Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
An interesting question arrived at RoadBikeRider’s headquarters recently. It was from a roadie named Kenneth who has a problem I haven’t encountered. Here’s the email thread we had, which includes what I thought he should try.
I’m hoping some of you will have experienced the problem Kenneth is dealing with and be able to offer even more solutions for him. Be sure to read both of Kenneth’s emails.
Kenneth wrote (part 1):
“My chamois always shifts to the right and my left sit bone is barely or not even on the pad. I thought maybe it was a leg length discrepancy and put a 2mm shim under my left cleat. I have tried many different bib shorts, too, but the problem continues. I’m at my wits end, can you offer a suggestion?”
That’s an interesting problem to try to figure out, Kenneth. Immediately I thought of RBR co-founder and my good friend Ed Pavelka who set a world record on a Race Across America 50+ team – which gives you an idea how much saddle and chamois time he puts in.
When Ed and I worked together at Bicycling Magazine, he wrote an article about his custom bicycle fit. I believe it was titled Twisted Mister.
I don’t remember all the details, just that one of the key adjustments was to angle his saddle to one side to accommodate his natural body twist. In other words the tip of his saddle was not aligned with the top tube of his bike but slightly off center.
In your case it might be a helpful experiment to try. You could angle it just a couple of degrees to one side and see if the chamois moved more (that would be a sign that the seat angle affects it) and it would suggest I think that you should try angling it to the other side.
I have no idea if that would work, but it would be an easy thing to try as long as your seatpost is not stuck in the frame (if so, I can offer tips for freeing it).
The other thing is whether you are using some type of chamois lube. With lube you shouldn’t grip the chamois enough to move it because there’s a layer of lube between you and the chamois – at least with a good lube. Again I call on Ed’s experience. He recommends and uses a product called Button Hole. Here’s a link: https://www.enzoscyclingproducts.com/.
I don’t know if these ideas will work, but I think they’re worth trying.
Kenneth wrote (part 2):
“Thank you for the quick reply. You’re throwing old names that I remember in the late 80’s when I first started cycling. You and Ed and Bicycling Magazine taught me everything needed to have a great start in this sport I love so dearly.
You even gave me courage to start working on my own bikes. It’s snowballed into the greatest thing in life for me. I even carried on cycling while in the Army for 8 years. I’m now a disabled vet fighting demons, and cycling is the best weapon I have.
The seat angle thing I tried, I used to get a raw spot from the saddle being too far to the right, I skewed it left a few millimeters and that gave great relief. I may look into that again. I may also get a pro bike fit, too. One of my injuries may be causing it, I have two sciatic discs removed and had a really bad bike fall that screwed up the soft tissues of my left hip.”
Your Turn Readers
I told Kenneth I’d run his question here in the hopes some of you have had “chamois shift” and might have ideas to help him. It might be that a professional bicycle fit will do the trick. But, if any of you readers have had it happen and have solved it on your own, I’m sure your tips would help him. Thanks for the assist!
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.