Unsurprisingly, the first thing that people look to change when experiencing saddle pain / discomfort is the saddle itself. The general rule of thumb when choosing a saddle is to think about how you want to sit (i.e., how aggressive your position is). For less aggressive positions, with a more upright posture, most of your weight should be on your sit bones and thus a wider saddle at the back may work well. However, for more aggressive positions, with an increased forward lean, a narrower saddle at the back but a wider / more padded saddle on the nose will often be needed. When choosing a saddle you also need to consider:
- Soft vs. hard saddles – When experiencing saddle pain / discomfort cyclists often wrongly assume that a softer saddle will be more comfortable. However, this is not always the case as a softer saddle allows increased movement which can lead to more chafing.
- Cut-out saddles – Although a cut-out saddle is a popular choice for cyclists experiencing pain in the soft tissue area and can solve some cyclists’ problems, for others it can just result in the pressure being concentrated over a smaller area. If a cut-out saddle does little to resolve your issues, a split-nose saddle (e.g., ISM) can be another good option to try.
Finding the correct saddle can be an expensive endeavour if you find yourself needing to try lots of different options. However, saddle pressure mapping can drastically speed up this process and allow you to make far more informed decisions on saddle-choice based on actual data.
Other things that you may want to consider when addressing saddle pain / discomfort include:
- Cycling shorts – A good pair of cycling shorts with a high-quality chamois (i.e., padding in the crotch area) is arguable one of the best investments you can make for improving comfort on the bike. However, try to avoid a chamois that is overly thick as this can lead to more pressure on the soft tissue.
- Chamois cream – Chamois cream acts as a lubricant that you use on your skin to reduce friction and for some can be very effective at reducing chafing and saddle sores. It doesn’t work for everyone but it can definitely be worth a try!