I chuckled when I read Fred’s article on “How to Solve Saddle Sores,” because I was planning on writing a similar piece. Most cyclists have no problem asking another cyclist’s advice about gear or route suggestions. But when it comes to discomfort in the southern hemisphere, folks aren’t so willing to talk. Especially in a male dominated sport, women don’t always have another woman to talk to.
Being female, approachable, and a seasoned cyclist, many new and veteran cyclists have asked me about saddle sores or discomfort on the bike. I truly feel honored that people feel comfortable enough to talk to me about virtually anything, even when it’s a very personal part of the anatomy. But seems like I need to decode the question in order to determine what is actually going on. Here are a few common issues that might resonate with what you’re experiencing.
I receive an email from a young and fairly new road rider who says “My saddle is all up in my business.” After several questions and asking her to use more biological terms, I decoded the issue. She’s experiencing a lot of pressure in the front soft tissue area. To me it says her sit bones are not being supported in the saddle, resulting in all her weight putting pressure on her soft tissue.
I asked if she’s ever been measured for her saddle. Her response was the typical answer I get “No, it’s the seat that came with the bike.” This is key, the saddle that comes with your bike most likely doesn’t fit you!!! Because she was uncomfortable talking about her seat issues, I sent her to a local bike shop run by a woman who is also a certified bike fitter. Sometimes it’s a lot easier for a woman to talk to another woman. Sure enough her saddle was not the right size. She was fitted with a new saddle and the problem was solved.
A triathlete friend of mine emailed me asking, “What shorts do you wear? I’m having problems no matter which of my five brands of shorts I wear.” Hmmm, doesn’t sound like a shorts problem, sounds like a saddle problem.
After asking questions about where she gets sore, has she been fitted for a seat, etc. it is clear to me this too is a saddle issue. I sent her off to the same place as Case #1. Sure enough, her saddle didn’t fit, and she also needed adjustments to her stem length and seat height. Another happy cyclist again after that.
At a local bike shop’s ladies night a friend introduces me to a woman who was almost in tears because she’s convinced she would have to give up cycling. After years of riding, it was now painful to sit on a saddle for any length of time.
Understanding where exactly she was experiencing pain, it sounded like her saddle was not supporting her sit bones. The saddle was 10 years old, so my guess was it just was worn out. In addition, I thought she might need to have a bike fitting since as we age our flexibility decreases. So I sent her to a certified bike fitter who recommended a new saddle and some tweaks to her bike fit. Thrilled to say she didn’t have to give up cycling.
I can go on and on with similar stories, but most come back to saddle fit and/or bike fit.
Please, if you are having an issue, don’t suffer in silence and don’t be shy to discuss it with someone who’s knowledgeable about bike fit. It could be a simple as using lube or very possibly the wrong size or wrong style saddle.
I have saddles that for the most part they’re comfortable due to getting my set bones measured; but the last saddle I got (Specialized Toupe Pro), which the IBS remeasured my set bones but the measurement was the same as they have been for years, is uncomfortable and it wasn’t a cheap saddle, in fact the saddle packaging even said that the measure I have would fit that saddle. So not all comfort issues is related to the set bones, I’m not sure what the issue is with that saddle, I do know that Fizik brand seem to work the best for me, so it could be that since Fizik has that wingflex thing going on and the Specialized does not but has their own called adaptive edge that may not be working as good as the Fizik so that could be the issue, so when this Specialized saddle goes bad I’ll go back to Fizik. I also made sure that seat height and position was correct too, so the bike fit isn’t off either; it’s something to do with that particular saddle.
Sheri Rosenbaum says
Fred, interesting that I use Specialize Lithia on all four of my bikes. When the nose broke on one I replaced it with the same size Lithia saddle. But Specialized changed the seat design slightly to the point it wasn’t comfortable any more. Luckily I found two older versions at a LBS and bought them as spares. So yes, even with the correct measurement, seats sometime don’t fit right.
Brian Nystrom says
My mantra when it comes to saddles, shoes and shorts is “when you find something that’s comfortable, buy several of them”. It seems inevitable that whatever I like eventually is discontinued or changed.