Bike Seat Blues

Cyclist friends! I have two road bikes and they are great. Trek 1.1 circa 2011/2012, older heavier-frame Specialized Allez. Check the pink leopard print handlebar wraps and the snazzy orange lettering atop the deep blue frame.IMG_20180306_165114_763

I really, really want to get out and ride them more this spring, but there are obstacles.

It’s been a few years since I’ve considered myself an active bike person. This is mostly because

1) I gained weight after I started biking because of the toxic antiandrogen (spironolactone) I was but no longer am taking

2) my belly makes riding road bikes not so great because I have to be bent over on my bikes and my knees are pmuch constantly kicking my belly now
3) my bike seats stopped being comfortable, I’m assuming because
3a) see #1
3b) my fat has redistributed and I’ve shed muscle mass, so my center of gravity has moved into my hips and thighs and out of my upper body, meaning more of my weight rests on the seat than on the handlebars now, so it’s real uncomfortable to ride on my racing seats
3c) by “stopped being comfortable” I mean causes significant soreness on the bottom of my crotch and on either side where my legs meet my hips, which makes me want to turn TF around and go home so I can get off my bike ASAP within a minute or two of riding, sometimes right from the getgo
4) I only have road bikes and nowhere I’ve lived in the last three years has let me feel safe on the roads.

I’ve lost weight in the last few months, and that has helped with #2.

I bought some bike shorts with peri-area padding and they’ve kinda mitigated the discomfort in #3c, but it’s not enough to make biking feel like the kind of activity where I can just get on the road and go–I’m still mitigating discomfort on every ride, and that never used to be a problem.

I stopped wearing panties while biking, thinking the elastic bands encircling the leg-holes might be contributing to the discomfort, and while that has helped some, it’s still there.

I’m convinced I need to get two new bike seats (the ones I currently have are both thin deals than flare near the rear a little) if I am going to enjoy biking again.

In an ideal world, I’d trade one of the racing bikes for a trail/crosstrek-style bike so I could do trail riding, but this is not that world. Far from it.

Are there such things as seats designed for male versus female bodies? I know frames move the crossbar down for women’s bikes, to compensate for the lower center of gravity women’s bodies tend toward, but I’m not about to buy a third bicycle until I sell one and/or get a job. And I don’t want to have to get new frames, though I understand I should probs buy women’s or unisex bikes henceforth.

Not sure what I should consider when shopping around for seats besides getting more crotch cushioning to compensate for the junk I carry in my trunk now, but most of the cushioned seats I’ve seen t look more appropriate for cruisers than for road bikes.

Maybe I just have to accept that I’m a special case here and get cruiser seats for my racing bikes? Idk.

Any thoughts or help is appreciated.

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3 thoughts on “Bike Seat Blues

  1. Experienced-but-not-that-fast road cyclist here. Couple of RAGBRAIs under my belt, but I’m no badass. Some things to consider:

    When I’m getting back on the bike after weeks, months, or years away, it’s my crotch that suffers far more than my legs. This is typical, and things toughen up gradually as we begin to log some miles. That said, if you’re in serious discomfort after only 1-2 minutes, you may need a different saddle.

    There are indeed saddles for male vs. female bodies. Swapping out a saddle is fairly easy, and your LBS (local bike shop) could help you try out different options, in the shop if nothing else.

    Padded shorts are the way to go, and they’re designed to be worn directly against the skin. The consensus in the cycling community is that cruiser seats often cause more discomfort than they alleviate, but I don’t have that much first-hand knowledge there.

    Let’s talk about this next weekend when you’re in town!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jonathan! Good to know I’ve been doing some smart stuff here with the shorts at least. And yeah, my crotch is like NOPE usually by the first hill when I try to ride these days (I live on a hill). I didn’t know you liked to ride! I haven’t RAGBRAIed ever, so you’re more experienced than I. There is a t least one LBS near my mother’s house–will give them a visit before I leave town. Excited to talk bikes next weekend!

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  2. I would second the comments above. If you go to your LBS, you should be able to try a bunch of saddles and find one that is a good fit. Generally speaking, the size of the saddle isn’t as big of a deal as finding one that works for you. Surprisingly, these are sometimes narrow and racey looking, but not always. I would also advise against a ton of padding on a saddle, especially if you’re already wearing bike shorts.

    If you’re looking for suggestions, the Brooks B17 is a well-regarded saddle that is quite comfortable for a lot of people. They are made of leather, so there is no padding, but they break in to your body after a while. Once again, they don’t necessarily work for everyone, though.

    Honestly, going to your LBS and trying out a bunch of options is probably your best bet. You’ve got some nice bikes, so there’s no reason for them not to feel good!

    Liked by 1 person

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