Endless Saddle Problems...

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

Moderator: Moderator Team

Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:37 am

by DividedVolta

Hey guys,

I'm desperately trying to fix my saddle woes. In the middle of last year I decided to just quit cycling from a combination of erectile dysfunction (after some rides it would be near impossible to get an erection, they are noticeable "weaker" etc) and burn out. After a few months I decided to start cycling again and resigned myself to fixing the problem, which has reared its ugly head once again. As a young male (hell, a male period) this is a hugely demoralizing problem. Sorry this is a bit of a novel, but I just don't know what to do anymore.

For reference, I've used the assometer at Trek and Specialized dealers, both showing I'm somewhere in between the 143 and 155mm models. I have always been sized up to the 155's. 29in waist and very flexible (like that matters, Fizik).

I will admit that, in the past, I've probably not given some saddles enough time to form an insightful evaluation, and I am trying to avoid this on my second go-round. In list form, I've tried an Arione (felt too skinny, not a wedge guy, short time on it) - Aliante Versus (too squishy, two attempts just didn't feel right) - Antares Versus (I was impressed with this saddle but felt I was up inside my sit bones, but it was comfy, short time) - Selle something Mantra (didn't work at all). I have also tried the Specialized Toupe and most recently Romin Evo. At first I thought the Toupe was working, small amounts of numbness and a reduction in the ED problem. Over time, it came back just as badly. Somehow, regardless of shape or cut outs I often notice a pressure at the very rear of perineum, and after aggressive rides throughout most of my perineum (even on cutout saddles like the Romin and Toupe).

Recently I've begun to wonder if I'm even sitting on my saddle correctly. I've been told I sit very far back on my saddles (my glutes actually extend off the back somewhat), but this has been in an effort to place my sit bones fully on my saddles at their widest point. In other words, since buying my Toupe I've tried to place all my weight on my sit bones with none spread across actual glutes. As I've read more about the Romin I've seen you supposed to sit "in" rather than "on" it; attempting this felt odd but I could feel some of the pressure spread out. I just couldn't quite find what felt like the proper spot to be in; sometimes I felt like I was seated alright and others I could feel something "popping" over the edge of the saddle as I pedaled. I'm honestly at my wits end, as sitting on the most noticeable protuberance of my sit bones results in ED even though that's what I've been told to do. I'm giving the Romin a bit more time, but am considering giving a Selle SMP a try (sadly there are no dealers at all in my region...).

So, in the end, I have two questions. Does anyone have any generalized advice? I know finding the correct saddle is incredibly personal, but I'd appreciate any anecdotes or help. Second, how exactly do you all sit (or perch) on your saddles? Do you spread out some of your weight across your sit bones and rear, or squarely plant on the sit bones alone? Either way, thanks. Hopefully I can get this worked out.

Posts: 272
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:25 pm
Location: UK

by dynaserve

I went from Spec Romin to Selle Italia SLR Superflow - ACE!

by Weenie

User avatar
Posts: 2585
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 10:39 am

by Tapeworm

The best solution is to beg borrow or st... borrow for a long time every saddle known to man.

After getting numbness in my left leg I went on a saddle journey and ended up with the SMP Composite for road and ISM Adamo Road for TT.

Padding can be a furphy, it's all about shape.
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:37 am

by DividedVolta

I think I would steal at this point! Folks better not get off their bikes around me...

Shop Owner
Posts: 1980
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:02 am
Location: NoVA/DC

by thisisatest

Numbness issues for years here, somewhat better with specialized saddles. Read some of Steve Hogg's stuff, tried an SMP Evolution that was kicking around. At first it wasn't comfortable, I'd been taught that you sit on sit bones. But I had no more numbness. Played with positioning, now I find it very comfortable as well. Definitely sitting "in" the saddle, pelvis deliberately rotated. My shop doesn't even carry SMP! The Big Boss isn't interested. I'm gonna have to wait for his you-know-what to fall off first.
Long story long, try the SMP. ISM Adamo is somewhat related, but different. Different again but along those lines are the Cobb saddles. None are pretty, but that's ok.

Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:37 am

by DividedVolta


I had seen some of Hogg's stuff about the SMP line and had been thinking about getting one. But, without a dealer in my region I have no idea of how which saddle I should go for. Any advice (bear in mind I did look over their website and saw their sizing chart).

Posts: 1966
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2005 4:51 am

by maxxevv

This sounds elementary but if its that bad, have you checked whether your seat height is correct ? As quite simply being too high there ?? :noidea:

User avatar
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

I think I have a wide ass also: I like the Selle Italia Turbomatic Gel Flow Team Edition.
I also have good luck with the Selle Italia Signo gel Flow.

Saddle tilt seems to be important also. I have reached a counterintuitive conclusion that tilting the nose UP slightly is more commfortable for two reasons: it makes it so the low spot, where gravity causes you to setlte into is further back, on a wider spot, and the saddle is typically a little softer (less rigid than the nose) slightly in front of that, where you genitals may tend to contact.

Both the Turbomatic and the Signo also have vibration/impact damperr pads at the rail mounts that seem to make a significant difference to overall "damage accumulation" during a long ride.

Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:37 am

by DividedVolta

maxxevv wrote:This sounds elementary but if its that bad, have you checked whether your seat height is correct ? As quite simply being too high there ?? :noidea:

Nah man, I completely understand where you are coming from. The problem started two bikes ago, over the course of the off season as my seat clamp loosened and my saddle began to tilt upwards (from my weight being on the rear). My seat heights have been consistent across my fittings with regard to my leg angle, before and after the problem started. I've never had one of the fancy fittings that Specialized offers, and to my knowledge there isn't a "big time" fitter around me. Nor do I have much saddle to bar drop on my new bike... almost none, actually.


I have also come to that conclusion as well. After the problem started I had begun pointing my saddle downwards which exacerbated the problem. I think, like you alluded to, this makes you slip forward and pinch (for lack of a better term) nerves and capillaries in your groin. I'm experimenting with tilting my Romin upwards slightly in an effort to make a better hammock region. From experience I've learned that I simply cannot perch on my sit bones... that or I'm not actually on my sit bones. I just don't know at this point.

Posts: 352
Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:19 pm
Location: Denmark

by fitty4

One thing came to my mind when you said you don't have much drop is that you should try more drop. I'm no expert, I have some back issues that makes my saddle choice and position essential, I have never had a fit but I'm considering it.

From my point of view from what I have read and experienced is that if you are flexible you should try a flat saddle but at the same time also have some drop. Non flexible rider like myself need a saddle with a tail. I have tried a flat saddle and it was like sitting on a bar for me. If you have a lot of drop you have more contact with the saddle. I have 3 bikes, road, and comuter different saddle on all of them since my position is differnt, I have tried the same saddle on all of them but it doesn't work for me.

I hope you find a solution

Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:56 pm

by darkblue08

Question: What type of frame do you ride? Alu or Carbon. I found carbon much more comfortable, but I dont know if its enough to fix your problem. I sounds like you are at a trial and error point with your problem. Flat vs. semi round saddels, try different saddle widths, try different positions (seat height, tilts ex.)

Maybe try an old style triangle saddle (I know its not normally used for race bikes, but just trying to turn every stone). I found that there is a big difference in how bike shorts fits me. Maybe try other brands. I found that Sportsfull are the best for me. I tried some with gels insert, but they are not a positiv experience for me.

Shop Owner
Posts: 1980
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:02 am
Location: NoVA/DC

by thisisatest

If I were shooting in the dark for which of their saddles would likely work well, I'd get the strike. Medium padding on their narrower shell. I've tried their wider Forma saddle, and it didn't work for two reasons. First, it isn't that the back is wider. It's more that they take their narrower shell and just extend the rear further back, so it gets wider. Second is that you're not sitting on the sit bones anyway, your pelvis is rotated so the part directly in front of your sit bones is actually supporting you.
So give it a go. It may seem like $200 is a lot to spend on a guess, but keep in mind we're talking about protecting jewels here.

Posts: 5905
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:30 pm
Location: Bay Area

by KWalker

Glorycycles.com demoes SMP if you're in the US. Email them if you don't see the model on their site.

I have ridden in order:
Fizik Aliante
Fizik Arione
Prologo Nago
Prologo Scratch Nack
Prologo Scratch Pro TR
Speci Romin 155
Speci Toupe 155
Speci Toupe 143
Speci Romin 143 (back and forth between these two for quite a while), over a year until basically last Spring)
New Concor
Fizik Antares
Speci Phenom
Romin Evo 143
SMP Composit
Speci Romin
Fizik Arione
SMP Dynamic
SMP Evolution
SLR w/ cutout
Romin 143.

Just saw my fitter this past Sunday, who is Hogg-affiliated. We tried 5 or 6 different saddles and adjusted fore/aft, height, etc on all of them trying the balance test, efforts under power, etc. Oddly enough we settled on the Arione, which was set 6mm lower than I was riding, and about 1cm further back than I had ever tried it before. My lower back has never been more comfortable. A lot of times people setup saddles to the same height and fore/aft and they aren't even close to where they should be. This is why you should give them time. If you have access to Retul it makes it easier to make sure the movement patterns are at least the same. If the saddle is too high, like my Romin was, the nose was never comfortable. If its too far back, same thing. Effective width is a bitch to predict as your IPRs slant inwards so running say 15mm more drop might rotate you more forward and have a narrower separation width. I increased my drop last Summer to straighten out my arms to reduce strain on them (very long arms) and I ended up rotating my pelvis slightly and just prefer a flatter saddle now. Also, the Arione is much flatter than the 143 Romin, which has a narrower effective width because of its slope. So I have a wider platform side to side. Also, most of the curved saddles did not work for me because the back pushed me too far forward, even with them set all the way back and the nose angled up and down at varying degrees. It almost seem as like I did not fit in the divit. Only time will tell, but after that many saddles I'm basically back to the first one I ever rode, just set up a little better.
Don't take me too seriously. The only person that doesn't hate Froome.
Failed Custom Bike

Posts: 377
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:38 pm

by drchull

As said above fit is a huge change. I can ride an Antares for 6+ hours on my road bike but on my track bike with a more aggressive drop 1.5-2hrs is max and start getting chafing and numbness.
Competitive cyclist also has a trial program for SMP saddles and others. I used to ride an SMP and found it fantastic for numbness but could never get comfortable sit bones on it for more than 3 hours. Most cut out saddles don't have a large enough cutout to do what they are supposed to and the versus is just marketing as the foam they put on the saddle to create a "channel" is too soft to maintain the channel IMHO. I haven't tried the various noseless ISM, Dash (forget the model) etc saddles though would certainly be willing to.
Finding the perfect saddle is often a horribly expensive, long process of trial and error. Luckily the good shops and some online shops have good trial programs.

User avatar
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:32 pm

by grid256

After years of suffering and searching, this is my trick: setup the new saddle on your trainer and ride in your underwear. I'm serious. This way, there is no mistaking where you will be sitting and where the saddle lands. You can also stick your hand down there and touch everything to confirm where things are landing and what should change.

I've found that if I can ride comfortably in my boxers for at least 10 minutes, then something is working. My 2¢

by Weenie

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post