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Appreciate this is a very personal subject but here goes anyway:

I ride a Fizik Antares VS & have done for the past 3 years but on longer rides I find it gets very uncomfortable.

Most of my rides are 1 - 2.5 hours which is fine but anything 3 hours & over my backside is sore. I do all the usual things like changing position & getting out of the saddle every 15 minutes or so but still the same.

My question is at what point do I think about changing? Is that just the way it is for 3 hours plus for me? Should I just MTFO & get on with it? I've always ridden a saddle with a pressure relief channel & the newer Fizik models have a cut out so maybe I should be trying that out?

Testing saddles out can get very expensive which is something I'd rather avoid obviously but I just can't get this nagging doubt out of my mind that it shouldn't be like that & it should be more comfortable for longer. Maybe I'm kidding myself.

Just wondered if what I'm feeling is the norm or if I should be doing something about it?

40 comments

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Sadly Biggins [281 posts] 3 months ago
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If you've been using it for 3 years and it's still uncomfortable then I'd say it's time for a change.  If it's still painful, it won't get any better.  Your situation sounds similar to mine: my bike came with a Fizik Arione and it was fine for short rides but would be painful after longer rides, even to the extent of causing pain when urinating for around 24 hours afterwards.  The Arione has a long nose and I think that's where the problems came from.  Anyway, I switched to a Specialized Toupe with a perineal cut out a few years ago and have never had a problem since. 

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SellMatt [26 posts] 3 months ago
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Exacty the same as Sadly Biggins although mine was an Antares. I did get measured up for saddle width with my Toupe.  

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dottigirl [864 posts] 3 months ago
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Where, exactly, are you getting sore/pain?

Is the saddle the correct width for your sit bones?

Is the saddle level or nose slightly pointed down?

Do you ride in an aggressive or relaxed position?

BTW,  some saddle issues can come from the saddle being too high.

 

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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dottigirl wrote:

Where, exactly, are you getting sore/pain?

Is the saddle the correct width for your sit bones?

Is the saddle level or nose slightly pointed down?

Do you ride in an aggressive or relaxed position?

BTW,  some saddle issues can come from the saddle being too high.

 

Pain is in sit bones primarily.

I think so, it 142mm wide & my sit bones are approx 110-115mm (not measured scientifically though)

Relaxed upright postion more than anyhting, not much time in the drops, mainly on the hoods. 

Pretty sure saddle height is OK but again not had a bike fit or anything.

 

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Should add I've been reasonably happy with the Antares, shorter rides are no problem but when I did a century last year I could hardly walk at the end of it & not just cos of tired legs!

I remember Alex Dowsett once saying "it's never gonna be like an armchair, just find a saddle that hurts the least" & I guess that's what I'm looking for.

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Yorkshie Whippet [651 posts] 3 months ago
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Have a look at what at what you are wearing.

I had an issue and found out one leg was shorter than the other. A wedge in the cleat allowed me to ride for hour with no issues. That was until I change shorts and it was back to being murdered, quick test with one manufactuer and I was fine, whilst another left me wanting.

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peted76 [1457 posts] 3 months ago
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Something's not quite right for sure. You should be able to find a saddle which while not 'comfortable' (unless you go for a brooks) they should be bearable enough not to cause much thought.

You'll find 'most' decent local bike shops will have saddles for loaning out to test. 

Saddle height could be an issue, as could an imbalance in leg length or even something as your saddle fore/aft position not being right. As also mentioned it might just be your shorts? I've got shorts which I can wear for 90mins, beyond that they are torture. I've got a specific long distance pair as well which are pretty plush.

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:

Have a look at what at what you are wearing.

I had an issue and found out one leg was shorter than the other. A wedge in the cleat allowed me to ride for hour with no issues. That was until I change shorts and it was back to being murdered, quick test with one manufactuer and I was fine, whilst another left me wanting.

Good point.

I like Castelli shorts & usually save my higher end shorts with the better pad for long rides but even this doesn't stop my backside being sore after 3+ hours.

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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peted76 wrote:

Something's not quite right for sure. You should be able to find a saddle which while not 'comfortable' (unless you go for a brooks) they should be bearable enough not to cause much thought.

You'll find 'most' decent local bike shops will have saddles for loaning out to test. 

Saddle height could be an issue, as could an imbalance in leg length or even something as your saddle fore/aft position not being right. As also mentioned it might just be your shorts? I've got shorts which I can wear for 90mins, beyond that they are torture. I've got a specific long distance pair as well which are pretty plush.

Shorts - as above same here.

As for bearable I'm just not sure if I'm being too soft & that's just the way it is. Don't get me wrong after say 60 miles my backside is pretty sore but it's not absolute agony & it's not gonna ruin my life. I guess that's what I need to figure out.

Some really good points here, thanks all.

I'm thinking the 1st port of call might be to get a different saddle off eBay to try out & take it from there. Specialized seem to get a good rap & I also used Selle Italia a few years ago which I got on with albeit I wasn't riding for as long as I do now.

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:

Have a look at what at what you are wearing.

I had an issue and found out one leg was shorter than the other. A wedge in the cleat allowed me to ride for hour with no issues. That was until I change shorts and it was back to being murdered, quick test with one manufactuer and I was fine, whilst another left me wanting.

How did you find out about your leg length imbalance as a matter of interest? Bike fit?

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maviczap [355 posts] 3 months ago
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Go get a bike fit and see if the fitter can see what might be causing the problem.

One in my area does a bike fit option to sort a saddle out, and does Selle SMP test saddles, and I know one of the phyios at the Boardman prrfperform centre also does them, or did when she was working at her own practice in Essex. I forget her name right now.

I'm having a similar issue with my Fizik Aliante Vs which was my saddle of choice, but lately it's causing discomfort over longer rides.

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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maviczap wrote:

Go get a bike fit and see if the fitter can see what might be causing the problem.

One in my area does a bike fit option to sort a saddle out, and does Selle SMP test saddles, and I know one of the phyios at the Boardman prrfperform centre also does them, or did when she was working at her own practice in Essex. I forget her name right now.

I'm having a similar issue with my Fizik Aliante Vs which was my saddle of choice, but lately it's causing discomfort over longer rides.

I've considered a bike fit a number of times but never really felt the need I guess. I have a Specialized store fairly near to me & I think they do saddle tests so that could be an option if I didn't want to get a full fit.

I gues it's just a case of trial & error to see what's what but either way it's a bit frustrating.

 

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ktache [1700 posts] 3 months ago
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I have seen, in more women centred articles on their saddle problems, and if we thought we had it bad, sometimes in the Guardian, of certain shops offering saddle fits with pressure measurements.

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hawkinspeter [3741 posts] 3 months ago
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I had the cheaper bike fit (as opposed to the full-on video analysis) at a Specialized store a few years ago which lasted a couple of hours or so and definitely recommend it. I discovered that my sit bones are quite wide, so ended up being sold a wider saddle which was indeed more comfortable. The width of your sit-bones isn't particularly related to the size of your arse, so it's not immediately obvious what kind of saddle is a good fit.

The measured my sit bones with a pressure pad - you sit on it for a bit and it changes colour according to the heat/pressure of your bum. You can do the measurement yourself with something like a pristine piece of cardboard or tin-foil.

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jova54 [701 posts] 3 months ago
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I'd say there is someting wrong with your saddle position either height or fore/aft poistion which means your hips could be rolling side to side or front to back, or both.

I'd endorse getting a basic bike fit especially one which checks your sit bone width, certainly before you spend more money on another saddle that might make no difference. 

I had the basic one at a Specialized store in advance of Ride 100 last year. I didn't have any particular problems but I hadn't ridden 100 miles before and I set the bike up when I got it 5 years ago. It took about 4 hours and cost a bit but was worth the cost and I didn't have any saddle sores or comfort issues for the 7+ hours it took me to complete the ride.

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John_S [94 posts] 3 months ago
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Definitely agree with people about getting a bike fit.

 

Also do you live anywhere near London because the London Bike Kitchen have a saddle library and you can go there for a saddle fit and then pay to loan a saddle to try so you don't just have to take the plunge and pay full price for a brand new saddle only to find out later on that it doesn't work for you.

 

https://lbk.org.uk/pages/saddle-library

 

Good luck finding the right saddle for you!

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Thanks for the replies, certainly food for thought. 

Don't live near London unfortunately so that's out so will probably go down the line of a basicish bike fit & see what that turns up. I don't think throwing more money at trying different saddles is the way to go although I am still tempted to see what I can pick up on eBay just for curiosity really  

It's nice to know that there's potentially something I can do about it rather than suffer in more ways than one when the mileage is increased. 

Seems to be plenty of choice for bike fitters in NW England so will make some enquiries over the coming weeks. 

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CXR94Di2 [2625 posts] 3 months ago
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All riders should use a cutout or noseless saddle to remove any pressure centrally EG Selle itallia SLR. 

Then have sit bones measured either yourself(easy to do) or at a shop.

If your sit bones are 120mm saddle with should be around 15mm wider @135mm.  

There are a few shops which allow trials of saddles for a week or two with free return.  I bought my ISM Adamo saddle this way.   

https://outlet.upgradebikes.co.uk/Outlet/ISM/ISM-Range/Demo-Program

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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CXR94Di2 wrote:

All riders should use a cutout or noseless saddle to remove any pressure centrally EG Selle itallia SLR. 

Then have sit bones measured either yourself(easy to do) or at a shop.

If your sit bones are 120mm saddle with should be around 15mm wider @135mm.  

There are a few shops which allow trials of saddles for a week or two with free return.  I bought my ISM Adamo saddle this way.   

https://outlet.upgradebikes.co.uk/Outlet/ISM/ISM-Range/Demo-Program

Most stuff I've read online says to add 25-30mm onto your sit bone width?

A 135mm saddle seems quite narrow to me but I've never tried one so it might be where I'm going wrong!

Briefly tried a Fizik Antares without a cutout & didn't get on with that at all so some sort of pressure relief is a must.

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hawkinspeter [3741 posts] 3 months ago
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There's a reasonable amount of give and take with sit-bones/saddle measurements so adding 15-30mm to your measurement should be fine.

Have you measured yourself yet? It'll only take a couple of minutes to get a rough idea of whether you need a wider saddle or not (and costs nothing).

(I'm currently using a Selle Italia SLR Superflow L3 that's wide and has a large cutout).

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StraelGuy [1699 posts] 3 months ago
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I have cheap industrial nylon carpet on my stairs so I doubled up a piece of foil and sat on the top step on the foil. There were two very distinct stippled areas on the foil from my sit bones so it was easy to measure (110mm in case I forget). Cost peanuts. Still not looked at saddles again though...

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StraelGuy [1699 posts] 3 months ago
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I have cheap industrial nylon carpet on my stairs so I doubled up a piece of foil and sat on the top step on the foil. There were two very distinct stippled areas on the foil from my sit bones so it was easy to measure (110mm in case I forget). Cost peanuts. Still not looked at saddles again though...

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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hawkinspeter wrote:

There's a reasonable amount of give and take with sit-bones/saddle measurements so adding 15-30mm to your measurement should be fine.

Have you measured yourself yet? It'll only take a couple of minutes to get a rough idea of whether you need a wider saddle or not (and costs nothing).

(I'm currently using a Selle Italia SLR Superflow L3 that's wide and has a large cutout).

I measured myself pretty basically using the foil method & that’s the 1st time I’ve done it so guess I at least have a starting point now. 

Used a Selle Italia saddle a few years ago which I liked, according to their match system I should be looking at L2. I think I would like a “proper” measurement 1st though before I did anything. 

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hawkinspeter [3741 posts] 3 months ago
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A foil measurement will be in the right ballpark (sniggers), so you should now know whether your current saddle is too narrow or too wide. Just use a ruler to see what your sit-bone width looks like across the saddle.

A bike-fit is definitely a good idea - it might pick up on something cheap and easy to fix whereas getting the right new saddle can be a literal pain in the arse (and expensive if you don't get the right one).

Edit: I found the Selle Italia sizes confusing until I found some more info:

S1 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and low pelvic rotation
S2 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and average pelvic rotation (Flow saddles)
S3 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and high pelvic rotation (Flow and SuperFlow saddles)

L1 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and low pelvic rotation
L2 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and average pelvic rotation (Flow saddles)
L3 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and high pelvic rotation (Flow and SuperFlow saddles)

The numerical part relates to the central hole, so L3 has a wider hole than the L2 as far as I know.

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Pilot Pete [147 posts] 3 months ago
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Where abouts in the NW are you ibr17xvii? I’m in Congleton, 5 miles east from J17/18 of the M6. If you want I can do a basic bike fit for you. I’m a BC coach with no specialist skills, but I’ve done loads for mates and club members, all of whom are happy and the feedback is they are more comfortable - I even did a TT bike fit for a lad who joined our club several years back and he’s now the current Cheshire Points TT champ!

Best of all, I only charge a ‘middle shelf’ bottle of Shiraz!  3

PP

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Pilot Pete wrote:

Where abouts in the NW are you ibr17xvii? I’m in Congleton, 5 miles east from J17/18 of the M6. If you want I can do a basic bike fit for you. I’m a BC coach with no specialist skills, but I’ve done loads for mates and club members, all of whom are happy and the feedback is they are more comfortable - I even did a TT bike fit for a lad who joined our club several years back and he’s now the current Cheshire Points TT champ!

Best of all, I only charge a ‘middle shelf’ bottle of Shiraz!  3

PP

Hi Pete. 

Very kind of you mate, I might just take you up on that, I’m not a million miles away from you, probably an hour. 

For now I’ve persuaded  a mate to lend me a Selle Italia saddle that seems to be in the right ballpark (snigger again) so I’m just gonna see how I get on wit that for now. 

Even if I can get this sorted I’ve been thinking about getting a fit done anyway so you could just be the man!

Thanks again. 

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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hawkinspeter wrote:

A foil measurement will be in the right ballpark (sniggers), so you should now know whether your current saddle is too narrow or too wide. Just use a ruler to see what your sit-bone width looks like across the saddle.

A bike-fit is definitely a good idea - it might pick up on something cheap and easy to fix whereas getting the right new saddle can be a literal pain in the arse (and expensive if you don't get the right one).

Edit: I found the Selle Italia sizes confusing until I found some more info:

S1 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and low pelvic rotation
S2 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and average pelvic rotation (Flow saddles)
S3 – “Narrow” intertrochanteric distance and high pelvic rotation (Flow and SuperFlow saddles)

L1 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and low pelvic rotation
L2 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and average pelvic rotation (Flow saddles)
L3 – “Wide” intertrochanteric distance and high pelvic rotation (Flow and SuperFlow saddles)

The numerical part relates to the central hole, so L3 has a wider hole than the L2 as far as I know.

I’ve got on well with Selle Italia in the past so this is good stuff thanks. 

Looking at my measurements my current saddle should be fine width wise so maybe it’s just too hard on the longer rides. 

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risoto [105 posts] 3 months ago
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There are just as many saddles as there are answers to this question. I am using three different saddels. After I got serious about small - 1-2 mm - adjustments I am happy with all my saddles. Also after 3, 4 or 6 hours.

Saddle height - lowered 2-3 times until I found my best position. Works for all my bikes.

Tilt the saddle slight upwards - a few degrees only. This will keep you from gliding forward  and also from  putting too much weight on your arms/hands. Your body is riding in a natural position and as you are not scooting forward your sit bones are happier sit bones when relaxing on the padding on the saddle at the back of it where the most padding is located.  

Aft /forward position might also play a role. Personally I have no conclusions on this aspect so I don't worry.

My best advice - experiment as much as possible. But getting the saddle height correct is priority number one. More often than not too high a saddle position is the problem. 

Oh, I've also noticed that my butt is even happier when I ride more in the drops. Less weight to be supported by the butt. Watch old tour de france movies, most seemed to ride with saddle tilted upwards and many with extremely stretched out body positions. 

I have four comfortable saddles -  a very cheap but excellent Spoon, Ergon from Germany, mid-range, Selle Italia - very cheap, the cheapest in their catelogue but the cheapest Selle Italia tend to be better than most mid-range, and finally a mid-range/lower top-range Selle San Marco with a cut-out. 

My take on this delicate subject is that 'it's not about the saddle' or the price of your shorts but the industri will tell you a lot of questionable 'scientific' advice plus a lot of marketing to get us all to buy a ton of saddles and padded shorts. 

 

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ibr17xvii [437 posts] 3 months ago
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Anyone have any experience of going for the ID Match by Selle Italia at their LBS?

From what I can see it involves taking your sit bone measurements (which you can do at home) but also offers the pelvic rotation bit which as far as I know you can't. That then seems to determine whether in my case I would be a L2 or L3. As far as I can see this means that the dimensions of the saddle are pretty similar, the L3 has the larger cutout though.

A shop nearish to me will do the "proper" test which doesn't involve pressure mapping or anything along those lines for a tenner which is then knocked off the price of saddle if you buy one.

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peted76 [1457 posts] 3 months ago
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Yes, I did one of those ID Match things at a local bike shop. 

They determined I was an S3 fitted me to a S3 saddle, I've since had two S3's and it/they were probably my most comfortable saddle. 

It's not all about sit bone width, it's also about how flexible your lower back/hips are too.

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