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Thread: Racing Saddles

  1. #1
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    Question Racing Saddles

    What is your racing saddle of choice?

    I've been on quite a few saddles in my day (Fizik Arionne, Anteres, Prologo Kapa Pas, Selle Italia), and each one leaves me sore and/or numb at the end over every ride. I've even tried the ones with a cut-out center (Fizik Arionne VS), but while the opening relieves pressure on the center, it creates new pressure points at the sides.

    There are so many options available. Needless to say it can get rather expensive buying new saddles when one doesn't work; it's not like you can return them after you've been out on a few rides to test.

    Write now I'm even pondering buying a couple of those Chinese knock-offs just to see if one works. But I fear the questionable quality of those would only create further headaches.

    I know everyone is different, but I'd like to hear what saddles you guys are using and what you like about them.

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    it creates new pressure points at the sides
    Not sure what that means. "Sides" of what? Are you using the right width saddle?

    Are you using good cycling shorts?

    I know everyone is different, but I'd like to hear what saddles you guys are using and what you like about them.
    I've been using the Shimano Pro Falcon (with cutout). I really like it. It's pretty flat and doesn't look like it has a lot of padding, but it's just the right amount. It comes in 3 widths.
    There's also the Pro Griffon which is a little more rounded and has more padding.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wood Devil View Post
    What is your racing saddle of choice?

    I've been on quite a few saddles in my day (Fizik Arionne, Anteres, Prologo Kapa Pas, Selle Italia), and each one leaves me sore and/or numb at the end over every ride. I've even tried the ones with a cut-out center (Fizik Arionne VS), but while the opening relieves pressure on the center, it creates new pressure points at the sides.

    There are so many options available. Needless to say it can get rather expensive buying new saddles when one doesn't work; it's not like you can return them after you've been out on a few rides to test.

    Write now I'm even pondering buying a couple of those Chinese knock-offs just to see if one works. But I fear the questionable quality of those would only create further headaches.

    I know everyone is different, but I'd like to hear what saddles you guys are using and what you like about them.
    Yes, finding the right saddle can get expensive and frustrating. Some shops might let you Demo a saddle. When I was looking, I bought used saddles on eBay and if it did not work out I resold it. To give each saddle a fair evaluation you need to try it level, tilted up and tilted down can that can affect your outcome. My go to saddle the last 10+ years has been a Terry Fly Ti, but I would not base your search on what others recommend. You may also want to measure your sitbones either using Specialized's Ass-O-Meter or another method

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    I've never tried it butt A Local guy raves about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Not sure what that means. "Sides" of what? Are you using the right width saddle?

    Are you using good cycling shorts?

    I've been using the Shimano Pro Falcon (with cutout). I really like it. It's pretty flat and doesn't look like it has a lot of padding, but it's just the right amount. It comes in 3 widths.
    There's also the Pro Griffon which is a little more rounded and has more padding.
    What I mean by that is the regular flat saddle causes soreness on the soft tissue between the legs, and those with a pressure relief channel causes discomfort at the edge of the soft tissue area.

    I'm more of an aggressive rider and prefer to be in the drops. During my riding/races, I find myself more forward on the saddle, and thereby less on the sit bones and more on that soft tissue area I'm complaining about. But that part of the saddle is thin and naturally begins to feel like you're sitting on your top tube.

    I've had my sitbones measured (4 3/8") and the narrower saddles are what is recommended -- 130mm or so range.

    I've had my

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    After a couple seasons on a Shimano Pro Stealth I started getting some bad chaffing. No idea why and very frustrating. Only thing that kept me going was a lot of A&D...After a short hunt I settled on one of the SDG saddles. The Bel-Air 2.0. Lots of saddles but, hard to find locally so I ordered online.

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    There have been many saddle threads on this forum, possibly as many as chain lube threads. The recommendations seem to be consistent and it always comes down to "you gotta try em on".

    For me, buying used ones to "try em on" was financially frugal because there is less depreciation loss when you sell it. I made a few bucks in some cases.

    My saddle search ended with custom saddle by Meld.

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    I went down this same path with saddles... I was convinced there was something better than the Bontrager saddle my bike came with, so I spent a LOT on buying and selling saddles on eBay, only to end-up just using my original saddle!

    The one thing I've learned is that some of the soreness comes from your fitness level, not the seat. Note how pros ride saddles that have hardly any padding... That's because their butts are almost all muscle and they don't need the padding. Heck, too much padding can actually make things worse.

    For me, when I put more miles on and broke-in my Bontrager saddle, it worked just fine. YMMV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    I've looked at the Meld place before. I'd love to try it, but an afraid that it would be so awesome I'd need to buy one for each of mu four, going on five, road bikes. At $250-$300 a pop, that could get expensive.

    I've been riding Selle Itaila Flite (now referred to as the 1990's version) since they came out in the 1990's. Rather than having a saddle modeled after the shape of my butt, I think I have a butt that's evolved to be the shape of that saddle.

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    I use a Cobb Randee. Had the same issues you described and tried lots of saddles with wide cut outs and found this one to be the best for me. The cut out runs all the way to the front and the nose of the saddle is narrower than typical time trial type saddles (which rubbed the inside of my thighs too much). Its on both my bikes, found it very comfortable for rides up to 15 hours, provided I get out of the saddle frequently enough. Cobb has a 90 day try and return policy too, so it's not going to cost you anything to try one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    I use a Cobb Randee. Had the same issues you described and tried lots of saddles with wide cut outs and found this one to be the best for me. The cut out runs all the way to the front and the nose of the saddle is narrower than typical time trial type saddles (which rubbed the inside of my thighs too much). Its on both my bikes, found it very comfortable for rides up to 15 hours, provided I get out of the saddle frequently enough. Cobb has a 90 day try and return policy too, so it's not going to cost you anything to try one.
    Ooh! ... Those are expensive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wood Devil View Post
    Ooh! ... Those are expensive.
    Yeah, they aren't cheap - I read some recent reviews that said the padding was softer than it used to be so that change might make it not as good a choice now unless you can find an older one used on Ebay etc. I tried Cobb' s other saddles about 5 years ago when I was searching and found the others were too soft for me for long rides.
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  14. #14
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    After years on the Bontrager RL/RXL, I switched to the Specialized Power of varying grades.

    The shorter nose has actually stabilized my position (because there isn't much of a nose), which seems to increase comfort over the long haul. It's certainly more comfortable in a lower position for the lady parts.

    I have a Shimano Pro Stealth, but I haven't gotten around to putting it on a bike yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Srode View Post
    Yeah, they aren't cheap - I read some recent reviews that said the padding was softer than it used to be so that change might make it not as good a choice now unless you can find an older one used on Ebay etc. I tried Cobb' s other saddles about 5 years ago when I was searching and found the others were too soft for me for long rides.
    That's the problem with my Arione Vs -- very soft.

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    I canít imagine anyone elseís saddle experience translating, in any useful manner, with yours or anyone elseís. That said, my LBS has a swap policy that is very generous. You are welcome to use any saddle for up to a few months and you can swap at will with other saddles. There are no questions asked, just a genuine desire for you to get on the right saddle for you. Find a shop that goes the extra mile and support the idea of the LBS. I get on the river pretty often, for that specifically, I canít imagine finding comfort. It just is what it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    I canít imagine anyone elseís saddle experience translating, in any useful manner, with yours or anyone elseís. That said, my LBS has a swap policy that is very generous. You are welcome to use any saddle for up to a few months and you can swap at will with other saddles. There are no questions asked, just a genuine desire for you to get on the right saddle for you. Find a shop that goes the extra mile and support the idea of the LBS. I get on the river pretty often, for that specifically, I canít imagine finding comfort. It just is what it is.
    Ii agree 100%.

    Further there is no such thing as a "race" saddle. Only what is comfortable. Comfort is king...

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    What about an SQLabs saddle? they make a kit to measure the sit bones. It is something to think about. Just an idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Zinn is such a smart guy and one of the most knowledgable sages about cycling on the web. What an odyssey he has been through with his tender sitbone. A man who is encyclopedic about riding and position on the bike and saddles.

    I have bookmarked this article. $300 for a custom saddle seems very reasonable.
    Further on the note about hammock saddle design, this is the predicate of Brooks of course which many of us grew up riding. A Brooks is a leather hammock and why it is both supportive to the sitbones near the rear suspension point where the leather is attached but forgiving to the perineum.

    Incredible article posted by the Zinnmaster...a later day cycling guru. Our latter day Sheldon Brown really, Mr. Brown I had the good fortunate to develop a small relationship with as I would write to him about his opinion on things. He was Mohamad at the mountain when it came to cycling and will never forget our discussions.

    Also, very interesting that Zinn has transitioned to e-bike riding born out precaution based upon his heart condition which has been published on the web and sent around our cycling club as a consideration for us all.

    Zinn is referenced in the following article which is a great read for aging endurance cyclists and in fact, in spite of having an overall healthy heart, I have backed off a bit on too intense, high duration cycling. Too many free radicals and likely after a point of cardio conditioning, a high amount of intense exercise does more harm than good:

    VeloNews - Are endurance athletes damaging their hearts?

    And how Zinn's heart condition...Zinn was an excellent cyclist in his prime...how it shaped his transition to e-bikes:

    I like Zinn's custom Ti e-bike design with Bosch motor. Titanium and custom frame with a motor just make sense if taking the e-bike plunge.. At some point, I many build one up buying a custom geometry frame, motor and battery from him. 28mph top speed is likely enough on the flat, I generally don't ride that speed on my road bike unless in a full out sprint.

    Zinn is a very tall man at 6'6" and knows a lot about bike geometry for tall riders.



    Lastly, OP, so much can be written about saddle selection. Width is big...but so is tilt and truthfully saddle selection is perhaps mostly about you.

    Reality is, saddles are a bigger deal the less fit you are. That is the reality. A 140 lb uber fit CAT racer with low BMI and high FTP places much less weight on the saddle than 210 lb Joe six pack who muddles along on the MUP at 15mph. Higher average pedal force unweights a rider and also if interested why better cyclist can sustain a lower position on the bike more readily...they push harder on the pedals which unweights the upper body.

    People that struggle with saddles should look a bit inward. I have during the self discovery process known as cycling. I know you may not want to hear that but this applies to all of us. If you turn your rearend into hard gristle, you can ride a 2 x 4 with no pain. For the rest of us, the saddle matters to some degree who aren't in top cycling racing form. A saddle on a roadbike is meant to be a perch and not a lazyboy. A lazyboy saddle is found on a cruiser where 95% of the rider's weight is on the bum. This is due to riding position and why cruiser saddles are wider. As one gets to a more aggressive position, the pelvis rotates forward and this narrows the intersection of the saddle due to the way the rami converge on the pelvis..our anatomy. If you ride too wide a saddle on a roadbike in an aggressive position, this will chafe you to the point you will not be able to ride.

    Because rearends are like fingerprints, finding a workable saddle is a process of trial and error for most of us.

    My saddle of choice is the Specialized Toupe 155. It isn't perfect but no pain on a typical 30 mile ride. Specialized has changed the shape of the Toupe a bit over the years. In fact, I ride two slightly different shape Toupes on two different bikes. I like a bit of each about each one. 1 deg. of tilt difference makes almost a night and day difference in terms of load distribution. A saddle must be adjusted for all positions. For example a saddle adjusted level may be fine for the hoods but too much pressure on the perineum in the drops.

    No it ain't easy to find Goldilocks.
    Happy hunting.

    PS: as homage to the great Leonard Zinn, I thought I would post his bike geometry for those interested. Based upon the way Zinn's mind works which is quite extraordinary, I am sure part of his fascination with cycling was born out of solving the riddle of bike fit for him. Zinn is far from an off the rack guy. Lastly, suffice to say with all his experience, Zinn 'chooses' close to French fit with comfortable stretched out reach to the handlebar but bar height pretty close to saddle height. I basically ride a scaled down version of his fit and works best for me as well.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Racing Saddles-zinn-stem-flipped-up.jpg  
    Last edited by 11spd; 3 Weeks Ago at 03:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    I canít imagine anyone elseís saddle experience translating, in any useful manner, with yours or anyone elseís. That said, my LBS has a swap policy that is very generous. You are welcome to use any saddle for up to a few months and you can swap at will with other saddles. There are no questions asked, just a genuine desire for you to get on the right saddle for you. Find a shop that goes the extra mile and support the idea of the LBS. I get on the river pretty often, for that specifically, I canít imagine finding comfort. It just is what it is.
    I think you meant on the rivet. You would get too wet riding in the river.
    Riding the rivet is an acquired taste and hopefully won't be more than a 5 minute affair.

    Certain parameters of saddle selection can be discussed as I have attempted to in my post. There are some universal truths that some don't understand and why they repeat the same mistakes but yes, quite right, a saddle that may work for one rider, may not for another. Without question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 80turbota View Post
    What about an SQLabs saddle? they make a kit to measure the sit bones. It is something to think about. Just an idea.
    I love the stiffer 612 carbon in 140 width, the model without the "active" bits, and have used them on both my main rides the last couple years after trying about everything out there before.

    Previously, I liked the SMP Forma and before that had found the flat Arione good except for it being a little too narrow and giving too much perineum pressure. For me, the SQ Labs 612 is a very happy medium between these too and I've stopped looking.

    In feel and function, it's not unlike a well worn in Brooks Swallow, also, but with much better perineum relief. I run mine dead level front to rear, which is a degree higher at the nose than they generally recommend to start with but for me it's the sweet spot for all bar positions. It's like it's not even there for anything less than, say, 50 miles.

    Surely it's not for everyone, but it is the best saddle I've found personally.
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    I'm digging my Fabric Scoop. I got the flat one. Doesn't break the bank, but is much better than some more expensive saddles I've owned and tried.
    https://fabric.cc/products/saddles/
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    I'm currently using a Specialized Toupe Pro (carbon rails) on my road bike. Best saddle I've used. I may try the Specialized Power saddle if the Toupe starts to give me trouble.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wood Devil View Post

    I'm more of an aggressive rider and prefer to be in the drops. During my riding/races, I find myself more forward on the saddle, and thereby less on the sit bones and more on that soft tissue area I'm complaining about. But that part of the saddle is thin and naturally begins to feel like you're sitting on your top tube.
    If you are sitting on the front of the saddle maybe try moving your saddle forward a bit to got more of the saddle on your sit bones

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    I am currently riding a Selle Italia. I recently borrowed a Brooks c-17. Nice saddle but it wasn't My SI. It is going to take a pretty special saddle to make me brake from what I am currently riding.

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