soft versus hard saddle

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Spacey Spade, May 16, 2003.

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  1. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than a
    soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.

    Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?

    A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    rides because the shape was right for her.
     
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  2. Jon Isaacs

    Jon Isaacs Guest

    >I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than
    >a soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.

    Your weight needs to be supported by your "sit bones." Soft saddles spread your weight over a larger
    area including regions that are best left alone.

    The padding in shorts is rather substantial for a piece of clothing but when compared to a gel
    saddle it is rather hard.

    jon
     
  3. regardless of how wide your ass is the pelvis and sit bones that support you on a bicycle saddle
    will be similarly spaced when compared to the skinny dude selling you the saddle in the shop

    wide ass = more time on bike NOT wide ass = wider saddle

    every time that soft squishy saddle compresses and rebounds you're not only wasting energy, but
    setting yourself up for some nasty chaffing and if you're really unlucky some blisters.

    would you expect to have happy feet after riding in shoes two sizes too big? neither will a poorly
    fitted saddle leave you comfortable after a long ride.

    "Spacey Spade" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than a
    soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.

    Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?

    A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    rides because the shape was right for her.
     
  4. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    Nicholas & Domino wrote:
    >regardless of how wide your ass is the pelvis and sit bones that support you on a bicycle saddle
    >will be similarly spaced when compared to the skinny dude selling you the saddle in the shop
    >
    >wide ass = more time on bike NOT wide ass = wider saddle

    It was a dudette, and though they have a relatively wider pelvis, perhaps their sit bones have
    similar spacing if they are also shorter height.

    >every time that soft squishy saddle compresses and rebounds you're not only wasting energy, but
    >setting yourself up for some nasty chaffing and if you're really unlucky some blisters.
    >
    >would you expect to have happy feet after riding in shoes two sizes too big? neither will a poorly
    >fitted saddle leave you comfortable after a long ride.

    How about running with shoes that have no padding? Last I checked, running shoes have a lot of
    padding. Also, the sole is contoured to put weight on areas of the foot that normally were not meant
    to hold weight (like the arch). How are our "stand" bones different from our "sit" bones?

    Spacey
     
  5. Tbgibb

    Tbgibb Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Spacey Spade
    <[email protected]> writes:

    >I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than
    >a soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.

    The comment about the "sit bones" is right on. A hard saddle keeps the pressure off of the
    perineium.
    >
    >Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?

    The padding in the shorts has to be right for you, as does the saddle.

    >A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    >surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    >rides because the shape was right for her.

    It is unusual but I've heard of it before. My oldest daughter, who is a rather skinny thing (does
    ballet) could not stand a narrow men's saddle. I'm still using that saddle and love it.

    It's all about some very personal parts of you, but generally a soft saddle only feels nice for a
    short trip, like the around the block ride many take to decide if they like the bicycle they are
    test riding.

    There are a few that swear by soft gel saddles, but I think most swear AT them.

    Tom Gibb <[email protected]
     
  6. Robin Hubert

    Robin Hubert Guest

    "Spacey Spade" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Nicholas & Domino wrote:
    > >regardless of how wide your ass is the pelvis and sit bones that support
    you
    > >on a bicycle saddle will be similarly spaced when compared to the skinny dude selling you the
    > >saddle in the shop
    > >
    > >wide ass = more time on bike NOT wide ass = wider saddle
    >
    > It was a dudette, and though they have a relatively wider pelvis, perhaps their sit bones have
    > similar spacing if they are also shorter height.
    >
    > >every time that soft squishy saddle compresses and rebounds you're not
    only
    > >wasting energy, but setting yourself up for some nasty chaffing and if you're really unlucky some
    > >blisters.
    > >
    > >would you expect to have happy feet after riding in shoes two sizes too
    big?
    > >neither will a poorly fitted saddle leave you comfortable after a long
    ride.
    >
    > How about running with shoes that have no padding? Last I checked,
    running
    > shoes have a lot of padding. Also, the sole is contoured to put weight on areas of the foot that
    > normally were not meant to hold weight (like the arch). How are our "stand" bones different from
    > our "sit" bones?
    >

    I really hope you're kidding with that question. Do you really think your ass undergoes a thousand
    pounds or more of force with each pedal stroke? Give me a break.

    --
    Robin Hubert <[email protected]
     
  7. Spacey Spade wrote:
    > Nicholas & Domino wrote:
    >
    >>every time that soft squishy saddle compresses and rebounds you're not only wasting energy, but
    >>setting yourself up for some nasty chaffing and if you're really unlucky some blisters.
    >>
    >>would you expect to have happy feet after riding in shoes two sizes too big? neither will a poorly
    >>fitted saddle leave you comfortable after a long ride.
    >
    >
    > How about running with shoes that have no padding? Last I checked, running shoes have a lot of
    > padding. Also, the sole is contoured to put weight on areas of the foot that normally were not
    > meant to hold weight (like the arch). How are our "stand" bones different from our "sit" bones?

    Running shoes typically have shock absorbing material, but that is not the same as squishy padding.
    You'll also note that many running shoes (especially those meant for a lot of long distance
    training) have a lot of "motion control" features, including stiff heel cups, board lasting, and
    stiff arch supports. These shoes attempt to hold the foot in a semi-rigid, stable position. The
    shock absorbing material is then added in the midsole area, between the motion control elements and
    the outsole.

    Unlike a running shoe, soft squishy saddles place their padding directly against the rider's butt,
    so the flexing of the saddle is directly against the rider, potentially loading parts of the nether
    regions the rider might not want carrying the load, and also potentially chafing (also in places the
    rider might not want chafed).

    As others have said, the best bet is to find a saddle that fits your particular anatomy best, and
    with only a modicum of padding.

    Mark McMaster [email protected]
     
  8. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    Spacey Spade wrote:
    >
    >I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than
    >a soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.
    >
    >Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?
    >
    >A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    >surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    >rides because the shape was right for her.

    Thanks for all the replies. Everyone has made me think, but I don't want overwhelm with
    thank-you posts.

    I have a very soft saddle that I love for my criterium-style riding where I am constantly on and off
    the saddle. I tried a hard saddle for this (flite) and I end up hurting for a couple of days.

    I have used the soft saddle for 50-70 mile straight line type rides, which towards the end starts to
    become uncomfortable (though I am fine the next *leisure* day). Due to your replies, I will
    experiment with hard saddles in the future for these longer rides.

    Spacey
     
  9. On Sat, 17 May 2003 00:33:50 +0000, Spacey Spade wrote:

    >
    > I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than
    > a soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.

    The biggest problem is pressure on places that do not respond well to pressure. The "sit bones" --
    actually part of the pelvis -- are located on either side of the approximate area you would expect a
    saddle to contact you. That is what you are supposed to sit on. The flesh between saddle and bone
    definitely becomes tougher with time, so there is a breaking-in period.

    Between the sit bones are a whole lot of parts that do not like pressure, such as veins and arteries
    feeding blood to/from nearby organs.

    Now, a hard saddle presses up against that flesh around the sit bones. Takes a while, but will
    become comfortable. The parts in between are not in contact, which is good. A soft saddle squishes
    gel or foam or whatever from around the sit bones to the soft stuff in between. That is why a soft
    saddle is not as good.

    One thing that seems to work for me is a softish saddle with a cut-out in the middle; that keeps the
    foam from pressing where it should not be.

    >
    > Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?

    Not really. Some, yes, but too much or too squishy, such as gel, has the same problem as a
    soft saddle.
    >
    > A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    > surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    > rides because the shape was right for her.

    It all depends on the shape of the pelvis. Most women have wider spacing between the sit bones than
    most men, but there is a lot of overlap there. I know men who ride "women's" saddles.

    You have to experiment. You have to find a shop that will let you experiment.

    --

    David L. Johnson

    __o | It doesn't get any easier, you just go faster. --Greg LeMond _`\(,_ | (_)/ (_) |
     
  10. neither hard nor soft will work if it's not the right SHAPE lot's of luck - just keep experimenting
    until you get it right - you've got the rest of your life right?

    Nick

    "Spacey Spade" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]... Spacey Spade wrote:
    >
    >I have read, and have been told, that on long rides, a hard narrow saddle is more comfortable than
    >a soft narrow saddle (like one with gel). I am trying to understand why.
    >
    >Is it better to have more padding in the shorts?
    >
    >A LBS told me that a very important thing was finding the shape of the saddle that fits you. I was
    >surprised to learn she rode a men's narrow (and it was as narrow as they get) saddle on 100+ mile
    >rides because the shape was right for her.

    Thanks for all the replies. Everyone has made me think, but I don't want overwhelm with
    thank-you posts.

    I have a very soft saddle that I love for my criterium-style riding where I am constantly on and off
    the saddle. I tried a hard saddle for this (flite) and I end up hurting for a couple of days.

    I have used the soft saddle for 50-70 mile straight line type rides, which towards the end starts to
    become uncomfortable (though I am fine the next *leisure* day). Due to your replies, I will
    experiment with hard saddles in the future for these longer rides.

    Spacey
     
  11. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >Unlike a running shoe, soft squishy saddles place their padding directly against the rider's butt,
    >so the flexing of the saddle is directly against the rider, potentially loading parts of the nether
    >regions the rider might not want

    I think I've just experienced an epiphany for the wide-of-ichial-tuberosities.

    Get something like WTB's "comfort" saddle, strip off all the jell stuff, and glue on the
    shock-absorbing material from an old set of running shoes.

    Gotta try it....
    -----------------------
    PeteCresswell
     
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