1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
    SRL
    SRL is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    5

    Saddle Soreness - Gels Seats?

    Hey all,

    So I`m really new to biking. Just got back into it a few weeks ago after a 10+ year hiatus. I`m having issues with saddle soreness. I know everyone says it takes time, and Im trying my best to give it time. But it's rather painful. The lacerations have stopped happening, now it just constantly feels like my butt is bruised.

    I looked into getting a pair of MTB shorts, but im 300 lbs, and the XXL that most seem to go up to are not large enough for me. I need a XXXL. Because of this, I`m thinking a gel seat might be best.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for gel seats? I ride a Trek x-caliber 6.

    I did take the weekend off, and my butt was feeling better today. didnt feel bruised. but as soon as I got on ym bike, it was just painful and uncomfortable. I tough through it, and dont push it too much. i`ll usually bike every second day or so to give it a break.

    Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
    IoC
    IoC is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    337
    I'd recommend against it. Big, "comfy" gel seats can work against you: a firm seat distributes weight over its surface. A soft one concentrates it in a few places, which can cause more pain.

    You might want to work with a highish-end bike shop that helps with fit. It's possible to get seats that are still firm but have a wider frame, better supporting your sit bones.

    Regardless, you're likely to have some discomfort for a while. Even if you're a lightweight, the arse must adjust.

    I'm pretty sure someone makes shorts large enough for you. A friend of mine who's lost about 100lbs (from over 300) has worn them the whole time. It may take some shopping around.

    I've also stopped using any kind of chamois cream. Any non-greasy zinc oxide diaper creams, like bordeaux butt paste, work great.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    21
    Have your sit bones measured and get the proper-width seat

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Supermoto Fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    54
    This company seems to have shorts that go up to 5XL:

    ATD BIG Padded Bicycling Underwear

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    1,770
    Some shops had demo programs for saddles,call around.

  6. #6
    Clueless Bastard
    Reputation: WA-CO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    542
    Gel seats are fine, I ride 3 different Selle Italia gel flow models, but you've got two different factors here.

    First, personal maintenance - In the beginning you're gonna need more break in time. As you get used to being in the saddle your "rest days" will be shorter and shorter. Your size dictates a longer break in period, as it might not be as easy for you to stand and pedal as it it's gonna take your lower a while to get used to the pressure of a saddle.

    Saddle sores (i.e. blister/pimple) are common. I've been riding 30 years and it STILL happens, if I make the stupid mistake of not immediately getting out of my shorts after I ride.

    Unless I'm going out for a ride, less than 2 hours, I ALWAYS lube up. I've found it makes a huge difference in the risk of having a chafe or rub spot or saddle sores. Take a queue from the professionals. They LIVE on their bikes, 20-35K miles a year. Find me one who doesn't lube up. Seriously.

    Second, Saddle and Fit - The fit is important, and there is no way around it, it's a total trial and error process. I've a buddy who's 6'4", probably 250+ and he uses the same type saddle I do. That said, it's less about the saddle and more about your ass getting used to being in a saddle. Your bike is an entry level model so the saddle is worth about 20 dollars, and that's if you tape a 10 dollar bill to it. An upgrade to ANYTHING will probably serve you well.

    So as suggested, if you live in an area that has a bike shop that does demo saddles, do that. Be sure to make your comparisons the same, (i.e. take the same time riding/off) between fits so you're doing the best make your comparisons the same.

    If you don't live in an area that has bike shops that offer saddle demos, look for a moderately priced model that is a touch wider in the back end of the saddle. The reason I say "moderately" priced ($100) is again this maybe as much you as the saddle. Most higher performance saddles measure 145mm at their widest, to make sure you get something that is at least that wide.

    You might browse through the clyde section as the bigger folks might have a couple of models that you might try.

    It's a super common problem. Just go about it somewhat systematically and eliminate variables until you get it dialed in.

  7. #7
    Warrior's Society
    Reputation: mtnbikej's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,904
    When I worked in a shop....people would come in looking for a soft comfy seat. You could watch them push down on the saddle to see how soft it was.

    I would always tell them....if you can easily push down on this soft saddle with just your finger, think what will happen when your whole body weight is on it.

    Too soft and you tend to swim around on it.

    Lots of companies make shorts in the bigger sizes.....they may not make baggies is those sizes, but you can get lycra shorts, then just wear a pair of normal baggies over them if that is what you are after.

    Also, invest in some kind of chamois cream....this will also help in preventing chaffing and saddle sores.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

  8. #8
    SRL
    SRL is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    5
    Thanks all.

    So, Ive seen a few people (here and other places) say that about the soft saddles. too much padding can be bad. or avoid gel seats all together.

    How are gel seats any different than a giant pad strapped to your ass, aka bike shorts...

    Im gonna order a pair of the larger shorts (thanks for the links!), before i opt for a new saddle. See if it makes a difference.

    It really has nothing to do with chaffing right now. the seat just seems hard, and makes my butt feel bruised. just uncomfortable to sit on. my joints dont seem to hurt. jsut feels like my bones are sitting on concrete, kinda deal.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    152
    The sella italia models your talking about are kind of different than what most people mean when they say GEL saddle. The type of GEL saddle most people are talking about are like those oversized terry royal jelly saddles. As for those types of saddles they are shite. The pads(chamois) are very different from the Giant fluffy saddle. They move with you, prevent chaffing, are usually pretty firm, and provide support right at the sit-bones where you need it. At 300lbs you're probably chaffing a bit from the saddle you already have and recommended Chamois butter will really help out.
    2010 D440 Redline Rigid 1x9
    2011 Trek Remedy 8 1x10
    2012 Jamis Dragon 2x10
    2013 Diamondback Sortie 3 1x10

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    5,046
    You are experiencing the break-in period everyone gets when you haven't ridden for a long time. It takes a while for your butt to adjust. If you're off for 5 months over the winter you will need to break back in. Your trunk and leg muscles will also start to better support you after a few rides.

  11. #11
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    13,673

    Re: Saddle Soreness - Gels Seats?

    I don't like too thick a chamois either. Same reason I dislike overly squishy saddles. Two big differences, for me - usually, there's not nearly as much thickness of material to squish with the chamois in a pair of cycling shorts. And, it's next to my skin, where it can help manage moisture. I did find I liked a little softer saddle to commute on, which I usually just did in jeans or whatever I happened to be wearing.

    It's good you're ordering some shorts. Bruising over your sit bones is normal, if annoying. Lacerations are not.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
    Picture Unrelated
    Reputation: zebrahum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,024
    Quote Originally Posted by SRL View Post
    Thanks all.

    So, Ive seen a few people (here and other places) say that about the soft saddles. too much padding can be bad. or avoid gel seats all together.

    How are gel seats any different than a giant pad strapped to your ass, aka bike shorts...
    The difference is that bike shorts (ones worth buying anyway) are not actually "padded" or at least that's not the point of the insert in the shorts. The insert in the shorts, called a chamois, is designed to prevent chafing above all else. They do provide a small amount of cushion but that is not their primary goal. Any short whose goal is to provide padding is probably not going to be a great choice as it will be bulky and actually cause more chafing than it solves.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRL View Post
    Im gonna order a pair of the larger shorts (thanks for the links!), before i opt for a new saddle. See if it makes a difference.

    It really has nothing to do with chaffing right now. the seat just seems hard, and makes my butt feel bruised. just uncomfortable to sit on. my joints dont seem to hurt. jsut feels like my bones are sitting on concrete, kinda deal.
    [/quote]

    Now here's the confusing part: big padded saddles are not more comfortable but they may be a temporary solution. You've done some damage to your sit bone area, evident in the bruising. I do this pretty much every year, this year I rode myself to the point of bleeding two times: one early in the year when the second ride of the day (in the same shorts) on the first day riding of the year, turned into a multi hour death march for my bum and the other when I put in a long hot road day in sub-optimal shorts. What I learned is that I can't ride those particular baggies for more than a a few hours of riding before things get chafey so I bought some bib shorts and some chamois butter and I've been good to go since knowing that I rock the bibs on really long rides and I can run those baggies on shorter rides.

    Anyway, I bring that up because everyone has to get accustomed to their saddle. Sometimes you need to keep trying saddles to find the right one for your morphology. When you're already bruised every saddle is going to hurt except the big cushy ones because those cushy ones distribute your weight over your soft tissue instead of on the sit bones kind of floating your butt on the saddle instead of having you sit down onto the saddle like hard saddles are designed to be used. This is fine in the short term (I can ride my huge saddle cruiser for a few miles with no problems) but over longer times and distances it causes numbness and can impede pedaling causing your legs to rub and chafe on the saddle.

    The short version is that big soft saddles crush tissue which closes off blood flow and causes discomfort. Hard saddles are designed to support you right on the ischium (sit bones) which keeps the soft tissue from being compressed. The down side is that when you bear weight on a bone with thin amounts of tissue covering it, it's going to be sensitive. You need to build up slowly to desensitizing those areas and eventually you'll be just fine on a hard saddle.

    However, the damage is done. You either need to Rule #5 or you need to take some time to recover before continuing. It's unlikely that anything you do will have much of an effect (with the exception of Rule #5, that might work) on how things feel right now. I'd say back off the intensity a little bit and heal up then get back to it with your new shorts.

    I don't want to even begin to dissuade you from doing whatever it is that you need to do to get riding so in the end make what decision you think is best from the information you can gather. Riding bikes is awesome; do what it takes to ride your bike. The information you're getting is, for the most part, from people who've been there or who have tried to help people on this topic before; it's the best everyone can do to suggest what historically is the best solution but that doesn't always mean everyone fits the same mold. If you think a big saddle is going to help, go for it and go ride your bike. Doesn't really matter what you're riding so long as you're riding.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  13. #13
    SRL
    SRL is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    5
    Oh man. So much useful information so far. I really am glad I found this forum, and want to thank you all for chiming in!

    Few points. So, when I say gel, I wasnt really thinking of some large bulky seat like you`d see on an old woman's bike. I was thinking more something along the lines of this. Still pretty narrow and thin compared to kids seats or what have you.
    Selle Italia C2 Gel Flow Saddle | Chain Reaction Cycles

    I actually do find my seat a comfortable fit... Just find it hard. And as mentioned, I really don't think my issue right now is chaffing. Because I`m so out of shape, and the soreness, the longest ive been out for a ride was about an hour, where I went about 11.5km. I think Ive had my bike for about 3 weeks now. The first 2 weeks, I was getting chaffing/stretching or whatever. Where the ridge between my arse and legs meet was losing a few layers of skin. Very very painful. But now, that area has gotten use to it and strengthened up, so i dont deal with that anymore. It just doesnt happen anymore.

    As for the bruising. It doesnt LOOK bruised. It just feels it. So, usually ive been riding every second day or so. Toughing through the pain (rule 5? ya?), while giving it time to rest as well. It's worked. But last friday, I biked to work for the first time in my life. It's a 5km ride one way. After the commute in, my ass was really sore for the rest of the day. Even just sitting in my padded chair at work was annoying. So the ride home was quite painful. Because of this, I took the entire weekend off to rest. Even though it sucked not going out when it was gorgeous out, i needed the rest to heal. Most of the weekend, depending on how i sat, even on my couch, my sit bones were hurting. At least, im assuming its the sit bones. but it is the bones / flesh over the bones. There's no rash or sores or anything visible. just pain.

    This morning when I woke up, sitting on stuff wasnt sore anymore. But, as soon as I was on my bike, the moment I sat, it hurt again. So it wasnt over time that it started. Now sitting at my desk at work, its sore. Not as sore as friday, which makes me hopeful. But still sore. The ride home will be fun.

    I did go ahead and order a pair of baggy's as well as underwear, in case I want to use my own shorts, or pants on colder days. So `ill hopefully know soon if it helps at all!

    Again, thank you all for your advice!

  14. #14
    Picture Unrelated
    Reputation: zebrahum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,024
    Quote Originally Posted by SRL View Post
    Oh man. So much useful information so far. I really am glad I found this forum, and want to thank you all for chiming in!

    Few points. So, when I say gel, I wasnt really thinking of some large bulky seat like you`d see on an old woman's bike. I was thinking more something along the lines of this. Still pretty narrow and thin compared to kids seats or what have you.
    Selle Italia C2 Gel Flow Saddle | Chain Reaction Cycles

    I actually do find my seat a comfortable fit... Just find it hard. And as mentioned, I really don't think my issue right now is chaffing. Because I`m so out of shape, and the soreness, the longest ive been out for a ride was about an hour, where I went about 11.5km. I think Ive had my bike for about 3 weeks now. The first 2 weeks, I was getting chaffing/stretching or whatever. Where the ridge between my arse and legs meet was losing a few layers of skin. Very very painful. But now, that area has gotten use to it and strengthened up, so i dont deal with that anymore. It just doesnt happen anymore.

    As for the bruising. It doesnt LOOK bruised. It just feels it. So, usually ive been riding every second day or so. Toughing through the pain (rule 5? ya?), while giving it time to rest as well. It's worked. But last friday, I biked to work for the first time in my life. It's a 5km ride one way. After the commute in, my ass was really sore for the rest of the day. Even just sitting in my padded chair at work was annoying. So the ride home was quite painful. Because of this, I took the entire weekend off to rest. Even though it sucked not going out when it was gorgeous out, i needed the rest to heal. Most of the weekend, depending on how i sat, even on my couch, my sit bones were hurting. At least, im assuming its the sit bones. but it is the bones / flesh over the bones. There's no rash or sores or anything visible. just pain.

    This morning when I woke up, sitting on stuff wasnt sore anymore. But, as soon as I was on my bike, the moment I sat, it hurt again. So it wasnt over time that it started. Now sitting at my desk at work, its sore. Not as sore as friday, which makes me hopeful. But still sore. The ride home will be fun.

    I did go ahead and order a pair of baggy's as well as underwear, in case I want to use my own shorts, or pants on colder days. So `ill hopefully know soon if it helps at all!

    Again, thank you all for your advice!
    That saddle is not "soft". It's actually very firm. I'm not sure what options for bike shops you have around you but you should find one that participates in a demo saddle program. WTB has a very comprehensive demo system as do other manufacturers. Ideally you'll be able to find at least a few options to try out on your own bike on your own trails. Short of that, you'll want to have your sit bones measured. Again, among other manufacturers if you have a Specialized dealer near you they usually carry the BG fit sit bone measuring thingy. This is how you match up your bottom to a saddle. Saddles come in widths and you'll want to match up with right one.

    This year was the first time I've not only felt bruised but actually been bruised so I know what you're talking about there. If you keep it up you should actually start to experience some decreased sensitivity, if you don't by next week though then there's something up and you need to do something about it. Whether that be a bike fit, a stretching routine, some healing time, it's hard to say for sure. Make sure your saddle is the right height and sitting at the right angle (flat).

    And no underwear with bike shorts. In case you didn't know.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    63
    I just swapped out of my gel seat because of the comfort issue. Mainly the fact that it was way to wide and cause soreness on the back of my thighs. Oddly enough the seat I ended up with is a specialized Riva and is very firm, but it is way more comfortable because it fits my sit bones. If you can find a gel seat that fits your sit bones you may end up loving it, but the best advice would be to have a saddle fitment done on your local bike shop.

    Also, if you can get a padded base layer that fits well you will absolutely love it. I ended up getting a pair of Canari baggies with a padded liner and now hour long trails cause no discomfort.

  16. #16
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    13,673
    OP, a lot of my shops have very liberal return policies for saddles. If you can't find one with a demo program, that's a good second best. You have to be more careful - save the packaging and tape the saddle rails before you install it - but it ended up working out well for me last time I bought a new saddle.

    Though if you're feeling the weight on your sit bones, I think you may be okay. Only you can really know, of course. But give it a couple weeks.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation: velo99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    270
    I started riding again after about two years of walking past my bike thinking " I need to get my bike running.'
    Step one was the cushy seat already on it. Rode it half to a full hour every other day for a couple of weeks. Got the routine going, butt pain started lessening, decided to get a real saddle. Bought a velo, yes because of the name, and it wasn't bad. It was nicer than I thought, but stiffer. Bought some bike shorts and thought I was on a cloud. So I upped my ride time significantly to the point I could tell I had ridden a lot further than I had been. Up until that point if was about time. Now it was about miles.
    Needed to get mentally and physically prepared to ride trails before I actually got on them due to work schedule & distance from them. I bought a new 2 me bike with a nice WTB seat. Rode 15 miles in the heat & my legs were more sore than my butt. I knew then I had it whipped.
    Before I rode my first trail the only thing I changed was adding compression shorts to keep my boys where they were supposed to be. They significantly improved my comfort when I rode with my bike shorts. Think I could ride 15 trail miles now. Takes time bro. Take it easy & slow. I am 6'3" & was 250ish when I started.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    34
    If you have an REI near you they have a liberal return policy. In my odyssey to find a seat, I would buy three at a time and end up returning them all and repeating until I found the one magic seat for me. Just put a strip of masking tape on the rails to prevent scarring it up.

  19. #19
    It's working!
    Reputation: Terranaut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    51
    I have only been riding for about 10 weeks after a 25 yr hiatus. The first couple weeks were hell on my behind. I was sore from the seat. I have a specialized rockhopper with a stock seat. After a while it stopped hurting. I just persevered. Recently I tried some liner shorts and hated them. It felt like I was trying to always keep the pad in the right place and like a sock was shoved up my rear. So now I use compression shorts under mountain biking shorts. So if you like your seat you may wish to stick it out a while before spending money just incase you don't need to.

    Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    806
    Just a couple more points...try to ride "light", put the weight into your legs and onto the pedals, especially over roots, rocks. Move around a bit and also stand up, to keep the blood flowing. Check your tire pressure, if you can lower the psi a bit, it may take off some of the pounding. As soon as you are done riding, get out of the wet clothing and put on something clean and dry.
    It does get better, the more you ride.

  21. #21
    Picture Unrelated
    Reputation: zebrahum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    5,024
    Quote Originally Posted by Terranaut View Post
    ...Recently I tried some liner shorts and hated them. It felt like I was trying to always keep the pad in the right place and like a sock was shoved up my rear.
    Unfortunately, this is a situation where more expensive truly means a better product. The more expensive shorts use better materials and keep things in place much better. I recently shelled out a ton of money on some bib shorts and while they feel silly off the bike they're brilliant for long days in the saddle. Might be worth consideration if you ever feel like you'd like to try a cycling short again.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

Similar Threads

  1. Muscle Soreness
    By Panther Creek. in forum Rider Down, injuries and recovery
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-25-2014, 06:56 AM
  2. Gels, shots, bars vs Candy?
    By cjohnson in forum Nutrition and Hydration
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-08-2013, 07:12 AM
  3. Soreness on inner knee
    By breckenridge in forum Rider Down, injuries and recovery
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-04-2012, 09:02 PM
  4. Energy Gels - Not all evil! (saved my ride)
    By robdeanhove in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 08-15-2011, 10:15 PM
  5. Gels and tooth decay.
    By Finch Platte in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 06-02-2011, 03:32 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •