Author Topic: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?  (Read 3278 times)

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Offline peterharris

"Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« on: October 20, 2010, 09:54:33 am »
I'm doing my first mini-tour - a 65 mile long-weekend credit-card ride from DC to Harpers Ferry; one day up and another day back - about 9 days from now. It will be rail-trail and local backroads up then C&O towpath back ... nothing particularly strenuous from a miles and hills perspective. I routinely do relatively fast 30+/- mile rides on those trails but did my first 40+ mile ride a week ago. I never had such saddle sore ... it set in after about 35 miles and was VERY uncomfortable. I could adjust the way I sat in the saddle to relieve some of the pressure on my perineum but am at a loss for what to do for a permanent fix given that I have only 9 days before beginning the trip.

I'm going to my LBS this afternoon to ask their advice but as an "emergency" fix I wonder if it makes sense to cut up my existing saddle? I ask only because I mentioned this to a friend while backpacking this past weekend and she said she knew a guy who cut a long, thin strip out from his saddle right where the perineum is and it worked for him. He liked it so much he patched it up with duct tape and is still riding that way. It may not be pretty but it works for him. The saddle I have on my Trek bike is the stock Bontrager "H2 Flex Form" which I can't even find on their website but it most closely resembles their "Nebula Plus" saddle which is MSRP at $60. I am willing to pay considerably more for comfort but don't have time to really test-ride any saddles. Bontrager has an "Unconditional Comfort Guarantee" which is something and my LBS sells those so I suppose I could try one of those for the trip.

In the meantime, what do you think of the emergency fix? Is it likely to make things better or worse? Is there some other saddle adjustment I should try first? Change the tilt? It's pretty much dead-level now. Move it forward or backward? I did notice if I slide myself to the very back edge of the seat it took pressure off the perineum but it also felt like my legs were reaching further for comfortable "normal" pedaling. I seem to have little or no problem with pain or discomfort on my sit bones.

I want to - and think I can - totally enjoy this trip. I view it as a prelude to longer tours in the future.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 01:18:05 pm by peterharris »

Offline tonythomson

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 12:14:25 pm »
Try small changes at a time to the seat angle and position and handle bars,they may be pulling you too far forward when you get tired and start to lose your riding position - or is that just me!.  Sounds a bit drastic to start cutting your saddle about and not too sure I would want to sit on duct tape for any length of time except in an emergency on the road.  But I do sympathise with you and here is me with a box full of saddles  :D
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline paddleboy17

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 01:07:59 pm »
The prevailing logic is for the saddle to be level.  I always run my saddles nose down, by 3/8th of an inch, and I check for level with a 2 foot carpenter's level.  So tweaking you saddle position is worthwhile exercise.

I prefer leather saddles, but there is no way that you will break one in over 9 days.  If you otherwise like your saddle, then your best bet would be to find one with the same shape and a cut out.
Danno

Offline briwasson

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 03:22:58 pm »
Very slight adjustments can make an amazing difference. Experiment with slightly up and slightly down, as others have noted. Also, if your seat is at a significantly different height than your handlebars that can lead to issues.

If your issue is chafing, there are various remedies. A good pair of lycra shorts can help. Anti-chafing cream like Chamois Cream, DZ Nuts, etc., can help, although I've thankfully never had the need to try it (yet).

Personally, I love the Terry Liberator touring saddle (men's version). It has a middle cutout, is firm enough for long days in the saddle, and is well made. In the DC area, you might see if REI or Performance Bike sells it. That way you can try it out and return it easily if it's no good.

One challenge with railtrails like the C&O is that you are likely to be in the same gear and position for long periods, and unless you consciously change up your sitting and hand positions you are asking for trouble, as you don't have the natural variations in terrain that make you subconsciously change position, stand up, etc.

On both my C&O ride and my GAP ride (two weekends ago) my butt was the main thing that hurt at the end of the trip. Not chafing-wise, just being tired. I took to occasionally shifting into a harder gear and doing sprint-and-rests by standing up and pedaling.

Offline indyfabz

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 03:31:50 pm »
Personally, I love the Terry Liberator touring saddle (men's version). It has a middle cutout, is firm enough for long days in the saddle, and is well made. In the DC area, you might see if REI or Performance Bike sells it. That way you can try it out and return it easily if it's no good.

+1 on the saddle.  Love it.  Tour on it.  Commute on it.

And +1 on getting one from REI.  REI will let you return it for any reason. 

My local Performance shop said I could return a saddle within 30 days, but only if still in good enough condition to be resold.  Perhaps mail order has a return policy like REI's.

Offline whittierider

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 03:39:24 pm »
Too much pressure on the perineum may mean too much padding, whether in the saddle or the shorts or both.  Padding pushes up where it shouldn't instead of letting you support your weight on your bones.  The saddle I'm on now is probably the hardest I've ever had, but has the right shape for me and is definitely one of the most comfortable.

Offline DaveB

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2010, 08:37:57 pm »
A question no one has asked so far; what are you wearing?  Actual bike shorts?  Running shorts?  Regular street shorts or pants?  Are you wearing underwear with your shorts?   

If the answer is anything but decent quality bike shorts, one source of your problem is right there.

Offline peterharris

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2010, 10:32:07 am »
Thanks, all, for your input and advice. And, DaveB, good question ... I am wearing well-padded bike shorts (Pearl Izumi or Giordana). And as one other poster noted, there's such as thing as too much padding! And it hasn't been chafing that's been the issue ... simply considerable perineal discomfort.

For right now, the solution has been to get another seat recommended by my LBS. Don't remember the brand because they had to order it but they say they've had really good results with it for men who have my "complaint." It has a good cut-out whereas my stock saddle only has a slight depression and softer cushioning in the area of the perineum - possibly it's just not soft enough in that area and a saddle with a cut-out would solve that. Anyway, my LBS will let me use it for the long weekend and if it doesn't work out well they'll take it back. Pretty cool.

As for REI, I spend lots of $$ there on all kinds of gear and hadn't thought about that. I hear good things pretty regularly about the Terry Liberator so it's worth a shot, especially with the generous REI return policy.

Offline ducnut

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2010, 09:38:00 am »

I prefer leather saddles, but there is no way that you will break one in over 9 days.

I disagree. Using Sheldon Brown's advice allowed mine to be supple, from the beginning.

http://sheldonbrown.com/leather.html

Wallingford has a generous, 6 month return/exchange policy, on Brooks.

http://www.wallbike.com/

Offline irc

Re: "Emergency" saddle adjustment?
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2010, 06:50:25 pm »
For right now, the solution has been to get another seat recommended by my LBS.

Hopefully the new saddle will work. If not something else to think about is saddle width. If your sit bones are wider than average then you may need a wider saddle. Some saddle come in 3 widths, for example, the Nebula Plus you mentioned comes in 154mm, 164mm, and 174mm widths. For me only the 174mm would be wide enough.  If the saddle is too narrow then rather than your sit bones taking your weight it rests on soft tissue. OK for short distances but not for touring. Width depends on your riding position as well. An upright  position needs a wider saddle.


Specialized even have a measuring device so you can choose the correct saddle. I use a 175mm wide Specialized Sononma on one of my bikes.

http://www.specialized.com/specs/spec.jsp?speccode=bodygeometrysaddles