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Home » Cycling » Working with My Wife on a Sensitive Subject; Female Cycling Saddle Issues, Pain and Perseverance Part One of Who Knows How Many!

Working with My Wife on a Sensitive Subject; Female Cycling Saddle Issues, Pain and Perseverance Part One of Who Knows How Many!


July 2022

My wife has been struggling for years with saddle issues. Truth is, she’s even pickier than I am, and I’m picky. My saddle has to be just so, or I’m fidgety in it. A little too high and there’s too much pressure. A little too low, more (but different) pressure. Nose too high? Pressure. Too Low? Sliding off the saddle. My setback is the same on all of my bikes; identical. I must be perfectly placed so the leading edge of my knee is plumb with the leading edge of the crank arm with a 4′ level as my guide. This isn’t exactly to industry standard which requires the use of a plumb bob, but the 4′ level is a little easier to work than a plumb bob when I’m atop my bike on the trainer, and now that I’m used to it, I’m stuck on it.

I am easy, though. All of my bikes are standard format, even if the reach (to the handlebar) varies a little bit, from my gravel bike, to my two road bikes, and our tandem, the cockpits are all very similar. The standard setback measurement works with all of them. That leads to item number two; saddle tilt which is a snap. I don’t want any “frontal” pressure when I’m in the drops. I also don’t want to feel like I’m sliding off the front of the saddle, either. Once the setback and height are set, I dial in the tilt with a level (2 degrees nose down), then fine tune by feel. I take the bike out for a spin, testing all three hand positions. If I feel any frontal pressure when I’m in the drops, I nose the saddle down. My method is flawless, with one exception; how do I do the same for the love of my life? How do I describe the cradled feeling to a woman? What would that even feel like with the obvious differences?

To tell the truth, I am, and have been, intimidated by the idea of working with my wife. And that led to inaction, or only taking care of glaring issues…

I’d left things to her and the local shop owner for years, and I’ve come to regret doing that. As geeky as I can be with bike setup and fit, how could I leave my wife to someone else? That was the question that changed everything for me. I decided it was about time I gave my wife my full, geeky dedication. I started researching (and buying) cycling shorts for her (Terry appears to be awesome, she’s happy so far), and I’ve thrown my entire knowledge of perfecting saddle position at her issues. The trick with my wife, as saddle location goes, is that she’s got three entirely different setups over four bikes. Her Alias (main road bike) is a triathlon specific road bike geometry that sets the saddle closer to the handlebar. Then, the tandem is a little closer than a traditional road setup would be. Then there’s her gravel bike and trainer bike/backup bike which are, at least, close.

We spend the majority of our time on the tandem, so I’ve taken to that first. It’s also the easiest, because I’m on the bike with my wife. She can tell me whatever she’s feeling and I can address anything immediately.

We started with the saddle location changes at Sunrise Adventure up in Alpena. We had at least three separate issues to deal with. The saddle needed to go up a little, then we dealt with moving it forward so she wasn’t trying to scoot back on the saddle (this is counterintuitive – if you want to scoot back on the saddle, move it forward). Finally, once the height and setback locations were good, I notice that it looked like the nose of the saddle tilted up ever-so-slightly, so I dropped the nose as well… then I dropped it one more time, just to make sure it was right, and we seem to have hit pay dirt.

We seem to have come to a decent couple of pairs of shorts for my wife as well. She’s struggled with hot spots using several different brands of shorts so I decided to give Terry a try. Their product descriptions seemed to address exactly the issues my wife was facing. We’ve only had them out for a 52-mile trot once, but my wife was happy with their performance that she actually added miles onto an already decently long route. That is a rarity indeed!

We’ve fixed a lot in the last few weeks. I’ll have more later.


  1. Sheree says:

    It’s a tricky issue

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