Author Topic: touring seat  (Read 12289 times)

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Offline PedalsMcSlick

touring seat
« on: September 11, 2008, 02:06:14 pm »
i'm quite new at this whole cycling thing, but intend to tour across the U.S.  i have a fuji cyclocross comp with the stock fuji ultralite racing saddle.  i'm interested to hear some feedback about keeping the stock seat or upgrading to a one designed for touring.  if upgrading, what are some recommendations that won't break my bank ($75 or under)?

Offline wanderingwheel

touring seat
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2008, 02:50:46 pm »
Saddles are a very personal choice, so what works for you may not work for me.  First, do you need a different saddle?  Spend some time on your bike, especially if you're new to cycling, and find out what you like and don't like about your current saddle.  Once you have some miles in your legs, go out for long rides (4+ hours) on consecutive days.  How does it feel at the end of Day 1?  The start of Day 2?  The end of Day 2?

Now you have some idea what you like and don't about your saddle, and can look for a new saddle if needed.  Saddles vary in different ways: stiffness, width, and shape (top, side, and front).  A softer saddle will feel nice and comfortable for short rides, but you may find yourself sinking through it and sitting on a poorly shaped frame after a while.  I strongly suggest looking for firmer saddles for touring, they will not change after a long day or three.  

Saddle manufacturers are only recently beginning to recognize the effect of different widths again.  On your current saddle, do you feel like you're falling off both sides?  Or is it so wide that it's interfering with you pedaling?  Measure your saddle and look for ones that are similar, wider, or narrower as needed.

Now that you've got a saddle firmness and width that you like, choose the saddle shape that works for you.  From the side, saddles can be flat or hammock-shaped.  From the front they can be flat or sloping downwards.  From above they can be T-shaped or triangular.  Pick what works for you.

Everything else is little more than window dressing.  With the proper shape, a cutout should not be necessary, but they don't hurt either.  Some riders like rough coverings that they don't slip around on, other riders like smooth coverings so they don't get sore spots.  For a touring bike, the rail material is unimportant as long as you avoid super-light racing rails.

Personally I like very firm saddles with a moderate width, and that are flat and have a T-shape.  For plastic saddles, I find Specialized's line to work very well.  Others I like are Selle Italia Flight and Avocet saddles.  For expensive leather saddles, both the Brooks Pro and Swift have treated me well.


Edited for all those typos

This message was edited by wanderingwheel on 9-12-08 @ 7:27 AM

Offline staehpj1

touring seat
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2008, 09:25:06 am »
That is a nice thoughtful answer.  Far better than the drivel that usually follows this question.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 9-12-08 @ 6:26 AM

Offline wanderingwheel

touring seat
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2008, 10:44:20 am »
I forgot one, very basic step.  First, make sure that you current saddle is positioned properly.  Do you need to raise or lower the saddle?  Does the saddle need to be moved forward or back?  You should feel good support under your sit bones, so move the saddle until you find that.  A good rule of thumb is that you should be about even with the back of the saddle in you most common position.  Now, measure from the center of the bottom bracket, along the seat tube, to the top of your saddle.  Also, measure from the back of the saddle to the handlebars.  If and when you decide to change saddles, try to set up the new saddle in the same position.  You may need to raise or lower your seatpost depending on the difference in the saddle heights.  These numbers aren't set in stone, but they should be the starting point.

In addition to saddle height and reach, consider adjusting the saddle tilt.  The traditional method is to start by putting a large level on the saddle and getting it as close to level as possible.  For me, this works okay on flatter saddles, maybe just a touch extra down by the nose.  On hammock-shaped saddles, I prefer to level the nose of the saddle and let the rear sweep up.  Some people like their saddles pointed very high or low, find what you like.

It is almost certain that you are not perfectly symmetric, so your saddle doesn't need to be either.  Does it feel like your positioned well on one side but not the other?  Consider twisting the seatpost a little until you are well balanced on your saddle.  If you're lucky, you have one of the few seatposts that allow you to move the saddle side-to-side.  Don't be afraid to put the saddle where you need it, wherever that is.  I set up my saddles with just a touch of twist to the right.


This message was edited by wanderingwheel on 9-12-08 @ 7:46 AM

Offline bogiesan

touring seat
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2008, 08:06:25 pm »
I run a recumbent, my seat is all about comfort.
How long till you start your adventure?
You may need enough time and miles to evaluate two or more saddles.
At least one mfr has recently introduced a line of suspended saddles. I
think it's Topeak DBA Allay.

david boise ID

go, ristretto, FCP/AE
"Read the manual."
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline staehpj1

touring seat
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2008, 08:09:43 am »
Wanderingwheel covered the details very nicely, but I will add a comment or two.  Whatever saddle is comfortable for riding around home should work on tour.  If you can do longish rides at home in reasonable comfort you should be OK on the trip.

I would only sweat the saddle thing if you have a problem with your current saddle.  I rode the TA with the stock saddle on my low priced touring bike (as did my two companions).  We all did fine and didn't have any saddle related complaints.

Do be sure to either have lots of base miles in before the trip or take it easy for the first week to 10 days.  In fact an easy pace for a week or so is a good idea in any case.  If you don't have a lot of miles in before the trip don't sweat that too much just don't push hard until you are in the groove a bit.

Offline Westinghouse

touring seat
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2008, 12:56:28 pm »
Out of all my touring and different seats there is definitely one I have found to be light years ahead of all the others in general, all around comfort. It is not the expensive, ergometric type, or any of those advertised as touring saddles, and you might not find it in a bike shop. As a matter of fact, you might not find it at all these days. I can't. They called it the mattress saddle, and it sold for about $12.00 in Wal Mart.It had two rear springs, a vinyl exterior, padding, and long springs that radiated from front to rear in a fan-like pattern. It was kind of overheavy for touring but the comfort made up for it. I used this saddle to complete the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route
in 1993. I never had the first bit of any kind of discomfort. I wore the saddle out and went to buy another one, but I have not been able to find one anywhere. I have made extensive searches of the internet to find one but they seem to have disappeared from the American market.

Offline staehpj1

touring seat
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2008, 10:31:16 am »
Westinghouse, I remember those.  I thought they were absolutely awful.  It goes to show that saddle choice is a very individual thing.

Some of the bikes that my employer purchased for use on campus came with that type saddle as original equipment.  I think those bikes were Schwinn 3 speeds purchased maybe 25 years ago.  I my employer still is using a few, but I haven't seen them for sale in years.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 9-27-08 @ 7:32 AM

Offline Westinghouse

touring seat
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2008, 12:26:56 pm »
Of course you thought they were awful. Different strokes for different folks.

Offline staehpj1

touring seat
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2008, 02:57:43 pm »
Yeah, as I said saddle choice is an individual thing.

Since you liked them so well I would suggest that you try to find bike shops that have really old stock still sitting around.  One that isn't and wasn't into the latest high end stuff might be the best bet as those saddles were generally sold for fairly low end bikes.  I am pretty sure the bikes I have seen them on were all 3 speeds.

The sort of place I have in mind is one like a little local shop near me that has fixed and sold bicycles and lawnmowers for many years.  I don't think they have sold new bikes in years, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if they had one of those saddles in stock.  They apparently are still in business, but they seem to be closed whenever I go by.

I would be willing to check them out if you are interested.  Do you happen to have a picture of what you want to be sure it is what I am thinking of?

Offline Westinghouse

touring seat
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2008, 01:16:35 pm »
I do not have any pictures. They still make them in China. There must be some somewhere. They were definitely made for low end bicycles. I tried one out, and it was absolutely the most comfortable one ever, bar none, and I have used many different kinds of seats.

It had a sort of heavy steel frame under the seat. In the rear were two vertical springs. Starting at the nose, springs went back to a bracket about one third back toward the rear of the saddle. From that bracket long springs went to the rear of the saddle in a fan like pattern. Some kind of padding was stretched over the springs, and vivyl over the padding. It was too heavy for being highly recommended for touring, but it was so comfortable I did the pacific coast route on it with no problem at all except a small and negligible amount of chafing of the inner thighs. Wal Mart sold them for $12.00. When it comes to long hours in the saddle for weeks and months at a time, I want what is comfortable. Whether it is low end or upper end, or fashionable, or looked down on are all irrelevant to me. I want comfort. I will take a low end, unpopular, comfortable, heavy saddle any day over a high end, less comfortable one.

Offline staehpj1

touring seat
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2008, 02:00:01 pm »
Yeah that sounds like the one I was thinking of.  I had forgotten that they had the vertical springs in the back.  I am sure there are still lots of them sitting dust covered on the shelf of some shop.  I hadn't though about it, but there might still be one in my Dad's garage if so it would be used and at least 25 years old.  If I run across one here I will let you know.

I am not terribly fussy about saddles, but I agree that "fashion" or "high end" are pretty irrelevant.  I tend to like low end racing style saddles just fine, even very low priced ones.  For me this is lucky since the saddles that come on most bikes suit me fine even for long distance touring.

I am convinced that a lot of folks like stuff not in spite of the fact that is expensive, but because of it.

Everyone is different though.  If a very expensive saddle or a $12 vinyl covered one is what someone finds works for them it is all good.

Offline Westinghouse

touring seat
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2008, 03:17:40 pm »
I agree. When it comes to saddles, most everything goes out the window except comfort. The fancy and the frills come last.

I am thinking about another transcon. I will have to replace almost all moving components. My current saddle is definitely going to die on me soon. It is worn out. Considering the distances I am thinking about going, a comfortable saddle is high on my list of priorities.

Offline bagoh20

touring seat
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2008, 05:29:40 pm »
I have tried a few seats, but I can't seem to eliminate the pain just forward of the anus.  That area seems to take the most pressure.  Has anyone tried those hornless seats that look like they move the pressure to the glutes.

For example:

Offline Westinghouse

touring seat
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2008, 03:52:22 pm »
I have seen that sort of saddle in ads. I have never tried one.