Saddle widths and riding position

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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cmcdonnell
Posts: 276
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:50 pm

by cmcdonnell

Whilst nobody can recommend anyone else a saddle, I'm curious on what saddles you've been recommended based on your sit bones and if it worked for you. Does anyone else find that bike fit advice gives an uncomfortable saddle. I think the fits assume I sit back on my sitbones which I rarely do. I spend most time in an aero hood position with a degree of pelvic rotation so the fact my sit bones are a certain width is not that relevant because I’m sitting forward on my pubic rami.

I’ve recently had 2 bike fits, one from a well-respected local fitter and one using the Specialized BG Retul device. Both measured my seat bones at 11 cm and said I should be on a 143mm saddle. The first guy tried me on a Romin which felt lovely for about 30 mins then horrible and then suggested I try a Toupe which he did not have in. The chap doing the BG fit recommended a Toupe which feels horribly hard initially, like a plank and then improves for a while before getting a hot spot later. It’s quite comfortable if I sit upright or on the tops but gets sore as I rotate forwards. I did notice that with Specialized 11 cm seems to be between Toupe sizes.

I have always used Selle Italia saddles and apart from a Flite in the 1990s I have found them comfortable. I spent a fair few years on an Selle Italia SLK Gel-flow 135 mm and the last few years on an SLR flow 131 mm.

Tried a Specialized Power last year and found it quite comfortable until I got a saddle sore under my pubic rami after a month. Keep going back to my SLR flow which every fitter tells me is to narrow… I’m light but have quite wide thighs so any saddle with a wide nose rubs. It seems that most of these assometers purely measure your sit bone width and not how you'd sit in practice?

Any opinions / experiences?
Bianchi Oltre XR2 + Campagnolo Super Record 11 + Campagnolo Bora 50C
Litespeed T1 + Campagnolo Chorus 11 + Campagnolo Shamal Ultra

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Calnago
Posts: 6069
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:14 pm

by Calnago

Interesting post, and I concur. There are a whole lot of fit "gimmicks" out there. Nothing beats trial and error and figuring out what works for you and what does not. And it's especially beneficial if you can figure out "why" something works so you can use that information when looking at new stuff that comes out and decide if it even makes sense or not for you.
Like you, I seemed fine on the Selle Italia SLRs. But sometimes you just want to try something different. I tend to like Specialized saddles after having settled on a couple many years ago for a road bike, then a touring bike. They were quite heavy, but had firm padding. Also quite narrow. They worked. Currently I ride the Specialized Romin Pros, but not the newest one. I tried one this year but since they cut a centimeter off the front I don't like it quite as much. It would work I'm sure, but I prefer the standard length of 175mm or so, versus the 165mm or shorter. I've read some marketing blather in one of the reviews on the new Romin and they said something to the effect of "well, after much back and forth with our pro riders, it was found that they could move around more with the new saddle..." That is paraphrased but I thought "what?... that makes no sense at all. You've got less length to move around on so how can you possibly move around more?". I wouldn't be at all surprised if they cut off a centimeter of length to better allow for Sagan's "death tuck" on the top tube. Less length would certainly allow for less of the saddle nose potentially jamming into your lower spine when in that position on the top tube. Of course, they could never publicly endorse such a position on a bicycle, but maybe that's what they meant by saying it allows their pros to "move around more'. Specialized marketing spin cycle at work. Ha.
But as to the various "assometers" out there... I too found the Specialized one not to my liking and ultimately decided on the narrower Romin than it recommended. I agree completely with your assessment of the sitbone width being only one facet of the entire position. Personally, after trying both the Toupe and the Romin Pro, I found the slight dip in the romin Pro and more rounded sides (in relation to the Toupe) to be more to my liking. It is not as flat as the Selle Italia SLR, but I really like it nonetheless.
Anyway, it's all very personal especially when it comes to saddle but I would never let an "assometer" tell me the saddle that hurts is right for me (based on the assometer), when the one that doesn't hurt feels fine (based on actual riding). The good thing is that most Specialized, or Trek (Bontrager) shops will let you try a saddle for 30 days and you can return it if you don't like it. I took advantage of that and got two sizes in each of the Romin Pro and Toupe and spent some good miles trying them out before deciding.
And set up is equally as important as finding the right size. A new style saddle may be great for you, but you may have to tweak the position a bit (fore and aft, tilt etc) before you find the ultimate sweet spot for that particular saddle, your frame, and your body. It can be quite a process. Good luck.
Colnago C64 - The Naked Build; Colnago C60 - PR99; Trek Koppenberg - Where Emonda and Domane Meet;
Unlinked Builds (searchable): Colnago C59 - 5 Years Later; Trek Emonda SL Campagnolo SR; Special Colnago EPQ

Jml
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:51 am

by Jml

I have very little experience in the "saddle fit" department as I have never had one. I really dont think there is any need to spend time discussing about which saddle is best as like you said, everyone is different. My advice is buy a saddle, use it for a week, if you dont like it, swap for another one. Rinse and repeat.

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antonioiglesius
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:08 pm

by antonioiglesius

I can recommend Meld saddles (https://www.meld3d.com). I wrote a review here: viewtopic.php?t=143705. They use a crush box to capture your anatomy's geometry, then generate a saddle model based on that and other inputs from you.

The saddle made for me supports both the upright and hips-rotated-forward position. There's quite a bit of information on their website with regards to the parameters which includes some that cater to how we ride (https://www.meld3d.com/saddle_parameters). Anyone can sign up for a free account and try out the model generation tool.

I don't have any good experiences with bike fitters, unfortunately. Even though I'm pretty sure the width of my sitbones don't change, different fitters came up with different numbers. The saddles suggested were all over the place. It's as if I've not had any fitting done at all...

spud
Posts: 645
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:52 am

by spud

ass-o-meters are a starting point. That's all. Actual trial experience is the only way to ID a good saddle. Though I will say that I've seen people have good success with noseless saddles like the ISM when they could not achieve reasonable pelvic rotation on a standard saddle. Not for me, but they work for some.

jch3n
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:34 pm

by jch3n

I don't understand how they ended up at 143mm. Isn't conventional wisdom sit bone width + 20-30mm? That would leave you somewhere in the 130s...I guess Specialized has their own formula?

Going from a wider to narrower saddle, after actually measuring my sit bones, made a difference for me. Although, I think part of it was also going from a flatter side-to-side profile to something rounder. Width and shape must be considered.

3Pio
Posts: 866
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:13 pm

by 3Pio

cmcdonnell wrote:Whilst nobody can recommend anyone else a saddle, I'm curious on what saddles you've been recommended based on your sit bones and if it worked for you. Does anyone else find that bike fit advice gives an uncomfortable saddle. I think the fits assume I sit back on my sitbones which I rarely do. I spend most time in an aero hood position with a degree of pelvic rotation so the fact my sit bones are a certain width is not that relevant because I’m sitting forward on my pubic rami.

I’ve recently had 2 bike fits, one from a well-respected local fitter and one using the Specialized BG Retul device. Both measured my seat bones at 11 cm and said I should be on a 143mm saddle. The first guy tried me on a Romin which felt lovely for about 30 mins then horrible and then suggested I try a Toupe which he did not have in. The chap doing the BG fit recommended a Toupe which feels horribly hard initially, like a plank and then improves for a while before getting a hot spot later. It’s quite comfortable if I sit upright or on the tops but gets sore as I rotate forwards. I did notice that with Specialized 11 cm seems to be between Toupe sizes.

I have always used Selle Italia saddles and apart from a Flite in the 1990s I have found them comfortable. I spent a fair few years on an Selle Italia SLK Gel-flow 135 mm and the last few years on an SLR flow 131 mm.

Tried a Specialized Power last year and found it quite comfortable until I got a saddle sore under my pubic rami after a month. Keep going back to my SLR flow which every fitter tells me is to narrow… I’m light but have quite wide thighs so any saddle with a wide nose rubs. It seems that most of these assometers purely measure your sit bone width and not how you'd sit in practice?

Any opinions / experiences?


Same experience.. I got fitted and based on that bought two Saddles. Romin Evo Pro (Carbon rails) in 143 mm, and MTB Phenom Pro also in 143 mm.

First few minutes, they are comfortable. But after longer ride POS.. Totaly uncomfortable (Phenom Pro making me needing a Pee very often, on Romin it's uncomfortable and somehow im locked in one position).On both my thighs are rubbing the saddle which is not comfortable at all.

Then i just ordered Selle Italia SLR Carbonio Flow in 131mm and voila.. Most comfortable saddle i ever had. No pain, no numbness i can ride for very long and never a problem. Same experiences with Selle Italia SLR and Flite

on Carbonio SLR Flow i have by now 7000 km and seem that it will last another 7000 (i can notice the material on the sides start to show some wear and tear), but thinking to buy another one just to have it as spare. Still, wondering to try Fizik Saddles in future as well :)

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silvalis
Posts: 376
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 1:02 am
Location: Aus

by silvalis

Ditto experience. Measured at 11cm, using 143mm saddles
Romin was great, then uncomfortable after an hour. Phenom did the same on my HT.
Went to a romin evo, a bit less comfortable initially but better over several hours. I suspect due to the high curvature.

Been on a SMP dynamic for the last few years. Much narrower, but much more comfortable for me.
Aliantes also work fine for me, but I prefer the cutout. Charge spoons (aka fabric scoop) are even better, but a bit on the soft side

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fa63
Posts: 2264
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:26 am
Location: Atlanta, GA, US

by fa63

I was very comfortable on a Specialized Romin, until I wasn't after I gained a few pounds. Now I happily ride a Brooks Cambium C17 (WW's worst nightmare, it weighs a ton) on one bike which has a more upright position, and an Ergon SR3 (size L) on my other bike which is lower/longer. The Cambium doesn't work with a long/low position, at least not for me.

DamonRinard
in the industry
Posts: 229
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:32 pm
Location: Connecticut, USA

by DamonRinard

Your 11 cm is quite narrow.

Quote:
Table 1: Ischial tuberostiy spacing among men and women (PeopleSize 1998, http://www.openerg.com/)

Percentile: Men, Women
5th: 100mm, 112mm
50th: 118mm, 130mm
95th: 137mm, 148mm

The table above lists the distances between ischial tuberosities expected in men and women based on statistical analysis of population data. Once you know your sit bone spacing, you can see if you’re in the narrow, medium or wide range of the population. This may suggest you try narrower, average or wider saddles. For many folks who are not average, knowing they are wide or narrow really speeds up saddle selection.
End quote.

Source:
https://www.cervelo.com/en/engineering- ... ad-saddles
Damon Rinard
Engineering Manager, Road Bikes
Cycling Sports Group, Cannondale
Ex-Kestrel, ex-Velomax, ex-Trek, ex-Cervelo

cmcdonnell
Posts: 276
Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:50 pm

by cmcdonnell

Interesting responses. I think its probably the industry push for narrow, medium and wide not favoring anybody in the middle who finds Selle Italia comfortable... and I have no idea how Fizik work width wise. I wouldn't mind getting a Selle Italia IDMatch but nobody does one round my way and there's no information online about the recommended widths for their narrow and wide saddles.
Bianchi Oltre XR2 + Campagnolo Super Record 11 + Campagnolo Bora 50C
Litespeed T1 + Campagnolo Chorus 11 + Campagnolo Shamal Ultra

DJT21
Posts: 184
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:35 pm

by DJT21

Completely agree OP. The "sit bone" width thing is a bit of a marketing exercise IMO. Finding a comfortable saddle can be a long, drawn out trial and error process for many people. However, if a company can tell you that you should be using X saddle in X width because your sit bones measure X then people will go for it. But, as you've found out, sit bone width has little relevance when you're sitting on a road bike in a "racing" position.
A Fizik Arione might suit you as it's quite narrow with a narrow nose.

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