Fiddling with saddles

Saddles and saddle adjustment are a constant issue. After years of dissatisfaction I improved my comfort hugely by following Sheldon Brown’s advice on setup and also buying a Brooks B17 leather saddle. Later I added the Brompton Pentaclip which allows infinitely fine adjustment of the saddle angle. But the situation is still not satisfactory and like most cyclists I’m always looking out for improvements. Recently I tried the Rido saddle which is anatomically designed to avoid pressure on the perineum which can lead to a numb willie and worse. However the Rido seems just plain strange, not a natural thing to sit on compared to the glove-like fit and comfort of my B17. I might come back and try it for a long ride but for everyday it’s not what I want.

A recent discussion on the Bromptontalk forum indicated that there was a wide variety of saddle angles in use with many people swearing by a downward tilt that leaves the nose well below the back of the saddle. I’ve had mine with the nose slightly high so I find a natural position on the seat but it does lead to some perineal pressure which is making me think about buying a Brooks Imperial (with a cutout for your crutch – traditional design from 100 years before split saddles were fashionable )

So this led me to try a slightly nose down position as here:

Before: The brickwork behind is horizontal but the bike is on a slight forward slope so the nose is actually very slightly high

BBB

BB

B

After: The brickwork in the photo makes the nose look lower than it is. Not a big change of angle but a fundamental change in comfort.

BB

B

BBB

From this I discovered that the lower nose made me quite uncomfortable and likely to slide forward so my crutch ended up on the nose of the saddle. It also put a lot more pressure on my wrists. Other people seem to like this position, or more extreme versions so I thought about what might be happening.

One possibility is that I am smaller than they, I use the Brompton “M” Bars which give me an upright position that suits me very well since I have vulnerable wrists. A bigger person will have the saddle higher than the handlebars and so their whole body becomes tilted forwards, changing the angle at which they sit on the saddle, the Brompton flat ‘S’ Bars are designed to give a lower handlebar and that will have the same effect. I tried an experiment to test this, resting one hand on the much lower centre section of the M Bars and immediately I felt more secure, pushed back into the saddle rather than sliding forward out of it.

So we are all different and the whole posture is crucial to comfort, As neither position fixes my perineal problem I might buy the Brooks Imperial.

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4 Responses to “Fiddling with saddles”

  1. Jos Vromen Says:

    You should give the RiDo a fair chance. Go for a longer ride . . .
    I did and now I use my RiDo all days. But I still think that a Brooks is better looking.
    So for me the RiDo is better sitting and the Brooks is better looking.

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Thanks Jos, as I say I will try it for a longer ride but after two weeks of Rido commuting going back to the Brooks was pure luxury. On the Rido I was constantly worrying about whether my sit bones were in the right place and I never found a ‘natural’ position.

  3. Andy in Germany Says:

    That’s interesting suff: I’m considering a Brooks saddle to replace my much loved Selle-Royal gel saddle.

    I like the blog by the way…

  4. velohobo Says:

    I’ve been riding Brooks for years and love them. After a few hundred miles they begin to feel like your favorite well worn pub stool. Be careful not to over oil them or they can become too soft and sag too much. Should last for years and years.

    Cheers, Jack

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