August 16, 2012

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Saddle Shopping

I'm currently saddle shopping and it's a major pain in the... soft tissue. The stock saddle that came with my 2012 Jamis has served me very well, but the upholstery is literally falling apart. I started my search about a month ago and had some specific needs:

(1) The saddle has to be brown. My bike is brown and orange and I really want to keep the motif.
(2) The saddle has to have either raised sit-bone pads or a significant cutout.
(3) The saddle has to be synthetic. My bike is used for commuting and is left locked up outside on a university campus. There's too much risk of having a Brooks saddle stolen.
(4) The saddle has to be a bit on the wide side. I'm 6'1", 210 lbs, have a sizable derriere and, according to my at-home measurements, my sit bones are wider-spread than most men.

I visited about a dozen LBSs and the only brown saddles to be found were big beach cruiser saddles, so, I began shopping online. After much discernment, I threw down $50 and bought new brown saddle. On first ride to work (4 miles), it was just fine. On the ride home, however, the padding was so softened the sunlight it received throughout the day that my sit-bones sunk right in and shoved a bunch of padding where it ought not be.

Moreover, on my first longer ride (18 miles), the last 9 miles were torturous with my feet going numb and my lower back starting to hurt from trying to find a "good enough" sitting position just to get home. All that soft padding was pressing all kinds of stuff best left not pressed.

This morning, I reinstalled my old stock saddle with a bit of duct tape in some key spots. I'm shopping once again for a new saddle.

Here is what I've learned thus far:
(1) The whole "women's" and "men's" saddle thing is a bit of a misnomer. There is nothing particularly specific about women or men that require they use different categories of saddles. What's important is:

(a) Saddle Width - Sit bone distance for men and women overlap greatly. Separating them by gender tends only to limit the expectations of consumers. (
(b) Cut-outs and Depth Variability.
(c) Amount and Softness of Padding -- Hard/no padding is not for every type of cycling/cyclist. The same goes for soft padding.

(2) Having a style requirement when shopping for your saddle makes it very difficult to find the saddle you need. (I'm stubborn, though.)

(3) Buying a saddle online without testing it in person first is definitely risky. (I spent $50 on a saddle I won't use. I will try to sell it for $30+).

(4) Go into saddle shopping blind of gender designations on saddles. Know what your body needs and shop for that. It doesn't matter if it's meant for a "boy" or a "girl" -- a saddle that works for you just works.

Ramon 201 days ago


I get soreness and chafing, should I go to a bike store to find a good seat? Where can I purchase your magazine?

Matthew more than 2 years ago