February 7, 2013 by IowaTriBob
As I’ve worked on increasing my mileage on my bike, I’ve had the opportunity to experience some unexpected saddle sores. I’m not sure I would call anything I’ve felt (or seen) as being an actual sore but my long rides have most definitely resulted in some serious soreness – and in some places that you really don’t want to be sore.
The first few times I figured it was normal and something that I would get over as I rode more. And to be honest, some of the saddle soreness did get better as my frequency and distance of rides increased. However, anything over 15 miles seemed to still cause more pain than needed and as some of my rides have started venturing into the 20-30 mile range I found myself more focused on finding ways to relieve the pain than the ride itself.
Fortunately a local bike shop, Northtowne Cycling and Fitness, was hosting a special event for the local tri club this week. I figured what great opportunity to ask the experts what they thought.
As I explained my experience to the bike technician he asked a few questions and was able to immediately pinpoint the issue. The problem is the use of aero bars and the stock saddle that came with my Felt Z100 that I purchased this past year. Not that this is a bad saddle but it’s really meant for sitting more upright while riding in the hood and not designed for a low profile seat like when constantly riding in the drops or in my case, with aero bars.
What he recommended was a saddle specifically designed for riding in the aero position, a tri saddle.
The selection he had on hand was somewhat limited but I decided to go with the Profile Design Tri Stryke Ti. The Tri Stryke Ti is a triathlon specific design with longer nose designed for riding in the aero position. It has extra padding all along the nose with the center section cut away with vents for a cooler riding experience. The rails are titanium and the entire seat comes in at 285 grams.
I couldn’t wait until my workout the following day to give it a try.
Now I don’t have experience with any other saddles except for the stock version that came with my Felt and the Profile Design Tri Stryke Ti that I just purchased. Even with this limited experience I can tell you after just my first ride that the difference is night and day.
I decided to ride a 19.3 mile route on my computrainer that I’ve ridden several times before. In the past I would start to feel the saddle by mile 12 and have it start to become very noticeable by mile 15. In fact with all my previous rides on this course I would find myself standing up at various points or moving out of aero just to get some relief. With the new Tri Stryke installed I made it all the way to mile 16 before I even remembered that I should focus to see how it was feeling. The great thing – it wasn’t. I could hardly notice the saddle the entire ride. The padding on the nose is just enough that it provided a comfortable change from my previous rides. In addition, the cut away section seemed to provide the relief in just exactly the right area. I didn’t notice it being a cooler ride but I’m sure that was more a fact of being stationary with no wind coming through the vents underneath.
As I finished my ride I couldn’t believe what a stubborn moron I’ve been to let this annoyance go on for this long. All it would have taken is a 10 minute talk with the bike tech and I could have enjoyed dozens of previous rides without having to convince myself that I just needed to ride more. Now I can look forward to really upping the miles and heaven forbid – enjoying the entire ride!
If you’ve installed aero bars on your road bike and are still riding with the stock saddle, you may be working through some pain that you can make immediately go away… A lesson this newbie wishes he would have learned a few hundred miles ago.