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"Cut out" type saddles

bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
edited June 2009 in Road buying advice
I currently ride a FIZIK Arione, which I find comfortable on the day of riding, but the next day after a 4 hour or longer ride my undercarriage (not ar*e, or sit bones) feels like someone has pummeled it with a mallet, and feels bruised to the touch :cry:

The logical solution would seem to be a "cut out" type saddle, but I am worried that by reducing the area of contact, I will be putting more of my weight (14 st) through a smaller area which could prove equally uncomfortable on those areas!

How do those of you riding "cut outs" find them, and have you had any problems with them? Also, can you recommend a specific model?

Alternatively, is there a way to adjust my Arione to solve the problem? I currently ride with it dead level. I have tried slightly raised nose and rear but I don't like the feel of either.




  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Sorry, you need to be a bit more clear :-)

    If your balls are getting beat, you probably need a better pair of bib-shorts which holds everything (firmly but comfortably) in the right place - a cut-out is not going to solve this problem. Alternatively a different saddle might help (cut-out or none) if it enables you to get sufficient hip rotation (e.g. when in the drops say) without your balls knocking about.

    On the other hand, if you're getting numbness and pain in the region between your balls and your hole, a cut-out might help, but so might a better fitting saddle. (I don't know, I've never suffered the numbness problem and none of my saddle have had cutouts, but this is apparently what cutouts are meant to address).
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    I’ve been riding a Selle Italia SLR XC, a saddle type with cut-out, for 4-5 years and feel quite happy with it. At the beginning of the season (I switch to MTB in Nov, then back to road bike in March) the saddle feels a bit hard the first 100 miles, but then I get accustomed to it again.

    I didn’t get a cut-out for any ‘anatomical’ reasons, rather because, when it was time for a new saddle, the SLR XC got a good rating in all respects in test reviews. It just happened to come with ‘cut-out’. And it was my size - the test review gave, amongst other details, info about the saddles’ sizing, i.e. what spacing between the ‘sit bones’ the different saddles were best for.

    To choose a saddle you really need to know what size you are, and the range of sizes which the saddles you’re considering best suit.
    I think in adults ‘sit bone’ spacing can vary from between 11-17 cm depending on the individual, and to whatever spacing you are, you need to add on a cm or three, the more upright you ride. Add nothing if you’re mostly not above 45 degrees. Then look for a saddle satisfying this figure.

    Different saddles usually only suit a limited range, e.g. 11-14 cm, 13-16 cm or 14-17 cm. And this range is sometimes hard to find out (it’s not the same as the overall saddle width!) A few companies market the same saddle in different sizes (designated s, m, l), e.g. Specialized, SQ-lab and Terry. Their designations about match the ranges above.

    As for your problem, the Fizik may be too narrow for your 'sit bone' spacing, but before getting a new saddle first check you’ve got it adjusted right - horizontally (forward/back) and vertically (height). And then try to ride leaning more forward.
  • MontyCCMontyCC Posts: 46
    I did about a 50mile ride yesterday on a Spesh Sonoma saddle and feel fine today. During the ride, the only thing aching even during the ride was my lower back.
    I'll prob put that down to myself getting used to the riding position drop bars provide as yesterday was my first time using drop bars
  • bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
    On the other hand, if you're getting numbness and pain in the region between your balls and your hole

    Yes - it is this area that is the problem.

    I think in adults ‘sit bone’ spacing can vary from between 11-17 cm depending on the individual

    How do you accurately measure your sit bone spacing?
  • Slow1972Slow1972 Posts: 362
    Combination of decent shorts and a decent saddle

    I've gone on to the Selle Italia Flite genuine Gel (flite with cut-out) coupled with Girodana Tenax shorts

    6 hours / 100 miles in the saddle yesterday and whilst other bits of me were complaining, my undercarriage wasn't. Never had a big problem with this anyway - but things would get a bit numb after 6 hours in the saddle this time last year with cheaper shorts and a harder traditional saddle (some Selle Italia I forget the name of). Used it on the cobbles in the Tour of Flanders Sportive earlier this year too with no problems experienced.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    Slow1972 wrote:
    Combination of decent shorts and ... things would get a bit numb after 6 hours in the saddle this time last year with cheaper shorts
    I think you over –estimate the contribution of padded shortsand too easily dismiiss 'cheap' shorts. In relation to saddles, I’d class padded shorts like cushions on garden chairs – if the chair is comfortable, they make you feel more relaxed, if the chair isn’t comfy, they don’t help at all. So it's the saddle which is the most important. Also re 'cheap', Aldi's ones are good in all respects.

    Although nowadays I mostly wear padded shorts, that’s largely because nowadays that’s what’s sold. When padded shorts weren’t so common, I never had problems if the saddle was the right one for me, even on 6+ hour rides.
    In duathlons, admittedly not usually that long a ride (25-40 km) but usually very intensive and competitive, I never wear padded shorts as I find them too uncomfortable to run in. I wear running shorts and have no problems, again because I think it's the saddle which counts most.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    I think in adults ‘sit bone’ spacing can vary from between 11-17 cm depending on the individual
    How do you accurately measure your sit bone spacing?
    I believe there is a kit you can buy for over £10 (no idea what it has in it) but you can do it yourself pretty easily with a couple of pieces of paper and some carbon paper, or alternatively some corrugated paper, even if what follows sounds a strange thing to do!

    Put the two pieces of paper (not forgetting to put the carbon paper between the sheets) or the corrugated paper on a hard surface (I used our wooden stairs and sat down bent a bit forward, but a chair with wooden seat area would do even better if you ride more upright.). Sit, preferably naked, on the paper, concaving your back to increase the pressure downwards. If on a chair, you can grip the underside of the seat and ‘pull’ yourself down to ensure an ‘impression’.

    When you then examine the piece of paper under the carbon paper, or the corrugated paper, you should see two small areas with more definite markings. The separation between their centres is your sit bone separation at the angle you sat, thus why how you sat (bent forward or upright) should reflect your normal riding posture.
    You should be able to decide the separation to within 0.5 cm. When looking at saddles, then choose one which is satisfactory for the rounded–up sit bone separation value you’ve just determined.

    If you want to make more of an event of measuring your sit bone separation, you could always do it in the crowded office in the middle of the day, by sitting naked on a piece of carbon paper on the xerox machine, I’m sure the result will be just as interesting!
  • bobtbuilderbobtbuilder Posts: 1,537
    Thanks for the detailed explanation knedlicky. :)
  • BigG67BigG67 Posts: 582
    Specalized do a measuring kit using "memory foam/gel". If you go to a dealer they will be able to help.

    On the saddle - I use a Selle Italia Carbon Flow and love it, but my mate swears by a Fizik Arione (and he's tried loads of others) is to me one of the harder questions to answer as we all have different shapred arses.
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Kned - I find the same. Recently got a Phenom SL saddle for my MTB that looks like a torture device - yet it's 100% comfy with or without padded shorts. Just feels more "right" with a bit of padding but I'd never wear them for a tri or anything. Just MTB baggies (which I also run in)
  • Gav2000Gav2000 Posts: 408
    The Selle SMP TRK saddle from Bike+ for about £22 has a large cutout and is the only saddle I've been able to use comfortably for a long ride. I know saddles are a very personal item but have a look at this one as it's been fantastic for me.


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