How long to break in a saddle?

CletePurcel
CletePurcel Posts: 68
edited July 2010 in Road beginners
I'm a road newbie and have been riding for about 6 weeks now (Specialized Secteur with a Rival saddle). I generally go out about 3 times a week and do around 20-25 miles each time.

I am still getting quite bad pain in my nether regions from the saddle. It starts quite soon into the ride and gets steadily worse - and it is just as bad now as when I started. It is preventing me from extending my riding distances which I feel I am quite capable of but for the pain.

I am thinking of various solutions, but wondered how long I should just put up with it???

I wear Endura padded shorts. I am thinking trying various options in order:

Chamois cream
Better shorts
If that doesn't work, a new saddle?

Any advice appreciated.
Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
Specialized Secteur Elite

Comments

  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    unless you've got something like a Brooks leather saddle, it shouldn't need 'breaking in' - so you have to assume that the saddle you have is not the right fit for you.
  • CarleyB
    CarleyB Posts: 475
    softlad wrote:
    unless you've got something like a Brooks leather saddle, it shouldn't need 'breaking in' - so you have to assume that the saddle you have is not the right fit for you.

    +1

    Racing saddles are too thin at the front for me. The one that came with my bike gave me all kinds of gip. I changed my MTB saddle over to the road bike and wow instant relief :D Looks a bit silly when Im off the bike but I don't really care cos I'm comfortable.
    Level 3 Road & Time Trial Coach, Level 2 Track Coach.

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  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    It takes a while for the soft tissue to become accustomed to sitting in a saddle - particularly if you've no prior cycling experience. Furthermore, padding is no indication of comfort - in fact padding has been shown to increase inflammation - what is key is the shape of the saddle, it's position and your riding position relative to it. Generally , if you can sit on a saddle with no discomfort then it should be OK - but if you feel any pressure points, particularly under the perineum. then avoid at all costs. The exception to this rule is Brooks saddles, which take a while to break-in - frankly I can't be ar$ed waiting that long and don't want a boat-anchor for a saddle when I can get something lightweight and comfortable out of the box!
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • brettjmcc
    brettjmcc Posts: 1,361
    Thanks for that response. I was wondering. I got a second hand Cannondale Synapse last week that came with Selle Italia SLK saddle.

    I went out for 25mile ride on Sunday, it felt great starting off, but by the end I could feel that I had been sitting in the saddle. Is this me just getting used to the new saddle/getting used back to cycling, as I haven't been on a bike for over a year due to a sinus problem. Thanks
    BMC GF01
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  • So can I take it the concensus in this case is to try a different saddle?

    I'll go to my LBS and see what they have.

    Cheers.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,869
    So can I take it the concensus in this case is to try a different saddle?

    I'll go to my LBS and see what they have.

    Cheers.

    if it's your bum hurting, then i'd give it longer, if you've got a bit bruised then it'll be a while before you can tell if the saddle is ok or not

    first, is the saddle *level*, slanted up/down is not usually a good thing, lay a flat board on the saddle and use a spirit level or measure to the floor from each end of the board

    also try to ensure it's set up correctly for you, there's a pretty narrow fore-aft range covering the best sitting position, so if you are moving back/forward to compensate for wrong saddle position you'll never be comfortable

    at least for me, sit bones perched on the widest part is the most comfortable, and that's on a saddle with no real padding - as mentioned by others, too much padding can make things worse - if you are, ahem, of ampler proportions buttockwise, then finding that position might need some experimentation, especially if you're a bit sore

    if you are sure the position and how you're sitting are correct, but are getting pain/numbness that is more central, then i'd try a wider saddle, or maybe one with a cut-out - look for a proper bike shop has has demo saddles you can try out for a week or so

    if you look on the specialized site there's info on sit-bone measuring and saddle selection
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    I'm in the same boat as you with pain from the backside preventing me increasing distances. Pain starts just a couple of miles in. I was using the original Bontrager seat that came with my Trek but have just changed it last weekend for an Intake seat that I got at half price from the LBS. It's too early to say if it's going to do the trick as I was still in agony from the day before when I tried the new seat but it has just a little more give in it.

    I take a rest from riding during the week and spend Friday and over the weekends on the bike so some of my problem may be irregular time in the saddle. However if this doesn't work I will go for a Charge Spoon.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Thanks, Sungod.

    The saddle is perfectly level. The pain is mainly from rubbing/chafing on the very tops of the inside thighs rather than the ar$e per se. Hence my thinking that chamois cream might help.

    I was also thinking of giving it another chance by moving the saddle forward an inch. I have long legs, but short arms. I have already had to raise the stem to make the bike a more overall comfortable fit.

    I am also a pretty heavy chap (103kg) and 6'3". Don't know if that makes any difference. The saddle already has a cutout BTW.

    I'll check whether my LBS has saddles to try, but they seem to have a very limited range (specialized and bontrager).

    Looking online the Fizik saddles seem quite good. But then I won't be able to try one first.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • philthy3 wrote:
    I'm in the same boat as you with pain from the backside preventing me increasing distances. Pain starts just a couple of miles in. I was using the original Bontrager seat that came with my Trek but have just changed it last weekend for an Intake seat that I got at half price from the LBS. It's too early to say if it's going to do the trick as I was still in agony from the day before when I tried the new seat but it has just a little more give in it.

    I take a rest from riding during the week and spend Friday and over the weekends on the bike so some of my problem may be irregular time in the saddle. However if this doesn't work I will go for a Charge Spoon.

    Sounds very similar - after 10 minutes or so the nagging pain starts.

    I tend to ride every other day and the pain goes inbetween rides. I'm usually just sore for about 24 hours. My worry is that trying lots of different saddles will just cost a lot of money with no guarantees. :cry:
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • ride_whenever
    ride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    try to find your local fizik dealer, they should have some test saddles in lime green (which i actually quite like).

    I'm currently work through all the mtb and road ones to find suitable ones for my bikes as the old ones are looking a bit tatty and i fancy shiny new ones.
  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    Remember you don't need to fork out a fortune for a saddle. Some of the -£30 ones are just as good if not better than the +£100 stuff. It all depends on what fits you best and if it's set up correctly.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • Paul E
    Paul E Posts: 2,052
    Same bike, same saddle and I am just getting used to it after a few weeks commuting about about 300 miles in total since the start of the year off and on (first 3 month I had loads of asthma trouble)

    I am giving it time but it's not what I would call perfect, might try and get an avatar like the roubaix has as that's supposed to be more confortable.
  • meanredspider
    meanredspider Posts: 12,337
    edited June 2010
    If you aren't using a chamois creme and a decent pair of shorts, do that - you'll need them sooner or later. I swear by Assos for both but, in particular, for the chamois creme - I've not had a single issue since I started using it.

    As for saddles, I bought a Specialized Toupe which is just fantastic - I get no rear-end issues at all. None of this stuff is cheap but I value my comfort off the bike as well as on and my nether regions are pretty important...
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Hals1967
    Hals1967 Posts: 231
    I have the same saddle as the OP (Rival 143) - it's the bog standard one Spesh put on most of their road bikes apart from the top end ones.

    I'd read a few bad things and was tempted to buy a new saddle straight off but I'm glad I didn't - I've had no bother whatsoever from mine. Mind you I do like the look of the Spesh Toupe...

    Obviously though, if it doesn't feel right then change it.


    1967 Engine
  • andrewjoseph
    andrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    Don't dismiss Brooks saddles out of hand. I didn't need any breaking in period, it was comfy from the start.

    I've had a few problems with my knees of late and tried the spare saddles I have in the shed, it was a relief to get back to my brooks.
    --
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • I think it might be part saddle, part conditioning.
    I have the same bike with the same saddle, and whilst it has never got that comfy, I find that I can now manage a couple of hours before it starts to get noticably 'harsh'.
    It definitely feels much better than the 'plush' seat on my Marin mountain bike.
    I have to say though that due my relative inexperience, after two hours in the saddle I'm much more worried about sore legs than a sore a*se :lol:
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,869
    edited June 2010
    Thanks, Sungod.

    The saddle is perfectly level. The pain is mainly from rubbing/chafing on the very tops of the inside thighs rather than the ar$e per se. Hence my thinking that chamois cream might help.

    I was also thinking of giving it another chance by moving the saddle forward an inch. I have long legs, but short arms. I have already had to raise the stem to make the bike a more overall comfortable fit.

    I am also a pretty heavy chap (103kg) and 6'3". Don't know if that makes any difference. The saddle already has a cutout BTW.

    I'll check whether my LBS has saddles to try, but they seem to have a very limited range (specialized and bontrager).

    Looking online the Fizik saddles seem quite good. But then I won't be able to try one first.

    if it's chafing on the thighs, chamois cream might help, otherwise maybe a narrow saddle like the arione (which i find comfy), the lowest cost one is the wingflex, which is supposed to help a bit too i think, but...

    i just noticed you said you're wearing "padded shorts", if they're baggy then that could easily be the reason, get lycra ones (padded), if you don't like the skintight look just wear a pair of non-padded loose shorts over the top


    an inch is an awfully long way to move a saddle - 5mm can make a big difference - and it isn't a setting that should be based upon seating comfort, wrong saddle position can cause all kinds of grief with your knees etc.


    it sounds like the bike might not be set up right for you...

    quick, general, set-up guide...

    step 1 - get the saddle height correct

    get the bike in a doorway or narrow corridor so you can balance upright safely with something to lean against - have someone there to help steady you just in case!

    sitting on the saddle, hips level, wearing roadshoes but not clipped in, pedal backwards then stop with leg down, move your foot so that the flat of the sole between cleat and heel is just resting on the pedal. your leg should be relaxed at maximum natural straigjht extension

    if your legs is bent - raise saddle a smidge, repeat process

    if your foot doesn't reach without forcing it or leaning, - drop saddle a smidge, repeat process

    once ok with the right leg, check it's ok on the left - hard to tell, but people do have leg length differences (which causes other issues)

    step 2, once height is correct, adjust saddle back/forwards...

    clip in, pedal backwards, stop with right crank pointing forwards, a line dropped from tip of right knee should just touch the tip of the crank arm

    if too far back/forwards, move saddle forwards/back as necessary until you've got it right

    repeat for other leg to check if there's a major difference (i.e. in femur length)

    recheck the height is still ok as a big back/forward change will affect it


    at this point you've got the saddle in about the best position for most people, won't be perfect, but should be ok


    step 3, are the bars in the right place...

    sit up straight on the saddle, pedal backwards to get comfy

    keeping your back gently arched back a bit, lean forwards from the hips (don't bend your back!), your hands should reach the hoods in riding position with your elbows slightly bent, and without having to take your body weight on your hands

    if you can't reach the hoods like this then they're too far away and/or too low (and the opposite if you reach them while you could still lean much further, but sounds like you won't find that)

    there's not much you can adjust if step 3 is the problem, if there're spare spacers above the stem you can raise the bars, but if they are too far away then a shorter stem, and/or one with extra rise could help you - a good lbs ought to help you with this


    as time passes, you'll lose weight and develop power and technique, you need to keep an eye on these adjustments as they can change a bit, for instance if you lose some body fat you might end up sitting a bit lower and so need to raise the saddle a few mm
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • postman
    postman Posts: 120
    From one who has a Spesh Secteur Elite .

    6' 4" and 15st 3lbs Thats me not the bike .

    I tried to get on with the Rival 143 that came with the bike .I gave up ,it was spoiling my cycling .Same as you bruised bum and terrible chaffing .
    So i put my Brooks on from my beloved Dawes Galaxy .

    Oh the difference ,71 miles to Grassington the other saturday and 55 to York last weekend .Shear delight .

    My advice dump it .

    I am going to get a Charge Spoon for the Dawes ,got good mentions from other riders .
  • gwillis
    gwillis Posts: 998
    postman wrote:
    From one who has a Spesh Secteur Elite .

    6' 4" and 15st 3lbs Thats me not the bike .

    I tried to get on with the Rival 143 that came with the bike .I gave up ,it was spoiling my cycling .Same as you bruised bum and terrible chaffing .
    So i put my Brooks on from my beloved Dawes Galaxy .

    Oh the difference ,71 miles to Grassington the other saturday and 55 to York last weekend .Shear delight .

    My advice dump it .

    I am going to get a Charge Spoon for the Dawes ,got good mentions from other riders .

    +1 for the charge spoon great price and very comfy
  • potters1863
    potters1863 Posts: 111
    I'm a road newbie and have been riding for about 6 weeks now (Specialized Secteur with a Rival saddle). I generally go out about 3 times a week and do around 20-25 miles each time.

    I am still getting quite bad pain in my nether regions from the saddle. It starts quite soon into the ride and gets steadily worse - and it is just as bad now as when I started. It is preventing me from extending my riding distances which I feel I am quite capable of but for the pain.

    I am thinking of various solutions, but wondered how long I should just put up with it???

    I wear Endura padded shorts. I am thinking trying various options in order:

    Chamois cream
    Better shorts
    If that doesn't work, a new saddle?

    Any advice appreciated.

    I bought a Seceteur last August and that had a Rival seat, it was horrible, it caused me all kinds of trouble, numb nuts being a regular problem even tried moving backwards forwards up down, everything, got to be the worst seat ever made.

    Changed for a Gel Avatar seat and it is perfect, took a bit of setting up until I got it spot on but now I can ride for miles and the seat is good.

    Swap your seat.
  • Thanks to everyone for their replies.

    Sungod. I am wearing lycra padded shorts and the guys at the bike shop set the seat height so it is as you say I think in your step 1. Last week they changed the stem height for me. I'll try going though your other steps. I've also just ordered some Assos chamois cream

    If that doesn't work out I'll think about a Fizik (I was looking at the Arione CX on offer at Merlin).

    Cheers.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • potters1863
    potters1863 Posts: 111
    Thanks to everyone for their replies.

    Sungod. I am wearing lycra padded shorts and the guys at the bike shop set the seat height so it is as you say I think in your step 1. Last week they changed the stem height for me. I'll try going though your other steps. I've also just ordered some Assos chamois cream

    If that doesn't work out I'll think about a Fizik (I was looking at the Arione CX on offer at Merlin).

    Cheers.

    The cycle cream is well worth it for the longer rides, makes a difference but the saddle is your problem, mine is sitting in a box in the garage and not on my bike.

  • The cycle cream is well worth it for the longer rides, makes a difference but the saddle is your problem, mine is sitting in a box in the garage and not on my bike.

    Thanks -I think you may well be right. I suspect I will end up changing it soon. It is certainly spoiling my progress. But I will give it one more go.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • robz400
    robz400 Posts: 160
    I recently bought a new saddle and found the same thing for a few weeks riding everyday.

    I moved it forward by only 3mm and the pain has gone completely!!!!
  • I did 20 miles again this morning. This time I moved the saddle forward 1cm and used cream. There was a definite improvement, but after 10 miles I was still pretty uncomfortable.

    I think I will try a new saddle. Will report back when I do.

    Cheers.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite
  • I tried a Fizik Arione Road saddle. It was about 10 times worse than the Rival. There is no way in the world I will ever get used to that saddle.

    In desperation I bought a cheap Charge Spoon for £20 off ebay and put it on yesterday. A pair of padded shorts under a new set of bib shorts, loads of Assos cream. Today I did 32 miles and I was fine. What a relief. :P I would never have been able to do that distance with the other 2 saddles.

    So I guess the Charge Spoon is staying on. Arione up for sale.
    Specialized Rockhopper SL Comp
    Specialized Secteur Elite