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A few months ago I switched from a heavily padded saddle to a Velominati-approved one: http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#61

It was very uncomfortable at first (even with padded shorts), but I quickly grew accustomed to it.

My shorts are of the cheaper type, and most of my weight is concentrated on a very specific spot on each of my sit bones. A little more padding would be better, but it's tolerable the way it is.

Three weeks ago I did a particularly long ride (7 hours), and it left a small saddle sore on each of my sit bones.

Since then I haven't done any long rides. Just my usual 20 minute commute to work (which I do in normal pants, no padding).

The sores haven't gone away. But even on my commute, without padded shorts, there's only a very mild (often unnoticeable) discomfort, and I'd rather sit and spin than ride standing.

By continuing to do what I'm doing, am I preventing the sores from healing? Am I risking an infection?

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    You know that The Rules are only half-serious right ? If something doesn't work for you, don't feel compelled to conform. If you can go back to your old saddle for a bit and see how it compares ? I happily wear my glasses inside my helmet straps, bugger the "rule" on that one! – Criggie Sep 8 '16 at 1:10
  • @Criggie Yeah, I know :) But seriously, that sunglasses rule is one I happen to absolutely agree with. – BSO rider Sep 8 '16 at 1:15
  • I have found that a hydrocortisone cream (eg, "Cortaid") helps quite a bit when raw spots develop on the posterior bicycle interface. (But one needs to exercise a bit of caution and not use the stuff for more than 3-4 days running, nor use the stuff if there is any sign of infection, since it can accelerate an infection.) – Daniel R Hicks Sep 8 '16 at 2:17
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I'd perhaps look at your saddle again. Padding isn't everything and there is a lot to be said for fit/sit bone width. Consider getting measured/fitted. I know what width fits me in the brand I buy. Personally, I think every serious cyclist should know their saddle size as well as their frame sizing. Keep in mind that all your riding up to this point (before saddle change) developed extra padding/tissue/internal callus (whichever) on the contact points of your old saddle. Moving those contact points just a slight bit by getting a new saddle can make quite a bit of difference.

Not to be rude, but what is your hygiene like? I would recommend making sure to always wash after a ride (commutes included). Always ride in clean shorts. Toward that goal, if you haven't cleaned/showered/bathed recently and go for a ride, you really aren't riding in clean shorts (your skin isn't clean, even though the shorts are). Consider washing before and after a ride. Are you using a chamois cream of some sort? Part of the problem can be caused just by friction. A good chamois cream can help. Some have various antibacterial/anti-infective "stuff" rolled in and can help on multiple fronts.

If you are going to look for less padding in your seat, you may look for more in your shorts. Seven hours for most folks goes past stage type training and into endurance riding/training. Ultra light sometimes gets sacrificed for comfort. You may look for touring or thicker winter padded shorts/bibs and opt away from ultra light race padded shorts/bibs.

I have done a fair amount of winter endurance riding (100 miles on snow) and sometimes you just forget your prep and end up with a sore. I've lanced my own in the past to speed healing, but that's not for everyone. Once you have one (I have my own set and recurring spots), it's kind of always a preventative fight while you are trying to train. In the end, if all your equipment is properly fitted, proper hygiene and prep (wash before/after, clean shorts and chamois cream) just become a regular part of your training like bike maintenance and proper nutrition.

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  • The clean shorts is an important one. Rotate at least two sets, three is better, and they should be clean and dry for the next day. – Criggie Sep 8 '16 at 1:08
  • +1 Good points... I really doubt my saddle has an ergonomics issue though, because the problem I have is not "soft tissue" pain, chafing, or sliding fore or aft, it's simply too much pressure on my sit bones, which could be remedied with a better (stiffer padding) pair of shorts. – BSO rider Sep 8 '16 at 1:20
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    You'd be surprised. Basically, a huge portion of your weight is sitting on two spots. Two or three mm can make a bit of difference when you start talking about saddle flex points, angle at contact point, padding at contact point, etc. I can feel a huge difference between a 143mm, 135mm or 155mm saddle at this point. I'll add in some about that. – Deleted User Sep 8 '16 at 2:02
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    @BSOrider - Egronomics can come in various shapes and form. Personal anecdote... I found pelvis rotation affected the sitbone/saddle interactions. Sitting a lot at work, tightens me up and can prevent me from fully rolling my pelvis forward enough until I stretch more. I found when this happened I would feel more pressure under my sit bones, to the point it would become uncomfortable. Loosening up so I can rolling my pelvis forward more seemed to distribute the pressure across a larger area of the sit bones resulting in less hot spots. – Rider_X Sep 8 '16 at 5:25
  • Extra stress on the fitting aspect. You may have bought the perfect saddle, but if it (and the bike as a whole) is not fit properly, you'll have issues. Saddle sores are typically a good indicator of a poor fit. – Altom Sep 8 '16 at 14:13
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In addition to the good points made by Chris, here are a few other suggestions.

To answer your question: I recommend that you stop riding until everything has healed. If you feel you must continue, then try the following suggestions. You can also try them after it's healed.

Switch back to the old seat to see if it aids in resolving the current issue. Sounds like it put pressure on a different place, so it may help. If it does feel better then keep using it until the sores have well and truly healed.

Check the seat position, fore and aft, height, and the angle from the horizontal. Tilting the noise of the seat a cm (half an inch) up or down can make a huge difference.

Get a couple of pairs of properly padded (chamois) shorts. Test them on a short ride.

Next time you make a change to your bike, or your gear, including these suggestions remember to do test rides before doing anything serious.

Hope that helps.

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Oh, the saddle. THE most important connection point to your bike. Since everyone of us is of different build, have different biomechanics, sit on a bicycle differently, fit on the bike differently, and have different preferences - saddles become a very personal choice.

What you have not articulated is whether you are just sore from sitting (swelling or bruising) or you have chafing of the skin. Both are uncomfortable, but can be solved with the right saddle, good shorts, and time in the saddle.

Here are a few suggestions.

Saddles come in a variety of shapes - meaning profiles. They generally fall into three categories - round, semi-round, and flat. One of these is likely to fit your sit bones and soft tissues better than the others. Your first task is to discover which profile is best for you. You cannot guess at this, you have to ride different saddles to figure this out.

The good news is that many bike shops have saddle programs. These consist of loaner saddles that you can log miles on to make sure they fit you and you find them comfortable. This way, you can try different manufacturers and models, different shapes, cut out/no cutout, you can go crazy and even try an Adamo without the nose. You do need to log miles on the different saddles riding multiple days. With this approach you can go back and forth between saddles so you can compare them and come to a good conclusion.

As far as shorts go, you should invest in decent shorts. You don't have to spend $100's on Assos, but getting a good, name brand short with a solid pad and that fit right is important. Sales can be your friend. Find what works and buy a few of the same pair. Again, your bottom is the most important connection to your bike.

Also consider putting a cycling specific cream on your sit bones. This helps things move around a little easier and both resist chafing and heal it.

And there is no substitution for working your way into this. Your body needs to adapt to sitting on a saddle. If your first ride of the season is a century, you will be sore. The more you ride, the more your body will be accustomed and adapted to the weight and the movement.

Good luck!

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Too much padding doesn't mean comfortable as mentioned by Sheldon Brown, as the padding will press against your seat bone.

People start long distance cycling tour recommended to use "hard" leather saddle such as Brooks flyer, where the leather slowly break in to follow the sitting shape.

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