This has been a common theme for people coming in for bike fits so far this year. Well, maybe most years. Humans weren’t designed to sit on bike saddles, so it’s no surprise this direct contact point with the bike can be problematic and difficult to solve.
There are a few causal categories:
Clothing: no chamois, wrong chamois shape or padding, not using chamois cream, wearing undies under bike shorts.
Activity Level: suddenly increasing ride duration or frequency. If you are used to riding a a couple of days a week, and then bang out 2 or 3 days in a row, that can hurt, but it should be temporary.
Body Asymmetry: lateral pelvic tilt, pelvic rotation, leg length difference, riding posture, all affect weight distribution.
Saddle Type: and how well it supports your anatomy. The two main variables are width and shape (or profile). A saddle needs to be wide enough to support your sit bones, but the right width and wrong shape wont be comfortable. I commonly see saddles that are too narrow to offer optimal pelvic support, but that is only part of the issue. It’s not only the width at the rear, but the width of the nose that can be an issue. The profile from the back can be flat, semi-round or rounded. The profile from the side can be flat, hammock, or curved. Center cutout, or not. Then there is padding: none, a little or a lot. More padding can mean more problems.
An old saddle may be broken down, or actually broken – which I saw a few weeks ago.
Saddle position: height, setback, tilt and rotation all affect your posture and comfort.
Identifying the culprit is key to coming up with a solution, and the solution usually involves some experimentation. If you are still tender when trying out a different position or saddle, you are not going to know right away if that works for you or not. But it shouldn’t take months or years either. Your body will let you know what’s good, usually through an absence of discomfort. i.e the saddle should disappear from under you.
If this is a topic of interest there is a more indepth article here, which draws a lot on research done by Trek Bicycles. Thanks to a client for bringing this article to my attention.
For an even better article that focuses specifically on female anatomy and saddle contact discomfort for woman, and covers far more than my blog post, this is blog by Lovely Bike, and reader replies and comments is the most informative you will come across. Here. Thanks to Lovely Bicycle!
Don’t let a sore butt keep you off your bike. If pain persists, see your bike fitter!