Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bike Saddles - in search of a good fit

When I bought my road bike this year I worried that I would find the tiny saddle, forward position and drop handlebars uncomfortable and that I wouldn't want to ride because of it. Much to my surprise, my Giant Avail is very comfortable and my bike of choice when I want to go out for a ride. I discovered, however, that there are two big disadvantages to riding my Avail on family rides like the one we just took on the Cannon Valley Trail.
  • My road bike is way faster than everyone else's bike. This isn't too much of a problem when Ryan is on the Trail-a-Bike but will be more of an issue when he wants to ride on his own.
  • My hard soled biking shoes with SPD cleats are not good for hiking when Rose and Ryan decide to check out things along the trail.
We're planning another family ride for this weekend, this time around the beautiful Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. Ryan is going to ride his own bike this time so I expect even more starting and stopping on this ride and a slower pace. Plus, with the falls and hiking areas, I expect I'll spend a fair amount of time off of my bike walking around and looking at things like water striders and cool flowers along the way. Riding my road bike just doesn't make sense so I plan to take my Specialized Crossroads hybrid, the bike I rode last September on the 30 mile Jesse James Bike Tour.
Me with my Specialized Crossroads at the start of the Jesse James Bike Tour last September.

Trouble is, I don't really like my hybrid that much mostly because I've never gotten a saddle that is comfortable and rides over 10 miles, especially those without bike shorts, leave me with a sore butt. I did a lot of tweaking with my saddle last year and ended up with a decent fit but I'd still like a bike seat that fits better and is more comfortable.

So last night Owen, the kids and I headed over to Valley Bike and Ski and consulted with two of the guys, John and Cayman, about my butt problems, um, I mean my saddle problems. John set me up with a wider seat which I tried and did not like. Then he put on another wide-style seat and I did not like that at all. Then Cayman gave me a narrower seat, more like my road bike seat, to try.  It was okay but I decided to try another, a Selle Royal Dardo gel saddle. It felt okay on a quick ride in the parking lot so I bought it knowing that I can return it if it doesn't work out.

This afternoon Ryan and I headed out for a two mile ride around the neighborhood so I could try my new saddle. Eh, it's okay. My butt was a little numb feeling after the ride. Granted, I was not wearing bike shorts and I probably need to adjust something or another but I'm still a little disappointed because I hoped the saddle would fit just right. An hour or so after the ride I still felt a little discomfort on my tailbone, somewhat of a surprise because I usually feel discomfort on my sits bones. Now it's a few hours later and my butt is feeling fine but my brain is feeling kind of stressed thinking about bike saddles. I'm wondering if I should ride tomorrow for a few miles and see how it fits or just head out for our family ride on Saturday. Maybe I should try to adjust the seat or put on my old one that worked okay. Or perhaps I just need to spend more time on my hybrid and simply toughen up.

It's just too much to think about just before bedtime, it's already well past ten p.m. and I need to get to sleep. Oh wait, here's one more idea - maybe I'll just go buy a cyclocross bike for family bike rides. I understand they are sort of like a hybrid or mountain bike as far as gearing and tires but you sit the bike more like a road bike therefore they are more comfortable than an upright hybrid. Okay, maybe not. I just bought a new bike and don't have money in the budget for another. But I can dream. And while I'm dreaming I'd like a composite Orbea Diva road bike. Wait, then I'll go really fast and that won't solve my family biking problem at all. Oh well. I guess I'd better stick to my original plan and see what happens with this new saddle and work from there.
The Orbea Diva *sigh*

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