How much saddle discomfort is normal?

Hi everyone!

Would love the group’s help in sense checking something.

I’ve been riding for several years and have experienced saddle discomfort on rides over 2 hours. (That’s an approximate estimate….but suffice to say I’m thinking about saddle issues on rides over 40-50 miles…)

At this point, I’ve been to 3 bike fits from fitters based in NYC. My current fit is definitely the most comfortable for me….but I do think about saddle pain for long rides. These fits have shown me that bike fit is an art….and different fitters can see different things and prescribe different solutions.

My question is this: how much saddle discomfort do you all experience on rides 2-3 hours? Is this normal and part of your experience? Or is this something that you’ve been able to work through and not think about your saddle on long rides?

On one hand, I’m willing to believe that the problem is me (and not the saddle or bike fit) but also….it makes me sad to think that continuing to pursue long distance events = accepting saddle discomfort.

Thanks for your thoughts and experiences!

Have you changed saddles with your fits as well? Or experimented with different saddles?

Are you talking mostly trainer sessions?

I find I’m pretty susceptible to saddle soreness and have tried many varieties of saddle, saddle height, saddle angle, chamois, chamois cream etc etc. I definitely still get pretty beat up on the trainer but I’m not one to move much.

If it’s outdoors, I should think you could get to the point of being able to get through without debilitating discomfort.

Do you have reasonable quality bike shorts/chamois? Is it saddle sores? Or like numbness etc?

Thank you for the reply!

I have tried a few different saddles and positions, as well as different bibs. And my biggest issue is not 90-120 min trainer rides but longer 3-7 hr efforts outdoors!

Yes! Good quality shorts and mostly outdoors

I would not describe the situation as debilitating, but it’s certainly on my mind. What I’m trying to assess is what level of saddle discomfort is normal when riding long 3+ hour efforts outdoors

Likely. For instance, I never had a bike fit. I can ride for 5h+ on pretty much anything, rentals, friends bikes… and never get discomfort.


Like you I’m trying to do longer distances… and treading the saddle discomfort.

Im finding my way and no big complaints up to 5h now.

It’s a bit expensive, but i have tried a few different sadle types until i found one that “works better” for me. In my case it’s an Ergon. Ebay to rescue!

5h = Z2 = time in sadle… ish

You need to spend time out of the sadle. I ride in a area with lots of short punchie hills. I do all of them standing - it was the biggest improvement I made.

Good luck on your quest.

I too think my own body is “the problem”. I’ve done many expensive fits at many shops. Changed geometry, saddles, pedals, shoes, bibs, and creams many times. As mentioned above, I suffer the most on flat courses, and find that getting out of the saddle really helps, but no matter the combo, once I get to 2+ hours, the rest of the ride is a battle of trying to stay seated vs. trying to get some relief. It does suck on longer rides.

I think some people just have different body shapes that allow more relief. Pain is also subjective. I think these two things make a massive difference in the experience. Some folks can ride a $50 pair of shorts 100 miles on a stock saddle and say they never once had to change position to relieve discomfort. I envy these people and would gladly give them 20% of my ftp in exchange for their superhuman sit bones!


“None”. If I had saddle discomfort after just a few hours I’d be looking for a new saddle. I don’t know how much bike fit changes saddle comfort over those short time frames. Everyone’s shape is different. I thought I had a good saddle worked out, but when I get my latest bike the saddle was so comfortable that I changed my other bikes over. Hit craigslist and buy a bunch of used saddles until you find one you like. (For something completely different try a Brooks.)

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I’ve been pretty incompatible with many products.
Legs too short, feet to wide, nothing fits the upper body… football (soccer) hurt, military boots hurt, snowboarding/ski boots hurt. Pretty much business as usual that my saddle now hurts, too. Depending on the angle i also get some numbness. Going wider has helped, but extended times in the saddle only hurt in a duller way instead of being really noisily painful.
I’m getting through my indoor rides by getting out of the saddle every 10-15 minutes, strategically looking to put those times into higher % FTP segments.

No bike fitter nearby, but there is a Selle Italia retailer with some magical measuring equipment in about 35km which i’ll be visiting probably next week. If the mystical “don’t even feel the saddle” actually exists for me, i might not switch to recumbent after all.

Probably doesn’t help my issues that my bike is on the large side, but i have yet to see a smaller modern bike appear on the used market nearby.

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Would you venture to guess that the problem is fixable within me…or something I can actually address? To echo something said below, I would gladly put as much effort into fixing this as I do improving my performance. It’s that important

envy these people and would gladly give them 20% of my ftp in exchange for their superhuman sit bones!

This part resonates so much. Thank you for saying it

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Fix your comfort, you improve your performance over longer durations.

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What has worked for you to do that?

what saddles have you tried? where is the discomfort located? some of it is just you, some is the saddle would be my guess.

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An old school leather saddle for the bottom.

Then just getting out of saddle on hills or if I have been sitting a while on a flatter ride. I don’t get saddle discomfort even if I’ve been riding 24 hours or longer (I do ultra distance events)

Have you had your sit bones measured and have you worked out the area of discomfort?


I’m also still on my way to find a way to not feel saddle pain after 2/3h.
My last long ride (5+ hours) I had to take a break near the end because it was too much.

I’m just glad to see I’m not that much of a unique case and that it actually looks like a pretty common problem!


Several…. Specialized power, power mirror, 2 Fizik saddles (the adaptive one + an older argon), WTB Silverado and pro stealth. My first fitter allowed me to try different ones out. This was super helpful….except none worked :man_shrugging:

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I don’t think that saddle discomfort is “normal” but it also is very common. Obviously some people are more likely to have issues than others but I often think cycling products (and products more generally) just fit the middle of the bell curve.

Over the years I’ve had 4 bike fits and had a saddle pressure mapping. I’ve used saddles from Specialized, Bontrager, Pro, Fabric, Fizik, Ergon, Brooks and probably more I’ve forgotten. I use quality bibs inc Assos, Rapha, Castelli, Santini etc. I still always have issues. For me, it’s mostly caused when I race (which is about 40x per year…) long distance at a steady pace is less of an issue, but over 4-5hrs I’d expect soreness. Like others, I ride out of the saddle a lot outside of races which helps but isn’t a great solution!

Keep looking for comfort. Most riders I know that ride as much as I do don’t have these issues so comfort is definitely possible.

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I’ve had great success with Brooks Carved saddles(pick the one appropriate for your sit bone width). My biggest complaint is they are about double the weight of most road saddles.