Saddles for Women

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
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Re: Ladies

Postby Vorpal » 20 Nov 2012, 7:19pm

Dave W wrote:Thanks, couple of good replies there. Shouldn't have had my tea on one of them :shock:

Posterior doesn't seem to be a problem, I think it's the nose of the saddle - tilt it down and she slides forward and complains of wrist ache. Tilt it up and it becomes uncomfortable. I can't see the angle she rides at 'cos I'm the captain. Maybe I'll get a charge Ladle for her to try or borrow a test saddle from the spesh shop.

That is a really common problem. I have had it with my road bike. I can make a couple of suggestions.

Some women with this problem find that the saddles with cut-outs, or at least a little more room where the soft bits go, are more comfortable. I certainly do, and it's one of things that helps me like my Serfas saddles. Other things to consider are a noseless saddle or a Specialized that is fitted; they measure the sit bones (I haven't had this done, but I understand that one sits upon a sensitive mat), and recommend a saddle by width.

How upright a bike is can make a huge difference to this problem, and if you can't fix it with the saddle, the solution may be to try alternative handle bars or another way to change the handle bar / saddle relationship so that she can sit more upright. On my hybrid, I can ride on almost any saddle. I currently have a £20 Halfords 'ergonomic' saddle on it. On my road bike, however, the only saddle that is comfortable is my Serfas, and I have tried a Brooks and a leather San Marco on there (among others).
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Re: Ladies

Postby Vorpal » 20 Nov 2012, 8:16pm

Brucey wrote:Another important thing which resists the forward slide is simply pedalling hard; stronger riders (male or female) seem more often to be OK with a strong forward saddle tilt. A trip round the paddock before a ladies' road race is quite instructive; many ladies have a saddle nose a full 3/4" down (or more), where men's bikes are, on average, more or less flat, with relatively few more than 1/4" nose up or nose down.

I am interested to hear that Serfas saddles are recommended by some ladies; some of their saddles have design features which I have thought to be benefical; for some years thay have been one of the few makers who made a wide saddle with Ti rails; the flex in Ti rails gives some comfort where otherwise there would be virtually none through rail flex; most steel rails are designed to be strong enough not to break under a 225lb bloke, and consequently flex little under (say) a 130lb rider. The hull on most Serfas saddles is flexible anyway, and several have a central area which is softer still, often with an insert. Finally, several Serfas saddles have a Kevlar fabric cover. This is intrinsically more grippy than many other cover materials; a downside is that clothing wears more quickly, but the grip can help resist the forward slide and this means more comfort for many people.

I prefer more tilt to the saddle on my road bike. I have always assumed that that was due solely to the handle bars being lower relative to the saddle. But it is possible that there is some 'pedal harder' effect.

I happened upon Serfas saddles entirely by accident. I picked one up years ago in the USA from an end-of-end-of-season sale for very little money. I had it on a bike for a while, but I didn't ride it much. When I got rid of the bike a few years ago, I kept the saddle. After trying several other saddles on my road bike, I came across the Serfas in a box o'bike bits. I stuck it on the bike and was surprised by how comfortable it was. Then, when I bought the tandem 3 years ago, I had a similar problem, and after unsuccessfully trying several saddles, I ordered a new Serfas RX, and found it to be far more comfortable than anything else I had tried.

I weigh a bit more than 130 lb. I like to think it's muscle. :wink: I don't have any Kevlar covered saddles, but the one on my road bike is lycra covered, and I think it is comfortable partly because it is a bit grippier. I certainly haven't had any success with slippery saddles on that bike.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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Re: Ladies

Postby LollyKat » 20 Nov 2012, 11:55pm

Another female here that still hasn't found the ideal saddle yet. There can be two problems which are linked - pressure on soft tissues and overheating. I find the Thorn Velo Deluxe very comfortable with regard to pressure but being synthetic I get sweaty in padded shorts and warm weather, leading to chafing. It is much better with loose MTB unpadded shorts but I haven't tried long distances like this. Maybe something like the Velo Wide Channel with both a channel and a cut out would be better, as there should be more ventilation. Cut-outs don't suit everyone, though - it depends on your anatomy.

There are two useful threads specifically on women's saddles here: Summary of saddle info and also Saddle fit: tests, tips and tricks. They are both long with lots of links and will keep you occupied for days.... It's an American site and many of the models mentioned may have different names or be difficult to obtain but even so I hope you find it of some help.

At the moment I'm using a Rido R2 which, after a lot of trial and error in the set-up, has completely solved soft tissue problems but is a bit hard on the sit bones as it is designed for narrower men, in spite of being very wide. I wouldn't want it on the back of a tandem. One of these days I'm going to butcher an old B17 and turn it into an Imperial.

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Re: Ladies

Postby horizon » 21 Nov 2012, 2:08am

Dave W wrote:My wife would like a more comfy saddle! She has a Specialized Riva (I think) on her Specialized Centrum single speed. I'm sure I purchased an identical saddle for our tandem.
However, she complains of the tandem saddle, possibly due to longer rides, possibly a different cycling position or even the fact that she is peddling harder.
So ladies, what do you recommend?
Difficult to explain but the discomfort is somewhere us men wouldn't get it (if you get my drift). :?

Dave W: I'm only writing this as a "it's got to be said" routine so I don't think will help. However....

IMV there isn't really any such thing as a comfy saddle and there probably isn't much difference between men and women in this respect. You have to get used to a saddle and this means short, regular or frequent sessions building up to longer runs (and also realising that a sudden increase in length of time on the saddle will mean more pain until you have adjusted again). Tell us the daily mileage your wife does, how often she rides, how long in the saddle between tea breaks, how much walking if any up hills and how long she has had the saddle. Please don't tell us the make or type of saddle, IMV it's hardly relevant. Saddle manufacturers have their own reasons for making us believe that women need a different saddle or one saddle is ergonomically comfier than another - all softer saddles are comfier to being with.

As regards tandems, the stoker will have a harder time of it for reasons given in other posts. Even worse is the fact that tandems may be used less. Do swap your wife's saddle over to the tandem, that's what we do.
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Re: Ladies

Postby Dave W » 21 Nov 2012, 8:06am

She cycles about three times a week on her single speed and does 14 miles or so on a bumpy tow path occasionally doubling the distance to 28 miles so two and a half hours without discomfort. The Tandem has the same model saddle but causes some discomfort pretty quickly. Having showed her these replies we are thinking it could be down to poorly fitting Aldi bib tights because the discomfort is apparently chafing and more to one side. She doesn't normally wear them when on her own because generally the temperature is higher when she goes out than our early Sunday morning starts.

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Re: Ladies

Postby CJ » 21 Nov 2012, 11:14am

As regards tandems, the rear seat does actually move up and down further and more abruptly when the rear wheel goes over a bump, than does the saddle of a solo bicycle, even when it's no more 'on top of' the rear wheel, but because the front wheel is further away.

The wheelbase of a solo bicycle is about 1m with the saddle of a short rider typically 0.2m in front of the rear axle, so when the rear wheel rises over a bump the saddle rises 80% of bump height. A typical tandem wheelbase is 1.8m and if the saddle is still 0.2m in front of the rear axle it will rise 89% of bump height. So the stoker of a tandem experiences a greater amplitude of vibration through the saddle, about 11% greater.

A similar calculation for the pilot however, shows that he (it usually is a 'he') benefits from a 45% reduction in bumpyness! His ride is almost twice as smooth thanks to being on the tandem, midway between the wheels, with the chance that one may be going down whilst the other goes up.

Maybe pilots consume some of this benefit by not taking quite as much care to steer around rough bits of tarmac! But they have a good excuse, as the greater wheelbase makes it harder to ensure that the rear wheel misses a bump. The bike is heavier and less manouvrable, but one has to steer the front wheel further away from a bump in order that the rear wheel may miss it, which also makes it more difficult to predict the path of that wheel.
Chris Juden
One lady owner, never raced or jumped.

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Re: Ladies

Postby SJSBrompton » 21 Nov 2012, 11:55am

It can literally be a matter of a few mms either way on saddle tilt for discomfort in that region on ladies. It took me ages to get my Brompton standard saddle right - initially I would always wear padding, but now the saddle angle is just right and I don't need to. I can imagine the saddles with the cut outs would be worth trying - and the Specialised seat fitting thing where you sit on squishy foam and they measure your sit bones.

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Re: Saddles for Women

Postby Edwards » 21 Nov 2012, 4:55pm

When we bought our tandem it was pointed out to me, the the present MrsE was sitting very upright. It was not long before she said about the saddle being uncomfortable (Sprung Brooks) and chafing.
The discussion ended when I was told "You get your soft squishy bits and sit on them on THAT saddle".
I was about to continue the discussion but looked at the the saddle and ran out of courage.

She now rides a Halfords Ladies saddle on the tandem, I do not know which one but it does have the center cut out. Now we are both happy as her important places are not being damaged.

PS as a male I learned that females are built differently when at school behind one of the temporary classrooms.
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Re: Saddles for Women

Postby eileithyia » 21 Nov 2012, 6:48pm

I use these saddles on all my bikes inc the rear of the tandem, though just having had a refit on the tandem we have not done too many miles on it yet... ... elID=58651 They do a lady's version but i found the nose was too short and wide and it felt as though it would chafe.

For that price it is not too expensive if it is not right.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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Re: Saddles for Women

Postby petzl » 22 Nov 2012, 3:44pm

After trying out around 12 saddles my other half now has Brooks Countess leather saddles, two on solos and two on tandems. The Countess is now obsolet and my wife has managed to source 3 new ones as spare.