I’ve got a butt of steel!

6 03 2009

5hrs of riding and zero butt pain - I love it!

5hrs of riding and zero butt pain - I love it!

As a cyclist for over 20 years my Achilles heel was my butt.  It didn’t take too long for my butt to hurt and make me want to stop biking.  I tried loads of saddles and loads of different bike shorts. I tried creams and lotions.  I tried toughing it out in silence.  My butt didn’t stop me from riding – however it did limit how long I wanted to ride for and how many days in a row I was able to ride.  I tried so many things that I just assumed I was destined to ride a bike in discomfort for the rest of my life.

One day I heard about Brooks saddles and bought one. I was surprised to find I was a lot more comfortable on them then all the plastic saddles I’d tried over the years.  I still wore bike shorts initially, but the amount of riding I could do before I had any saddle issues was greatly improved.  Eventually I decided to ditch the bike shorts entirely.  That seemed like a crazy idea, but I never enjoyed the padded “diaper” feeling of bike shorts and they were hot and sticky in the summer.  Not to mention fairly expensive to buy.  I was quite shocked to find out I was more comfortable without bike shorts on my Brooks saddle than I was with them.  Wearing synthetic boxers I stayed dry and comfy all day long. Brooks saddles changed my whole relationship with bikes since I didn’t have to equate riding bikes with butt pain any more.  I still felt a minor amount of irritation at the end of a long day of touring, but barely enough to note.

My next move was to get a Selle Anatomica saddle [waterproof leather made in the US].  I had heard of many riders loving these saddles so I took a chance on an expensive purchase and received my SA saddle in the mail.  If my Brooks was 8.5/10 for comfort the SA saddle was a 10/10.  Not only was I comfortable all day long, but I literally couldn’t tell I had been on a bike all day with the SA.

On Sunday Kurt and I rode a grueling 6hrs suffer-fest with the gang at Mountain Bike Heaven.  I was tired and beat up at the end of the ride, but my butt was one part of me that felt like it hadn’t been doing anything all day.  That’s pretty amazing given my history.

I can’t recall the last time I wore padded bike shorts.  I bought a new pair of mountain bike shorts in Moab.  The salesman was trying to tell me why the padded liner was so great and I cut him off by saying first thing I’d do when I bought the shorts was to cut out the liner.  He thought that was crazy talk.

I’m not telling you this to brag or suggest Brooks or SA saddles are going to revolutionize your cycling world.  What I want to do is let people who are having issues with bike comfort know that there are solutions out there and to keep trying until you find what works for you.


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13 responses

6 03 2009
Gregor

I got the same revelation with fizik that came with my Cannondale Prophet MX.
I could ride it butt naked without pain. Unlike other seats…even padded shorts don’t help after 2 or 3 hours.

6 03 2009
Dean Peddle

I’m with you Vic. I raced for years and had the same problems……especially when you ride fixed gear bikes which I would do in the winter for hours. Fixed gears put more pressure on the saddle. I’ve had every comfort saddle ever made, Concour, TurboMatic III, Rolls, Rolls Due, San Marco Squadra, Fizik, Flight, Max-Flight….I could go on!!! Last year I tried a Brooks Professional. Man….incredible….I now have 3 Brooks saddles for 5 bikes (need more !!) and will never buy anything else. I’m just kicking myself for not finding these sooner. I can ride forever on my fixed gear bike with no problems!!!

6 03 2009
2whls3spds

Been riding leather saddles for years. First one was a Wright’s (similar to Brooks), then I got an Ideale and now have several Brooks. I have yet to try the Selle Anatomica…but you never know. Only plastic saddle that I have ever put any number of miles on was the Brooks mattress saddle that came stock on the old 70′s Raleigh Sports.

Aaron

6 03 2009
George Swain

I’m with you Lazy. Leather is REAL! If you had to sit for 24 hours on a chair at home, would you choose a plastic one or a leather one? I do like a pair of good lined bib shorts, though, but I’m strictly an ultra roadie and don’t know what I’d do on a mtn. bike.

7 03 2009
Eddie

I’ve got Brooks on 3 of my bikes – B17s on my Dahon D7 and my custom commuter bike, and a Swift on my road bike.

Wouldn’t ride anything else. I too experienced a few years of saddle misery before one day buying a Brooks. And they make any bike look better IMHO.

I’ve found that I don’t need padded shorts either since going Brooks.

9 03 2009
surfimp

I too ride exclusively on Brooks B-17s and find them comfortable out of the box. Just did a 62 mile road ride yesterday with a brand new one and suffered zero butt pain / taint abrasion on the ride or afterwards. I guess I’m lucky, most people seem to feel a Brooks needs to be “broken in” but to me they are perfect as they come and just get better from there.

Question: When you say “synthetic boxers” do you mean boxer-brief style (tightie whities with legs) or old fashioned loose boxers?

9 03 2009
thelazyrando

I’ve never had to break in a Brooks either – they are comfy right out of the box.

Here are the shorts I wear:

http://www.rei.com/product/694431

9 03 2009
surfimp

Thanks Vic! Happily enough the company I work for carries Ex Officio and their underwear is amongst our best selling products. Yay for employee discounts :) I’ll have to give them a try, people love them and they’re quite easy to pack, as well as wash (and quickly dry) on the road.

9 03 2009
david

Hi Vik, I enjoy your blog a lot. I read your reccomendation of the an-atomica and decided to get one for myself. I don’t know what the saddle is like, but their purchasing system is horrid.
I paid the large fee, and two days later recieved an email demanding more money for posting the saddle to austrlia, even though posting and handling was included in the price and I had selected australia from the drop down. Apparantly on the web site there is a separate location where you can purchase ‘innternational shipping and handling’ as a sperate object (similar to buying a saddle itself).
After the email telling me to purchase that seperate item, paypal also wanted to charge me 4.95 USD ‘shipping and handling to purchase’ 24.98 USD of ‘international shipping and handling’. I lost trust in their purchasing system and have asked (probably in forlornly) they return my money as I have lost trust in their purchasing system and company. I am just adding this as a comment to your site to warn other purchasers to only get it in a store if they want to try the Selle An-Atomica seat. It sure sounds great, but what is the point if you can’t buy it trustingly…
Here are the emails below:

From: cs@mcmwin.com
To: darkmaterial@hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Payment received from darkmaterial@hotmail.com
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 12:24:56 -0700
David,
Thank you for the order. You did not pay us for International S&H. Please go here and select International Express Mail service; http://www.mcmwin.com
Regards,
Tom Milton
MCM Selle An-Atomica, Inc.
707.372.6540

Very unhappy about this. Your website does not explicitly say that it is required, and does not have a workflow which leads the buyer through that. It is left to the buyer to figure that out AND you deducted 11.95 USD for shipping and handling, now I must pay an additional 24.98 to recieve the saddle. If it wasn’t for the bad reputation of paypal with respect to consumers I would consider negating my purchase. I bought this very expensive saddle on the recommendation of another well-known cyclist on his popular blog. I shall have to add my advice to the blog on the difficulty of purchase of this saddle and reccommend against it unless you can buy it in a store.

David Payne

What the? Now when I try to purchase ‘international shipping and handling’ you are charging me 4.95 USD for shipping and handling FOR the shipping and handling?
Can you please return my money. I have lost trust in your purchasing system.
If you wish to discuss this you can call on (phone number supplied)

David Payne

30 03 2009
RaiulBaztepo

Hello!
Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

24 04 2011
Andrew Priest

I am a Brooks fan but finding on my Kinesis Racelight Granfondo Ltd that the Team Professional is not quite working for me and was considering one of these Selle Anatomica saddles. I know you now have two Vik but would appreciate an update on your experience with same. Any issues with the rails? Do you believe they provide more adjustability over the Brooks? Any issues with the skirts digging in? How is the leather holding up?

Thanks
Andrew

24 04 2011
Vik

@Andrew – SA saddles are more comfortable out of the box and in sustained use than any Brooks I have. They seem to have some sagging issues so I can’t recommend one as much I would like to until I get those issues resolved. So far I’m tightening the adjustment bolt once or twice on a 200K ride. I’m not running out of adjustment yet and some people are saying the bolt loosens rather than the saddle stretching. I’m not 100% on that yet.

My friend Kurt bent the rails on his SA, but it’s on an all mtn dirt bike that sees a lot of abuse so may not be a fair judgement.

No issues with skirts digging in and leather is very durable.

If you don’t like the professional maybe another shape of Brooks would work better or is it too hard?

11 05 2011
Andrew Priest

Thanks for the feedback. Funny thing is I have two Professionals. One works really nice on my Look 555 where as the other on the Kinesis is not so friendly. I cannot get the Kinesis quite right for me (needs a little more adjustment fore and aft) and I also wonder if it does not quite suit my riding postion on this bike which is a touch more upright.

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