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We recently brought a road bike for my sister in law and we took her out on a quick test ride (only about 1km and SLOW). The next day she complained (a bit, mostly my brother being over protective maybe) about her rear.

Question is, how do I know it's normal and she just needs to get used to the saddle, or if it will cause discomfort in future.

The bike path in question isn't well maintained so had a fair few pot holes. Also my brother informs me that my sister in law is a woman (never checked myself, and evidence supports this), so I am aware that she would need a lady's saddle, which I hope came with the bike.

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    Some discomfort is normal, until your anterior "toughens up" a bit. But if the seat is painful pretty much from the start then probably something needs to be changed. Painful the next day is a bit more "normal", though if it continues the seat may need attention. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 24 '14 at 12:54
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    +1 for "never checked myself, but evidence supports this"! ;-) – Benedikt Bauer Nov 24 '14 at 13:01
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    It was a 1 km ride - I'm guessing this person hasn't ridden a bike much and will need time to get used to it. – Batman Nov 24 '14 at 17:30
  • Its a fine balancing act - "Take a concrete pill" (and harden up) is the answer if the fit is correct, but absolutely the wrong advise if the fit is incorrect. Better to err on fixing the saddle fit if you want her to continue to ride. Many beginners try (on well meaning advice) the concrete pill method for a few months, and are over it by the time to adjustments are made. – mattnz Nov 24 '14 at 19:19
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    It took me 3 years to realise that my saddle just didn't fit me, and it wasn't a case of HTFU. – a different ben Nov 25 '14 at 0:26
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I bought a bike last year and after a few rides, I found the saddle very painful. I resisted on riding it, assuming that I'll get used to it, but it never happened, and I was even concerned that I haven't got the right size of a bike. However I got a silicon gel saddle cover and since then the pain stopped. I didn't need cycling shorts or pants either.

Over time I was thinking that it probably is not the gel cover, but just me getting used to the saddle, till the cover got stolen a couple of months ago, and since then, every time I want to cycle, the pain is back, and I can remain painful even for a few days after an hour of cycling.

As I had read various articles about choosing the right saddles, and based on my own experience riding different city and mountain bikes, the bigger, wider and softer (ladies') saddles work better for me, and possibly for most of the women; (Tip #3 from 7 tips to find the perfect saddle also mentions this), but if she's not willing to spend money on the saddle, you can just get one of those silicon covers to fix the problem, and it's less hassle than wearing the pants/shorts if you're using your bike as a means of transportation in different outfits, rather than just cycling.

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    sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html is a link you may want to read. – Batman Nov 24 '14 at 17:47
  • Very sorry to hear that Neeku. Thank you for the input, especially from a lady. – Aron Nov 24 '14 at 18:03
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    Gel covers are the equivalent of strapping a set of bike shorts over your saddle and leaving them there. Although they can work for some people in this manner, they increase the overall saddle size and nose size and can cause chaffing for some people, especially during longer rides. As to your generalization about female anatomy, sit bone width varies from individual to individual and while females may generally be wider, there is overlap in the ranges, similar to height. – Deleted User Nov 24 '14 at 19:08
  • @ChrisinAK Yeah, and the advantage of leaving the cover on the saddle is that it's less hassle to wear the pants/shorts if one is wearing a different outfit. I'll edit the answer for the bit that may sound too generalized. – Neeku Nov 25 '14 at 12:55
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Was the bike from a shop and did the shop staff help with bike fit and saddle comfort?

If the answer is yes, then it's a matter of building up those bottom muscles by having a similar ride every couple of days. After three or four rides she should be ok. If not, go back to the shop and seek their assistance. If you already spent money there, then fixing the seat problem should be free.

If the answer is no, try the same approach, but if it doesn't improve your next option would be to visit you local bike shop and see if they can sell her a more comfortable seat.

  • Thanks, there was the usual cursory saddle adjustment (she asked to have it slightly lower than suggested). I've since moved the saddle 1 cm forward, since she also complained about the weight on her arms. – Aron Nov 24 '14 at 17:40
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Time matters more than distance, but 1 km is a very short ride. She shouldn't have a lot of pain the next day. Either she was wearing poor clothing, the saddle shape, or bike fit are really bad for her, or she hit a bump hard, or some combination of those things. Or she doesn't really want to ride.

First find out if she WANTS to ride. If she does, make sure the bike fits her. Unless she has been very inactive up to now, the fact that her arms hurt after only 1k would lead me to suspect the bars are too low or too wide, saddle nose is tilted down too much, the stem too long, or the frame is too big. Saddle fore/aft position should not be used to adjust the reach to the bars. Fore/aft adjustments are to position the rider's lower body properly in relation to the crank. Get her some padded shorts and chamois cream and instruct her how to wear them; i.e. no underwear. Possibly try a cushier saddle. Problems with cushier saddles generally don't manifest until one starts doing longer rides. Make adjustments she requests. These may be pretty frequent at first. Until she's riding at least 10 miles a few times a week don't worry about trying to find the perfect saddle for her.

Also note, bigger, wider, softer saddles are NOT better for all women. Nor is woman's saddle always best. Myself and a friend are two who are most comfortable on narrow, hard, "men's" saddles. Many women I know who ride regularly prefer men's saddles. Some women are most comfortable with a cut-out. Others find cut-outs extremely painful. I've also known women who weren't comfortable until the nose of their saddle was tilted down significantly. Shorts/saddle combination can also make a huge difference. There isn't one style of saddle that's best for all of us. It comes down to differences in individual anatomy, as well as shorts and riding styles. The Team Estrogen forums are a great resource to help women find saddles that might be comfortable for them, but ultimately saddles need to be tested for awhile. If you don't have a shop nearby with a good saddle try-out policy, eBay can be a way to try out different saddles for an extended time.

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