Best cycling shorts / bibs to help deal with saddle sores?

Hey all, I’ve had repeated issues with saddle sores in the last few month. And yes - I’m working with a bike fitter and trialing saddles, and I use dz nuts chamois cream and other ‘after-care’ products after rides - so all of that’s already a work in progress. I’m also seeing a physiotherapist and working on core strength issues to further help my position.

Now I’m wanting your best recommendations for cycling shorts / bibs that have helped you overcome and prevent saddle sore.

More info:

  • I’ve been using triathlon shorts for 18 months which worked best for me - 2xu. Though slim in the chamois these really helped me overcoming genital numbness and be comfortable in TT position. (Sorry for TMI!)

  • I’ve now ditched triathlon and I’m back to the upright cycling position with a Specialised Power saddle and the tri shorts aren’t cutting it (hence saddle sores). Very frustrating!

  • It’s important to me to have shorts that aren’t too bulky / too much cushion due to issues with genital numbness.

  • I know there are other threads about best cycling shorts but I really want to ask from the perspective of dealing with saddle sores. Any other advice you have on the topic would be welcomed!

  • I really want to know what’s worked well for you, particularly if you’ve overcome saddle sores better with some shorts rather than others!

  • Feel free to throw in options you think are worth AVOIDING as well.

Thanks everyone. I’m so freaking keen to get back to regular training without this frustrating problem.

This being the internet I’m not going to answer your text question of course… :wink: but some thoughts run thru my head:

  • Interesting about numbness - I would say this is more about your saddle than your chamois. Have you tried a thicker pad on your road saddle?
  • How many shorts do you own? how long do you keep them? How many days a week are you riding?
  • Curious to know if your bike fitter has mentioned anything about your position?

I haven’t tried a thicker saddle pad, no. Prior to this I was on ism PN 3.0. Now specialised power. Both pretty thin. What do you recommend?

I have 2-3 pairs of shorts. 2x 2xu shorts and 1x scody. Both pretty thin. I mainly use the 2xu.

Bike fitter has massively changed my position. I’m now off my Perinium (where all my weight was while doing tri - I used to get saddle sores there too!) - now I’m back on sit bones. And have saddle sores there for the first time. SO FRUSTRATING.

Recommendations are difficult as all of this is very person specific. What I would say is that if you have major problems then it is the saddle that is more likely to be the issue. I time trial - used to do tris and I now use the ISM Adamo tt saddle - but all those short nosed split saddles do a similar job. They revolutionised my comfort in the tt position and removed numbness in the groin. I don’t use them on my road bikes though - just a normal saddle. I use Castelli Velocissimo (which is their entry level short) bibs for long rides and DHB Aeron/Blok shorts on the turbo for up to 2 hours - both with Muc off chamois cream. All the things you mentioned will have an effect but the best shorts/core program in the world won’t overcome an uncomfortable saddle.

One other thing I noticed with the Castelli shorts is that they get more comfortable as I ride longer - which I think is good. Some shorts I have tried it is the reverse…which er…isn’t!

1 Like

What kind of saddle sores are we dealing with? Is it the tender areas that come from the pressure sitting on a hard saddle or skin abrasions? The former can be addressed by changing to another saddle but also just be remedied by more saddle time. Abrasions, in my experience, comes from not being still on the saddle. If the later is the problem it is usually from the saddle being to high causing a rocking motion with every pedal revolution or a saddle not shaped according to your needs. If you could have yourself filmed from behind while riding you could probably identify what’s the problem and take appropriate actions.
Bibs are seldom the main problem, they are only better or worse at covering up other issues, imo.

3 Likes

This bit caught my eye. Saddle sores can be tough to diagnose but the Power saddle gave me problems constantly until I changed to a slightly narrower one (155 vs 152 width) and now there are no more issues. In my case it was the saddle shape and others spoke up that they’d had the same issue. If your sores are in the front saddle wing area I’d keep that as a point of suspicion.

1 Like

Have you tried using a surgical scrub like Hibiclens after every ride? Without going into detail, your kibbles and bits are very close to your bacteriahole. Additionally, promptly washing your kit using laundry sanitizer reduces the chances of stewing in your own swamp ass juices for hours on the trainer. I have found a significant reduction in saddle sores with the combination of :

  1. Proper bike fit

  2. Correct saddle for your anatomy (correctly set up as well)

  3. Proper chamois for YOU (if what you have currently isn’t working-buy different bibs!)

  4. Correct chamois cream (sounds like DZ might not be the best for YOU)

  5. Rocker Plate (I use an InsideRide E-Flex) and try to stand every 30min or so on long endurance rides

  6. Showering immediately after riding using Hibiclens

  7. Properly drying with a CLEAN towel and letting the boys breathe a moment before putting on CLEAN underwear (I haven’t found the Assos skin repair to help, but do theorize it could trap undesirables)

  8. Washing bibs immediately after riding using laundry sanitizer

3 Likes

I would try the thicker chamois again. Agree with most that numbness is a function of the saddle and NOT the bib short. Also go bibshorts. They are more comfy.

Agree with @SomeGuyInPDX. You need to start getting super aggressive with washing and cleaning yourself and your shorts. Maybe you are susceptible to saddle sores, but that means clean shorts every ride, and immediately changing out of them and showering once you’re done with a ride.

I’ve heard similar as @c-h-a-d about Power saddles - that the wings will dig into your upper hamstring/lower butt area. If you like the Power, you can try the Power Arc saddle which addressed that issue.

1 Like

There have been a lot of great points here. In regards to your specific question about bibs I have found great success with Assos. They do have a thicker pad but the way it is sewn into the shorts (they call it GoldenGate) helps it move better with you. They also build a little extra material into the front to help with some of the genital numbness you’ve experienced. I would recommend checking out the Equipe S9 bibs. They do have a 30 day full refund too if they aren’t working for you.

2 Likes

Saddles are very personal, but I will second @donlee about the Power Arc. The flat profile of the Power does not fit my anatomy. The convex shape of the Power Arc allows me to sit onto a narrower part of the saddle. I am demoing a prototype 130mm Power Arc that was sent to my fitter which I really don’t want to return as they aren’t available for purchase yet.

1 Like

What would be some examples or the sanitizer you use? I’m assuming from your post that regular laundry detergent like Tide doesn’t do good enough job of killing bacteria.

The more searching I’m doing, the more I feel I need schooled on bib washing. Does everyone wash in hot or cold water?

I used to get them a lot.

I quit using chamois cream and haven’t had one this year and I’ve done more miles and hours than ever.

Specialized Toupe’ Saddle
Assos bibs
Shower after riding

That’s it

1 Like

I wash all my training clothes in 40°C. That is usually not enough to kill all germs but per manufacturers recommendation. If one is worried about any surviving bacteria there is an environment friendly way of getting rid of them: https://news.ufl.edu/archive/2007/01/researchers-microwave-oven-can-sterilize-sponges-scrub-pads.html

1 Like

Have you checked your sit bones for their actual dimensions. Also check the channel is wide enough to accommodate your perennial nerves this will prevent numbness. Sorry don’t have much more to offer

2 Likes

This comment has blown my mind - the thread you linked to is bang on for me. Thanks man!

I wash cold, use this sanitizer in the fabric softener compartment and make sure to add an extra rinse cycle. I hang dry all kit.

1 Like

Thanks everyone - I realise there are a couple of things people asked that I haven’t answered, so here we go:

  • I’m an absolute nazi for cleaning and hygiene. Clean bibs every time without exception. Wash immediately (bibs and me!). After-care on all the saddle contact points.

  • I did try Assos at one point but felt like I was wearing a nappy it was so thick! But that was when I was still in TT position and on ISM PN 3.0 saddle. I probably need to try again now I’m upright.

  • The Specialised Power Arc really sounds like it’s worth a try for me. I think I likely do just have the ‘abrasion’ kind of sore that’s caused by the wrong shaped saddle. It may also be fixed by a smaller version of the Power but sounds like Power Arc might be more likely given what others have said and also in the thread linked by @c-h-a-d above. So helpful!

  • I’m already talking to my bike fitter about next steps for trying saddles. But I’ll be picking up a new pair of bibs ASAP.

Thanks again everyone!

1 Like

The Power Comp 143mm didn’t work for me, wings too wide and enough rubbing to cause problems. Haven’t tried the Power Arc. My Selle SMP Drakon is 138mm and a longer thinner nose which makes it easy to move forward and backward on the saddle:

and the curve with nose pointed down makes it very comfortable:

no pressure on perineum. No chamois cream, average (not-thick) chamois padding, and I’ve spent 10-16 hours on long rides without any discomfort. Your mileage will vary.

1 Like

I’d try some different saddles. I can easily ride with no chamois in my bontrager Montrose saddle.

1 Like

Thanks man the visuals are really helpful. Looks like the Drakon would be worth a try too. I’ll raise it with my bike fitter. Is it more padded / cushioned than the Power?