Ultra Endurance saddle comfort and bib selection

OK, so I have a question geared toward the ultra endurance crowd. This upcoming summer probably June timeframe I am going to attempt to do Fastest Know Time on a trail system in Missouri known as the Katy Trail. The entire distance is 239 miles with approximately 1200 feet of climbing so it is pancake flat. The trail is chat gravel and as long as their has not been rain, smooth and pretty flat. To take the title I need to do the entire ride in under 13 hours. I have done multiple events in the 9 to 10 hour mark so I am confident that I can do it. Now that you have context the question. COMFORT is a real thing on long rides, it allows us to go faster, longer and further. At what point time wise in the ride do you think it is OK to start feeling pain in your butt.
I have a 2015 Specialized Crux with the performance stock saddle and Le Col pro bibs and Pactimo 12 Hour bibs and I am starting to get discomfort at about the 3 hour mark going forward with both bibs going forward. I am going to have a bike fit as well just to make sure all is well on the bike but what I am wondering is 3 hours acceptable for you guys to start experiencing real discomfort and second if you think not what recommendations would you suggest. Thank you all I love the interactions on the forum.


Best of luck on the Katy FKT. I was just on the Katy (STL side) this weekend putting in some miles in prep for Unbound 200. 239 miles of constant pressure on the pedals would be a good challenge for me.

When I was prepping for Unbound last year I was in the same situation as you. I learned that the bike fit changed how I interacted with the saddle, so my bib choice really started after the fit. Everyone is different, so it will be highly personal. (note: I use PI Elite Bibs and have mostly got along with them)

That feels pretty early to me, but everyone is different. Obviously the longer you can delay the discomfort the better, but in my experience it does come eventually. Unbound two years ago was tremendously uncomfortable after ~7 hours but last year was more or less comfortable for almost 15 hours with the exact same pair of bibs. I attribute that mostly to wider tires/lower pressure and more strength work off the bike, but hard to say for certain.

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3 hours seems low to me. I’d be really curious to see how things shake out after you get the fit done and see if that changes things. I’ve had really great outcomes with Pactimo’s 12hr bibs.

3 hours is too early, Could be something as simple as saddle tilt, or it could be the wrong saddle, or the wrong position on the bike.


3h (assuming you are riding outside) is way too early to be experiencing saddle discomfort. Although 3h on a turbo trainer does accelerate saddle-hatred, IMO!

Personally, I find that bibs make a bit of difference, but its maybe 10-20%. Saddle and chammy cream are much more important. If you’re uncomfortable after 3h, the best bibs in the world are unlikely to make you comfy over 12h if you keep the same cream and fit.

Saddle discomfort is a really complex area and highly individual, but I think there are general questions that are worth considering;
Is the discomfort one-sided or symmetrical? (one-sided may indicate saddle height issue)
Is it a chaffing or rubbing issue, or does it feel like pressure build-up?
If chaffing or rubbing, are you topping up with chammy cream? Are you using enough to start with?
Is the pressure in one place, and always in that place? Like, if its pereneum, maybe you need to experiment with saddle tilt or a different style cut-out (SQ Labs are supposed to be good for this).
If its sit-bones (ischial tuberosities) have you checked the saddle is the right width?

Hope something in there helps, and good luck!

GregElwell: Thank you for your insist. Yes the discomfort was outside. I haven’t looked into the saddle component as much yet since I have heard/watched youtube videos from pro’s that are like it’s all in the bibs. I have time to do research so will continue to listen and hopefully learn.

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I think I have my fit/bib/saddle fairly dialed in. Discomfort sets in at about 10-12 hr’s.
Just me but, switched from pactimo 12hr to cuore ms2. That was key.

You typically begin to experience serious discomfort in your contact points after muscle glycogen becomes depleted and you start to be a little dehydrated. Especially if you don’t keep up with your electrolytes. Bib selection won’t make much difference.

Imagine your tissue/muscles as gel packs surrounding your bones. As you start to take more and more water out of the gel there starts to be less & less cushion between your bone and your contact points.

Most important thing you can do is carb load, train your gut, take down carbs and electrolytes very conscientiously, and stay well hydrated. Spare glycogen. Don’t use the condom catheter trick…you’ll be better off getting on the bike for a few seconds every three or four hours.

Sub 12 hours on the Missouri section of Katy should be a slam dunk. Good luck.

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Hopefully they’ll have a higher “on the bike” ratio than that. :thinking:

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Some random thoughts.

Is this what you feel, or are you just getting saddle sores? With the right fit you should be able to go way beyond your stated FKT duration without discomfort.

You can however help yourself by getting out of the saddle every so often, moving hands on bars; generally don’t sit on the bike like a sack of unmoving spuds. The latter is often the result of fatigue later on in a long ride.

When thinking about getting a fit. Your contact points are your feet, bum, and hands. All the forces supporting you go through those three points. Reduce pressure on hands you’ll increase it on the others etc.

The weight on your bum should be going through your sit bones to a fairly firm saddle. The weight shouldn’t be on the soft tissues.

If off road then rear suspension makes a big difference to how battered you get.

I’ll echo the sentiments that feeling discomfort of any kind at only the 3 hour mark is an ominous warning…
As mentioned, the saddle and your position on it(and the bike as a whole) are a much larger piece of the puzzle than the chamois or bib is. If I were you I’d look to get your current setup comfortable regardless of which bibs you’ll be running. Hopefully the bike fitter can help sort you out on the proper saddle and position. It sounds like that FKT is very achievable though!

Thank you all so far for your comments. I will respond to couple things that I have read

Brennus: You typically begin to experience serious discomfort in your contact points after muscle glycogen becomes depleted and you start to be a little dehydrated. Especially if you don’t keep up with your electrolytes. Bib selection won’t make much difference.

I think I am dialed in due to the fact I have not cramped up on a ride or race. I am 5’ 10" 170lbs and consume about 100 grams per hours on hard efforts/races and very rarely every have gut distress. I usually consume about 1 to 1.5 20oz bottles per hour. I balance out the carb between solids and liquids I really like to have the feeling of just a bit of food on the stomach. Mental thing I know.

I am getting a fit next week while the family is gone and then will start to dial other things in.

GoLongThenGoHome: Is this what you feel, or are you just getting saddle sores? With the right fit you should be able to go way beyond your stated FKT duration without discomfort.

I wonder the same thing due to the volume of training I have been doing inside on the trainer. I probably due try to force to much time sitting to maximize time at zone.

Just to clarify: Are you saying that you get sore after 3 hours INSIDE? And is all that time spent sitting in the same position (ie very little standing)? And you are doing steady efforts at a constant zone-2 power, I guess?
I think that being on the turbo trainer does hugely accelerate saddle discomfort.

Yeah 3hrs seated indoors z2 is probably as good as most of us can hope to get. 3hrs outdoors is a red flag.

Once you do the fit and (presumably) try a few variations in saddle choice and position definitely try to see what your choices are like once you’re in a fatigued state - and not just end of a workout fatigued, but like end of a long ride at the end of a big training block fatigued. I found I wanted a more curved saddle in those situations. I think I might still prefer the previous saddle for a crit racing bike but eventually decided I’d rather be happy doing a long ride on any of my bikes and changed all the saddles over to the same model. (That move was Specialized Power to Bontrager Aeolus in case it’s relevant to your experience)


Sorry I should clarify 3 to 4 hours outdoors. Indoors I can get 2ish hours and that is with getting up and moving around in the saddle. I try to stay seated during interval efforts like Threshold and sweet spot so as to not throw the numbers off.

When I do get off the bike outdoors it takes a considerable amount of time to get into a situation were it starts to get uncomfortable again. I have never been in a situation were I felt I have to get off the bike RIGHT NOW but I do feel the greatest limiter is comfort in the saddle not soreness in the legs if that helps. Again thank you all as some of you have responded multiple times.

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Having done the entire Katy in one day, I would definitely suggest a fit and then try a few different saddles. 3 hours is definitely too soon to start feeling that saddle. I never have saddle issues, but by hour 10, everything starts to hurt and is sore. Because it is so flat, you end up spending a lot of time in the same position, and it is just constant pedaling. There is no coasting. In that sense, it is similar to being on a trainer.

I agree that the right fit is very important. A couple of other points. Often one’s heel drops as fatigue sets in. This effectively raises the saddle. Eddy Mercx used to adjust his saddle height often during long rides. My rando bike is set up with a saddle height that feels too low at the beginning of a ride but feels perfect after a few hard efforts. Hours 2-5 are frankly a pleasure. I begin to notice the saddle around hour 6 and from then through to 12 it becomes mildly uncomfortable but no more so than the rest of my increasingly fatigued self. I do not have much experience above 12 hours. Before doing this, I had saddle discomfort on anything over the 3 hour mark. Of course everyone is different so YMMV but this works in my case n=1

As for saddles, I have tried them all and at great expense. My personal combo that works the best (not perfectly) is a leather saddle with cutout (I use a Selle Anatomica H2) and minimally padded bibs. I like the Pactimo bibs with the Paris chamois (their non-endurance padding level)

I am generally out of the saddle often and briefly which helps greatly.