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Home » Cycling » My Butt is Hooked on a Saddle: Cycling and the Importance of a Good, Hard, Saddle

My Butt is Hooked on a Saddle: Cycling and the Importance of a Good, Hard, Saddle

May 2018
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I’ve had a semi-squishy saddle on my Trek for the better part of a year, now and at one time I thought it was the cat’s pajamas.  Mind you, this wasn’t the 4″ thick, eight pound saddle people put on their leisure bike.  No, this was a 10mm padded saddle (give or take).  It’s too much.

1999 Trek 5200T

I ride a hard saddle on my good bike.  It’s not impossibly hard, it’s got a couple of millimeters of padding on it, but that’s not much:

Lately I’ve haven’t felt quite right riding the Trek even though I didn’t change anything on the set-up, but that was the bike I wanted to take up north for our cycling sabbatical for the triple crankset (when going exploring for mountains to climb, it’s typically a good thing to have as many gears as possible with which to climb said mountains).  I did something a little crazy… because I knew the stinging pain I was feeling after 40 miles in the saddle was due to too much padding.

I had an identical saddle to the one on the good bike on the tandem, so I put it on the Trek.  The day before the trip.  Without testing it first.  Not exactly smart, but I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on that Specialized Romin saddle – I knew it would be right and I knew exactly how to set it up for level and fore/aft (-2.1°, exactly 22-1/2″ from nose to handlebar center).

And my heinie was happy.  The whole 160-miles-in-three-days trip.  Not one stinging sensation – and in a place one definitely doesn’t want stinging sensations!

So, common thought typically suggests that one, if one is uncomfortable on a bike saddle, should buy a thicker saddle, with more padding.  This is entirely opposite that which should be done.  It is common misperception that racers and road cycling enthusiasts ride on those impossibly tiny saddles to save weight or to look cool.

We ride on those tiny-ass saddles because they’re vastly more comfortable over long miles at high speeds.

The trick is finding the right one and setting it up properly.

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7 Comments

  1. bribikes says:

    The best saddle is when you forget there is a saddle! I am glad your last minute saddle change worked out for your trip!

  2. theandyclark says:

    It’s counter-intuitive, but I’ve found pretty much the same thing. Maybe it’s different on cross-country trips or situations where you are going long and slow, but I’ve moved to a harder saddle. My only guess is that I tend to move my tuckus around in the seat fairly often to change the feel of the pressure and maybe the soft saddles settle in so that that doesn’t work.

    Hey, people with back trouble are usually better off on a firm mattress too, so maybe it’s not surprising.

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    This is a very good tip Jim. I’m currently riding on a hard as nails seat and it’s the best my bottom has felt in years. Not so much about the padding as the shape in my experience.

  4. Madmom says:

    Hey I enjoyed your posat! I’m following you and I hope you can follow me too?

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