Bike Fit: No Silver Bullet

I finally did it. I finally went and paid for an honest-to-goodness bike fit. I’m not entirely sure what motivated me to do something I’ve been talking about for ages, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I just got tired of being uncomfortable on my bike. If you’ve followed my bike journey on this blog for any length of time, you know that I suffer from serious saddle issues. Pressure on my lady bits and pressure on my sits bones plague me, despite trying a variety of saddles. As I was riding this summer, all of a sudden I realized that it was ridiculous that I’m afraid to do any rides longer than 4o miles because I know my butt can’t handle it. The whole saddle issue, aside from being uncomfortable and painful, was setting limits on how/where I was willing to ride my bike and I didn’t like that. So I finally took the steps necessary to set up a bike fit!

The first step was working up the courage to call, and that took some time. Then it took some time to actually get a hold of someone to schedule my fit. Then the guy I was going to see had a booked schedule, so he couldn’t fit me in for about 2 weeks. So it took awhile to actually get to the actual fitting. But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t really matter. I had already waited ages to do this, what was a few more weeks?

I got my fitting at a place in Virginia (Freshbikes) and had decided to ride from work. It was maybe 8 miles, so not that far, but I hadn’t been on my bike in about 3 weeks- a screw holding the saddle to the seatpost came undone and it took me that long to find a replacement. So while 8 miles isn’t that far, when you haven’t been on the bike for 3 weeks, it can do a lot of damage to your backside!

Having your position and body scrutinized that closely on the bike was a bit awkward. I’m not terribly comfortable with how I look in the Lycra of cycling clothing and honestly, this was the part I was least looking forward to when I thought about a bike fit. But I just kept telling myself, they’re not here to judge, they’re here to help. Just because I don’t look like a skinny racer doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to be comfortable on my bike just as much as they are.

I actually felt pretty proud of myself for not crying while talking about the whole situation. Talking about my saddle situation with people who really know cycling is hard, because it has really affected my relationship with the bike. I really do love cycling so much, but when something as simple as my saddle causes me so much pain and makes me not want to ride, I get sad. And when I feel like I’ve tried everything but nothing seems to work, it’s emotional, as I’ve poured a lot of energy into my bike and this problem. But I held it together.

I really, really wanted him to have the silver bullet for this werewolf problem. I wanted him to find some magic adjustment that hadn’t been tried before that would suddenly make me comfortable on my saddle. As you can probably guess, this didn’t happen. He was very thoughtful and thorough during the fit. But while there are so many things you can adjust on a bike, sometimes there isn’t a magic fix. In the end, he confirmed my suspicions: saddles are a very personal thing and there’s no magic formula to find the one that works for you. However, the fit did provide some comfort. I was afraid the issue was the geometry of my bike- that’s not something you can fix. Bad geometry usually means having to buy a new bike. But he assured me that not only was the geometry of the bike fine, the little adjustments made by previous bike shops had actually helped overall. So the issue really is just my anatomy and the saddle.

So for all you ladies out there suffering through saddle issues, I’m sorry to say that even a bike fit won’t solve all your problems. But a bike fit can help isolate the problems. The bike fit didn’t make my butt feel better, but it helped reassure me that the way I was sitting on the bike wasn’t aggravating the issue. I feel it was money well spent just on those grounds. Now I just need to sit my ass on as many saddles as possible to try and find “the one.” My plan is to call up all the local bike shops, see what brands they carry, and inquire if they have  saddle testing program. Some shops have loaner saddles you can try out. Others will let you try before you buy. And some let you buy a saddle, but then return it if it doesn’t fit. If I don’t have any luck with the local shops, I’ll start looking online at lender programs or at websites that have forgiving return policies! It won’t be fast, but hopefully eventually I find “the one” that will let me ride as long as I like.

As a side note: You may (or may not!) have been wondering where I’ve been and why I’m not writing much. There are a couple of reasons. First, I’ve started up a cycling podcast, and that takes a lot of my time and energy. I have been writing, but most of it has been pro cycling related, which I have been posting on my podcast blog. If you have any interest in pro cycling, you should check out the Pelotonitis Podcast blog! Second, I’m entering my 2nd year of bike ownership. This means I’m doing fewer and fewer things which are brand new to me. I see this blog as a way to chronicle my journey and share my experiences as a newbie. As I’m being coming less of a “nOOb” and more of an experienced cyclist, I’m trying to figure out how to keep sharing my thoughts, but without being repetitive. I’m committed to sharing my experiences, and helping newcomers to the sport (especially women!) become comfortable on the bike!


4 thoughts on “Bike Fit: No Silver Bullet

    1. TheBloomingCyclist

      Thanks! Yeah, that’s a good point. I should point out that I’ve been on my current saddle for about a year, with no improvement. Other saddles I had for a month or more. That’s what makes saddles so difficult- it takes so much time to break in a saddle it’s hard to make quick judgements!

  1. Don’t forget the used saddle market on eBay and some companies make women specific saddles. My gf and a few other friends have had great success with the women’s saddles from Cobb Cycling. Good luck in your search!

  2. Hi, great post. I thought I’d mention that while there is no magic one button fix for saddle issues, and that sometimes there is only “as good as it gets”, rather than truly comfortable, there is a relatively new option you might think about.

    FYI, I’m a bike guy based in Dubai (, and for a number of years we sold saddles the way most shops do: Trial and Error, and a lot of pain. A couple of years ago, the owner of our shop got on a learning kick about bike fit, and really started digging deep.

    One of the things he came across has pretty well changed our saddle sales process.

    There is a company based in Heitersheim, Germany which makes a pressure based saddle fitting system. Essentially, what it does is map the high pressure spots between you and your bike, live while you ride (either on the trainer or with a follow car).

    That might seem unimpressive. But what it means is that you get real time feedback about whether a saddle truly fits your body, or whether that bike fitter’s tweak really was beneficial.

    WITHOUT waiting a couple of weeks and going through the suffering phase for no reason. That doesn’t mean you don’t suffer, or that you don’t need to break in the saddle, but it does, for most people, mean that you don’t do it over and over again, based on somebody else’s best guess for what you need.

    If you really need something unique, they even do fully custom saddles. Although the need is rare.

    The system is made by GebioMized, (, and is not in widespread shop use yet. Mostly used for manufacturing. Assos clothing uses it to design their chamois pads for there shorts. Selle Italia uses it to design saddles.

    It’s new, as a fitting tool, but very cool.

    I doubt that we will be able to help you at our shop, as we’re a bit of a trip if you’re near Virginia, but see if you can find a shop or a fitter using this system. You won’t regret it.

    And if you decide to visit any of the international races, keep in mind the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Dubai. If you get over our way, we’ll be happy to help set you up with a saddle that’s as good as it gets. Really.

    Nice read, by the way. I’ll keep an eye on your blog. 🙂

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