Building saddle toughness
I have an epic bikepack expedition planned for two months from now. It's multi-day, high mileage. I expect to be able to get through fitness wise, but am concerned about my saddle toughness and having to ride side saddle after a day.
Are there any tricks to building up tolerance for extended saddle time? Obviously, long training sessions... but is there anything else to consider?
Last edited by xycarp; 06-04-2013 at 02:47 PM.
I ride without padded shorts most of the time and I stand up as often as I can to keep the blood flowing to all the sensitive bits.
Back in 1995, I broke in a Brooks B17 saddle (that has never been treated with anything to this day). I took about 2 months to get accustomed to it. Since then my bike builder's advice held true. He said if you break that one in, you won't have saddle issues ever again. The only caveat for me is when there is excessive moisture or rain over multiple days, it will irritate your skin for sure. I've never used butt buttr but I would consider it on a long rainy ride.
On extreme long rides (20+ days), some of my friends have resorted to wearing two sets of cycling shorts to get sores and abscesses to go away. Anbesol could be your friend in similar circumstances...
My rule of is thumb you should be able to ride 8hrs a day without padded shorts on a saddle for 3-5 days in a row without any significant discomfort.
If not you should look for a new saddle.
I spent more than 20yrs using a wide range of saddles and padded shorts and still riding in pain for long multi-day rides.
Then I found Brooks B17s and Selle Anatomica Titanico leather saddles and I can ride as long as I want [so far my max is 18hrs in a say] day after day without pain. I don' use bike shorts or any padding.
At the end of the day the only discomfort I feel is muscle soreness if it's a tough day.
Had I stuck with my previous saddles there is nothing I could have done to ride pain free.
The saddles that work for me may not work for you, but I think it's worth trying as many options as you can until you figure out what makes your butt happy.
If your saddle meets my criteria at the top scaling up from 8hrs a day to 16hrs or whatever you are aiming for is just a matter of acclimatization there shouldn't be any sudden horror show to stop you.
Wow, it never occurred to me the saddle itself was such a big deal. I have never paid much attention to them.
Short of trail and error... Any suggestions on how to find the right one? I know one shop has some sort of deal where you sit on a gel topped stool to see you butt bone spacing, then recommends one of their saddles... I think they only recommend a few Trek saddles though.
Can I take the value i find there to another saddle?
Well you can't avoid the trial and error part, but you can home in on a bunch of saddles that are more likely to work for you.
Originally Posted by xycarp
Look at folks who are riding the sorts of daily saddle time you want to achieve and find out:
- what saddle they are using?
- what their discomfort levels are?
- what their pain tolerance is?
- are they using padded shorts and chamois cream?
When you get a bunch of the same answers that sound like they represent similar situations to yours try that saddle.
Personally I have a low pain tolerance and on tour I don't want to deal with padded shorts or messy creams so I ignore those data points that don't match.
I know a lot of people that were successful with Brooks B17s and Selle Anatomica saddles so I tried those and they worked for me so I stopped looking.
The width of your sit bones matters - you can use that measurement to avoid saddles that are way too narrow or way too wide, but there are other factors that are more complex than that simple measurement so it's no guarantee of a good result.
Last time I checked Wallbike.com offered a 6 month hassle free return on Brooks saddles.
Selle Anatomica may have something like that as well. I don't recall.
Selle Anatomica - Products
Prior to finding "my perfect saddles" I went through dozens of plastic saddles and dozens of different bike shorts and creams with limited success.
All I can say is it's well worth the effort to figure out what works for you.
I'll just add that in my experience, there are two issues related to saddle discomfort. One is actual sores, which are the product of abrasion. There are many cream products out there that can help lube the skin and minimize this. I use chamois butt'r, but its the only one I have tried so I can't say if there are better products to consider (and this is really just a lube of sorts. There are other concoctions that also have salve-like qualities).
The second issue that others have referred to is muscle pain/bruising as a result of where the sit bones contact the saddle. similarly, pressure on your taint from the saddle angle can be very discomforting. This is more a product of your body's anatomy, the saddle you use, and saddle positioning. Saddle type is really a trial and error process because every a$$ is different. But it might pay to be professionally fit for your bike. This will address saddle position and angle and also some other things like hand/finger numbness and back/neck pains. I've never been fit myself, but I have had the luxury of time to tweak my saddle and bars. If I were on a tight timeline like you I would consider a professional fitting. May be well worth the investment for a long trip.
But definitely bring some kind of cream and, since it is a multi-day trip, some type of wipes to clean down there daily. Salty buildup from a long day riding can really irritate the skin (especially if you sleep without cleaning) and make for an unpleasant experience. There are some other forums in MTBR (or possibly bikepacking.net) about saddle sores and effective treatment/management. Do a search and see what your find.
Oh, and have a fantastic trip!
Keeping your butt clean is pretty key to staying healthy down there on a long trip.
How to keep your butt clean on tour? | The Lazy Rando Blog...
jenson has 60 day return too on saddles. fyi. good luck man
Buy an ADAMO ISM or ADAMO Prologue, I ride both, fantastic seats. I have no affiliation with the brand, just replying from personal experience. The ISM is on my road bike the Prologus is on my mtb. although I can't say which one I like better since they both rock.
I also found that chapstick can double as really great chammy cream. I did an ultra race last August and at mile 300 or so I couldn't find my regular cream so I opted for a quick solution and let me tell you, I know this sounds silly, but chapstick is a miracle saddle sore releiver.
There is no rule or recommendation or measurement or anything that will tell you what saddle works except experience. They might point you in the right direction but there is only one way to find out and that is to ride.
It's not just the shape of your sit parts but also your riding position, how low you have your bars, etc. etc.
When you find one that works, buy it and buy extras in case they get discontinued. For example, I've been riding the same model of road saddle for 20+ years now. Same model of MTB saddles for about 4-5.
That being said mountain biking (expecially loaded) is a lot different than road riding. You'll be moving around a lot, sitting, standing, crouching, pushing, crawling... So your sitting parts should have a chance to get the blood flowing and whatnot.
Again you just have to see what works when you are out riding. Chamois or not? Goop or not? Weasel squeezers or baggies? etc. etc. Again, nothing anyone can tell you will help you decide what works for you.
The only time I have had saddle problems was when I read a bunch of advice on the internet and thought I needed to be using some stuff that was totally wrong for me.
Nothing toughens your bum more than time in the seat. Hope to see a TR on your return.
04 Azonic Saber
08 Yeti AS-x
12 Rocky Mtn 29er Alt 970
Thanks for the advice all. I stopped by my local shop and sat on one of those pads for measure sit bone spread... 155 was the verdict. All of my seats are definitely narrower. My F29 is on order, but I think it is a narrow seat too. I guess I will see how it fits, then if needed order something wider.
Did you get your seat? If so how's it working out for you? Or did you end up going with yet another seat?
Originally Posted by xycarp
Brooks Swift Titanium. Within the first week I had done an 8 hour ride on my rigid single speed. Not once did my saddle bother me during or for days after the ride. I was totally impressed. A year and a half later, it's the most comfortable saddle I've ever owned.
If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains,
you're lucky enough.
Yeah, got the new bike. Felt like I was sitting on a broom stick. I swapped it out with the saddle from my old bike, and that is much better. I still havent made a call on a new seat...
Originally Posted by Zeroplanetz
I only ride Brooks anymore.
I mean if there were jobs then we wouldn't be on the dole then maybe we'd be singing about love and kissing-Joe Strummer
Its funny how one saddle will work for one person and not another.
Originally Posted by azjonboy
I wanted to lighten up my Moulton bicycle and bought a Brooks Swift Titanium.
It started as a medieval torture device and only ever slightly improved.
I toured across Australia on it and it made me miserable after 30 miles.
I often did fifty miles daily so you can understand I wasnt thrilled.
I think it was a combination of me having a wide butt and an upright sitting position which I think the Swift is more suited toward a leaning forward and handlebars lower than the saddle type of riding - a much more "agressive" riding style than I adhere to.
Long story short, I swapped it for a Brooks B17 special on the Moulton and for my recent bike build (a Surly Ogre) I've bought a Brooks Flyer Special.
Both much more comfy (for me) than my beautiful Swift - which I think is be best looking saddle out there.
My saddle choice aside, by far the most popular Brooks saddle is the B17 which is what I'd recommend simply because it suits the most riders. The biggest seller has got to be saying something.
I tried a Brooks B17, nice but wasn't quite there so I tried a Selle-Anatomica. Been on the Selle for over a year now, and it's a great saddle but I'd now like to try a Rivet leather saddle to see how it compares to the aforementioned. I find that with baggies with padded liner, I almost always get sores of some sort so I don't use them much anymore. It's different for everyone as has been said, what works for some wont for others....
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