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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm finding the Specialized Toupe saddle on my Tarmac to be a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours on the trail and have been thinking about changing it out.

LBS says getting a pair of top of the line Pearl Izumi shorts is a better idea.

Obviously spending $100 on shorts is a better deal than spending $200 on a saddle, so this is a compelling idea. I'm using a pair of cheap-ish gel shorts now.

Is my LBS right ?
 

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grs1969 said:
I'm finding the Specialized Toupe saddle on my Tarmac to be a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours on the trail and have been thinking about changing it out.

LBS says getting a pair of top of the line Pearl Izumi shorts is a better idea.

Obviously spending $100 on shorts is a better deal than spending $200 on a saddle, so this is a compelling idea. I'm using a pair of cheap-ish gel shorts now.

Is my LBS right ?
You won't be investing. You will be spending.

If you've never ridden for more than 2 hours until now, maybe your butt just needs to get accustomed to longer rides. Many people ride much longer than 2 hours in complete comfort and have never spent $200 on a saddle or $100 on shorts. I could probably ride 2 hrs on a wooden 2X4.

Personally, I wouldn't be riding a racing bike unless I raced. 28 mm tires at 90 psig and a Brooks leather saddle can't be beat for comfort.
 

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Carbon Fiber = Explode!
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^^^ I can't believe you used psig. Don't even start confusing people with psia either :p
 

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vexatious enigma
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Personally I would go for the shorts. There is a bit of a break in period where your bum just needs to get used to the saddle. I had that happen for a while with the toupe but I love it now. Other things to consider would be your tires. They could be too stiff and cause pain. I know that with my tires every bump in the road is like a shock. More probable is that you just havent spent enough time on the saddle.
 

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I tried the Toupe Gel 130, and though I liked the way it fit, it was the hardest saddle I've ridden in the last several years. I rode it about 300 miles in November, and couldn't take it anymore, a friend of mine is trying it now. I went to a Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow, and I really like it.
 

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Or both.

I went from a Bontrager to a Specialized Phenom Gel and got some standard bibs and couldn't be happier.

But there is a break in period for your butt for sure. It could also be related to how you sit, or your tyre pressure or the roads you ride on.
 

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New saddle?

grs1969 said:
I'm finding the Specialized Toupe saddle on my Tarmac to be a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours on the trail and have been thinking about changing it out. LBS says getting a pair of top of the line Pearl Izumi shorts is a better idea.

Obviously spending $100 on shorts is a better deal than spending $200 on a saddle, so this is a compelling idea. I'm using a pair of cheap-ish gel shorts now.

Is my LBS right ?
You may not have given the saddle it's proper chance in the first place. There are 7 factors in preventing saddle numbness and pain:

1) saddle adjustment - tilt angle is very important

2) sitting properly - a lot of people ride too far forward on the saddle. Your "sit bones" should be perched on the rear, wide part of the saddle

3) standing up - you should never let things go numb or get painful. At the first sign of any lack of feeling or pain, pedal standing up for a short distance and repeat as necessary to bring the feeling back and prevent further numbness

4) easing up - you want to lift your butt off the saddle any time you are going to hit a bump or sharp edge. It's easier on your anatomy, your wheels, your tires, and the rest of your bike.

5) bike fit: in addition to saddle height and tilt, there is fore/aft adjustment, reach and drop to the bars, cleat position.

6) tires: proper width with the right PSI for your weight and roads so you don't every single road imperfection.

7) saddle - there are some people who can ride most any saddle if it is properly adjusted (see #1) and there are some people who have problems with nearly any saddle. It's hard to predict which type you are. Work on 1-6 and if that doesn't help, THEN consider a new saddle.

The standard advice to cure numbness is to tip the nose down, but having discussed this topic many times, it seems that some people are not sitting properly on their saddles. You need to have a saddle and saddle position that has your sit bones on the butt of the saddle. If your saddle nose is tipped down too far, it may cause you to slide forward. If it is tipped up too far, it may be causing pressure. And if you can't get things right in between these points, it may be that you are not sitting in the right spot or that the saddle doesn't fit you. IME, the range of saddle tilt goes from "nose level" to saddle level. Nose level means that for most saddles, the butt of the saddle is elevated (this is how I ride). Saddle level means that a level placed on the saddle would have the nose and butt level, which may create a hammock effect in the middle. Your personal comfort has to rule on where to place things in this range. Also, fore/aft position can influence comfort - it is a trade between pedaling style and the how much you lean on the bars vs. sit on the saddle.
 

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"...maybe your butt just needs to get accustomed to longer rides."

I know this is true, as I've experienced soreness myself after an extended period off the bike. But I've always wondered what gets "broken in" down there anyway if you're properly sitting on your sit bones?
 

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grs1969 said:
I'm finding the Specialized Toupe saddle on my Tarmac to be a bit uncomfortable after a couple of hours on the trail ...
Was the saddle properly sized for width (130 , 143 , 155 mm)? Spec'y dealers have a "butt-o-meter" guage for determining this.

All bodies are different & saddles are highly person-specific (like shoes), but after a couple 40 mi rides I am finding the Toupe to be the most comfortable saddle I've ridden, even though it has minimal padding and weights just 170 gram.

Shape of the saddle and its flex characteristics seem far more important than the padding.
 

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Gel shorts are fine for those recovery days when your rear hurts, but a good $70 pair of Volers will feel great on those regular days. Often, firm saddles are more comfortable than soft saddles.
 

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I've got the same saddle but decided on spending the money on a good pair of bib shorts and a proper bike fitting. Spent 3 hrs on the bike today and no butt issues at all. I forgot to spend money on sun screen and am paying the price on the forearms! .OWWWWW
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Kerry Irons said:
You may not have given the saddle it's proper chance in the first place. There are 7 factors in preventing saddle numbness and pain:
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Thanks for the extensive info.

I'm 160lbs and riding 23mm tires at the lower end of the inflation range printed on the sidewalls which is 100psi

Considering that I do longer rides, slightly bigger tires might be better for me. Would moving to 25mm make significant difference?
 

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If it's between the two, I'd reccomend getting a different saddle. Your shorts will wear down before your saddle will. After I got a new saddle, my thinnest shorts became comfortable again.

Plus...are you really just using one pair of shorts? That's jut too much washing for me.
 

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I just got a Tarmac and I'm brand new to biking. I put 60 miles on my bike this past week (first week), and I've held up well wearing Pearl Izumi UltraSensor shorts. I've had no chafing, just minor soreness, so I'm just assuming that's normal.
 

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Some of those gel chamois are not that great. Does the chamois stretch to move with you? The top of the line pearl izumi are not a necessary thing. I have the top end Sugoi and the nashbar stealth short that I find both very nice. About $100 difference between the two though.
 

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Cheap gel shorts aren't very good. Try something better. Like saddles and shoes, shorts are a personal fit issue. I like PI shorts for up to 8-10 hours but beyond that I need to find something else.

I like the Toupe a lot, it's my favorite saddle. But I find that it is very sensitive to correct angle, more than other saddles. When it is wrong, it's much less comfortable. You might try adjusting the angle a small amount. A micro-adjusting post is vital if you are using a Toupe.
 

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Though I've never tried it, I believe that I can ride any of my bikes with any pair of shorts without issue. This is because my saddle agrees with my butt. Trying a pair of expensive cycling shorts is a band-aid fix, IMHO. If it is the solution you are looking for you'll end up buying more than one pair of these shorts eventually so you will end up spending more than the $200 that the saddle costs. Then again, you don't know that the replacement saddle will be any better than what you have now. You just have to try different saddles until you find one that works. Ask at your LBS if they have a saddle exchange program. If they don't have one then find out what their return policy on slightly used saddles is. If they don't have one then look online. I believe that Colorado Cyclist has a saddle kit where you put down a deposit and they send you five or six saddles to try. After you have figured out what works for you just return the package and buy the appropriate saddle.

My buddy tried four different saddles before he settled on a Selle Italia SLR, or something like that. I'm not convinced that he's done trying saddles but he's replaced all of the saddles on his road bikes with SLRs so he's committed. He could ride his previous saddle, a Fizik Arione, just fine for two hours or less. Once he went over two hours he would complain about pain. Nothing he tried, including expensive bib shorts, would resolve the issue so eventually, he tried a new saddle. Yes, he gave that saddle plenty of time to try to adjust himself to it. Me, I got lucky and the first saddle I tried was a Fizik Aliante and have liked it. I've tried different saddles just to see if it was a fluke or not and realized that I was just really lucky.
 
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