Help please with saddle choice

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danfoto
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Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

Posting here on behalf of my poor wife who is getting majorly miffed about her buttock (singular). First things first: she's 60 years, 60Kg and 165cm, and generally fit and well after breast cancer 9 years ago. Been riding bikes for ever, and the more so since we gave up the motor car 8 years ago. Current bikes are a Thorn Sherpa with straight bars, and a Batavus pedelec with an upright riding position that's more "1950s British pushbike" than low-saddle high-bars "Dutch style", one or the other normally being ridden most days unless there's ice about.

She has a sit-bone issue which is really getting her down because it's limiting her riding as well as keeping her awake at night. We still don't have a proper diagnosis, but it's a pain on the outer side of her sit-bone which we think could be ischial bursitis, and which can come and go during the day and night. However it's always worse after she's been riding the Batavus; less so after riding the Sherpa with its more forward-leaning riding position, but always triggered by riding. Saddles on both bikes are gel Selle Royals, the current one on the Batavus being this one https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/saddles/sel ... el-saddle/

We've tried the "universal" Selle Royal gel saddle off her Sherpa on the Batavus but to no avail. The women-specific one linked to above is better than that, but not the answer. Ann feels that we perhaps need to go wider rather than narrower, particularly as her saddle height is slightly lower on the Batavus, and that a softer saddle will help (the new one on the Batavus being relatively hard).

Given that we're not well off and that we seem to be a long way from getting either a diagnosis or some treatment for her condition, can anyone please suggest a way forward? Is there a specific saddle anyone might suggest, or do we resign ourselves to keep buying different saddles in the hope of finding a magic one?
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Paulatic
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by Paulatic »

It sounds like a very troublesome complaint and I’ll bet we all sympathise with her.
First question, Why the different saddle heights?
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

Paulatic wrote:... Why the different saddle heights?

Short answer is totally different bikes: one sized to fit Ann and built for a more "aggressive" riding position versus one off-the-shelf "city bike" being designed specifically for a relaxed upright riding position and variable electric assistance.

We got the Sherpas maybe 12 years ago, which in Ann's case was pre-cancer, which left her with a whole heap of upper quadrant and lower back problems. We ameliorated these to some extent where her Sherpa was concerned by raising the bars as high as possible but leaving the saddle height as was. This has worked just fine until the advent of this buttock problem, so at least for the time being the saddle on her Sherpa's still at the "proper" height for the frame and her leg length.

The Batavus is a different kettle of fish though, so it's impossible to compare the relative seat heights meaningfully. It is somewhat lower on the Batavus, but the difference probably wouldn't be apparent to the casual observer: it's certainly nothing like the ultra-low seat height seemingly favoured by some of the women riding bikes round this neck of the woods! Ann's tried raising and lowering it but it seems not to make a noticeable difference. What she suspect does make a difference is seat width, this feeling being based only on the saddle linked to in my OP being wider than the one off her Sherpa and that being slightly better.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
L+1
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by L+1 »

Although Saddle choice is a very personal matter, and many people would say there is no advantage to following someone else's advice, I'm going to suggest you look at Ergon saddles. There are several ladies specific and some unisex models to consider. As far as I understand, the ladies saddles are designed by women, which shouldn't really matter - but it probably does. Several models come in different qualities (prices) depending on weight and materials.
The Ergon website also has a saddle size selector based on body proportions and intended usage (time in the saddle). Its way more user friendly than trying to measure sit bone width using the 'sit-on-at-home' plasticine/dough methods (eeghh!).

My preference is the Ergon ladies SR road saddle on two different bikes ( on and off road touring) which is unlikely to be what your wife wants at the current time - but I'm very pleased with the comfort and quality.

Regarding purchasing ( or trying out) saddles, have a look at Edinburgh Bike Co-op. They will accept saddles back within one month of purchase (obviously used) and exchange for another or, I think, a refund. The details are on the 'saddles and seat posts' page. I find them very helpful on the phone, so that might be best for you to check the exact details. They can also order many extra products from the brands they supply, which don't appear on the website, if you phone and ask.

Another tip to alleviate saddle pain is to reduce tire pressure at little, especially if you can increase tire volume at the same time.
Also, with pain only on one side, is the sitting position slightly lopsided? I've found that foot pain (an old injury) caused a poor seat, in an attempt to compensate

I'm also going to chance my luck and make a recommendation NOT to try a Brooks Cambium. I have tried very hard to like them but I realised I was heading for the type of problem your wife is currently experiencing. The material is very unforgiving in cold weather and is abrasive on the skin in the absence of a padded liner (my preference).
I would now always recommend/choose something with a smooth cover and some degree of softness in the construction.

I hope you find something suitable. There really is nothing worse than saddle pain, or the expectation of saddle pain to spoil a ride.
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

Thank you for taking the time to make that very useful post. We hadn't heard of Ergo saddles, and were unaware of EBC's saddle exchange thing.

I must though apologise for not making one thing clear in my two posts above. Nowadays, neither of us use our bikes for anything resembling "sport": they are simply an enjoyable, frugal, eco-friendly means of transport and helping us to keep reasonably fit (considering!). Although Ann uses at least one of her bikes most days, the journey's usually just round town or to the allotment, with the occasional foray out to a nearby town perhaps no more than 10 miles away. Btw, the main reason for the pedelec is our very hilly surroundings.

Ann is currently studying the Ergo site, and I shall do my best to persuade her in due course to see what EBC have to say ...
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

£55-worth of Ergon saddle now ordered, so here's hoping ...

(Measuring distance apart of ischial tuberosities by means of corrugated cardboard and a stick of chalk was an interesting exercise!)
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L+1
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by L+1 »

I hope Ann’s new choice of saddle is successful and I’m pleased ( for her ) that she side stepped the odder versions of ‘measuring seat bone width’.
Did you manage to use the Edinburgh Bike Co-op saddle ‘try and return’ policy?
I’m close enough to a store that returning saddles was straightforward. It will be interesting to hear how it works by mail order, if you’ve gone down that route.
Hope all goes well......
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

L+1 wrote:I hope Ann’s new choice of saddle is successful ...


So do we! She got nowhere with EBC on account of how none of the three women's saddles on their site seemed at all suitable, and was all for ordering direct from Ergon until she read that they no longer ship to the UK. Fortunately she spotted three of what seemed to be the best bet Ergon in stock at Wiggle, so we threw all caution to the wind.

I'll report back in due course once it's arrived ...
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Jdsk
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by Jdsk »

danfoto wrote:... and was all for ordering direct from Ergon until she read that they no longer ship to the UK.

Is that just for individual online purchases, or does it also affect their retail sales in the UK?

Thanks

Jonathan
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

No idea. Sorry!
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Jdsk
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by Jdsk »

Thanks.

: - )

Jonathan
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danfoto
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by danfoto »

Well ... the Ergon ST Gel Women arrived yesterday and we fitted it to Ann's pedelec this morning. After a couple of trips up and down the lane to get the tilt and the fore-aft about right, she then threw all caution to the wind and set off for a ride. Six hilly miles later, my dear wife returned and to my delight declared the new saddle "not bad at all", which translates as somewhere between "excellent" and "brilliant". And this despite her ischial bursitis (if that it be) not having settled down completely!

So fingers crossed the problem is solved. Thank you once again, ladies.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
sizbut
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Re: Help please with saddle choice

Post by sizbut »

If you want really radical, look at an Infinity Bike Seat (they avoid the word saddle!). Works on supporting you via bits other than the sit bones. Of all my saddles, the most comfortable one for when not wearing padded shorts.
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