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Saddles that don't flex

Old 09-12-19, 03:58 PM
  #1  
TiHabanero
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Saddles that don't flex

Been riding Brooks saddles since 1975 and they have always been comfortable, however a few years ago the Brooks Professional saddle I have was pretty much done. Sags really bad and the leather is all cracked with one rivet pulling through. At the same time on my performance bikes I have used the Sella Italia Turbo saddle along with the Turbomatic saddle. Very comfortable saddles for my needs.
Recently I have come in need of a new saddle and figured I should get into the 21st century with a modern bike seat. Tried quite a few of them from Fabric, Serfas, Fizik, and others. All of the saddles I tried hurt the sit bones(no fancy terms here). Mind you, I am not trying deeply padded saddles, but performance saddles. Just could not figure out why until I looked closely at them.

At first I thought the shape was all wrong, so I made sure I used "radius" saddles. Measured 10mm out from the sit bone area along the saddle and found the Turbo saddle and the Brooks Professional saddle are similar in width along that spacing. The other saddles were a few mm wider at each point along the way up to 30mm.

Second, all of the tested saddles have hard, meaning, rock hard seat pans. Some even have a reinforcing ridge molded in right where the sit bones reside. As most know, the Brooks saddles flex nicely once broken in, and the Turbo saddle also has a flexible pan, but not a flexy as say a deeply foamed seat. It is here where I found the most significant difference. It simply was the ability of the seat pan to flex that made the difference of sit bone pain or no sit bone pain.

Ordered the Turbo saddle in brown from LBS and it is true to the original except for the Italian colors that are not on the side of the saddle up at the nose. Base flexes just as it should. Perfection found, again.

The question: Why produce a saddle that relies solely on the padding to provide protection to the sit bones? Makes zero sense to me.
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Old 09-12-19, 04:45 PM
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Sy Reene
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post

The question: Why produce a saddle that relies solely on the padding to provide protection to the sit bones? Makes zero sense to me.
I hear ya.. currently using the SQ labs 612 Active, which has been pretty successful for me anyway.. ymmv

a bit about their 'science':

https://www.sq-lab.com/en/ergonomics...epts/ergowave/
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Old 09-12-19, 05:31 PM
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Gconan
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My Wilderness Trail Bike (WTB) saddle has both padding and a flexible shell. I love it.
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Old 09-12-19, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Gconan View Post
My Wilderness Trail Bike (WTB) saddle has both padding and a flexible shell. I love it.
I have one, too, that I love.

But I must admit I've never had a saddle my ass didn't instantly adjust to.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:26 PM
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No padding saddles take a while to get used to. If you've got a 30 day return window, and your saddle is not comfortable, people will return the saddle. The saddle company makes no money.

A saddle that has too much padding may feel fine for 10 to 20 miles, but it will ultimately cause pain. I prefer firm padding and no flex with curves. I am currently riding the Specialized Romin Evo Pro. It has a #2 padding; however, it is firm, and fits my bum.
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Old 09-13-19, 10:38 AM
  #6  
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Saddles are like "types" in terms of people we find attractive. I don't have a type. Blonde, redhead, brunette, white, brown, bald, smart, funny, tattooed, crazy... I never know what I'll like until I try it.

For the past couple of years my go-to road bike saddle has been a Selle Italia SLS Kit Carbonio, one of their low end saddles with the basic design and features of their pricier saddles. Snagged it for $20 after it was discontinued. Wish I'd bought two or three. Minimal firm padding, just a slight flex in the plastic shell. I've moved it between two bikes, and preferred it level on the Ironman steel bike and slightly nose down on the Trek 5900, mostly because the Trek has a lower handlebar and more aggressive position.

After moving that saddle to another bike I needed a replacement. I tried several that looked like the Selle Italia design, but all ranged from "nah" to "@$$ hatchet!". That included a Selle Italia Q-Bik that I really had hopes for. Tried it on every bike I have, from road to hybrid, and now it's in a box. Somewhere out there is a bike it'll be good for. Same shape as the SLS Kit Carbonio, but thicker padding, more flexible shell and narrow cutout for perineum relief.

Next best was an old, nearly worn out Selle San Marco I found in the bargain bin at the LBS. They gave it to me because it was so ratty. Similar to the SLS Kit Carbonio, split rear, more flexible shell. It's on my upright hybrid.

Two or three months ago I fished a like-new Bontrager Ajna women's saddle out of the LBS bargain bin. It was taken off a new bike, so basically unused. On a lark I bought it for cheap and it's become one of my new favorites. Very different from the Selle Italia. Wider, 145 instead of my usual 130. Slightly shorter nose. Thicker padding, more flexible shell, more generous cutout. It all added up for my Ironman, which has a somewhat more relaxed and upright ride compared with the Trek. After a couplafew months and lots of rides, it's a keeper. Totally different from the Selle Italia that used to be on that bike and which I liked. But just as comfortable.

It's sorta like I decided to go find a girl just like the one I dated in high school, but got abducted by a female Martian and decided "Yes. Green skin. Antennae. Silver eyes. Three of everything. Levitates. This is exactly what I didn't realize I wanted."

But now I have to keep my bikes in separate rooms.
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Old 09-13-19, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Why produce a saddle that relies solely on the padding to provide protection to the sit bones? Makes zero sense to me.
You could try a Brooks...
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Old 09-13-19, 02:34 PM
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Brooks are horrible IMO.
My SMP Composit is unpadded and does not flex.
Sit bone pain is often related to bike fit more than padding, saddle width or saddle flex.
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Old 09-13-19, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post

Next best was an old, nearly worn out Selle San Marco I found in the bargain bin at the LBS. They gave it to me because it was so ratty. Similar to the SLS Kit Carbonio, split rear, more flexible shell. It's on my upright hybrid.
I have a vintage Laser 'San Marco' from the mid-80's that is one of my two most comfortable saddles - kind of a weird, narrow shape with firm padding and a very solid base. The other is a Specialized 'Avatar 143' from a 2007 Roubaix.

I've given up reading saddle reviews - pointless - no bearing on another individual's experience with a particular product. And I can't bring myself to spend $130+ for a Fizik or other higher-end saddle. I'm sticking with bargain finds for less than $50 and hoping for the best - bought a Fabric for $40 and it is pretty good.

The one thing I've learned is that I'm probably better off with a narrow (150mm or less) saddle that has no abrupt shape changes in the perimeter.

I am tempted to try a Brooks B17 Narrow because its 'suspended' design is very different from the common plastic base with various degrees/types of padding design. I did try a Cambium and did not like!



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Old 09-13-19, 03:55 PM
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TiHabanero
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Jlaw, I have a Concor Confort saddle that is shaped much like the Laser, and it, too is comfortable, but only for about 2 or 3 hours. After that it becomes a pain in the arse. Shape of the saddle is critical for my comfort, and saddles that are wide like the B17 are not a good fit. Back in the day I had a B15N, and it was a great all day touring saddle. The Professional I now use only a vintage bike is good all day as well. A shame it needs to be replaced. My wife calls me a tight-azz, I guess it must be true!
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Old 09-13-19, 05:42 PM
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jlaw
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Jlaw, I have a Concor Confort saddle that is shaped much like the Laser, and it, too is comfortable, but only for about 2 or 3 hours. After that it becomes a pain in the arse. Shape of the saddle is critical for my comfort, and saddles that are wide like the B17 are not a good fit. Back in the day I had a B15N, and it was a great all day touring saddle. The Professional I now use only a vintage bike is good all day as well. A shame it needs to be replaced. My wife calls me a tight-azz, I guess it must be true!
Most of my rides are 2 to 3 hours so I can put up with a marginal saddle. I did a 5 hour ride last Saturday on the Spec. Avatar 143 - no major issues because I kept shifting my contact point from the right to left on the saddle. I was also riding/chatting with friends so that left less time to think about it.

I found the B17N for $99 - might try that with the aluminum Salsa Cowchippers on my '84 Trek 620 experiment bike. Fun to try different combinations of components.
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Old 09-14-19, 08:58 AM
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I have an older Fizik Aliante that flexes quite a bit. I got a newer one, and it's rock hard. Not sure what part of "like a hammock" they didn't understand. i think they are supposed to get softer, but right now it's not good.
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Old 09-14-19, 10:18 AM
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For minimal flex, you might try a ShelBroCo RealMan saddle, made from granite.




https://www.sheldonbrown.com/real-man.html
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Old 09-14-19, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by sumgy View Post
Brooks are horrible IMO.
My SMP Composit is unpadded and does not flex.
Sit bone pain is often related to bike fit more than padding, saddle width or saddle flex.
Oh no! We finally disagree on something. I actually love my B17. All day comfort, day after day on tour, no matter the distance. Of course we still agree on the fit aspect, that is the most important part of the equation.
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Old 09-14-19, 12:16 PM
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We've got Brooks and Rivet leather saddles on all of our bikes. No complaints.
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Old 09-14-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
Oh no! We finally disagree on something. I actually love my B17. All day comfort, day after day on tour, no matter the distance. Of course we still agree on the fit aspect, that is the most important part of the equation.
My main complaint is that their saddle rails are way to short and as a result do not allow them to be adjusted as well as most.
My favourites are from SMP. Their shape suits me well, and they have very long rails.

And of course I don't believe in the marketing BS behind @rse measuring, and wide saddles.
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Old 09-14-19, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by sumgy View Post
My main complaint is that their saddle rails are way to short and as a result do not allow them to be adjusted as well as most.
My favourites are from SMP. Their shape suits me well, and they have very long rails.

And of course I don't believe in the marketing BS behind @rse measuring, and wide saddles.
Marketing aside, it works very well for me. I agree about the rails, but I have mine where I need it, so in the end, (pun intended) that' all that is important.
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Old 09-15-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
The question: Why produce a saddle that relies solely on the padding to provide protection to the sit bones? Makes zero sense to me.
Most of your weight is borne to the bike through your seat, and your behind is one means of connecting you to the bike, so if that connection is wobbly, then you won't be as stable as a whole. This wobble transfers to the entire bike in some small way.

Perhaps more for stunt biking, but try doing no hands on a bike with a large, spring-loaded, extra gel seat, and then with a small hard seat. The hard seat will offer the rider much more control and better steering ability.

I've actually been looking for a large, super-hard seat to do bike surfing and other tricks—nearly an impossible find.
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