Take a seat... (page 3) - CycleBlaze

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Take a seat... (page 3)

Gregory GarceauTo Leo Woodland

I've resisted answering this post for a long time.  I'm kind of a "bah humbug" guy regarding expensive leather saddles, but then I've never owned one.  Like somebody said earlier, I just go with whatever my bike came with and it has always worked for at least a few hours per day.  Are bike saddles even SUPPOSED to be comfortable beyond a few hours?

Somewhat related, a few years ago I was setting up camp at a hiker/biker site in Glacier National Park and I met a guy who said he tours on his bike for half the year and is an electrician around Banff in the winter months.  He showed me his custom built bike and I couldn't believe that he had fashioned something that looked like a tractor seat onto his bike.  He offered to let me try it out.  The seat was huge and it curved around me like a butt-glove.  I do not know if it was leather or not, but with something like that, it's no wonder that farmers can ride around all day and all night on their tractors.

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1 year ago
Mark BinghamTo Leo Woodland

I've had a number of generic saddles over the years, none of which were comfortable. In the 1980s, after not riding after a year or so, I bought a gel saddle and, when that didn't help my discomfort, I bought a gel cover for the gel saddle. That made no difference either. I eventually learned, for me anyway, that the only thing that makes a saddle "softer" is butt calluses. 

Because of their reputation I considered getting a Brooks, and talked to some people who have done extensive touring (as in around the world) about their thoughts. Ultimately, I decided to at least sit on one, in spite of the fact that they're as hard as granite. I knew I wasn't being fair because I was already skeptical when I climbed on, fully prepared to scoff at the idea of spending that much on a saddle. To my amazement, I loved it... no breaking in, no pounding with a hammer, nothing. It was by far the best saddle I'd ever used. 

Having said that, one should understand that every person's anatomy is different. Just as some people have attached earlobes and others don't, and some people's appendix is on the left instead of the right, all of our "sit bones" aren't the same size, shape, or angle. I suspect that the small variations in the shape and width of a person's pelvis and ischial tuberosities are the main difference between one person liking a saddle and another person disliking it. However, I'm no saddle expert.

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1 year ago
George HallTo Mark Bingham

You are right about individual differences in our sit bones. So at least 1 company (Rivet) sells saddles in different widths and advises you to measure the spacing of your sit bones and buy accordingly.  Also, supposedly Rivet saddles have been treated such that they are waterproof - I have a Rivet saddle but I have always protected it from rain and dew anyway (out of habit I suppose).  

I'm not trying to be a salesman for Rivet - I like Brooks saddles as well, and I'd probably like Ideale if I ever tried one - I'm just pointing out that there are options on the market that address the concerns people have for differing widths and rain protection.    Rivet Saddles

I have a very interesting old advertisement for Brooks saddles that I had probably best not post here - it's a view from the rear of a young lady sitting astride a Brooks saddle in the buff - the Brits market things so much better than us.   That ad points out that Brooks saddles have been in existence since 1866 - they must be doing something right.

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1 year ago
Karen CookTo Leo Woodland


I went through, what seemed like, dozens of saddles that were terribly uncomfortable until I found these sella anatomica saddles.

Honestly I am not sure I would enjoy touring as much without them.

They are a bit spendy but not compared to all of the money wasted on saddles I only used once or twice.

Also in humid conditions they take more care but it is a small price to pay for me.

I buy the "blemished" (B Stock) ones that cost a bit less.


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1 year ago
Keith AdamsTo Leo Woodland

Reviving and wading into an older thread.  (Hey, autumn is here and today was chilly and windy.  What else do I have to occupy myself?)

I've been "leather curious" (insofar as bicycle seats go) for decades, but never really felt the urge to fit action to curiosity until recently.  My long-time favorite brand and model of saddle has been the Selle Italia Turbo model produced from the mid-1980s into the early 1990s.  It's got a thin perforated leather top over a plastic-and-gel base and has been very comfortable for me.

Top view of my long-time favorite saddle brand and model.
Back view of the same.


In ~2016 I set off on what was to be a week-long tour, starting from and ending in my driveway.  Five and a half days in I cried "Uncle" and called a friend to come to my rescue, as (due primarily to undertraining, most likely) I could no longer sit on a bike seat or, if I did, getting back off was nearly as painful.  

I will admit that I had not been riding much for an extended time prior to that ride, so years of "cast iron crotch" conditioning had been largely undone by soft living and comfortable office chairs.  Another contributing factor may have been the nearly worn-out pads in the mountain bike shorts I was using.

This year (2022) I toured for a continuous 33 day stretch, riding on 25 of them.  On riding days I carefully and fastidiously rotated between three sets of "regular" bike shorts, each from a different manufacturer to ensure that no seams or stitching hit me in the same place day after day after day.  I was also scrupulous about applying a medicated moisture absorbent powder at the start of the day and reapplying it at intervals during the day's ride, and using jock itch spray to keep the area in question dry and clean or at least free of microorganisms.  And yet, by the end of that trip I was once again extremely sensitive and uncomfortable at the point of contact, and on the verge of developing a saddle sore.

Since that saddle is now basically worn out (it's developed a hole in the leather, just at the nose of the saddle) I have the opportunity to try an all-leather jobbie.  A lucky and timely search on eBay netted me a gently-used Brooks "Professional" model saddle.  It's currently mounted on my spin bike (winter's coming; what better opportunity to spread the break-in time over several months?) and undergoing treatment with a variety of weatherproofing and conditioning salves, ointments, potions, and whatnot.

The leather on my Selle has about had it, at the front of the nose at least. It's time to look for a replacement.
A lucky find on eBay: for less than half the price of a new one I won this one, described by the seller as having been "ridden for a month". It's in pretty good shape, and has clearly not been left out in the rain (maybe never even got wet).
The previous owner may have already started the breaking-in process for me, sparing me some initial discomfort. I've applied a coat of Brooks' brand of leather treatment material, and will add more coats in the coming months. My internet reading - based of course mostly on anecdotal "information" by people whose level of knowledge and expertise I'm in no position to evaluate - suggests that the stuff is really more intended to prevent water damage than to soften and "condition" the leather. I'm not going to go to the extreme that Lon Haldeman does, of soaking it in 30 weight motor oil, even though he reportedly gets in excess of 300,000 miles from his saddles as a result.

So far I've only done a couple spins with the Brooks in place, but early indications are that I may quickly grow to like it.  I did a 90-minute spin today and was never uncomfortable.  That's a far cry, of course, from the six to ten hours a day, day in and day out, that a real tour would subject me to but at least it demonstrates that there's a chance for long-term comfort.  By contrast, the seats that came on my upright tandem were nearly instantly uncomfortable, and quickly earned their place in the trash can.  I knew within a few minutes they had to go.

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11 months ago
Pete StaehlingTo Leo Woodland

I have mostly been okay with the saddles that came with my bikes, but have found I have a favorite.  I'd describe okay as I'd be willing to ride a multi week or month tour with them.  I did that with several original equipment saddles including doing the TA with the cheap saddle that came with my Windsor Touring (it worked out fine).

The funny thing is that the one saddle that really didn't work our well for me was a B17.  It was my one and only leather saddle.  It was okay when new and for me went downhill from there.  I never saw a reason to try another one.

I am a fan of the WTB Volt line and tend to put them on my bikes if I feel like "upgrading" but some of my bikes the have original saddles.

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11 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Pete Staehling
I am a fan of the WTB Volt line and tend to put them on my bikes if I feel like "upgrading" but some of my bikes the have original saddles.

It turns out that my newest bike (which I've christened "Serenity") came equipped with a WTB "Speed" model saddle.

I have no idea whether the cover is real leather or synthetic.

Since it's late in the season and I'm a fair-weather-preferred rider I've only ridden it about 100 miles so far but I don't hate it.  In fact, I like it well enough that I'm feeling no urgency to substitute either of the others I had waiting in the wings before Serenity arrived.

With the arrival of spring in a few (but too many!) months I plan to get to know the WTB a whole lot better.

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9 months ago
George HallTo Leo Woodland

Replying to the OP, but really this tidbit is meant for all participating in this thread.  I just read an article about a British couple who cycled 18,000 miles around-the-world on a tandem, and then saw that this thread was active again - so here's a link to the article; 18,000 Miles On A Tandem.  The couple rode an average of 10 hours/day for 6 months, so they had some extended saddle time to say the least.  The photos show that both saddles were leather - they look like Brooks saddles, though I can't be certain from the photos it seems likely since they are British.  

It's hard to imagine a more demanding test of a saddle than this.    They were carrying panniers just like us "normal" tourists, but they were also pushing against the clock to set a world record.    Just a note of interest for those following this thread on touring and saddles. 

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9 months ago
John EganTo Leo Woodland


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9 months ago
Tim McNamaraTo Leo Woodland

My first few bikes had whatever saddle came on them, usually a plastic base with a leather or faux leather cover and some foam padding. My first British bike, a Viscount Pro which I mistakenly thought was a high quality bike, came with what I recall as a Middlemoores leather saddle. The wire saddle frame bent underneath me promptly and I replaced it with a Brooks Professional. The break-in was atrocious but then it was excellent.  That saddle was on three or four different bicycles over the next couple decades. I still have it, 46 years on, although it's not currently mounted on any bike. 

Then I had gotten into competition riding and was in search of ever lighter equipment, culminating in the Flite titanium saddle.  In the words of Jobst Brandt, that was an ass hatchet; he coined the term to describe the effect of a traditional leather saddle allowed to get soaking wet and then ridden, resulting in a tent-like ridge cleaving one's glutes.  The Flite was awful without being doused.

The experience sent me back to Brooks saddles for another decade or so. However, I have now gone to using the C 17 saddle on all my bikes, and it is the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden. it feels very much like the traditional leather without having any maintenance necessary.

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9 months ago