Author Topic: Saddle or seat post?  (Read 480 times)

Saddle or seat post?
« on: May 06, 2020, 11:38:14 pm »
Hi folks,

Just said "hello" over in Reception, now here's the first of my little issues... aka excuses for spending money  ;)


I've just swapped out my old USE Alien Shokpost (so old, this is the only decent pic I could find of one!) for the original rigid ally seatpost. A decade ago, the USE post was smooth and lovely, but the miles and, I guess, the years of storage have not done it any favours - it has a fair bit of stiction, a fair bit of lateral movement, and has developed a strange habit of feeling like it "drops" at times when on the road... not sure if vertically or goes a bit nose down... it's fine when checked afterwards, and fine on the turbo trainer, but a bit disconcerting on the road.

The saddle is a San Marco Rolls - I bought it with the bike, so on the order of 25 years old. It's kinda OK, I used to do many many miles on it. However, I'm finding it harder work now; it requires a well padded pair of shorts to feel comfortable past 10/15 minutes.

I'd like a bit more comfort than the Rolls + rigid... I mean, I obviously felt the same 20-odd years ago, hence the suspension seat post - though to be fair, I was doing many many more miles in those days (and I may again, in time) - also, I haven't got any younger in the meantime ;)


So, as a first move, the title of the post: a new suspension seat post, or new saddle?

On the post front, the Suntour NCX takes my fancy, especially as it gets good reviews, is not too expensive, and has a "hard" spring option for big lads like myself (6'4", 16 stone).

Saddles, of course, are an endless range. Probably best to get a cut-out one these days, I do sometimes get numb bits when on the turbo; less so on the road. Happy to spend money on something that works for me; not so keen to waste it on a succession of less comfortable ones...
So, rather than exact recommendations for a saddle, can anyone tell me if finding the "right" one is likely to make the sort of improvement I'm looking for?

If the answer is "yes" to saddle, then I'll probably put off the change until I can reasonably travel to try a few out before spending.
Thanks in advance for the help :)
Back in the saddle :)

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2020, 12:14:56 am »
It sounds as if you've been off the bike for a while, which if true, is most likely the reason why things are less comfortable in the saddle than they used to be?  That said and given your saddle is getting on in years and has probably started to compress and decompose, it could be a good time to consider a new saddle that better matches your current condition.  If you got on well with the Rolls in the past I'd suggest buying a new one and seeing what difference that makes before buying a new suspension seat post.  If you fancy a change of saddle with a cut out I can recommend the Brooks C17 Carved which provides a good degree of suspension and support, and their resale value is good if you find out it's not for you.
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2020, 12:25:55 am »
It sounds as if you've been off the bike for a while, which if true, is most likely the reason why things are less comfortable in the saddle than they used to be?  That said and given your saddle is getting on in years and has probably started to compress and decompose, it could be a good time to consider a new saddle that better matches your current condition.  If you got on well with the Rolls in the past I'd suggest buying a new one and seeing what difference that makes before buying a new suspension seat post.  If you fancy a change of saddle with a cut out I can recommend the Brooks C17 Carved which provides a good degree of suspension and support, and their resale value is good if you find out it's not for you.

Funnily enough, that one has been quite high on the list this evening :)

I've been back on the bike enough for the last 8 or 9 weeks to have gotten over the initial discomfort - been on the turbo 5 or 6 days each week - just the one road ride so far though (did a long trip to the Post Office, so exercise combined with essential travel) which was a week ago and where I discovered the USE problems. I know that ditching the suspension will shortly lead to unhappiness with the saddle again, real or imagined. One of the downsides(?!) of sitting on the turbo is enough time to think about what to spend money on to make things nicer ;)
Back in the saddle :)

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2020, 05:53:56 am »
I tried a very similar seat post when I started out, it was awesome for short rides but the constant moving relative to handlebars hurt my back after about an hour. 

What kind of bike are you riding? if it's relatively upright then I'd consider a sprung brookes with a non-bouncy seatpost - it's a very different shape and will spread the load a lot better than the Rolls (I'm a similar build to you too! :D )

Sheldon brown was, as ever, very eloquent on this: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html.

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2020, 08:51:13 am »
The key things to comfort are
Saddle position- height, set back and angle from horizontal. If you were using a bouncy seat pin the height will be the loaded, sitting on, height. A bouncy seat pin will mean that your real saddle height changes all the time; in my view this isn’t ideal unless you are riding very rough surfaces.
The actual saddle condition. Saddles sag with age, altering their shape, but also the real height
Good quality shorts, different makes suit different people. If you look at the shorts the pro’s ride they have very thick pads compared with cheaper models
Chamois cream/ grease ( and no underwear of course). Don’t be stingy with this.
For some good advice Google Phil Burt. He was highly involved in a project to minimise saddle issues for the UK Olympic riders.

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2020, 09:31:53 am »
My benchmark for a comfortable saddle is one that I can ride on in normal shorts and underwear for at least 200km without discomfort.
Most of the stuff I say is true because I saw it in a dream and I don't have the presence of mind to make up lies when I'm asleep.   Bryan Andreas

Re: Saddle or seat post?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2020, 10:27:15 am »
I tried a very similar seat post when I started out, it was awesome for short rides but the constant moving relative to handlebars hurt my back after about an hour. 

What kind of bike are you riding? if it's relatively upright then I'd consider a sprung brookes with a non-bouncy seatpost - it's a very different shape and will spread the load a lot better than the Rolls (I'm a similar build to you too! :D )

Sheldon brown was, as ever, very eloquent on this: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html.

It's a Thorn Brevet, so lightweight touring/audax. Not especially upright, but a long way from pure racer. 
Reading the Sheldon suggests that, now I've gone back to my old seatpost which has set-back, I might find it easier to get a good position again... I did have the saddle as far back as the rails would let me on the USE... I covered literally thousands of miles on that post with the saddle maybe only half back way back when, but I guess maybe my body was more OK with adapting to stuff in my 20s than it is now! I've kept reasonably fit, and only half a stone heavier than then, but time does march on...

The key things to comfort are
Saddle position- height, set back and angle from horizontal. If you were using a bouncy seat pin the height will be the loaded, sitting on, height. A bouncy seat pin will mean that your real saddle height changes all the time; in my view this isn’t ideal unless you are riding very rough surfaces.
The actual saddle condition. Saddles sag with age, altering their shape, but also the real height
Good quality shorts, different makes suit different people. If you look at the shorts the pro’s ride they have very thick pads compared with cheaper models
Chamois cream/ grease ( and no underwear of course). Don’t be stingy with this.
For some good advice Google Phil Burt. He was highly involved in a project to minimise saddle issues for the UK Olympic riders.

Well, the bouncy post didn't cause me trouble when I (and it!) was 20 years younger. I appreciate the points you make regarding position and height change - that's why I was considering the Suntour with the correct pre-load and parallelogram system rather than telescopic - the reviews say once set, it doesn't really move unless you hit a bump. And it has set back for achieving a good saddle position.

And again: some the same points I was thinking of regarding the saddle. it's getting on and has done a lot of miles holding up a lot of me! It doesn't show any external signs of sag/damage beyond a bit of wear to the cover at the nose, but that's not to say it's still doing the job once 16 stone of me is hoofing away on top of it!

I will always spend money on shorts to get nice ones :) I've just (since getting back on a couple of months ago) thrown 4 old pairs away that don't cut it for me anymore, and bought 2 new ones... and a bib pair to try.
I always used sudocrem when touring, but I'm not suffering from any sort of rub or chaffing on the short rides I'm doing so far.

I will google Phil, thanks.
Back in the saddle :)