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I'm new to road bike riding. At my local bike shop they fitted me for a Bontrager Nebula Plus to replace the stock seat that came with the bike.

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The Bontrager website says this seat is designed for hybrid riders. It's hard to tell at this point if my post ride discomfort is from the seat or if I'm still just getting used to ridding. Is a hybrid seat like this suitable to be used on a road bike ?

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Lots of great information in all the answers. I wanted to make sure I wasn't setting myself up for failure by using a hybrid seat. –  Mark Robinson Aug 17 '11 at 1:30

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your LBS's advice should be fairly solid. Saddles have a denoted usage, but it is not a strict prescription. For example, my road bike is fitted with a mountain saddle (a Serfas Tegu) and it keeps me quite comfortable for rides of around 4-hours.

Using a hybrid saddle on a road bike is perfectly suitable, however you may require a narrower saddle to accomodate the more aggressive riding position (see Should I use a narrower saddle on my roadbike than I would on my hybrid commuter?); however your LBS has likely taken this into consideration already.

If you are still experiencing discomfort, then you may need to try a different size or a different model. Saddles are highly personalized options on the bike, so it may take a couple returns before you find the correct one. The position of the saddle on the bike is another aspect of comfort. Some riders prefer their saddles at a slight angle, while others prefer it to be level.

Keep in mind with any new saddle there is a break-in period. Typically you should put several hours of riding time in before making a conclusion--unless it is very uncomfortable right away.

Also, are you wearing padded shorts? Padded shorts add a huge amount of comfort--moreso than more heavily padded saddles. Typically you are better off with a good pair of padded shorts and a fairly firm saddle than you would be with "regular" clothes and a very cushioned saddle.

If you have any concerns go back to your LBS and try to find out who their saddle guru is. Try to describe the discomfort you're having (e.g. are your legs going numb, do the insides of your sitbones quickly become sore, etc). They may adjust the position of your saddle or swap the saddle entirely.

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Yeah I'm learning with bikes that road/hybrid/mountain parts does not mean they only go with those types of bikes. –  Mark Robinson Aug 17 '11 at 1:32

You don't say what sort of cycling (and how much) you've done before, or what sort of seat you've previously used. There are all sorts of seats available, from rail-thin to extra wide, short to long, hard to soft, and the seat you should use is the one that is (in the long term) comfortable to YOU (though, granted, certain seats may cause "serious" riders to turn up their noses). There is no "right" or "wrong" seat (within reason).

Do note that a seat that's uncomfortable in the short term may be more comfortable in the long term, and vice-versa. (A lot has to do with getting your butt "conditioned" to the seat.) There's no really good way to tell, beforehand, what is the "right" seat for you.

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As long as you are not competing in Tour de France, it will be fine. You should pay attention to seat width. There are shops which provide metering of your sit bones (no touching :-)) and Bontrager has the same model in different sizes.

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the measuring process is very simple--you briefly sit on a special seat which retains imprints of your sit bones. They then measure the distance between the imprints and know what size saddle is correct –  STW Aug 16 '11 at 15:04

If you ride several hours a week and you're still in discomfort after a few weeks it is likely the saddle. Everyone is a little bit different, not every saddle is appropriate for everyone.

Many folks (especially men) find that narrower, stiffer seats are actually more comfortable than wider soft seats after the initial acclimatization of riding.

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Thanks, I'll keep narrower/stiffer in mind while I try to find a seat. –  Mark Robinson Aug 17 '11 at 1:30

The main difference between a 'road' saddle and a 'hybrid' saddle is going to be the angle they're designed to have the rider at. If you're new to road bike riding it's likely your main riding position is the same as that hybrid saddle is designed for.

That saddle looks like a road saddle to me. A bit more padding than the more "serious" saddles.

However, everybody is a little different. Depending what discomfort you're experiencing it's worth trying a different saddle. A lot of shops make it easy to try a different saddle (comfort guarantee, 1 week return policy, etc) because it often takes a few tries to get it right.

In other words, the seat type is appropriate, but it still might not be fitting you quite right.

For us or your shop to be able to help better, you'll have to be much more explicit about exactly what discomfort you're experiencing.

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