Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Game Of (Cycling) Thrones

The WTB Pure V- One of my favorite saddles for long days of bicycling
The bicycle saddle has long been a source of contention, frustration, and laser beam focus for cyclists for decades if not for over a century. Of course, it is one of the primary "touch points" of a bicycle. The others being the grips and gloves, then the shoes/pedals, which, by the way, are much easier deals to navigate for any cyclist.

Take for instance the pedal. It basically is only a device for your shoe to push on. You can ride in whatever shoes fit you and are most comfortable, of course, and you already know what size you need. Well..........maybe I assume too much. Let's just agree that there is a well codified system that you can use to find a shoe that fits.

Grips and gloves are also pretty easy things to get figured out. There are ergonomically designed grips and gloves come in sizes which can be fitted to almost any human's paw. This isn't that hard to figure out. Not so with saddles. 

Cambium C-17. My newest favorite saddle.
Until recently we mostly were left to guess what saddle might work by reading marketing hype and squeezing saddles in the shops like we were shopping for fresh produce. Then we learned about "sit bones" but unless you were around a shop with one of those gel infested benches, you had no idea how to measure yours. Maybe it was all too sciency for mere mortals to grasp.

I actually got to sit on one of these benches. It was as if I mistakenly sat on a full diaper. Gross would describe the experience. Isn't there a better way to do this? Then there is the whole weird out with dealing with that part  of your body. I mean, for me- yeah. No big deal. But I could easily see where some folks that need the most help would be the most sensitive about getting fitted.

Ya know, I knew my shoe size and even my glove size when I was a teenager. But I never figured out my "sit bone" width until I was well on into my 40's. Then even when/if you know that, you still have to find the right saddle for the bike you have, the style of riding you do, and how you position yourself on said saddle. It ain't easy, and I wish it were, but I think after about ten years of trying different saddles I found a couple that fit me really well. Brooks and WTB for me, but the stubborn journey I took to discover that maybe would be too daunting for many folks.

I wonder if this is why we have so many "non-cyclists" who have left cycling because they couldn't find the right saddle? Maybe. What do I know. All I can say is that it is still crazy after all these years that we don't stop this silly game of not having a way to figure out the correct saddle for folks, at least in a rudimentary way.


Tyler Loewens said...

Have you tried the Fizik phone app? I wish more companies would go that route. At the very least it gets you into the range of their saddles they would suggest based off of your flexibility. Not perfect science of course, but still helpful.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Loewens: That's the app that points you to certain saddles in their line based on flexibility, as you say, but not really on sit bone width, right? See, I think that is half the info you really need.

I think a combination of the fizik ideas and sit bone measurement (however you would get that done and not make people queezy is beyond me right now), is the way to go.

Maybe there could be a pressure mapping seat you could use at a bike shop that would do this. If that could be done cheaply, then maybe there could be some hope as long as some company made it an open standard and not proprietary to a single brand.

Like THAT ever happens in the cycling industry!

youcancallmeAl said...

Used one of these for the last four months and found it very comfortable!

Guitar Ted said...

@youcancallmeAl- I have a good friend who uses and swears by SMP saddles. Costly little buggers though.

Tim said...

I once made a photocopy of my "sit bone". Could I bring that to my LBS to help with a seat fitting? ;)

Guitar Ted said...

@Tim- :0

Steve Fuller said...

@G-Ted - A couple of comments

A) I went through a fairly extensive saddle selection process over many, many miles of riding in 2014. it was easy to get a saddle to fit my sit bone width, but what I ended up discovering was that a saddle with a rounded front edge profile, like the Brooks, worked a lot better for me. Saddles with a sharper drop off cause me a lot of hamstring discomfort. Unfortunately, that's another one of those things that can only come with a bunch of seat time.

B) You mentioned a pressure mapping seat. I found this last week, while I was poking around for some other things. Almost exactly what you were wishing for. -

The company that came up with it -