View Full Version : Saddle width issue??? Need ideas

02-25-2007, 01:22 AM
Hi all. I am currently riding a Terry Unisex Liberator Race Gel saddle - and the width per Terry is 5.8". I am having saddle issues and am wondering if a narrower saddle or some other change is needed. Here are the basics:

I am 5'9" 145 lbs - I have been riding this saddle for 8 months - two bikes - Trek Pilot and Orbea Orca.
I ride ride twice a week indoors(Trek) on a computrainer for 3 hours of ride time in addition to two rides outside(Orbea) on the weekend of about 50 miles or so each - this is "off season"
"In" season I am on the road 4-5 times a week for about 150 - 200 miles per week.
I do not race, although my bikes are set up in a more "race-like" geometry.(I have tried more upright and don't like it)
I am planning to do lots of hilly centuries this year.
Most of my rides involve climbing.
I have been riding almost one year
I use Shebeast century shorts and have enough pairs that they are not "worn out" I don't use a chamois cream or other such lubricants.
I have been professionally fit on both of my bikes and have no other problem areas.

Last season I got a saddle sore where my leg and groin join that I treated and it went away. Now it is returning AND I am having the same issue in the same area on the other side - right where my sit bones are. The skin is "pigmented" as if to indicate a cycle of irritation and then healing over time. There is a hard knot on one side that comes and goes - and I am afraid of getting the same issue on the other side. When the area is swollen - I feel as if I can't get "situated" on my saddle.

I switched to the saddle from the Bontrager that came on my first bike - a Trek - because it hurt my female parts. One ride on the Terry and that problem was gone instantly. Now it appears I have others.

Here are my questions:
Do I look for a narrower saddle??
Do I look for a different type of saddle??
Should I be using some kind of chamois cream?? If so why? A greasy lube where I am having inflammation and have pores seems counter intuitive.

Any other suggestions on what I can try would be welcomed. Please help - daylight savings time will be here soon and I want to be on the road in comfort!!!

Debi :(

02-25-2007, 01:58 AM
A couple of things come to mind...

First of all, width can't be determined by height & weight--you need to measure the distance between your sit-bones. There is lots of discussion on this earlier for you to search out & read. Too wide normally shows up as chaffing, you are smacking something each time your leg rotates on the pedal stroke.

If you are getting rubbing, lube. Use a quality chamois cream or butter. Try Friction Zone to protect any particularly sensitive area, it sets up an actual shield to protect you from whatever is rubbing.

The hard knot might be a small hematoema. Probable recommendation would be time off the bike to let it heal. See a doc if it worsens, or it might be something else. But keep an eye on it.

Gel seats can feel great initially, but are not necessarily a good solution for longer rides. You sink in, so you get lots of contact area for rubbing & soreness. The gel gets hot & you sweat more, so you get rashes. I would suggest looking into a firmer seating platform. Be prepared to try more than one seat, it's hard to get it right on the first go-round. A firmer saddle will actually give you better support on long, hilly rides.

But try to get rid of your problems before you hunt for new saddles. Off-season is a good time to do that. Otherwise, you will just be piling other problems on top of your current woes, and won't be able to judge any new saddle fairly, either. You have to be hurt-free before you start testing.

Good luck.

02-25-2007, 05:04 AM

Thanks for the suggestions - I too am thinking my saddle is too wide due to the rubbing and chafing I am having. I had not considered a firmer saddle - you have an excellent point - and yes - the gel saddle felt great right away.

Where does one find this Friction Zone product??

The knot is not (excuse the humor) a hematoma - it is a cyst or in lay terms "boil"that does not come all the way to the surface - a hair follicle I suspect. I also think I am getting a hematoma on top if it as well at times due to the friction. I am trying to avoid a surgical solution.

Anyone know if the petroleum based lubes contribute to chamois breakdown??


02-25-2007, 06:15 AM
I use a Brooks B67 saddle. I needed to ride on someone else's tandem, so i took my saddle with me. Unfortunately, the first time i did this the saddle was too far forward, so indeed there was some awful rubbing. I adjusted the saddle
and the saddle's demeanor returned to normal; that is; invisible. If you don't notice your saddle, then it fits you right.
So before you throw your saddle away, make sure it's adjusted correctly.

02-25-2007, 06:34 AM
First measure your sits bones like the others said.

If your current saddle is about 1 cm wider to each side than your bone-to-bone measurement (or at mininum the same width as your outside-to-outside measurement) then the saddle is the right width.

Your next step is too look at the overall shape of the saddle. Is it pear shaped (gradual transition from wide part to nose) or "T" shaped (abrupt transition from wide part to nose)?

I chafe exactly as you describe if I ride on a pear-shaped seat, even if the width is perfect for me.

The "fold" from my butt to my thigh rubs on the gradual part of the pear-shaped seat and I get miserable. Take away that gradual transition, there's nothing to rub me raw.

I ride a Brooks B67, and plan to get a B68 (a Brooks for each bike) as soon as I win the lottery.


The Serfas Niva seat with the cut-out is actually narrower than my Brooks, but because of the *shape* it chafes me horribly, while I've never had a single sore or irritation from the Brooks.

02-25-2007, 07:43 AM
Knotted yet,

Thanks for the pic - I understand what you are saying now. My saddle is shaped like the pear and hurts like yours does. I measured my sit bones and they are 5 inches. My current saddle is 5.8" - so the width is maybe slightly too narrow. I was looking at the Terry Butterfly Ti and the Donna's Butterfly in pink. I think they are about the right width and the Butterfly Ti appears to have more of the "T" shape you are referring to.

The lack of padding on the Brooks saddle makes me nervous - it doesn't hurt you??


02-25-2007, 07:52 AM
No, the Brooks is marvellous! The firm seat keeps you on your bones, like sitting in a kitchen chair (I think Mimi used that analogy) so you aren't on any soft tissue. And the leather does give under your weight, and over time it forms itself to you a little. I can ride 50 or 60 miles on my Brooks and never think of my butt, yet on the Serfas I'm in pain after about 7 miles and miserable by 14.

Be careful with those Terry seats, they have become more pear-shaped over the years. Be sure you can send it back if the shape isn't ok for you.

Once you do find the perfect saddle, make careful note of all it's dimensions and make/model so you can get another when the time comes. (or just buy two, which is what I'm hoping to do!)

One of Mimi's Brooks is 30 years old, and she's still riding on it!

02-25-2007, 07:59 AM
I'm a pear too. My saddle is a Brook B17 S (women's) and feels fine.
Look at the picture of the two saddles. See how with the saddle on the left you would have two puffy balls of stuff pushing back against your two sit bones as you ride? Like riding on two squishy eggs. It hurts. The Brooks leather saddle on the right will slowly form to your sitbones, making dents that accomodate them and form to your pelvis bones like a good leather shoe forms to your own feet over time, ...instead of sitting on "rubber balls" like with the "padded" saddles. Hope this clarifies what we Brooks fans are talking about.
Every one is different though, and some women like gel or cut-out saddles.

02-25-2007, 09:09 AM
I've had problems with saddles and after I had my sitbones measured, it was determined that WSD saddles were just too wide. I only had 4-1/2" wide sitbones, which placce sme closer to a man's specs than a woman's. The problems were not only the area where I place my weight on the saddle, but the unusually narrow gap between my legs. The solution was a unisex triathlon gel saddle... the Selle San Marco Azoto, which is marketed as Ironman-specific. No problems so far! :D

02-25-2007, 10:31 AM
I had exactly the problem you describe on a terry butterfly. While the transition is one good way to describe, the other is that some of those saddles are just too wide on the nose, that is why they rub. I am very happy with my Brooks Finesse now, but I did have to tweak the postion a while. For me, what was key was to level the nose, which means the rear is a bit higher than the front. But I sit very close to the edges so I wish it had a wider rear (the new b68 does). I also noticed the problem you describe when any saddle is too far forward, so you could try pushing your saddle further back on the rails and see if that helps.

02-26-2007, 08:18 AM
Friction Zone is made by Brave Soldier, approx $15 for a tube, believe it is marketed by Colorado Cyclist. TE might have it as well.

Yes, petrolatum causes deterioration in lycra. Keep away from vaseline.

03-22-2007, 04:08 AM
Friction Zone is made by Brave Soldier, approx $15 for a tube, believe it is marketed by Colorado Cyclist. TE might have it as well.

Yes, petrolatum causes deterioration in lycra. Keep away from vaseline.

I use Friction Zone and feel it is a VERY good product. After searching for the best deal, I think I found it at http://www.skinstore.com. They sometimes have it discounted PLUS no shipping!

03-22-2007, 04:14 AM
Like others, I have experienced these sores, that is why I use Friction Zone (see other reply). When I am out of Friction Zone, I use good old A&D gel ointment -- works wonders! I have also changed my saddle from a wider to narrower nose, bought a variety of different shorts because wearing the same chamois can rub in the same spot so good to add variety, and this year changed the size of my shorts -- going smaller because the larger chamois moved, causing rubbing.

So, I throw these ideas out .... :cool: :D

05-01-2007, 07:36 AM
I'm having the same cyst issues, and I've found that the less padding I have, the better off I've been. I'm currently trying out a Specialized Toupe. It has taken a couple of weeks for my seatbones to get used to the hard saddle, but the cyst I'd grown from my previous saddle (Terry Falcon X) is slowly going away.
If this one ends up not working, I'm going to go with a Brooks or Selle An-Atomica.

05-24-2007, 11:38 AM
I know you already ordered you Selle An-atomica saddle and I really hope it works out for you. I went through about 10-12 saddles in past 2.5 years and I think I finally found something really good. The last saddle I got is Specialized Avatar and its really comfortable. It supports you under your sit bones and doesnt give me any pressure issues in the front. No chaffing even without chamois butter or body glide which I always applied in enormous amounts before. I also had brooks before this saddle and used it on about 120 miles and it gave me pretty awful chaffing in the front soft tissue after about 16 miles. If you Selle An-atomica doesnt work out give Avatar a try, just measure your sit bones for a correct size. Last year I had Jett in 144 width and it was a little too narrow for me, so I ordered Avatar in 155 and its perfect.