure it myself, so I could be in error. I weigh about 185 pounds. I also have a Brooks Pro on a couple bikes and since there are no springs on those bikes I tilt the nose slightly more up to compensate.
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Old 03-31-19, 01:38 PM
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I have the B17 Imperial and the B17 imperial S. I measured for you and they both are 175mm wide at widest part and the distance from the rear to the widest parts is about the same. so the difference in length is all in the front part.

the reason i bought the S was stupid, it was to avoid a dropper on my fatbike, lol. It didn't help, and i got a dropper anyway.

I believe the S is targeted towards females, so not sure if that is a good choice for me (male) anyway. they feel the same or similar. the downside of the S is the rail is short and you have almost no for-aft adjustment. this is why i will replace that with a proper B17.
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Old 03-31-19, 02:01 PM
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@HerrKaLeun thanks. So I guess the normal and S are identical from the middle to the rear? Only the length of the nose (forward of the "delta wing") is shorter on the S? Any difference in curvature, either lengthwise or across the width?
If not, then I guess the normal would make more sense than the S, for the longer rail and adjustments.
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Old 03-31-19, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post
@HerrKaLeun thanks. So I guess the normal and S are identical from the middle to the rear? Only the length of the nose (forward of the "delta wing") is shorter on the S? Any difference in curvature, either lengthwise or across the width?
If not, then I guess the normal would make more sense than the S, for the longer rail and adjustments.
I took some pics side to side. The S being shorter has some more extreme curves going to the nose. Note the regular B17 is broken in more and has some more sag... not sure if that was from the beginning. i see no reason to get the S

Edit: the pics are not great, both really have the exact same width at the widest.


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Old 04-01-19, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post
For the Brooks...
You've tried two Brooks saddles. Maybe you should try something besides Brooks. Fizik perhaps?

B17 Std is 175mm wide at widest point, B17 Narrow is 152mm. Some suggest Narrow is better for bikes with drop bars while Std is for bikes with bars which result in a more upright posture.

I had an S mistakenly shipped in place of the B17 Std I actually ordered. As far as I could tell, they had the same shape but it was as if someone removed 2cm from the nose portion of saddle (according to Brooks B17S is 23mm shorter than B17 std).

Good luck. I believe finding a comfortable saddle is a never-ending pursuit for a significant portion of bicyclists.
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Old 04-01-19, 02:54 PM
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I found some underside images on Wiggle, for the narrow and S. They didn't have underside images for the standard normal. I scaled them to match and superimposed them. The S image isn't exactly straight / perpendicular to the saddle, it is slightly tilted so I stretched it a little bit lengthwise. The superimposed image is probably similar in size to the the standard normal, with a slightly wider middle section by a few milimeters.

From what I could tell, the difference in rail length between the S and narrow is maybe only 6-10mm. The rail looks really short compared to the Flyer.

The metal frame under the rear is really much narrower on the narrow. I wonder if you'd have less leeway in where you can sit before you start feeling the metal underneath.

The punchout in the center is also shorter on the S, by almost the same amount as the difference in length. I suspect the middle-front will feel harder because of that, but whether it has any effect would depend on whether there is a different in lengthwise curvature. I theorize that a shorter length means less hammock.



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Old 04-01-19, 03:13 PM
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Here is the Flyer (normal, without punchout), superimposed on both the Imperial narrow and S.

The flyer rails are 10mm longer than on the narrow.

The middle area of the flyer is a little wider than the S.


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Old 04-01-19, 05:03 PM
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I ride a number of Brooks saddles, and I would say that perhaps more than a non "shape changing slightly over time" seat, small changes in seat position make a real difference.
Generally they all work best for me level (ish) but I can say that I appreciate the one bike I have that has a micro adjust seat post, as its easier to make a small level change.

re width, as a slight guy, I find both my regular width B17's (two of the, with slightly diff widths actually) to be perfect feeling, my sprung B17 to be slightly less comfortable but I think thats because I dont ride it enough and it hasnt taken shape to me as much as the others, and finally my C17 to be good shape wise, but not quite as comfortable as the leather ones.

so no real clear answer, which is no surprise really.

ps, nice overlays btw
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Old 04-22-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
I took some pics side to side. The S being shorter has some more extreme curves going to the nose. Note the regular B17 is broken in more and has some more sag... not sure if that was from the beginning. i see no reason to get the S

Edit: the pics are not great, both really have the exact same width at the widest.


Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
I took some pics side to side. The S being shorter has some more extreme curves going to the nose. Note the regular B17 is broken in more and has some more sag... not sure if that was from the beginning. i see no reason to get the S

Edit: the pics are not great, both really have the exact same width at the widest.
Can you (or some other nice member) measure for me the closest part of the front rivet to the closest part of the cutout on the regular (not S) Flyer Imperial model, although I suppose that would be the exact same measurement on the B17 Imperial?

I'm trying to see how far away from the sits bones (how close to the nose) the cutout extends. I have a Selle Anatomica with a cutout and I do like it (it is a long cutout, very close to the front rivet on a very long saddle) but the saddle is stiff. I also have a Flyer that I like better but get a little numb with long rides (I'm female). I thought perhaps a flyer with long enough cutout might be perfect.

Any women here with opinions?

Thanks,
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Old 04-22-19, 04:10 PM
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After playing around with several different heights, angles, fore-aft positions, screw tension, and lacing tension with my Flyer Imperial, I found a setup that I think is the best I could get from it, but it is still not good enough for me, as I still feel a little discomfort in the perineum after 1 hour that gradually increases over more time. So I'm going to give up on Brooks, and start trying synthetic saddles again, although I've already tested several others.

The problem for me is always the upturned middle part to the nose of the saddle that applies pressure to my perineum. The cutout may reduce the contact by a couple millimeters, but I still get contact when going over bumpy roads or changes in elevation that cause me to slide around. So I need the entire forward part of the saddle to be leveled or pointed downward. But I will share some of the adjustments that I made to make the saddle a little more comfortable.
@RECfromPA I'm not able to measure the distance now, but you could also try making your own cutout on your old Flyer. It's easy to cut with a boxcutter. You will need to drill holes in the sides and lace it. I did this to my old Flyer, but it was "old" and already stretched to the max, so it eventually sagged into disuse.

Tilt: I made it -2 degrees downward with the bubble level stick laid all the way across from front to rear, while unloaded. I measured the angle precisely by putting my phone on the stick with the clinometer app. When I press down on the saddle to compress the springs to simulate load, the rear will drop below the nose until the app measures a +1 degree tilt upward. If I tried tilting the saddle any further downward, I would slip forward. If I tiled the saddle any further upward, I would start to feel increased pressure on the perineum.

Screw tension: I tired several different tensions. I could feel a big difference in sagging with my butt, with only a couple revolutions of the screw/nut. I increased the tension and it greatly reduced nose contact with my perineum. However this increased stiffness at the sitbones and they got a little more sore, but with bicycle shorts I could not feel the effects of the increased stiffness.

Height: If the saddle was too high, then I would feel more pressure on the perineum.

Lacing tension: I found that lacing the front holes didn't help. But if I also completely laced all of the rear holes, the sagging would reduce greatly. This would increase stiffness at the sitbones, but bike shorts countered this. For the lacing of the front holes, I wrapped the string underneath the rails to help reduce the height of the nose by a minuscule amount.
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Old 05-23-19, 01:49 PM
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I attempted to screw down the bridge of the nose to reduce the perineum pressure. The jig that I made pulled down the bridge by around 5 to 8mm. Although it felt like the perineum pressure was reduced a little, the sit area slope tilted down, so I had to raise the nose to compensate. This added pressure to my testicles which felt like they were getting a little squashed. testicles sit on the nose, forward of the central cutout. Whatever benefit was made was then negated by new discomfort.





I tested the new models of the SQLab 610 and 602. The lowered bridge and nose in the 610 is perfect and do not touch my perineum or testicles. The 602 was not good because the sit area is sloped down, so to get it leveled, the nose comes almost to the same level as the sit area. But both the 602 and 610 still have the same problem as the old design. The front edge of the side wings are too flat and sharp so the foam digs into the flesh in front of my sit bones on the downstroke. If they had made the edge more rounded, this may have eliminated the discomfort.

The Brooks doesn't have this problem because there is no foam. But the saggy hammock causes me discomfort in the perineum and testicles.


I might try to re-test the Ergon ST Core that I have in my storage. It was giving me the same problem as the SQLab saddles, where the front edges of the wings dig into my flesh, although the Ergon ST Core actually has a pretty good rounded edge, the foam is much softer than the SQLab, so when you sit on the Ergon ST Core, you sink in deeper which negates the benefit of the more rounded edge. This causes material to be pressed forwarded towards the front edges. After 3 hours I got bruises on the skin in front of the sit bones. In contrast, the SQLab 602 had just the right amount of hardness, but it's problem is the flat and sharp edge.

When I re-test the ST Core, I'll try to see if I can tilt it a little more lower and sit a bit more forward. But what I remembered when I tried this in the past, I kept slipping forward.

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Old 05-23-19, 08:28 PM
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Ah, the expression, "the devil is in the details" comes to mind here--meaning it's the small little changes that make all the difference.
Neat little contraption you came up with by the way.
How old is that Brooks?

And WOWAWEEWA, you mentioned testicles four times! I suspect you set a record!
Kidding aside, no one wants sore this or sore that, and all anyone wants is a seat that works well, and certainly not sore cajones.

I would add that a seat post that has micro adjust can make a real difference for certain aspects of finding just the right angle.
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Old 05-24-19, 10:05 AM
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The flyer imperial wasn't used so much, maybe 2 years old, and 1500km. The sit area has somewhat formed comfortably, but the increased sagging with age has caused discomfort on the nose and bridge. A new one sags about 5mm. My used one is around 8-10mm. when not sitting on it. I did try sitting on a brand new one since I've forgotten how it felt like when new, and the 4-5mm difference in less sag greatly relieved some of the genital pressure. But then the sit area was hard and uncomfortable without being broken in.

I wish some company would make a low step bridge/nose bridge like the SQ Lab, but with a rear design of a brooks.

I've tried more than 15 saddles but haven't found a supremely comfortable solution. I have 13cm sit bones, and any saddle that is physically less than 15cm wide will be very uncomfortable. 13 to 14cm is impossible for me. 15.5-17cm would be better, depending on the side curvature. Sit area needs to be tilted -1 to 0 degrees down. Anything lower and I'll slip forward. Anything with a beak nose (SMP), hammock shape (brooks), deep falloff curves towards the sides, causes pain on the perineum. A bridge/nose lower than the sit area is preferred. A flat sit area with sharp leading edge causes pain for me on the flesh in front of the sit bones on the downstroke. So a more rounded edge is preferred. Moderate saddle softness is preferred, but extreme softness causes sinking and then pressure to the flesh in front of the sit bones on the downstroke. I also prefer a slightly upturned back end to push forward against.

I was thinking of testing a Scoop saddle, but the flat and shallow versions are maximum 142mm, which is too narrow for me. The 155mm models only comes in radius version, which has a kind of hammock shape, so I'm not sure if it would work for me.
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Old 05-24-19, 02:20 PM
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I've struggled with the exact issue you have - perineum pressure. I have to ride a seat with a decent cut-out. Brooks was the worst seat I've ever ridden in regards to perineum pressure(though I haven't tried the cut-out). I don't even understand how others can ride them. For me, the answer was a Selle Italia Trans Am. I don't think they make the exact seat I have anymore, but maybe look at their line-up and see if anything looks good to you. Hopefully they'd have something in a width that works for you. Mine has just the right amount of padding and a cut-out that keeps me completely comfortable in that area.
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Old 05-24-19, 02:50 PM
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I tried a few of the Selle Italia saddles but they weren't comfortable for me because they're too narrow. Most of their models are between 13.5 to 14.5cm wide, with a deep falloff to the sides, so the effective width that actually supports you is much narrower. I tried the Novus Endurance, but it has a small mini beak on the bridge of the nose that creates pressure. I also tried the man gel flow, but it was too narrow. I then tried the lady gel flow because it said 160mm but was actually closer to 150-155mm, and although it supported my sit bones, the saddle had a slight hammock shape with the sit area tilted slightly down so I had to raise the nose to stop myself from slipping forward, which added perineum pressure.

Today I tried again with the Ergon ST Core but that confirmed my memory of it being too soft. I was sinking into the foam, and the displaced material was pressing into the flesh forward of the sit bones.

I see on the Ergon website that their new models have wider versions now. A few of them go up to 160mm, so I might experiment with a few of the stiffer models.
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Old 05-25-19, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tomtomtom123 View Post




tomtothethird,

none of this internet talk can directly help you probably, as you just need to find the seat and or position details that work for you and your bike and your bike shorts etc etc, but I wanted to at least show you a couple of my B17 seats, and to show how I think the cut out ones tend to sag more than the solid leather ones.

I thought of this when you mentioned that it only has 1500kms on it.

here are two of my B17's, the one that has less wear on the side embossed logo probably has at least 6000km on it, a good portion of that riding in very hot riding conditions (meaning I was sweating a heck of a lot) and also was touring riding, so I was nearly always sitting (hardly any standing in other words)

the other two shots are of an older B17, a full side view and a closeup of the embossed side logo to show how it has had a fair amount more riding on it, as the worn logo can show. I'm not sure of the mileage on it, but I dunno, maybe 10,000kms? I bought it used and the logo was already worn a fair amount, but it was pretty level on the top. In the time Ive ridden it, it has become a bit more sagged, but not a great deal.

I figured I'd show you these two seats, which for me are really comfortable, and allow me to ride with little issues, WHEN they are adjusted just right. This goes back to what I think I mentioned about seat angle, as well as fore/aft position, to be very important.

so I do think the cut out models do tend to sag more, kinda makes sense, as there is less structural integrity of the top area.

and yes, how much proofide one puts on a saddle, how much it is in the rain, how heavy a rider is--all make a diff, and as Im a light rider, Im sure this is part of it.

anyway, just something for comparison.
Oh, and I too ride a C17, and it works alright, pretty good in fact, but not as comfortable as the leather ones for my skinny keester.
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Old 05-30-19, 07:47 PM
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The photo that I attached previously is with the screw down jig attached, so the sag looks exaggerated by about a factor of 2. But anyway, since the sit bones are located at one end of the sag, it is on a downward slope. I have to reduce that slope to less than 2 degrees, otherwise I slip forward or put too much pressure on my hands. To get that slope, the nose will always rise above the level of the sit area and cause discomfort. It's the sagging nature of leather saddles. So I'm going to look for a plastic saddle.

I'm using a Thudbuster seat post which has 2 bolts on the rail clamps, so it's possible to make very precise incremental adjustments. I also use a straight edge and an inclinometer app on my phone to precisely measure the angle (assuming the ground where my tires are touching is level).

I just got hold of a few different Ergon saddles and will test them soon. (After I find replacement screws for my rail clamp. It stripped out after making a couple hundred adjustments and switching of test saddles). The 5 models have a good variation of stiffness ranging from extremely soft to very hard (in order of softness: ST core, ST, SFC3, SMC4, SM). All of them have a small 2-3mm dip at the middle bridge if you place a straight edge from the sit zone to the nose (A new B17 has 4-5mm, my 1500km Imperial has 8-10mm). I would have preferred if there was zero dip, or a step down like the SQ Labs, but Ergon doesn't do this. The more the middle dips, the higher I have to tilt the nose up to maintain a maximum of -2 tilt of the sit area. One nice thing is that Ergon changed their new models to have an option for a much larger width than previously offered.

Anyway, I'll report back after I complete the test. Meanwhile, I made some diagrams explaining the problems that I have, attached below. The SQ Lab 602 stepped nose and bridge is perfect for my perenium and testicles, but the sharp edge on the wings is a bad design.




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Old 05-30-19, 09:42 PM
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well bottom line is that no one wants a ball buster, or anything buster, so in the end, they are just seats so I really hope you find a seat and bike shorts combo and bike position that works the best for you--thats all that matters.

cycling is so much fun, it aint worth screwing around with seats that make you uncomfortable thats for sure, all the best.
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Old 05-31-19, 02:06 AM
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I know you said you have a post that allows you to dial in angle well, but requires level ground, phone app, etc. You might want to try finding an old Raceface Turbine or Evolve seatpost. I think they had a couple other good models as well. I can't for the life of me figure out why they stopped making them, or why everyone else didn't start making them, but they're the best posts ever. They have independent adjustment for seat angle. It works with a collar that slides up and down the post. You simply loosen the bolt on the collar and slide it slightly to adjust the angle. Sadly, you can only find them used because they stopped making them. I do occasionally see them, though. Here's a video of what I'm talking about, since it's difficult to explain. Unfortunately the video isn't in english, but at about two minutes in, he demonstrates the angle adjustment. It's a great design. You can make micro-adjustments to seat angle so easily.

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Old 07-10-19, 04:53 PM
  #22  
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So I tried modifying my Brooks Flyer Imperial and Ergon SMC4.

I cut the slot on the Brooks until the bridge was almost level with the sit zone. I cut all the way to the metal plate under the nose. This solved 90% of the discomfort that I had with my perineum. With loose pants, my testicles bump on the hard nose of the saddle, but with tight padded shorts there is no contact with the nose unless I go on bumpy roads. I drilled an upper row of holes and laced it so that the top surface doesn't bulge outwards.

One problem I couldn't solve is that the rails are too short and the Brooks saddle is 2cm too far forward for me when I've pushed it all the way back as far as possible. It's strange because all the other saddles I've tested can go another 3-4cm rearward compared to the Brooks.


Closeup of the cut



side


side. top surface is almost leveled. added another row of lacing holes.



I cut all the way to the metal plate under the nose. I also shaved the top surface around the rear of the slot, because when I sit down, this area tends to push upwards.



Left side before cutting, right side after cutting. I ended up cutting much more than initially, 2 more times, after test riding each time to see which areas were still popping up over the level of the sit zone.



Before modifying the Brooks, I tested 5 Ergon saddles. The ST Core, ST, and SFC3 were too soft and I was sinking into them.

The SMC4 seemed ok, soft but not too soft, somewhat flat, but later I found out that it was too curved towards the sides and this put most of the pressure on the inner side of my sit bones. It became uncomfortable after 1 hour. Before I realized this problem, I noticed first that I had some perineum pressure, so I peeled open the vynl cover, trimmed and sanded the foam on the bridge, and spray glued the cover again. This solved about 50% of the perineum problem, but the previously mentioned curvature also adds some perineum pressure towards the rear end. I could not trim the top surface of the sit zone to make it flatter, because I had the gel version. If you get the non-gel version, it might be possible to flatten the top surface by sanding down the center line. It took a lot of effort to trim the bridge, so I was sad that it didn't work. =(

If you want to try trimming the SMC4, the gel version has gel inset into depressions in the foam. The gel rips and splits if you try to peel the cover past the gel, so you should only peel back at most 1cm past where you want to cut. The gel is probably silicone and does not stick to most spray adhesives. It made air bubbles around the gel after the first time I tried gluing the cover, so I had to open it again and try automotive spray adhesive, which did a better job. I also had to sand down the silicone adhesive that was on the underside of the vynl cover for it to adhere better. I would recommend modifying the cheaper non-gel version of the SMC4, which is probably solid and continuous foam.

The SM Men seemed flatter, but I don't know if it's just because the foam is thinner and harder. So it had much less perineum pressure. It initially feels good, but after 30 minutes it becomes uncomfortable on the sit bones because it's too hard, and the plastic base is too stiff. It does not flex, unlike the SMC4. Padded shorts makes it ok for the first hour.








Last edited by tomtomtom123; 07-10-19 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 07-10-19, 06:56 PM
  #23  
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I made a diagram showing a comparison of the side profile before and after cutting.


Last edited by tomtomtom123; 07-10-19 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:04 PM
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Well Jerry Lee, hope all this helps.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:48 PM
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Amazingly detailed reports tomtomtom123. Despite all the different saddle designs, I wonder if touring saddles aren't something of an afterthought for manufacturers, much in the same way as touring bikes in general.

For me no luck with Brooks, SQLabs 610 Active works OK. On long rides the saddle doesn't torture but sit-bones are not super-comfy.

Terry Liberator Y Gel has cushy padding that's easy on the sit-bones but wide overall, seems to increase chafing a bit.

3Speed notes Selle Italia so I looked at their catalogue & they have a huge array of saddles with different features. So many, in fact, I'd barely know where to start.
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