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Saddle question -- open or not?

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Saddle question -- open or not?

Old 05-05-20, 12:22 PM
  #1  
Robert A
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Saddle question -- open or not?

I ride in hills a lot and am not particularly flexible. I'm looking at Fizik saddles and see that many come with or without open channels. How do I decide what's right for me?
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Old 05-05-20, 12:28 PM
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Sojodave
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Saddles are unique to each person. Most people do well with cut outs. I am currently trying the Fizik Argo Tempo that has a wide cut out and has the right amount of padding. This would be a good saddle for someone with less flexibility.
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Old 05-05-20, 12:44 PM
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I wouldn't imagine that there's a downside to having a cutout but not needing it.

That said, one common way to test if you need one is to sit on a flat, hard bench and lean forward with your elbows on your knees. If you go tingly and/or numb, you'd likely benefit from a cutout/channel.
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Old 05-05-20, 02:19 PM
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I've never had a problem with numbness, but I found my smp stratos saddle to be more comfortable than any other I've owned. The right width is important. SMP makes several widths and different levels of padding for each width. The suggest using your waist size when skinny as a guide for width with a 30-31 waist, I chose the narrow model with standard padding and it worked well. The angle setting is critical. No cheap post with wide spaced serrations will work, except by luck.
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Old 05-05-20, 04:33 PM
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Have used both-and prefer a saddle with a cut-out, or a channel, to prevent pressure where it isn't wanted.
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Old 05-05-20, 05:53 PM
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I like the cut out. not sure if its in my head but I think they are better over a long distance.
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Old 05-05-20, 05:58 PM
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even better? .. the moonsaddle..

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Old 05-05-20, 06:07 PM
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I have a Fizak in my load of parts with the cutout but I've never tried it because I like the seats I have on my bikes now. But this thread got me thinking, that old Giant might be a good test bike to see which seat I prefer.... Maybe I've been missing out on something here ...
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Old 05-05-20, 06:15 PM
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I know an endurance rider who loves his infinity seat...I think all your bits dangle through this one. people love them.


From the website: "
The revolutionary Infinity Seat not only protects your sensitive perineum/pubic-bone area, but completely relieves sit-bone pressure as well. Rather than smashing those areas like a conventional bike seat does, the Infinity Seat moves the anatomical contact outward—to areas that are less sensitive to compression, and more capable of “providing their own padding”. The result is a much more comfortable ride with far less chance of developing saddle sores, genital numbness, impotence or even sterility."
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Old 05-05-20, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I've never had a problem with numbness, but I found my smp stratos saddle to be more comfortable than any other I've owned. The right width is important. SMP makes several widths and different levels of padding for each width. The suggest using your waist size when skinny as a guide for width with a 30-31 waist, I chose the narrow model with standard padding and it worked well. The angle setting is critical. No cheap post with wide spaced serrations will work, except by luck.
This isn't a good way to know width. Waist has to do with fat vs bone location. I've been 30 to 32 waist most of my adult life and need wide saddles for proper sit bone support. I'd imagine too wide would not be that bad but too narrow can be more uncomfortable.

I was given a track bike once with a saddle without the cutout (was a female rider). It was TERRIBLE. It's not the same as a "flat hard bench" as someone mentioned. It's worse, because the middle of the saddle is HIGHER than the edges.

Also to get proper saddle support you obviously need to be on the wide part of the saddle. If you do like to get low and aero, you tend to slide forward so make sure your reach isn't too far. I'm 5'-10" and my race bike is a 54 with saddle slammed all the way forward and in the forward seatpost position (dual position seatpost). My new gravel bike is a 52 and feels nice with the saddle in a normal position, which I suspect is where you like yours if you aren't getting super aero.
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Old 05-05-20, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I wouldn't imagine that there's a downside to having a cutout but not needing it.
Rain. The cut-out gives tire-spray water direct access to your bum!
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Old 05-06-20, 09:21 AM
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Sy Reene
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
Rain. The cut-out gives tire-spray water direct access to your bum!
Indeed.. and an oft neglected reason for using a saddlebag instead of another type of solution.
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Old 05-06-20, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by aaronmcd View Post
This isn't a good way to know width. Waist has to do with fat vs bone location. I've been 30 to 32 waist most of my adult life and need wide saddles for proper sit bone support. I'd imagine too wide would not be that bad but too narrow can be more uncomfortable.

I was given a track bike once with a saddle without the cutout (was a female rider). It was TERRIBLE. It's not the same as a "flat hard bench" as someone mentioned. It's worse, because the middle of the saddle is HIGHER than the edges.

Also to get proper saddle support you obviously need to be on the wide part of the saddle. If you do like to get low and aero, you tend to slide forward so make sure your reach isn't too far. I'm 5'-10" and my race bike is a 54 with saddle slammed all the way forward and in the forward seatpost position (dual position seatpost). My new gravel bike is a 52 and feels nice with the saddle in a normal position, which I suspect is where you like yours if you aren't getting super aero.
Your comments should be directed to SMP, not me. All I said was that I followed the SMP suggestions and it worked for me. I set my bike up for climbing, with the saddle fairly far back on a 25mm setback post. I ride far back on the saddle like you're supposed to and I use a 10cm drop from the saddle to the bars, so I get plenty low in the drops and I do NOT slide forward to do it. I have no spacers under the stem and a -17 stem.

The saddle should never be moved forward to change the reach to the handlebars. You'll never see a picture of a professional road racer with a seatpost in a forward position. They ride with a lot of saddle to bar drop to insure an aerodynamic position.

If you're talking about a tri bike or time trial bike, that's a completely different topic.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 05-06-20 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 05-06-20, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
I have a Fizak in my load of parts with the cutout but I've never tried it because I like the seats I have on my bikes now. But this thread got me thinking, that old Giant might be a good test bike to see which seat I prefer.... Maybe I've been missing out on something here ...
Okay, I took a 10 mile ride with my comfy seat and then came back and switched it out for the Fizak cut out seat. I didn't have the angle set quite right on my first test run and it was a pain in the ??? Adjusted it and tried again and was really amazed. Bumps and pot holes weren't anywhere near as big a pain in the ??? It's staying on the bike. Nuff said. Side note-proper adjustment is everything!
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Old 05-07-20, 06:15 AM
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Comfort is a relative term when it comes to saddles. Saddle comfort is combination of 3 different things, the saddle, the shorts, and the fit of the bike. If all of these are sufficient, you'll be reasonably comfortable, if only one or two are sufficient, you'll have significantly less comfort.

I have tried any number of saddles over the years, and tried cut out saddles when they started coming on the market. The first one I tried, a Specialized Body Geometry, caused me numbness and discomfort that I had never experienced in a conventional saddle. I eventually settled a Selle San Marco with Assos Sportsline shorts, and this was the most comfortable combination I had ever tried.

Some years later I finally succumbed to the urge to try a Brooks B17. It was the hardest and least comfortable saddle I had ever ridden, at first. But after it was broken in, it was the most comfortable saddle I had ever ridden. All of my bikes are now fitted with Brooks saddles.
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Old 05-07-20, 07:13 AM
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I recently picked up an Arione Open. I've been riding Ariones for 15 years, and this is the first open version I've purchased. (Needed a new saddle and my shop offered me a great deal on it. Figured, might as well give it a shot.)

Anyway, I like it. I don't really notice a difference between it and the non-open versions on my other bikes, in terms of comfort. I can say I no longer get saddle sores when riding the bike with the open saddle, but I attribute that change to the fact that the old saddle was just worn out.
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Old 05-07-20, 07:49 AM
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I guess you could do a very open saddle!? Saw this last week or so on our local trail lol

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Old 05-08-20, 03:06 AM
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I have both solid top and cutout saddles. Both are fine, as long as the shape, width, padding, etc., suit me. I have noticed the cutout saddles are pickier about the pads in my shorts/bibs. The solid top saddle isn't as picky.

And I have a few solid top and cutout saddles that aren't comfortable no matter what I try. There's no combination of shorts/bibs, saddle height, angle, etc, that makes those a$$ hatchets tolerable.
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Old 05-08-20, 05:41 AM
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The extra ventilation down there is welcome on hotter humid days.
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Old 05-08-20, 12:08 PM
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I can understand people loving the Infinity saddle, since we have so many types of people in this world, but something on the saddlehas to take the rider's weight, and that part will need to break in to bearing the weight.

When I hit my late 60s, the saddles that used to work made me numb, and I did not want the numbness. I tried a Fizik (eff their spelling) Aliante(?), then B17 Imperial, finally an SMP TRK. The critical SMP measurement isn't sit bone width - it's the distance between sit and pubic bones. The TRK works for me. I tried one of their high end models which was too long. But I've used TRKs for 4 years now without numbness. I attribute that partly to the channel, in which the pubic nerve presumably rests, and the 'beak', which allows the privates bits to ride on air. It's a great saddle if numbness is your problem.

Another great saddle if you don't want to get numb is the ISM line (ismseat.com). These seats place almost all your weight on your pubic rami, not your sit bones, and that protects the soft tissue. Your privates ride on air with ISM seats, too. The problem I found with the ISM seat I tried was that I developed a saddle sore where my ramius rested on the seat. That's a problem for some people who try the ISM out.

There are other approaches, too - Cobb, an English seat the name of which I can't remember, etc. - but I believe taking pressure off the soft tissues is a good thing, even for young people, all other things being equal. But it's still impossible to predict how a specific individual will react to a specific saddle, so the only option we've got is to try a saddle out, figure out what, if anything, is wrong, and try another one
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Old 05-08-20, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
I ride in hills a lot and am not particularly flexible. I'm looking at Fizik saddles and see that many come with or without open channels. How do I decide what's right for me?
Some shops have loaner Fiziks so you can try a saddle for a few days or even weeks to see how it does. As far as the cutout goes, if you ever finish a ride feeling like a Ken doll (that is to say, the boys have gone numb), then you are a prime candidate for a cutout or at least channeled saddle.

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Old 05-08-20, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I can understand people loving the Infinity saddle, since we have so many types of people in this world, but something on the saddlehas to take the rider's weight, and that part will need to break in to bearing the weight.

When I hit my late 60s, the saddles that used to work made me numb, and I did not want the numbness. I tried a Fizik (eff their spelling) Aliante(?), then B17 Imperial, finally an SMP TRK. The critical SMP measurement isn't sit bone width - it's the distance between sit and pubic bones. The TRK works for me. I tried one of their high end models which was too long. But I've used TRKs for 4 years now without numbness. I attribute that partly to the channel, in which the pubic nerve presumably rests, and the 'beak', which allows the privates bits to ride on air. It's a great saddle if numbness is your problem.

Another great saddle if you don't want to get numb is the ISM line (ismseat.com). These seats place almost all your weight on your pubic rami, not your sit bones, and that protects the soft tissue. Your privates ride on air with ISM seats, too. The problem I found with the ISM seat I tried was that I developed a saddle sore where my ramius rested on the seat. That's a problem for some people who try the ISM out.

There are other approaches, too - Cobb, an English seat the name of which I can't remember, etc. - but I believe taking pressure off the soft tissues is a good thing, even for young people, all other things being equal. But it's still impossible to predict how a specific individual will react to a specific saddle, so the only option we've got is to try a saddle out, figure out what, if anything, is wrong, and try another one
I've heard the ISM can be finicky to setup. I'm thinking about grabbing one to replace my Selle Italia, but my sit bones are on fire from using it.

Which ISM did you end up trying out? I'm unsure about the padding levels.
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Old 05-08-20, 09:18 PM
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I tried out the PR 1.0, IIRC. It just didn't work for me, but that doesn't mean it's a bad saddle. Lots of people love it. A few decades ago, I swore by suspended leather saddle, like the Brooks line, but I couldn't get the B17 Imperial to work for me before I used the ISM.
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Old 05-08-20, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I tried out the PR 1.0, IIRC. It just didn't work for me, but that doesn't mean it's a bad saddle. Lots of people love it. A few decades ago, I swore by suspended leather saddle, like the Brooks line, but I couldn't get the B17 Imperial to work for me before I used the ISM.
Gotcha. The PS 1.0 is so cheap right now, so I really want to try it out, but it has like absolutely no padding so I'm hesitant on that front. Otherwise, I've heard a lot of praise for the PR 2.0. Wish I could see all of these in person
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Old 05-09-20, 09:06 AM
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My sense is that very little surface of the groin and of the saddle bears the weight with ISM seats. That means riders rest on hard surfaces no matter what. Of course if padding flattens out, it may increase the surface available for bearing weight and thereby reduce PSI.

You'll never know if it works for your without trying it out.
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