2014-05-01 12.34.09


Everyone will think they understand your main points about saddles:

  1. Inexpert cyclists always have their saddle too low. (The leg should almost be straight with the pedal at the bottom.)
  2. They wrongly believe a big soft saddle is more comfy. (Small firm ones are better.)
  3. Women need different saddle shapes to men.

– pages 36-37, The Bluffer’s Guide to Cycling

I’ve learnt the hard way what the right and wrong saddles can do to my legs and butt.

My first bike in Beijing, an aluminum Giant bike with 3 gears,  had a big soft saddle that was heaven to sit on. I found out it didn’t go very fast after joining a ride with a group of fixie riders and being left so far behind, my friend who took me on the ride advised me to drop out of the ride. I was wearing a pair of short shorts and in my effort to catch up, my inner thigh rubbed so hard against the stitching of the saddle that a painful scab formed. Needless to say, my ride home that night was annoyingly painful.

I rode my Giant bike so hard that the saddle broke off after a 40 km ride round the northern section of the 2nd ring road.  I went to a bike shop to get a new saddle the next day. I remember being so very tempted to get a small hard seat as my pro cyclist friends had suggested, but eventually ended up buying a similar saddle to the one before, except it was shaped specifically for female riders.

When my Giant bike got stolen about 2 months later, I lamented more about losing my  brand new saddle than about losing my whole bike.

When I began riding my newly purchased MTB, I wasn’t aware of how hard the saddle was. Granted, I rode my MTB on average 20 km a day, hardly enough for my bum to feel its effects.  I didn’t understand what my cyclist friends were talking about when they went on about how their bums hurt for days after riding on hard saddles without donning their bike pants.

It was only when I cycled 60 km to Changping that I understood what my friends were whining about.  And I was wearing pro bike pants with padding. The soreness in my bum barely subsided the following day when I cycled 40 km from Changping back to Beijing and only disappeared after another 48 hours. I’d never been more grateful to my friend who insisted I wear pro bike pants for the ride. He saved my bum from literal disintegration.

I remember getting onto my MTB the next day after I got back from Changping, thinking a rest of over 24 hours was definitely more than enough.  Well it wasn’t. My thighs and bum were sore the whole afternoon as I rode my MTB from my home near Chaoyang Park to Sanlitun, then to Jiangguomen for a massage and finally to the Dongsi area for Yunnan food with friends. It didn’t help that I was also combating strong winds and a sandstorm that day. I remember being physically blown off my bike at a big intersection along Jinbao Street and having to stand for around 3 minutes in the howling wind, holding my MTB steady while waiting for the wind to subside a little so I could climb back on and continue my ride.

The next day after my windblown adventure, I refrained from riding my MTB to the office as the winds had not subsided, and bought a town bike that very evening.

Do I blame the small hard saddle on my MTB for the discomfort it caused me and the extra expense I’ve incurred buying a town bike? I really shouldn’t. I learnt from a fellow cyclist that pro cyclists hardly sit on their saddles when they cycle. So I can only blame my own amateurish cycling methods and general ignorance.

Women don’t benefit from a hollow, but do need wider saddles as their sit bones are wider apart than men’s.  A women using a man’s saddle will find it uncomfortable, and according to your sexual politics, you can blame the man who sold it to her (for being ignorant) or the woman who bought it (for being ignorant).

– page 37, The Bluffer’s Guide to Cycling


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