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Saddle Fitting - How to approach the process?

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Saddle Fitting - How to approach the process?

Old 07-22-20, 06:31 PM
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kosmo886
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Saddle Fitting - How to approach the process?

There are many shops that offer different types of saddle “fitting” services. Some sound more like trying a few out on the bike while other seem to use more technology. I’d imagine all are limited by the brands they are dealers for. What is the best way to approach getting fitting for the best saddle possible? Seems like there are lots of routes to take and I don’t mind spending some money for a good process and outcome, but don’t want to waste it either.
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Old 07-22-20, 06:53 PM
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79pmooney
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See if any shops near you have a rock solid return policy. A lot of shops here will give you full credit after you've ridden it to be no longer new, getting that it often takes that long to know. One shop here has a "library" with ~2 dozen seats, You buy a library card for $25. Now you can take out any seat on the shelf for week. Any seat you want and as many seats as you wish. Find one you like and that $25 goes toward a new, boxed one.

Good shops get that seats are very personal and the most critical item of bike fit. No shop has them all but any good one will have zero problem with you going elsewhere for the right one. The new technologies are good, but only as good as the wisdom and experience of the fitter using it. Ultimately your butt will have better feedback than either the fitter or the best technology.

A hint: get a 2-bolt seatpost if you don't already have one. A post with forward and rear bolts in the seat clamp assembly. That allows dialing in the seat position and tilt very accurately and with the ability to easily go exactly back to where you started or say half way in between. (I use the rear bolt as the basic clamp, front bolt to adjust the tilt. Loosen rear - how much doesn't matter, tweak the front carefully and note how much - I use 1/4 turns - and retighten rear. If it is fore and aft position you want to change, same approach only you tap the seat instead of tweaking the forward bolt. Beauty of the 2-bolt: you can make adjustments accurately and easily on the road and get immediate butt feedback. Nitto and Thompson both make excellent 2-bolt posts. Framebuilders can buy Thompson parts and make you a custom setback post with their excellent hardware. (I have a Nitto and 2 customs with Thompson clamps. All are joys to adjust.

Ben
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Old 07-22-20, 09:40 PM
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I've seen some shops have demo saddles you can test drive.
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Old 07-23-20, 03:59 AM
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Some bike shops offer "meaningful" bike fitting services for a fee. I say meaningful in that it is not the bike mechanic eyeing your bike, seat and pedal fit or just using a bike maker or seat vendor provided tool.

For example, a bike shop near me has an arrangement with a sports physiologist from a local university who does fitting at night in the shop. They have the fancy Retul sizing system or do more traditional low tech fitting at a lower cost. In addition to the Retul video/computer analysis setup, they have an instrumented bike seat that shows where you are putting pressure on the seat as you pedal, among other cool stuff. He also looked at how my legs moved while pedaling and how close my thighs came to the seat, etc.

Not cheap - but I became a believer when I got a discounted session when I bought a new bike from them. He had me change the cleat position and seat height I'd arrived at on my own after many years of tinkering - and it was a big improvement. Both of those settings have some impact on how I sit on the seat, too. So, I would say if cost isn't an issue, real fitting advice would be the top way to go.

Next down is going to one of the shops with those fitting tools from a seat manufacturer. That will at least give you some idea of your sit bone spacing and a recommendation on a seat type. Then you can look at all the other vendors that sell similar seats.

As others mentioned, many bike shops will let you borrow a seat to try out - after the fitting I did, they loaned me a few seats for up to a month, I found one I liked - and bought it from them, vs. going online. Yes, I paid more but it would have been more expensive if I had bought seats I didn't like - and I believe in supporting local bike shops that give good service.
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Old 07-23-20, 08:02 AM
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I've done the sitting on a pad thing. I've had a pro fit with the electronic/digital saddle device. Both said I should ride a 143 wide saddle. However, after much trial and error, not to mention saddles, I ride a 135 comfortably. I'm convinced it's still down to trial & error.
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Old 07-23-20, 08:35 AM
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Specialized has the pad for measuring hip bone width to help you identify which saddle width is appropriate for you.

That said, there is no real science to saddle fitting. It's really personal preference. Many shops have demo saddles or old saddles you can borrow to try out. Ask friends to try their saddles. Or buy from places with a good return policy.
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Old 07-23-20, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Specialized has the pad for measuring hip bone width to help you identify which saddle width is appropriate for you.

That said, there is no real science to saddle fitting. It's really personal preference. Many shops have demo saddles or old saddles you can borrow to try out. Ask friends to try their saddles. Or buy from places with a good return policy.
I've done this at my LBS and ended up with a 155MM Specialized Toupe; which so far has been great. It isn't the most scientific process but seemed to work well. Echoing a lot of comments already made, most reputable shops will have a generous return policy so you can try out a few until you've found the one.

For the OP, what are you trying to address with replacing or getting fit for a saddle?
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Old 07-23-20, 05:18 PM
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Also, check the saddle height, and position for every saddle you test
They'll likely all have a different position on the bike, which skews the test
Choose a baseline height and saddle position for all saddles
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Old 07-24-20, 04:55 AM
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Body geometry and ride style. Much has been discussed by fitters on the body geometry with the millimeter width sizes. What needs to be understood is how the rider actually changes sitting positions during a ride in various terrains. A fitter can only do so much, more like a static measurement. But some riders squirm around during a ride, as required by the terrain and descents and ascents.

There is a close relationship between the padding on the shorts portion and the saddle. That's the contact point. And that's where not much advancement has been done. It seems like the clothing people don't really integrate (talk with) the saddle people.
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Old 07-24-20, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
A fitter can only do so much, more like a static measurement.
It depends on the fitting equipment at fitter disposal. E.g. when I had my bike fit the fitter took several saddle pressure mapping snapshots during pedaling at different levels of effort and used this information to fine tune saddle angle (saddle showed pretty much ideal pressure map without any hotspots, so there was no need for a different saddle). BTW, such pressure map is probably by far the most reliable way to measure the seat bone distance, so I'm pretty confident that this measure is one of the most useless things ever - the only thing it potentially tells you is what saddles will probably be too narrow for you and nothing else. E.g. my seat bones are 110 mm apart, so I'd be better off with wider saddles than that - which are the wast majority of them anyway, so how exactly does this help? My current saddle of choice (and the one with a perfect pressure map) is Cobb San Remo and it is 151 mm wide...
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Old 07-24-20, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Buzzkill53120 View Post
I've seen some shops have demo saddles you can test drive.
A couple of LBS near here have the demo saddle; usually in an outrageous funky colour with STORE DEMO printed on the side so nobody gets any ideas about keeping them, and you put down a deposit when you take the saddle out. If you like it, you just take your bike in and swap out the demo for the real thing.
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Old 07-24-20, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RedBullFiXX View Post
Also, check the saddle height, and position for every saddle you test
They'll likely all have a different position on the bike, which skews the test
Choose a baseline height and saddle position for all saddles
Adding to this - you cannot reliably measure to any point on a saddle and duplicate height or fore and aft position using that number with a different saddle because you may well settle into a different place on the new shape. For height, using a test that duplicates knee bend is much more meaningful. I place my barefoot heel on the backside of the pedal and adjust to the place where I can either straighten my leg or bend my knee a touch without lifting my heel off. (I like my seats lowish and real knee bend, Others like their seat a little higher and do the test wearing cycling shoes with low heels, Some like bigger heels, But once you've found your height, using the appropriate heel you can match any seat quickly.)
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Old 07-24-20, 03:48 PM
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I had a bike fit done where they had something that resembled a seat cover. It had a matrix of pressure sensors in it, and it help to identify pressure hot spots. I tried 5 different saddles with the cover and picked the Fizik Aliante. The saddle has worked out very well for me.
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Old 07-24-20, 04:18 PM
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I don't want to sound condescending, but sit on/try a few and buy the one that's the comfiest. Seat bone width +20mm etc... is a good initial guide but it is not the be all and end all and everybody will suit a different saddle. Not to everyone's taste, or weight!, but I have found Brooks to work best for me, both leather and cambium range.
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Old 07-24-20, 08:06 PM
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I subscribe to the method of the ‘80’s. Buy a Brooks Team Pro, ride as much as possible, and wait for it to break in
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Old 07-24-20, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Buzzkill53120 View Post
I had a bike fit done where they had something that resembled a seat cover. It had a matrix of pressure sensors in it, and it help to identify pressure hot spots. I tried 5 different saddles with the cover and picked the Fizik Aliante. The saddle has worked out very well for me.
This approach short-circuits the endless saddle tryouts and boxes of unsuitable saddles in the garage. I think this best answers the OPs question.
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Old 07-25-20, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Buzzkill53120 View Post
I had a bike fit done where they had something that resembled a seat cover. It had a matrix of pressure sensors in it, and it help to identify pressure hot spots. I tried 5 different saddles with the cover and picked the Fizik Aliante. The saddle has worked out very well for me.
Speaking of "Sensors", the squeaks and noises coming from the bike can be irritating. What if sensors of various kinds were put on the bike much like the tape you get on your chest for an electrocardiogram. Only this time, its sound and vibration sensors. You ride the bike and the sensors will pick up the data to correlate the two or more variables. At best you solve the issue, at least it points to a direction or two.
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Old 07-25-20, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
Speaking of "Sensors", the squeaks and noises coming from the bike can be irritating. What if sensors of various kinds were put on the bike much like the tape you get on your chest for an electrocardiogram. Only this time, its sound and vibration sensors. You ride the bike and the sensors will pick up the data to correlate the two or more variables. At best you solve the issue, at least it points to a direction or two.
Yeah they got that already, they're called noise cancelling headphones. Anyways if my bike had squeaks and weird noises, I'd fix it.
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