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  1. #1
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    Female Fitting Challenge

    The rider: 5'3" 130 lbs. Fit, smart, and incidentally pretty. I'm lucky to have her as a wife.

    The bike: A 2009 Specialized carbon-fiber Roubaix. 49cm. Professionally fitted to her at the LBS. And she does indeed find the fit to be perfect. Up to about 30 miles whereupon she gets that expression of slight discomfort, an expression that begins to override all else by 40 miles. At 50 miles, she is effing DONE with it! :-)

    We tried an aftermarket seat; a Specialized Gel Lithia (sp). But I don't think it added much to her range. So I'm looking to replace it again, but would like to do so more intelligently this time. Is there a way to measure her seat bones and/or the seat bone support on her bike to come up with a more comfortable fit? And is there any way I would NOT enjoy the measuring effort?
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duane Behrens View Post
    Professionally fitted to her at the LBS.
    Just because she was "professionally" fitted, doesn't mean the fit is right. There could still be tweaking involved. And some "pros" are idiots.

    And she does indeed find the fit to be perfect. Up to about 30 miles whereupon she gets that expression of slight discomfort, an expression that begins to override all else by 40 miles. At 50 miles, she is effing DONE with it!
    How much riding does/has she done? If she generally only rides 30mi and under, then the jump to 40/50 may be too much. She may just need more miles under her butt.

    Is she wearing cycling shorts?

    Sometimes padded/gel saddles are worse than a firmer saddle because you squish more into the seat and creates chaffing.
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    Is it an issue with her saddle or her shorts? Has she tried different brands of shorts with different chamois? Some have minimal, but dense foam, which is much more comfortable than the thicker, less dense.

    Will your LBS let her try some and return it if it causes pain?

    I use the lady selle italia SLK and love it.

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  5. #5
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    One benefit of a Specialized saddle is that they *usually* measure for saddle fit... if they didn't, I'd go back where you bought the saddle and make sure that it fits according to Specialized's method.

    It could be that she needs a different brand saddle or it could be that she needs a different width saddle...

    It's also possible that she just needs to get used to riding 40 miles, our butts need to learn to adjust a little bit too.

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    Can you go back to the fitter at the LBS and have him/her address this problem?

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    Quote Originally Posted by il sogno View Post
    Can you go back to the fitter at the LBS and have him/her address this problem?
    Unfortunately, the proprietor of our local bike shop died of an apparent heart attack while riding near Malibu last year. The bike shop has been closed since then. T

    There have been some good tips here. The one I like the most is "She needs to ride more!" :-)
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    What size tires is she using? What pressure are they at? Does she remain seated over bumps in the road? Those things contribute as well...

    It's not just that she needs to ride more, she may need to ride smarter as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    What size tires is she using? What pressure are they at? Does she remain seated over bumps in the road? Those things contribute as well...

    It's not just that she needs to ride more, she may need to ride smarter as well.
    105-110 psi rear, 100-105 psi front. She does tend to simply ride over bumps, while I tend to rise up and use my knees as shock absorbers. Will work on that with her. Thanks.
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    Food for thought, in order to get across to her... I know people who have broken saddles because they don't rise up a bit, it's a lot of pressure on the sit bones and definitely better to use your leg muscles to absorb the shock.

    Pressure sounds high as well, especially for a 130# recreational rider. I'd at least drop down to 90, maybe lower (as low as possible, just not so low as to cause a pinch flat). If she's riding 100#+ and also on 23mm, you'll probably have more luck swapping out the tires to a 28mm running around 85# than you will changing saddles (assuming that there isn't a fit and/or saddle fit issue).

    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by Duane Behrens View Post
    105-110 psi rear, 100-105 psi front. She does tend to simply ride over bumps, while I tend to rise up and use my knees as shock absorbers. Will work on that with her. Thanks.

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    Longshot...but bars too high? I see alot of women that ride with their bars really high. That alone can put more pressure on the lower back and sit bones. Also she needs to stand up more...if she doesn't already. Sometimes it can also be related to how and where they put their sit bones. Posture...if your back is sagging or rounded. That will affect how the pelvis is rotated.

    MY GF pretty much sits through everything. I've been trying to get her to stand up more. She is currently on the Specialized Oura saddle.

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    Chamois butter

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    She should do her own research really (point her to Team Estrogen forums), maybe she really doesn't want to ride a long way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by headloss View Post
    Food for thought, in order to get across to her... I know people who have broken saddles because they don't rise up a bit, it's a lot of pressure on the sit bones and definitely better to use your leg muscles to absorb the shock.

    Pressure sounds high as well, especially for a 130# recreational rider. I'd at least drop down to 90, maybe lower (as low as possible, just not so low as to cause a pinch flat). If she's riding 100#+ and also on 23mm, you'll probably have more luck swapping out the tires to a 28mm running around 85# than you will changing saddles (assuming that there isn't a fit and/or saddle fit issue).

    Good luck!
    She was angry when I related my statement that she doesn't rise up on the bars over bumps. "I do SO too!" Love the British accent. She wants to try better shorts/chamois first. Says she likes the current seat. We'll see. Thanks, guys.

    Female Fitting Challenge-gedc0214.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duane Behrens View Post
    She was angry when I related my statement that she doesn't rise up on the bars over bumps. "I do SO too!" Love the British accent. She wants to try better shorts/chamois first. Says she likes the current seat. We'll see. Thanks, guys.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Great looking couple!

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    Nice picture of the two of you.

    One thing I never compromise on is shorts. A not so great chamois is OK for short rides, but after 40km, it can become quite uncomfortable.
    While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. - Stephen R. Covey.

  17. #17
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    "Is it an issue with her saddle or her shorts? Has she tried different brands of shorts with different chamois? Some have minimal, but dense foam, which is much more comfortable than the thicker, less dense.

    Will your LBS let her try some and return it if it causes pain?"

    Ummm.... this is a situation similar to underwear or swimsuits. Would you buy a pair of shorts that someone else had ridden in? For women especially this is a big issue.

    I would also suggest moving up to as large a width tire as the bike is capable of handling. The other suggestion I would make is to be sure that the saddle is designed for the riding position (some saddles are for more aggressive positions, some are more for relaxed positions).

  18. #18
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    I agree with headloss, tire pressure is way too high for her. I'm 155, and I run 75-80 in the front, 80-85 in the rear. (Currently running tubeless, when I had a tubed wheel, I ran 80-85 front, 85-90 rear).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle View Post
    I agree with headloss, tire pressure is way too high for her. I'm 155, and I run 75-80 in the front, 80-85 in the rear. (Currently running tubeless, when I had a tubed wheel, I ran 80-85 front, 85-90 rear).
    That's interesting. The lettering on the tire says, "Recommended pressure 125 psi." I run hers (and mine) at about 100 front, 110 rear; about 20% below recommended. 80-85 might be a bit more comfortable, but I'd worry about a pinch flat.
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    One thing she could try right now is to stand up on the pedals regularly. I kind of forget to do it enough.

    It took me a while to find a good saddle for me. I ended up getting a much narrower saddle than I expected would work. But it took some test riding on different saddle shapes.

    Some stores have saddle test programs.

    One of the local stores has a set of Fizik test saddles (they are bright orange, with a big logo) So riders can try out a range of styles.

    Another store has their own test program, with a wall full of saddles. For $20 testing fee, I tried 4 or 5 different saddles overnight, one at a time, within 3 or 4 weeks. The $20 would be applied to a purchase, but I ended up getting a different saddle later in the year from another store.

    I sat on the Specialized tester. It's a piece of memory foam, so you see the depressions after you get up. It showed I fit the medium width, but it turned out that the narrow one works for me.

    ~~~~
    Tire pressures

    I don't think tire pressure will solve her saddle problem. But correct pressures really help on rough roads. She could try 90 psi front, 100 psi rear on 23c tires. And supple tires, like Continental GP4000 have more flex to absorb small bumps. The ride difference with good tires and corrected lower pressures is huge.

    I weigh 170 lbs, and I run 95 psi front, 105-110 rear on 23c tires. The only pinch flat I got was from slamming into a sharp edged water valve casing, with a pothole in front. And now I'm using 25c, with 85-90 psi front, 100-105 rear. Comfy on rough roads, but just as fast as the 23c.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 03-15-2014 at 09:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle View Post
    I agree with headloss, tire pressure is way too high for her. I'm 155, and I run 75-80 in the front, 80-85 in the rear. (Currently running tubeless, when I had a tubed wheel, I ran 80-85 front, 85-90 rear).
    Quote Originally Posted by Duane Behrens View Post
    That's interesting. The lettering on the tire says, "Recommended pressure 125 psi." I run hers (and mine) at about 100 front, 110 rear; about 20% below recommended. 80-85 might be a bit more comfortable, but I'd worry about a pinch flat.
    I've been working with my wife to get her more comfortable as her endurance and enjoyment of the rides increases, here's what she's found to help.

    Tire pressure lower - Optimal tire pressure is based on the weight of the load, just like cars. It's a mistake to use the sidewall as a guide. Notice they don't even have sidewall tire pressures on a lot of passenger tires anymore, and the vehicle manufacturer gives pressure ranges for that particular vehicle.

    There are various online guides, including tire manufacturer's websites. But as just another "FWIW", I'm 165 and I run 23mm tires at about 105 rear and 90-95 front. I haven't had a pinch flat in 5 years since I started actually paying attention to tire pressure and lowered it based on whatever guide I happened to use at the time.

    Aside from tires, my guess is that if she can go 30 miles comfortably, she doesn't have a serious problem with the saddle or fit and just needs to both increase endurance through riding and also to learn to increase her "comfort endurance" with some basic riding habits. Others have mentioned being "lighter" on the saddle going over bumps and getting off the saddle fairly frequently. I stand up and get the blood circulating in my butt whenever it feels the slightest discomfort - I'm thinking every 30 minutes or so. It also gets me to move, shrug, relax, etc. my back, hips, shoulders, arms, neck, etc.

    If she's sitting in one position for 30, 40, 50 miles without a lot of movement, that could be the problem. Good luck, it's worth it.
    Last edited by Camilo; 03-17-2014 at 02:50 PM.

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    It might be a dumb thing to ask... but does she know where to sit? I say that because I didn't know where to properly sit when I started cycling. I started out having my ass too close to the nose and put a lot of pressure on my sensitive nerves down there. I started adjusting the nose angle of the seat to point it down to relieve the pressure. Although this seemed reasonable, it was actually counter productive. It made my butt slide even more to to the front. It wasn't till I went in the opposite direction and tilted the nose up did I then feel my sit bones resting comfortably on the seat and not sliding forward. Needless to say with my butt properly supported at the back and my nerves nicely in the slot in the seat, I didn't have any more issues. In actuality the seat is now just perfectly level as I now know where to sit.

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    There is a lot of good advice above. But it could be one simple thing. If she is new to cycling, she may just have to get used to it and sort of build up a tolerance. She may also want to move a bit on the saddle from time to time as well as stand. I know after my long break from cycling, my butt had to get used to it all over again.

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    One thing I haven't seen discussed here at all is the type of discomfort she's experiencing. Is it pressure? Is it friction? Is it muscle fatigue? Is it on the bones or on soft tissue? All of these factors make a big difference in how to suggest things that might alleviate the situation, and the responses to several of them are totally opposite.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
    It might be a dumb thing to ask... but does she know where to sit? I say that because I didn't know where to properly sit when I started cycling. I started out having my ass too close to the nose and put a lot of pressure on my sensitive nerves down there. I started adjusting the nose angle of the seat to point it down to relieve the pressure. Although this seemed reasonable, it was actually counter productive. It made my butt slide even more to to the front. It wasn't till I went in the opposite direction and tilted the nose up did I then feel my sit bones resting comfortably on the seat and not sliding forward. Needless to say with my butt properly supported at the back and my nerves nicely in the slot in the seat, I didn't have any more issues. In actuality the seat is now just perfectly level as I now know where to sit.
    Good advice. I'll check her seat again (always a pleasure), and may cant the front up just a wee bit more. We'll see.

    To the question, "which part of her is hurting?", the answer is her lady parts ("sensitive nerves"), not the sit bones. Thanks.
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