I have been considering longer distance triathlon or aquabike races. However, the saddle on my bike leaves my bottom numb after 10 miles. I am not comfortable riding more than about 15 miles in this condition. What do you recommend? Is there a different type or brand of bike saddle I should use? Are there other things I can do to comfortably ride 50 or even 100 miles?
Our Coaches’ Replies
Following is the email string in which three coaches answered the question.
Coach Tony Washington
Saddle soreness can have multiple causes. Bike fit is a good place to start. Especially since anything over 10 miles is painful. Fore/Aft, tilt and height are important in how your sit bones interact with the bike. One of my athletes tried 5 different (all borrowed) saddles. After she had a proper bike fit, it turned out her original saddle was perfect. Shorter crank length helped with a more open hip angle. Been on the same saddle for 4 years now.
My saddle recommendations vary depending on bike type. On a triathlon or TT bike, I like a split nose saddle like the ISM Adamo or Bisaddle. Rolling your hips forward when you are in the aero position on the bike puts pressure in a different spot on your pelvis. These noseless saddles are better suited for most athletes.
On a road bike, it can be very subjective. The nicer seats have a cutout that encourages normal blood flow to keep you pain and numbness free. If you have a good relationship with your local bike shop, they often have loaner saddles to mount and try for a few rides. I’ve personally had great luck with Selle Italia. I have used them since 1982.
Good trunk stability/mobility/strength can aid in being comfortable for a long ride. Strong and stable hips with a smooth pedal stroke balancing your quads, hamstrings and glutes is key here. Higher cadence (above 80) enhances pedal smoothness and can help with pain.
Hope this helps,
Coach Jenn Reinhart
That is a great answer Tony and not much I could add to it. Bike fit is definitely the place to start. Good bike fitters can usually offer suggestions for a saddle based on your fit too.
Being that uncomfortable so quickly definitely should not be the norm. At times, even with the best fit and saddle, a change in shorts (depending on if you ride in cycling or tri shorts), can cause some chaffing, but not the degree of discomfort you are describing.
Coach Kurt Madden
I echo everything that Tony has shared and learned that a new saddle takes at least six weeks to break in and feel comfortable. Over the past 10 years, my two most favorite and most comfortable saddles are the. Adamo and ISM 3.0
Coach Tony Washington (follow-up reply)
To add to what Jenn mentioned about shorts, bib shorts can lift and hold everything in place better than shorts with a drawstring when leaned over in the aero position.
To add to Kurt’s comments, ISM has several models of different lengths, widths and padding thickness. A fitter can help with making a choice.
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