Tweaking Saddles

“Yesterday, I stopped at the new bike shop for some lube,” I said as I passed my wife while out on a morning ride. “They’ve got some saddles in there you should check out.”

“That’s OK, I feel pretty good now,” she replied.

Wow, that’s a turnaround. Just last week she was complaining that her saddle was so uncomfortable that she wanted to get a new one. Why the sudden change of heart?

Well, after she complained last week, I took a look at the saddle. It’s the original Trek gel that came with the bike when we bought it in 1992. But it hadn’t been on the bike for some years — not until I put it back on after the saddle she’d been riding failed on a New Year’s Day ride. As I suspected, there was a problem with the saddle’s set up. The nose was sticking up. I must not have tightened the set screw tight enough when I installed the saddle, and her riding had pushed down the back, and pushed the nose up.

I got out the carpenter’s level and set about correcting the problem. Just before I finished, Pat came out of the house to take a look.

“It’s perfectly level now,” I told her.

“You know, I’d like it if you lowered the nose a little bit from where it is.” she said.

I complied. “It’s half a bubble down from level,” I said.

Which brings us to the ride that started off this missive. I questioned her closely about the saddle and its feel.

“Lowering the nose made all the difference,” she said. “This feels just fine. You don’t have to change a thing.”

Once again, the big difference made by a small adjustment hit home. But I had my own version of the story. Just before that morning ride, I had once again tweaked my saddle position — edging it back ever so slightly. I’d been doing that over the last two weeks, a little bit at a time. Each time, it felt better, but each time, I thought things could improve even more. This time, it felt pretty good.

I’ve had a chance to confirm that in subsequent days. My rides on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were all good ones, with no discomfort on the seat. This morning, I led a B ride out into the country for a 36-mile round trip. I think I’ve finally found the magic spot. The saddle stays right where it is.

It’s a game of millimeters, but if you have the patience to keep at it, eventually you’ll get it right.


  1. Mel Hughes says

    Marking, measuring, recording all help to keep that information at hand. But remember also that nothing is written in stone either. We are, all of us, a work in progress. If you ride long enough, something other than the bike may (will) change. If you take Ray’s approach and work at an area patiently, in small increments, you can fine tune everything about the ride. But even though I may have ridden in the same position very comfortably, I have found over the past few years, as I get older, that the old position doesn’t work for me. So, like Ray, I keep tweaking.

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