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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
anybody use 'em? any experience with them? I used to get numb down below after a good amount of time on the bike but picked up a selle smp trk some time ago and haven't had the problem since. I know there are several different ones. cobb. adamo. specialized makes a few. anybody have experience with any of these??
 

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The only experience I can provide is that the original seat on my bike was a Fizik Aliante. It made me numb. On a whim, because it looked like it might help, I tried a Selle Italia SMP Gel Flow. It was much better (no more numbness). I put about 8k miles on that saddle before I had to replace it, and went and bought two more.



It's only one anecdotal experience, and I know others who have tried it and hated it, but it worked for me. YMMV
 

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If by "ergo" you mean broadly any saddles with a center cutout, there have been many versions for decades, and lots of riders use them successfully. Others, not. Saddles are a very individual thing. If it works for you, it works. The more radical designs have been a more mixed success, but some of them have stayed around for a while.

There are probably a hundred or more different saddle models with cutouts. I've used several from Selle Italia with good results. They drive me a little crazy because they change them frequently, so a saddle with the same name may not be the same as the one from five years ago, but I've always been able to find something that works. I like the cutouts.
 

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Forever a Student
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I have thousands of miles of experience.

I also have my own opinion on the whole thing, go figure.

In my experience seats with cut-outs or with channels or whatever are bad.

The whole point is to fully relieve any pressure on the perineum. The perineum is the soft tissue area between your anus and your balls. A traditional shaped saddle pushes this soft tissue area between the sit bones up inside of you if you ride on the front part of the saddle. This causes major issues with the prostate and other stuff down there.

I've found that the cut-outs are never big enough. Go between your legs, measure your perineum area, then measure the cut-out. I've found that cut-outs just end up making the problem worse.

Most all cut-out seats are designed for you to sit on the back of the seat. What if you move forward? The sides of the cut out are not anatomically spaced and they do not match sit bone spacing. That's where twin rail seats come in.

Twin rail seats like Adamo are actually anatomically spaced and the entire nose of the saddle is gone. This means the perineum is completely free of any compression from the bottom or sides at all. All pressure is put directly on the sit bones, where it belongs. The issue with these seats is the rail spacing vs. human sit bone spacing.

With a twin rail seat, the spacing and placement of the twin rails is 100% critical. If it's too wide it will rub and chafe and cause sores. If it's too narrow it's the same as running a cut-out and the rails will intrude into the perineum area. Also if the rails are too arrow pointed the same happens if you move forward. The rails should be relatively straight and spaced perfectly for the rider.


TLDR: Twin rail saddles are the only way to correctly remove all pressure from the perineum. Fitting them though is much more specific and therefore harder than a normal saddle and riding them is completely different. They're for those concerned about perineum health and they do their job perfectly, but only if fit and set up perfectly which will probably take an expert.
 

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The whole point is to fully relieve any pressure on the perineum. The perineum is the soft tissue area between your anus and your balls. A traditional shaped saddle pushes this soft tissue area between the sit bones up inside of you if you ride on the front part of the saddle. This causes major issues with the prostate and other stuff down there.

I've found that the cut-outs are never big enough. Go between your legs, measure your perineum area, then measure the cut-out. I've found that cut-outs just end up making the problem worse.
I agree it seems many/most saddle cut-outs aren't wide enough or long enough (ie. extend all the way down to the nose) to be optimal. However, I don't think the goal with the cut-outs is to relieve all pressure on the whole area of the perineum, just on the specific area which contains blood vessels and nerves running under the public bone where things tend to get crushed. Off course the devil in the detail is that people's anatomy differ so much that making a "one size fits all" or even "three sizes fit all" (ala Specialized) is just wishful thinking.

But I'm not a doctor, I just play one on the internet :D
 

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Never had the need for a saddle with cutouts. My all time favorite saddle is the old classic Flite.
 

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For many years I was very happy with an Avocet Touring saddle; then I started experiencing 'perineal' (a euphemism for 'genital') numbness after 10 miles or so. Next was a used fizik Aliante, which also was fine for 10 miles. That was followed by A Brooks B17 Imperial for a year, until the numbness returned after 15-18 miles. This year I tried an ISM Adamo PR 2.0 and a Selle SMP TRK.

I have also studied Steve Hogg on saddles and Cervelo's 'Four and a Half Rules of Road Saddles', both of which I strongly recommend, and the documentation on the ISM and Selle SMP sites, which are essential reading if you buy one of their saddles, as is Colby Pearce for setting up an SMP.

It's Hogg, I think, who gets most deeply into what 'sit bones' are. When Avocet first marketed their saddles, they talked about 'ischial tuberosities'. These are what the 'sit bone meters' measure and what you can feel with your hands. They form one end of a structure that includes some bones which are called 'rami' (plural for 'ramus'); the space between the rami narrows as they go forward.

If you roll your pelvis forward as you reach for the bars, it looks like the rami and associated muscles - not the ischial tuberosities - support your weight, no matter what saddle you have.

The problem is that the pudendal artery and pubic nerve can be forced to support weight on normal saddles both behind, on, and in front of the genitals. That's why many people in fact 'ride to one side' - it reduces the area that takes weight - but it's why some of us experience excess pressure on the nerve and/or artery, which leads to numbness.

If you look at ISM's doc, you'll see that the nerve & artery behind the genitals are supposed to ride in the cutout area and the genitals are supposed to ride in front of the arms; the pubic rami ride on the arms and take all your weight. This solves the problem for a whole lot of people, but not everyone (not me, for example).

Selle SMP's patent doc shows that the nerve & artery behind the genitals are supposed to ride in the cutout area, and the genitals are supposed to ride in front of the saddle's 'beak'; the pubic rami ride on the sides of the cutout and take a lot of your weight, and the back of the saddle supports some of your weight because your buttocks rest on it.

I don't know if other cutout saddle makers document the way their saddles are supposed to work. The SMP works for me so far - no numbness up to 20 miles without lifting my butt off the saddle, so I've stopped looking, at least for now. (Longer rides have always included a stop where I've gotten off the bike for a few minutes or more.)

IOW, there is some good theorizing in at least some saddles with cutouts, and they work as designed for many people, but there's only one way to find out if one or more of them will work for you.
 

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As a general rule, I find any seat with a cutout works better for me (in terms of numbness) than those that don't have them. Some cutouts are longer/wider than others, and to MMsRebBike's point, the longer/wider the better (for me).

Of course there are many factors that determine a saddles fitness for an individual. Width, shape (round/flat, etc...), length, etc...

Finding the right combination of all of those things, via trial and error, can be a daunting challenge, especially if you are just starting out, or coming back from a long break. In those situations, stuff is going to hurt until your body becomes accustomed to the pressure.

One thing to avoid, at least this is what I've found. Soft/cushy seats. The more your sit bones sink down into the foam/gel, the more bruising you will get in the surrounding tissue. They may feel great for the first few minutes, but over a long ride, they are probably going to cause bruising and discomfort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I too have found love with the selle smp trk. I had planned to step up to the selle smp extra when I get my new bike but for now this one has solved my problem. of course I haven't quite worked up to what most of you guys would consider a long ride, my max in the saddle is about 1-1.25 hours. hopefully when I pull the trigger on my new bike i'll work up to longer rides. i'll start with the trk and switch over to the extra when finances and weight issues allow.
 

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Every butt is a unique snowflake in terms of what works for it saddle wise.

I love Selle SMPs myself. They work. As opposed to closed saddles like say Fizik Arioe that were a brutal torture device wherever I tried to ride on it.
 

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So far for me, I have used the SMP Dynamic which has worked the best for me. Although at extended rides like 6+ hours I still do get a bit of numbness. Not as much and can be relieved with getting off the saddle periodically.

Every butt is different. Once you find the one that is right for you, buy multiple saddles.
 

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It's all so person specific... Ride tons and narrow things down is all... Use shop loaner policies and return policies... Curved saddles, the Selle SMP I have was torture. Too soft and prevented movement. Anyone want it? It's that bad. My Bontrager Race Light is good. It has a channel but I doubt the efficacy, frankly. The 2 rail, no nose saddles confuse me... When I'm "on the rivet," I'm actually on the nose of the saddle. It's not something I decide to do. I go bat sh*t all out and I'm on the nose of the saddle...

Look, lots of non center channel saddles have recessed center channels but look like they don't have the cut out... Some have a true saddle architecture! Regardless, no advice here or anywhere is going to help most people. You have to put the rubber to the butt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
all these replies bring me back to one of my original questions..... is there any real science to these saddles or is it just "looks like it'll feel good".
 
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