Question: I’m 6-foot-2, 230 pounds and have been riding a road bike for a year. I’m having trouble finding a bicycle seat that will allow me to “comfortably” increase my mileage base. My current seat is fine until I hit 25 miles, then our intimate relationship goes south. What saddles do long-distance riders use? Could it be my shorts or riding position? — Don C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Saddle soreness isn’t uncommon, but the good news is that everyone should be able to find a saddle that works. You’re right to recognize that your position on the bike, your shorts and your riding technique also play important roles.
If the saddle isn’t level, it can irritate your crotch. And the same is true if it’s too high, too low or set too far forward or back. If you haven’t gotten a professional bike fit at your local shop, now might be the time to make sure you’re sitting properly. A few books we sell have detailed info on bike fit and saddle comfort if you want to do it yourself.
The wrong shorts can definitely make any saddle uncomfortable. Look for a large, smooth and lightly padded liner. Use a lubricant such Chamois Butt’r. You might have to try several brands of shorts to find a model that’s compatible with your anatomy.
Also try wearing the smallest size shorts that comfort allows. A snug fit keeps everything in place and reduces the chance of the chamois shifting or bunching.
Some riders develop discomfort because they stay seated all the time, allowing pressure to build. Remember to stand frequently and move on the saddle. Slide to the front on fast sections and to therear on climbs. You’ll re-distribute pressure and ride more efficiently.
It’s impossible to recommend a seat that you’re certain to find comfortable. But quite a few long-distance riders favor the Brooks B17 leather saddle. It’s wider in back than most production saddles for sit-bone support, making it suited to riders your size. Plus the leather top breaks into conform to your anatomy.