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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897

    Back in the saddle search again (or not)

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    So, a quick forum search shows that I've been using the Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle for about five years now, maybe more. After a while these saddles develop a permanent indentation on either side, probably where two separate pieces of foam padding meet or something like that. Anyway I had one for a couple of years, it wore out so I replaced it, and now the second one has worn out.

    In general it's been a good saddle for me but is not perfect. I would prefer less padding in the nose and also have a bit of a chafing problem on the right side. But with the right shorts I've been able to do long rides with it without too much discomfort. This is what it looks like:

    http://trekbikes.com/us/en_US/equipm...addle/p/09729/

    Now that I am looking at getting a new saddle, it appears that Trek is phasing out the Affinity in favor or the Ajna and Yatra saddles:

    http://trekbikes.com/us/en_US/equipm...addle/p/13691/

    http://trekbikes.com/us/en_US/equipm...addle/p/13335/

    When I was at the LBS yesterday they had the Ajna in stock, and I spoke to the manager about it. But then I went home and looked online, and decided the Yatra is more likely to work for me. From what I can tell from the online photo (which of course is at an angle that makes it hard to see the shape ), the Yatra is more t-shaped. The Ajna is definitely more pear-shaped. And supposedly the Ajna is more for an aggressive riding posture, whereas the Yatra is for a more upright road-bike posture. I found this article, which is a bit old but still helpful:

    https://www.bikerumor.com/2015/06/09...namic-designs/

    So, I asked the LBS manager to order a Yatra for me, in the same width as the old Affinity. And since there are still some Affinity saddles available, he ordered one of them, too. We will try the Yatra on the bike in the shop, and if it seems okay I will do a few a test rides. If it's not okay I will get another Affinity.

    I'm hoping the Yatra does work and that the deeper divot will alleviate the "too much padding in the nose" problem.

    One concern is that I preferred the Affinity RXL -- most expensive version with carbon rails -- because it was the firmest version of Affinity available. The Yatra does not have a comparable version. For their old saddles, RXL was the "race" version with the least padding, RL was the mid-range and R was the least expensive version with the softest padding. For the new ones they are going with Pro, Elite and Comp instead of RXL, RL and R. The Yatra only comes in Comp and Elite, whereas the Ajna comes in a Pro version.

    So we shall see how it all works out. With all the changes in design and naming conventions, Trek still offers a 30-day guarantee on the Bontrager saddles (as well as all their other clothing and gear). I just hope we have good enough weather to get in some decent test rides.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    I don't remember my sit bone measurement -- but just the other day I had trouble remembering how to spell "reason," so I it appears that I am starting to lose my marbles . I do know that the current saddle is 144mm. I did try a couple of different 154mm saddles before the Affinity came out and was not happy with them. And way way back when I tried an original Bontrager Inform in 134 and it was utter torture. I think the bike fit guys were still getting used to the butt-o-meter when we tried that experiment.

    One interesting thing I've noticed -- the Bontrager women's road bike saddles used to come in 134, 144 and 154. The new ones are 144, 154 and 164. I guess they don't have enough female customers with narrow sit bones, and probably have had a fair number of requests for a wider option that isn't big and cushy.

    So now I'm just trying to figure out when I can have the saddle put on my bike. Trying to guess which weekend day will have better weather for a test ride while juggling various other things including the haircut that I desperately need...

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    I've only ever tried one Specialized saddle because my LBS doesn't carry them, and the stores around here that do carry them are not very good at fitting a new saddle on a bike. And I'm never good at doing it myself. The one I tried was a Lithia and it wasn't comfortable. IIRC there was too much pressure on the edges of the cutout.

    I tried the Yatra today, on a 28-mile ride. In some ways it was better than the Affinity. The deeper divot on the Yatra -- not a full cut out but a deep indentation -- was more comfortable. My sit bones were very close to the edges of the Yatra but they were on the saddle. But I had chafing problems, especially on the right side. I have a bit of a chafing issue with the Affinity too, on the right side, but not this bad. So at the end of the ride I thought I would be returning it and ordering one of the last Affinities available. Before I put the bike in the car I took a few photos to post here in case anyone else was curious about the Yatra.

    On the way home I stopped to get a sandwich and I looked at the photos while I was eating. Oh hey, that saddle doesn't look straight on the bike. It's almost straight but not quite. And that little skew to the left might explain the chafing.

    The funny thing is that I always end up with a new saddle being skewed slightly to the left on this bike. You'd think I'd have learned to check that by now. Anyway. If the weather forecast for Wednesday holds, I will test it again then. It will be a shorter ride but better than nothing.

    And here are the photos:

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    Last edited by ny biker; 12-04-2016 at 03:25 PM.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    For comparison, here is the Affinity. The surface is flatter, less domed.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Side by side:

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    By the way the Yatra is also firmer than the Affinity.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by ny biker; 12-04-2016 at 03:44 PM.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by ny biker View Post
    I've only ever tried one Specialized saddle because my LBS doesn't carry them, and the stores around here that do carry them are not very good at fitting a new saddle on a bike. And I'm never good at doing it myself. The one I tried was a Lithia and it wasn't comfortable. IIRC there was too much pressure on the edges of the cutout.

    I tried the Yatra today, on a 28-mile ride. In some ways it was better than the Affinity. The deeper divot on the Yatra -- not a full cut out but a deep indentation -- was more comfortable. My sit bones were very close to the edges of the Yatra but they were on the saddle. But I had chafing problems, especially on the right side. I have a bit of a chafing issue with the Affinity too, on the right side, but not this bad. So at the end of the ride I thought I would be returning it and ordering one of the last Affinities available. Before I put the bike in the car I took a few photos to post here in case anyone else was curious about the Yatra.

    On the way home I stopped to get a sandwich and I looked at the photos while I was eating. Oh hey, that saddle doesn't look straight on the bike. It's almost straight but not quite. And that little skew to the left might explain the chafing.

    The funny thing is that I always end up with a new saddle being skewed slightly to the left on this bike. You'd think I'd have learned to check that by now. Anyway. If the weather forecast for Wednesday holds, I will test it again then. It will be a shorter ride but better than nothing.

    And here are the photos:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Sounds interesting! I have problems with chafing as well when I cycle - Its really killing me! I use lube to prevent this painful thing :-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    Have you figured out your saddle, NY?

    I have been having chafing problems lately riding saddles that I used to love and worked fine for me (basically all the ones in my sig). I attribute this to some changes in my lady bits over time due to menopause. After some research, last night I decided to order a Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow, since it has a larger cutout than my other saddles, which I loved prior to going through menopause. I am hoping that the "bits" just hang into the cutout rather than getting rubbed by the edge of it, which is what I think is happening now. I considered trying a saddle with no cutout at all, but every time I've tried one of those in the past, I've gotten terrible urethral irritation and painful urination after longer rides, and that is not fun. So I've been riding a saddle with a cutout for years now.

    I have been using a combination of Doc's chamois cream and Lidocaine gel in the area that bothers me, but that only helps for about the first hour of a ride, so I have to reapply mid-ride, since my rides are typically 2.5+ hours. I used to be fine riding that kind of time without any butters, gels, etc. I would get saddles sores in the "taint" area occasionally, and while I haven't had one of those for a long time, I have burning up front, especially on the right side.

    Anyway, we shall see once it arrives (I mail ordered it from the UK since the price was much less, and free shipping to the US!) It's been a long time since I've tried a new saddle, so I am a bit nervous to change, but something has gotta give, and a new saddle is a lot less $$ than a recumbent bike (another solution I came up with).
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    After trying the two new Bontrager saddles (Ajna and Yatra), I gave up and ordered one of the last remaining Affinities available. I did a few rides with the Yatra and liked the cutout, but it was uncomfortable in other ways and I ended up with a saddle sore that took a while to go away. I tried the Ajna with the bike on the indoor trainer at the LBS and quickly decided it was no better than the Yatra. We concluded that the problem with both was the dome shape -- the flatter Affinity is a better shape for me. Part of me would like to look for something shaped like the Affinity but with a cutout, but a bigger part has too many other things to spend time and money on. And I've been okay with the Affinity for years now -- it's not perfect it's good enough. Now I'm deciding if I want to buy another one and save it for when this new one wears out.

    I vaguely recall trying a Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flo years ago, and it didn't work for me. But I bought it used and put it on the bike myself so the position was probably not quite right. I think Catrin liked the Diva Gel Flow? If it's the same size and shape as the Ldy Gel Flow, it sounds like it could be a good option for you. Good luck!

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    I'm looking forward to receiving my Diva (not until mid-month) and trying it out. I really hope I don't have to go through a series of saddles, as that gets very expensive!

    The bike I've been riding the most often, my Trek, has a Bontrager Select Fit CRZ+ saddle, original to the bike, so it's a good 10 years old. When I first got the bike (used) in early 2013, the saddle was super comfy, but my body has changed since then, and perhaps the saddle has broken down some as well. I have the same issues on my SI Ldy Gel Flows on my other two bikes, both newer saddles than the Bontrager, though. They are bit harder but irritate the same place on my labia now. This is with shorts (Sugoi) that have always been very good for me.

    Glad you are settled with your Affinity, NY. Sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone. I remember a terrible experiment years ago when I decided to try a Terry Damselfly since my Butterfly was heavier and less racy. Most miserable experience ever! Like riding a two-by-four, not to mention giving me a honking saddlesore that took a cortisone injection to relieve. So, since then, I have been loathe to try different saddles. The Ldy Gel Flow is basically exactly the same shape/size/form as the Butterfly, only a little less pricey.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    The Diva has a much bigger cutout, and a lot of people have problems with their inner sitbones breaching the cutout, and becoming weightbearing. Which hurts (I lasted 40 miles on mine before I sent it back).

    Otherwise, it's a nice saddle. I can see the Diva working if someone has a lot of space between their inner sitbones.
    Interesting! I have no idea as I've never sat on the azz-o-meter, but I've always done better on wider saddles, FWIW. I won't return it if it doesn't work out, since I'm purchasing from the UK, but I might try to sell it on Ebay if it's a complete no go. Fortunately, there are enough good reviews that I figure I have a 50/50 chance of liking it. Crossing fingers!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
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    So, I finally got my SI Diva saddle, DH installed it, and great weather for a ride today to try it out. One ride is probably not enough to base my opinion on, but so far, so good. It felt good immediately, and a 34.5 mile ride didn't bother my lady bits or sit bones at all. Yippee! I think my post-menopausal lady bits really needed that wide cutout to avoid chafing. Chamois butter just wasn't enough. I'm glad I ordered a new saddle to try before new shorts, as my favorite Sugoi shorts felt fine today.

    So, two cautious thumbs up on the Diva!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  11. #11
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    Jul 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Great!

    This is one saddle where measuring your sits probably wouldn't give an accurate impression (pun intended?). Not on one of those gel thingies, anyway.
    Yes, you're right, because my other saddles were perfectly wide enough for my sit bones, but the cutout was just narrow enough to pinch and chafe my inner bits. Owie!

    After another successful ride with the Diva today (36.3 miles), I put my old Bontrager saddle out in the garbage area of our campground, but sitting on top of a can, late in the afternoon. Just checked during our after-dinner doggie walk, and it was gone. Happy about that as it wasn't good enough to bother selling (10+ years old and came stock on my bike), but I hate to throw anything out if it's still in decent condition.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    Great news, Emily.

    I have done two short rides (17ish miles, slow and hilly, about 90 minutes each) with the new Affinity that replaced the old worn out one. And there was chafing on the right side both times. WTH? With the old saddle I would have minor chafing on the right on long rides, which I was able to manage with chamois cream and the right shorts. But I never had a problem on short rides before. So I was starting to wonder if I needed to check out the Specialized Riva sooner rather than later.

    Also on the first test ride I could tell that the nose was tilted up a bit. So I adjusted that before the second ride. I also thought that maybe the nose was skewed left yet again, since that seems to always happen when a new saddle is put on my bike. So I nudged the nose to the right a tiny bit. During the second ride I could tell that leveling the saddle had made things better. But there was still chafing and I also felt like I was sitting too far back. Hmmm.

    After I returned home I dug the old saddle out of the closet. While it was still on the bike, I had put blue painter's tape on the rails just behind the clamp, to have a record of the fore/aft position. I put the old saddle on top of the new one and aha! the new one is definitely too far forward. I think the guy on the LBS who had put the new saddle on the bike had misunderstood what the position of the blue tape was indicating, and I foolishly did not pay enough attention to note the problem sooner.

    So I will move the new saddle back and try it again. Hopefully this will resolve the chafing issue on the short rides. In fact I might position it tiny bit farther back than the old one was to see if I can reduce the chafing on longer rides, too.

    This is so typical of me -- switching out an old saddle with a new one that is exactly the same should be the kind of thing that you get right on the first try. I really should have paid more attention.
    Last edited by ny biker; 01-27-2017 at 11:27 AM.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    Hope you'll get it all sorted out, NY. Chafing is a bee-yotch!

    I experienced that first hand today as we did a utility ride on our Bike Friday with racks and panniers, as we just couldn't put off a trip to Walmart any longer. HATE going there, but we had a huge list of pharmacy & household type stuff that we just couldn't find elsewhere closer by or at prices we are willing to pay. It's not a fun ride for me under the best of circumstances: hilly, 14 miles each way, partly on trails, which is fine, but partly in a very narrow bike lane on a busy road with cars whizzing by, several light crossings with steep climbs right after, and a steep climb into Walmart itself, then the usual hoards of people in the parking lot and inside the store. Blech.

    But what this ride did show me is just how miserable my much-beloved Sella Italia Ldy Gel Flow saddles had become for me. UGH! After two blissful days riding the Diva, I figured "how bad can it be". I wore good shorts, used chamois butter, but I still had horrible chafing. Mine is also on the right. In my case I can only attribute this to menopausal changes, as I always loved these saddles before, and now they are really intolerable! I was rubbed raw by the time we finished the 29 mile round trip.

    SO, I have now two more Divas on order (a lovely white one for my white Bike Friday and a black one for my MTB). I'm just not willing to be miserable on the bike, and I found a great source of these saddles in the UK at half the price of what a bunch of places in the US are charging: Wiggle.com. They have lots of cycling gear, free shipping to the US, and no tax. The saddles are only $65-66 US each (depending on color), which is amazing. I guess because they are made in Italy, buying from the UK really makes sense in this case!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,394
    Glad you found your saddle, Emily. I have alsod been successful in getting very expensive cycling gear from shops in the UK. They seem to have a plethora of small sizes and hard to find things like winter cyling shoes for road pedals. I've never paid a shipping charge. I also bought my Assos winter jacket there, for less than half of the 300.00 price.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura
    2017 Specialized Ariel Sport

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    Glad you found your saddle, Emily. I have alsod been successful in getting very expensive cycling gear from shops in the UK. They seem to have a plethora of small sizes and hard to find things like winter cyling shoes for road pedals. I've never paid a shipping charge. I also bought my Assos winter jacket there, for less than half of the 300.00 price.
    Yes, the next time I need shorts or jerseys, I am going to check the UK shops first. I ordered the saddles yesterday and have already gotten a shipping notification. Sure, it takes a bit longer for stuff to come across the pond, but for the prices, no tax, no shipping, and (as you say), smaller sizes, it seems like a great place to at least look for gear!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

 

 

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