Author Topic: B17 makes me numb, why?  (Read 3306 times)

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Offline 10speed

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B17 makes me numb, why?
« on: August 03, 2010, 12:11:01 am »
Time to bring up an old issue:

I have fallen to the cries of the masses. I cracked and bought my first Brooks Saddle, the B17 Standard.
It was a rock for a long while. I proofhided per factory recommendations. I ride it every day roughly 20 miles +/- on my commuter. I knew it had a serious break in period and was willing to deal with that. It has gotta alot better I will say, now 6 months in. but I notice that when I ride no hands for more than 20 minutes I numb out. Sorry ladies... I go to give myself a scratch and can't feel anything. Probably not good. I have tried slight angle up and currently slight angle down. It seems to not matter. While in classic riding position, I have no issue, but lets face it, it is nice to sit up once in awhile and give the neck and back a break. What gives? I know everyone and their brother swears by this saddle and I must be doing something wrong here. Brooks know-it-all's please chime in here.

Thanks Gang,
Ting-a-Ling Ding-a-Ling
(sorry couldn't resist)





Currently on bike tour as of 12/31/11...
Fort Collins, CO - Key West, FL. Key West, FL - Bar Harbor, ME. Bar Harbor, ME - ??? and going strong...

Offline 10speed

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Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2010, 12:14:27 am »
Edit:

FWIW: I have ridden many saddles and this is the first to cause this issue(numbness).
Also I am a healthy 25 year-old so I shouldn't think it's my body.
Currently on bike tour as of 12/31/11...
Fort Collins, CO - Key West, FL. Key West, FL - Bar Harbor, ME. Bar Harbor, ME - ??? and going strong...

Offline nhhillbilly

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2010, 01:27:28 am »
I don't have an answer. I went with the B17 imperial and like it. Maybe someone else has some suggestions. Different body types need different saddles.

Offline rvklassen

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2010, 08:31:46 am »
If the numbness is where you seem to imply, the Imperial would be one solution.  There is a company that will convert a B-17 to the equivalent of a B-17 Imperial, so you don't need to spend an additional $100+.

Selle Anatomica, if memory serves correctly.  Based in the US.

Offline waynemyer

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Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2010, 08:46:59 am »
What gives?
The answer is, unfortunately, overly simple but hard to swallow: It's the wrong saddle for you on this bike.

I find the B17 really uncomfortable on any of my drop bar bikes.  For me, it was actually a lot more comfortable when it was hard.  I think the B17 is a better design when the handlebars are higher than the saddle.  I have moved the saddle to my Bike Friday tikit and it feels great in that role.

Saddle comfort is really dependent on the individual.  The only real answer is to try some more saddles.  I have a Selle Anatomica and that served me well, mostly.  I now ride a Selle SMP Forma and it is by far the best high-mileage saddle I have ever used.
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Offline DaveB

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2010, 09:08:28 am »
While in classic riding position, I have no issue,..... but I notice that when I ride no hands for more than 20 minutes I numb out.
Do you mean you ride no-hands for 20 minutes or more all in one stretch?  Excuse the obvious answer but the preventative is simple; don't do that.

Offline ducnut

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 09:09:38 am »
I went with the B17 Imperial, too, as I've found that I can't have any pressure on my perineal area. I tried the Professional, but, it was too crowned and knew right away that it wasn't going to work.

I bought from Wallingford Bicycle Parts, because they have a 6 month return policy on Brooks. I didn't treat the Professional, as I was initially looking at shape and size. Likwise, I'd recommend the same to others. The return saddle must be in new/original condition for re-sell.

The best way to break-in a Brooks is as follows: Take a piece of tin foil, pour a bottle of neatsfoot oil into it, wrap that around the saddle for about an hour, remove the saddle and pour the remaining oil back into the bottle, leave the saddle sit a few days, mount it onto the bike, and ride. I regularly treat the topside of the saddle with oil. Periodically, I flip the bike upside down and treat the bottomside, too. This puts oil into the leather and allows it to be very supple from the first ride. Because the leather relaxes so quickly, you may need to adjust the tension sooner than expected. And, remember to only tension 1/4-1/2 turn at a time and puts some miles on it before adding more tension.

As for the saddle attitude, correct saddle selection and fore/aft position is as important as angle. Really focus on where you're feeling the pressure. If you're feeling it right down the middle, no matter the angle, I'd say you're on the wrong saddle. You may investigate the Imperial, if your sitbones feel properly supported and it just perineal pressure. If you feel like your sitbones are on the edge of the saddle and that's why all the weight is down the middle, then a wider model (B68) may be better. I wouldn't look at any of the narrower or more crowned models, as those are going to centrally concentrate the pressure even more. Now, you need to consider fore/aft adjustment. If the saddle is too far rearward, you'll get the same pressure up front as if you had the nose tilted too far up. Likewise, if it's too far forward you'll only feel weight at the rear and nothing on the front. Many people only adjust angle, without considering fore/aft adjustment. The angle should be level or just slightly nose high.

Consider moving around on the saddle frequently. The nice thing about Brooks is that you can adjust your seating position without feeling like you're not sitting in the saddle's correct position, if that makes sense. I always move fore/aft, sit upright on the hoods/bars, or relax on aerobars (in my case). Constantly moving around allows constant blood flow to all areas of your rearend and vital bits.

Lastly, this process may take a while. I took adjustment tools along for a couple weeks, as I figured out my positioning. I mostly ride alone, but, the constant fiddling may annoy any companions, if you ride with someone. I've tried plastic based saddles, but, after the padding breaks down, I'm riding on just the plastic--that has no give to the rearside. On the Brooks, I can regularly ride centuries with no discomfort, just fatigue.

Offline 10speed

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Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010, 10:29:27 am »
Ducnut,

Thank you for you well thought out response.


I actually just called Rivendell, probably the U.S.'s biggest distributor of the B17.  I asked a guy there what to do. He told me a few interesting things.

First: My frame (commuter) is too small for me because my bars are below my saddle height. However the position in question involves me not touching my bars, whereas the classic position with hands on bars IS comfortable, which I did tell him. So, I sorta have to throw that argument out.

Secondly: Brooks boasts how they have not changed their designs for a hundred years. Well guess what? Bikes have changed. Rivendell reminded me that 100 years ago seat tube angles were around 68 versus today around 72 degrees. He told me most people slam the B17 all the way back to get behind the pedals more, which is how the saddle was originally designed. This I get.

Third: He recommended that I try a narrower saddle, he even mentioned the Selle Anatomica. This again was based off the fact that my bars were lower and my seat tube more upright, a race bike! (actually Trek 850) so I would need a race saddle.  ???

Honestly,
I think when my touring frame is back from paint and built up, I will throw the Brooks on. I give it a month, if I still encounter same issue: Selle Saddle here I come... which is what I almost got to start but so much more $$$ than the Brooks and everyone told me you can't go wrong w/ the Brooks.

 
Currently on bike tour as of 12/31/11...
Fort Collins, CO - Key West, FL. Key West, FL - Bar Harbor, ME. Bar Harbor, ME - ??? and going strong...

Offline ducnut

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2010, 01:44:14 pm »
First: My frame (commuter) is too small for me because my bars are below my saddle height. However the position in question involves me not touching my bars, whereas the classic position with hands on bars IS comfortable, which I did tell him. So, I sorta have to throw that argument out.

I don't know how he can confidently say that, unless he's actually seen you on the bike. Bar/stack height has more to do with headtube length than frame size.

My Tricross is a 54cm and I'm 5'10". Over the phone one would assume it's too small for me. However, one can't see how the bike is setup or how my body is proportioned. My bars are lower than my saddle. They'd be lower on a 56cm, too.

Secondly: Brooks boasts how they have not changed their designs for a hundred years. Well guess what? Bikes have changed. Rivendell reminded me that 100 years ago seat tube angles were around 68 versus today around 72 degrees. He told me most people slam the B17 all the way back to get behind the pedals more, which is how the saddle was originally designed. This I get.

That's where I'd mentioned fore/aft positioning. But, I don't buy the seattube angle being such a big factor. Who cares where the saddle is in relation to the crank. You'll still be able to pedal the bike, regardless. Saddle to handlebar relationship is a big deal, though.

I like Peter White's ideas on fitment seen here:
http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm

I run my saddle all the way forward on its rails. I didn't arrive at that position via measurements or angle finders. That's just what felt right to me. I have had fits done by a BG Fit specialist, but, the setup always felt too stretched out and I always had perineal issues with that type of setup. I found that by sliding the seat forward it rotates my pelvis up under me and properly supports my weight on my sitbones and not on my perineal area.

Third: He recommended that I try a narrower saddle, he even mentioned the Selle Anatomica. This again was based off the fact that my bars were lower and my seat tube more upright, a race bike! (actually Trek 850) so I would need a race saddle.  ???

I disagree with this. The only time you need to go to a narrower cut saddle is if the backs of your thighs (hamstring muscles) are hitting the saddle and pushing you forward on the saddle. If you're not feeling that, you have plenty of clearance. Also, going to a narrower saddle concentrates your body weight on your crotch, which will make the numbing problem worse. There are cuts of saddles that have plenty of width for your sitbones, but, have a deeper side cut to clear large thighs (Brooks Pro). But, it doesn't sound like that's the problem here.

I run aerobars with my B17 Imperial, so I really disagree with the Rivendell guy's determination for a narrower saddle with a bars-lower-than-saddle position.

This is my setup. The bars look like they're at saddle height, but, that's because the bike's leaning away from the camera.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2010, 05:06:04 pm »
Before you throw in the towell..

Conventional wisdom is that saddle should be perfectly level, from front to back.

I find that I need to have my saddle nose down slightly, 1/2 to a full bubble using a 2 foot carpenters level.

You might check the saddle tensioning too.  Yours sounds like it could be more tensioned than it needs.
Danno

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2010, 02:18:28 pm »
First off, I don't know why the B-17 doesn't work for you.  Saddles are highly personal; my B-17s work fine for me!

Have you had a saddle that fit you before, on which you could ride comfortably for long rides with no problems?  (If so, why did you change?)

Having said all that, bike fit is often given as a critical issue for Brooks.  Have you had a really good bike fitter check you out?  He might suggest adjusting the saddle height, setback, stem length, stem height, or saddle tilt.  You can play with all of these, but by the time you buy a new 2-bolt seatpost, a couple of new stems, and play with all the possible adjustments, paying a fitter might be a good deal.

Alternately, you might need a different saddle.  Remember all butts are different!

Offline ColoradoKid

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2010, 04:16:18 pm »
Some good advice here on the Brook's but here is one more. Try a better type of saddle conditioner. A new product on the market that works well for my wife & I is called, "Bear Guard". www.bootgrease.com It's made from bear grease and beeswax. It helps break in and waterproff the Brook's quicker and easier then before.

Offline 10speed

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Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2010, 10:29:02 pm »
* for all, saddles are very personal I agree with those who have said so. I have had many saddles that seemed to work great in their application. I will admit I am green to touring. But I'd like to think I am doing what is right. I went to a local frame builder and had him size me and build a custom frame to my body and personal needs. It is currently at the power coaters being finished. In the mean time I wanted to get a good long ride saddle. I have never done incredibly long rides and am a mountain biker looking for adventure in touring. I bought the B-17 after looking at Selle which seemed great at three times the cost. Everyone loves the Brooks and it seemed as though one couldn't go wrong. I bought it and threw it on my commuter, for break-in reasons. It is still on the commuter and I am not sure if it will be the saddle that gets my butt across the country.

Today I slid it forward in the rails and tilted it up slightly before leaving for work. the result: better sitting up, but now less comfortable in classic riding position. I will continue to make minor adjustments and see if I can find a sweet spot. I will put it on the touring bike initially and see if I can dial it in on that bike. If I can not I will look into Selle.

also, I hear the avocet h20 air is a great saddle. any feed back on it? more importantly where can you get one?

everyones input on here is very helpful. this is a great place for gathering information, many other forums on the web are not so. thanks all.
Currently on bike tour as of 12/31/11...
Fort Collins, CO - Key West, FL. Key West, FL - Bar Harbor, ME. Bar Harbor, ME - ??? and going strong...

Offline DaveB

Re: B17 makes me numb, why?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2010, 03:44:51 am »
also, I hear the avocet h20 air is a great saddle. any feed back on it? more importantly where can you get one?
Returning briefly to your comment in the OP that you have saddle problems only when you ride no-hands for 20 minutes or more.  I find that very strange as I have never seen anyone ride that way for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  So, if that hurts, don't do it seem like an obvious answer.

Now, yes, I have a great deal of experience with the Avocet O2 saddles.  I have both the Ti rail and Cr-Mo railed versions in the "Men's" version.  I've got them on all 5 of my current bikes and have been using them for over 20 years and way over 100,000 miles.  Obviously I like them and they suit me.

They used to be pretty widely distributed and I got my first ones from both mailorder (Nashbar) and my LBS.  Now Avocet seems to have dropped off the retail map entirely and I bought my last couple of saddles directly from Avocet by calling the phone number on their web site (www.avocet.com).