Q: I ride about 90 minutes a day on weekdays, 2-3 hours on the weekend. My old Selle Italia Flite saddle is comfortable for my daily routine, but after consecutive long rides I can barely sit on the bike. Do I need a wider touring saddle or one with gel inserts? — Roy D.
COACH FRED: I’d like to be able to tell you which saddle you’d find comfortable, but it doesn’t work that way. Everyone’s anatomy is different. The saddle that works great for some people is torture for others.
Take the Flite, for instance. When it first appeared, Ed and I were working at Bicycling magazine. One of the other editors tested it and wrote a glowing 5-star review. We couldn’t wait to try it. We each lasted about 20 miles. That saddle was 0-star agony for us.
I rode a Turbo saddle for years. Ed wasn’t nuts about that model and favored the Turbomatic, which didn’t fit me quite right. Now I use the Specialized Body Geometry seats from two years ago. I haven’t warmed to the newer versions.
Here’s the point: It’s virtually impossible to look at a seat’s shape and width, press the padding with your thumb and predict with certainty how it’ll feel on long rides.
You simply have to take your best shot. If you’re good at predicting and lucky, too, a new seat will be perineal nirvana. If not, you’ll collect a box of barely used saddles. Ed’s is overflowing with more than 30. (He has a Brooks B17 on most of his bikes now.)
Many cyclists have a reject box. Ask experienced riders in your area. If there’s a chance they can sell you an unwanted saddle, they’ll probably be happy to let you pick through their stash and try a couple.