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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    112

    Wish I knew how I was supposed to sit on my bike...

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    It's been 900+ miles now on the road bike - and I'm still not sure I'm sitting properly in the saddle.

    I was professionally fitted when I bought it, and they did alot of adjustments to let me ride "more upright" since I learned to ride on a hybrid. So I know I don't "lean" down into my handlebars as much as many of you probably do.

    Yesterday, for the very first time, I actually got down into the drops and it felt kinda cool (I was there for about 40 seconds going down a small hill).

    But it's my butt position I don't quite get - all this talk about "sitting on your sit bones". I know from yoga what my sit bones are and I think I tend sit more in dog position than in cat position (I don't mean the arch of my back, which tends to be kinda flat while riding, but rather the arch of my sit bones, which tend to "arch out/upward" as in dog pose, putting a lot of my soft tissue on the front of the saddle. I know I'm not "tucking my sit bones under", because that would force me to sit "more upright" on the bike and I'm trying to learn to lean forward and down.

    But I worry that I'm really putting my weight on my soft tissue, instead of my sit bones. While they make contact with the saddle, I don't think that's where my weight is. I know if I tucked my sit bones under, putting my weight on the bones themselves, I'd be able to sit upright on the bike (maybe hands free for a moment, like folks do crossing a finish line). That's something I can't do now - my weight is too far forward.

    Anyway, I'm probably making no sense at all.

    But I keep thinking about replacing my saddle to get the pressure off my soft tissue, but before I do it, I want to figure out if I'm sitting right on the saddle in the first place.
    Debra
    Cure cancer. Ride a bike.
    www.livestrong.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,310
    I am going to try to make sense of it- lol. You should be back on your saddle. I have a tendency to slide up on the nose instead of pushed back. I have my sit bones rolled out, at least that is how it feels. When I sit up like a chair they feel more tucked under. I may not be using the correct terms.

    My fitting at BSS I was told to push myself back on the saddle. I tend to sit on my saddle like a chair which reduces the power transfer (I think). Some people may be able to help a little more.

    BTW- I can ride hands free and it requires me to rotate to a more chair position. I cannot do it in a position that will allow me to reach the drops. Also if you are not a flexible person no matter how you are sitting the drops will not be a very comfortable. I am very short and find the drops make me feel stretched out too much, I am working on being comfortable in them but so far I am not. I have been riding nearly 5 years, I wonder if I will ever be!
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,645
    I honestly don't understand how you can bear to bear your weight on soft tissues!
    If I had to do that, riding would be constant misery and i would not do it.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
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    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    112
    Quote Originally Posted by Biciclista View Post
    I honestly don't understand how you can bear to bear your weight on soft tissues!
    Oh trust me, it's altered my sex life - without sounding too crude, there are whole parts of me that are untouchable after a ride. But admittedly after 900 miles, I don't get saddle sores anymore, just tenderness for a few hours afterwards.

    I had a laugh in September at my annual visit with my male GYN (who's a cyclist). I told him we needed a gynecologist consulting on the design of women's saddles, someone who really understands the anatomy of the vulva. He laughed when I said I refrained from riding that weekend, so I wouldn't lie in the stirrups and present him with a red, swollen mess.

    DH is encouraging me to try a new saddle (I'm sure he's motivated to see me solve this problem ) - and during yesterday's ride I spent the entire 90 minutes trying to figure out where my butt was "supposed" to be. I'm scared I'll go out and try 12 new saddles and still not know if I'm sitting right to begin with.

    Argh!
    Debra
    Cure cancer. Ride a bike.
    www.livestrong.org

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    It's not just the saddle itself, it's the tilt, the length of your stem.... And you'll sit differently on every different saddle, so I don't know that there's an answer to your question really.

    My guess is, if your saddle is a size and shape that allows you to sit on your sit bones, but you're not doing it, the saddle probably isn't the culprit. Try tilting the nose up just a bit. If you don't have a micro-adjustable seatpost, you can shim the tilt with a little piece of metal cut from a can (steel can is best because it's thicker and won't compress as much, but you can use aluminum, folded in half or fourths). Especially if you're constantly sliding forward on a T-shaped saddle, a tilt adjustment might help.

    Off topic - but Aggie, maybe just some shallower drops would be useful. The stock bars on our bike are rather deep. Obviously it wouldn't put you in as low an aero tuck as your stock bars, but if you can be comfortable, it'll give you a better position for pacelining and descending. Earlier this year I put on a set of Ritchey Biomax Pro bars (thanks, Liza!) - a bit wider but also much shallower and ergo drops - and I'm really loving them.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,310
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    Off topic - but Aggie, maybe just some shallower drops would be useful. The stock bars on our bike are rather deep. Obviously it wouldn't put you in as low an aero tuck as your stock bars, but if you can be comfortable, it'll give you a better position for pacelining and descending. Earlier this year I put on a set of Ritchey Biomax Pro bars (thanks, Liza!) - a bit wider but also much shallower and ergo drops - and I'm really loving them.
    I have been wanting to put Salsa Short and Shallows on the bike. I used to have them when I had my Fuji and really liked them. I don't need anymore carbon so alloy is fine. Going to replace those probably this summer when I need new bar tape anyway. Back to Deb's thread.
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    148
    I bought my bike back in July. I'd been riding a borrowed bike before that. I was professionally fitted and then went and did a week ride in Iowa. I thought I'd had another child...except with more pain. lol! Came back and changed my stem. Better. Went back again and changed my seat tilt. MUCH BETTER!!! I am now convinced that it takes more than 1 or even 2 fittings for it to be perfect. Because in the end, while it may technically "look" like it fits based on measurements and all, your butt may say differently after several miles. But that's just my ever so amateur opinion. I hope you get it all figured out. I know how much it hurts sitting on those girly parts your entire ride.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Memphis, TN
    Posts
    996
    Deb- don't over-think it
    As for sitting:
    I'm a huge fan of sitting however I feel is necessary for the distance/terrian/effort that I'm doing! I don't think there's really a "right" or "wrong" way- usually, I'm back on the wide part of the saddle sitting square on my seat bones, but sometimes I'll roll forward, flatten my back a bit, and be supporting most of my weight on my ischium (click here for a pelvis bone diagram). Sometimes, I'm someplace in between! Just do whatever feels right for you.

    As for saddles/fitting:
    If you're getting soft tissue pain, chances are, you need a saddle with a cutout (or at least some sort of pressure-relief channel). Personally, whenever I've tried non-cutout saddles, not only do I get horribly sore/chafed soft tissue, the rest of my body (back, shoulders, hands, etc) hurts from trying to hold my pelvis in a position that keeps my soft tissue from getting squished! They'd always gave me the feeling that my fit was way off: I'd feel like the saddle was too far back, my bars were too low, and/or my stem was too short. However, as soon as I swapped for a cutout saddle, my bike fit felt fine (I actually ended up lowering my bars & going with a longer stem!).

    I went through 16 saddles before I figured out what I like (I ride a Selle SMP Lite 209, which is still not perfect, but I can tolerate it). Based on my personal experience, I recommend the following saddle-searching steps:

    1. Find out your seatbone width. Most shops have some sort of measuring device that you can use. Get a center-to-center measurement and look at saddles that are at least equal to or a little wider than that measurement.
    2. Determine how much padding you want. Generally, less padding is going to result in a little seatbone soreness for the first few rides, but will give you fewer problems with saddle sores. A lot of padding can also close up your cutout once it starts to break down. Never a pleasant thing!
    3. Shop around for your desired width/padding- ideally you'll find someplace that offers a satisfaction guarantee- Terry, specialized, bontrager, and some LBS's will allow you a certain time during which you can return a saddle if you don't like it. This can save you a lot of money! If you think that the SMP saddles look like something you'd like, check out cbike.com. They have a 10-day demo program.
    4. Don't be put off by price or weight. Your comfort is more important than either of those things.
    5. Once you get a saddle, get a basic re-fit (a lot of LBS's do this for free if you order through them). Because of differences in saddle and rail length/height, you often need to adjust the height and fore/aft position of a new saddle.
    6. Ride! If your seatbones get sore, ride some more. If you start getting chafing/saddle sores, then it's likely that you and the saddle aren't meant to be! Return it (or sell it), and try again with a saddle that's got a different shape and/or padding.
    7. Rinse and repeat until you find one that you love!
    Because not every fast cyclist is a toothpick...

    Brick House Blog

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    112

    Ok, I've got a plan. Thank you!

    Great advice from everyone! Now I've got a plan.

    1) Try out the new saddle I saw at a Trek booth earlier this year (the sales rep had the "measuring thing" so I know what size I need). She thought the "Bontrager Inform RL WSD" would be good for me. If it's no good, keep trying.

    2) After the new saddle is on, get refitted at my LBS. When I had the first fitting I'd never even been on a road bike before, so I'll bet some follow up tweaks are needed.

    Thank you!
    Debra
    Cure cancer. Ride a bike.
    www.livestrong.org

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,310
    Mellow Johnny's is the only shop in town I have seen the inform at. I was very curious about it myself but didn't need to spend the money the last time I was in there. I wonder how their policy is on trying them out?
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856
    Trek has a 90-day comfort guarantee on all saddles.

    I tried out the Inform RL in three different widths last fall before deciding that it wasn't the saddle for me. At which point I returned the third one. By then I had lost the receipt but the LBS took it back anyway (I had worked directly with the store manager when I first bought it, so he knew I had bought it there).

    I really liked the way the nose of the saddle was designed, but unfortunately it was too pear-shaped for me, which is why I returned it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    47
    Quote Originally Posted by Aggie_Ama View Post
    Mellow Johnny's is the only shop in town I have seen the inform at. I was very curious about it myself but didn't need to spend the money the last time I was in there. I wonder how their policy is on trying them out?
    I can't answer to MJ, but when I was on my saddle quest, I bought and returned 9! I can say with confidence that you can return saddles at REI and Performance. Actually, I bought 5 saddles from Performance one day, with the intention of returning 4 or 5 of them. I was seriously on the hunt! BSS gave me the evil eye, but took them back. When I knew what I was looking for I could tell within a mile if it was "in the running" or not. So buy a lot, try a lot.

    THings got much better for me when I pushed way back in the saddle, concentrating on squeezing my abs to round my back (so that I felt like I looked like the TE click-to-shop chic) and found the Sel Italia Gel Flow saddle @ Performance. Distinct T shaped, thin nose, little padding (who knew!), full cutout-split design. Yum. This one even works on my Mt. Bike I love it so!

    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,310
    Quote Originally Posted by ny biker View Post
    Trek has a 90-day comfort guarantee on all saddles.
    Well then I may just buy the inform for my road bike! Oh and if I went this weekend the Livestrong Team will be at Mellow Johnny's. Think my husband would disown me if he caught me drooling on Axel Merckx? The rest of those boys are barely 18!

    Alley- REI told me I could return my saddle no questions asked even if I rode it for awhile. I despise Performance and have avoided them for some time after dealing with one of the managers who was a pain. They also gave me a hard time about returning a light that was defective when I had a receipt that was 3 days old. I am glad you had a good experience because my customer service experiences have been horrible. Including I had to drive back from way in the boonies because my box of pedals only had one pedal in it. That has all been over a year, maybe I should give them another chance?

    Is that a men's saddle, the SLR Gel? I have one to try but haven't put it on my bike yet. I ride the women's Lady Gel Flow and it is huge, I thought I had wide sit bones but maybe not. I wanted to try the firm so someone gave me this one for free.
    Last edited by Aggie_Ama; 01-09-2009 at 08:43 AM.
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    47
    Is that a men's saddle, the SLR Gel? I have one to try but haven't put it on my bike yet. I ride the women's Lady Gel Flow and it is huge, I thought I had wide sit bones but maybe not. I wanted to try the firm so someone gave me this one for free.[/QUOTE]

    I have this one, but I don't know if it is the men's or women's. It doesn't say Women's on it, so it might be the men's.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    1,414
    glad you like the handlebars, Oakleaf .

    I think there is a fair amount of individual variation in what is comfortable and sustainable for different people. Most of the time, I ride with my hips tilted farther forward than most people would suggest is optimal -- there's some weight on my sit bones, but probably more on the ischium (as Andrea's diagram shows). This is comfortable for me. None of the *men* who have fitted me have noticed it at all, as far as I know, mostly because it does result in a very flat back which seems to be more what they notice rather than your hip position per se. It's only in the past year (I've been riding for three now) that I've learned how to ride no-hands for any distance, and it does require consciously pulling my tailbone under. At any rate, this riding position is what feels natural to me, and I've found a saddle that accomodates it.

    It does sound to me like the issues you are having may be more complicated than just your saddle, though. If you are feeling like your weight isn't comfortably balanced on the bike, it may be a sign that you need adjustments to reach or setback.

 

 

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