This may come as a surprise; When i first started riding, I was an enduro. I rode thousands of k’s each month. After some of the longer rides, I ran into a problem. Saddle sores. Yep my nether regions didn’t like my riding as much as I did. sometimes I rode through the pain, other times I would stay in the big ring just so I could get out of the saddle. Either way I needed to do something.
From here I went on a year long quest to find the right fit. I think I went through half a dozen saddles before I found my right fit. * as a side note, I wish I had forums like the Sydney women’s Facebook page, or knew bike shops with saddle libraries (Omafiets, Happywheels, Jet cycles), it would have saved a lot of time, money, and possibly pain down there. Eventually I found my glass slipper. The Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow SLR!
Me and this saddle, a perfect match. It has this hideous pink sun/star/abstract thingy on it, I don’t care. Useless stitching, don’t mind. It felt perfect to sit on, and that’s all that mattered.
As time went on, I eventually wore a few out. So I chucked them. Replacing old saddles with less used ones from less used bike. Replacing those with spare saddles that worked, but were not my favourite. Then, the saddle became hard to find. I found a site still selling them(on clearance!); I only bought one.
Then another wore out, nothing. Couldn’t find them anywhere. I found a stash in Europe, but with the exchange rate and shipping, it cost more than I was willing to pay.
I thought about a new saddle. At this point I was 9 months out from Canadian Nationals.
Someone said just find a new saddle. JUST! i couldn’t just get a new saddle!
As if that was an option. I had no choice. I was stressed, anxious, I had a few sleepless nights. Got a ‘saddle fit’ where I was told the shape I was riding didn’t suit me and I should go a totally different style. I promptly ignored that advice. Then I discovered Busyman Saddles!
Mick is an amazing human. For those who don’t know his work, he is a leather worker, saddle maker, artist, and saint. He takes in the old, the ugly, the injured, and the abused (saddles) and transforms them into beautifully hand crafted pillows of sculpted air ready to sit upon a lucky bicycle to be ridden with pride and comfort.
Looking at his work, I loved the idea of recovering my old worn saddles. But I dreaded the e-mail to ask for the price. I couldn’t find pricing anywhere on the inter webs, and my dad used to tell me “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” (thanks dad) I hate to advertise this, but I was quite surprised. The price was about the same as buying a high end saddle new, and less than the cost of getting one of the last remaining saddles shipped from Europe. And not just the money, but it had a better environmental cost. In this world of consuming, it made me feel good to reuse an otherwise perfectly working saddle.
I got two! (Even got one for my Fiancé when I couldn’t replace his favourite saddle that he wore out)
The sense of relief when i learnt I didn’t have to test new saddles allowed me to stop stressing and concentrate on my training. I had some big races to prepare for. It sounds silly to be that worked up about a saddle, but when that is the main weight bearing point of contact, it becomes a major focus. I don’t think Mick realizes how much he helped me over the last few years.
If you don’t, don’t suffer. Go to your local bike shop and test stuff out (preferably a shop that offers more than 1 brand). If you don’t like the tester, be specific about why you don’t like it (to hard, too soft, nose is too long, too wide in the middle, cut out too big)
I’m not going to write a piece on the best saddles, it’s been done. And I actually think these articles are pretty useless (unless you use them as a starting point for testing). Saddles are such a personal choice. Even if you get a ‘saddle fit’, you don’t have to go with what should fit. If it’s not right, say something, don’t suffer(but do give testers a chance, 1 week of your regular riding/training plus an extra long ride if the week went well).
If you are wondering, I ride the old Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow SLR. I ride it because it was the goldilocks saddle in the lady range. The diva was too padded, the SLR made me numb, and I would ride the men’s equivalent (still available) except the nose is a little longer, and I would catch the back of my skinsuit on it. I also enjoy the shape of the fizik vitesse, I just wish it had a cut out. And the brooks saddles look amazing they are too wide and too stiff.(I rode the C15 and C17)
Also, more is not more when it comes to padding. Except when more is wonderful!
I race track, so my style of riding is very different to mountain bikers and different from commuters. That means my saddle choice reasoning will be different, and I will value certain saddle characteristics over others.
Hope that makes your saddle choice clear as mud.
But when you find that unicorn, love and cherish it!
Now that I’v made the investment in a (4) Busyman saddle, I need to look after it. Naw, just kidding, someone needs to keep supplying Busyman with work so he can afford the avocado on toast Melbourne is so famous for. (*since writing this, Mick has informed me “Well yesterday I learned that because we own our own home we can afford as much smashed avo on toast as we like!” so i guess i’m just funding his “lifestyle choice” of being an artist)
It took me two years of abuse before I sent my first one back for repairs. So if you have an expensive saddle here are some things not to do
The problem is, I’m not going to avoid any of that (soz not soz Mick) And due to my current injury, I will be spending plenty of time on the trainer (sweat+cadence accelerates the wear). I have now been armed with a regime of saddle wear prevention. Hopefully this will give me a few more years before Busyman needs to recover a Busyman.
- friction is not your friend. Remove any non smooth surfaces from your bibs or clothing you ride in. This can be done with a razor. Good for the saddle good for cloths.
- friction is really not your friend. If you have worn through the shine/protective layer on the saddle. Raw leather is rough. ‘Sand’ it softly with a smooth piece of wood. Then seal with the water proofer.
- prevention is better. Every few trainer sessions I buff and polish with the waterproofer.
- after a crash, make sure you are ok, bike is ok, and saddle is ok! Iv only ever had surface scratches on my saddle after crashes. For those, rub in some bees wax, and polish to a shine.
Right now I have 6 bikes. 4 Busyman Selle Italia ladies, one original one that has a few years in it. I just need one more and my fleet will be saddled properly. So if you have one, don’t care about the condition, I will happily throw money in your direction!
Feel free to Check out all of Mick’s work