Gear Shed

Q:

Who makes a comfortable seat for mountain biking?

I can't find a good mountain-biking seat that doesn't make me feel like I was violated after a long ride. One friend suggested stuffing my shorts with Vaseline. I ride a fair ount, and it's always pretty bad after a long one, but even a moderate 20-miler leaves me walking like I have a pole in the pipe for a day or two. What gives? What can I do? Jayson Los Angeles, CA

The Rocket V Pro     Photo: courtesy, WTB

The Rocket V Pro

A:Well, I've got what may be bad news for you, Jayson. There isn't a heckuva lot you can do. Except get used to it.

See, the thing is, I don't know how many bike saddles I've used over the years—two dozen or more. Doesn't seem like any of them is that good at first. But over time they break in a little bit (not really—not these days with synthetics) or my butt just gets accustomed. I think mostly the latter.

That said, you don't need to be totally passive about it. If your bike cost less than $1,200, chances are it has kind of a cheap no-name saddle on it. So you can upgrade and try something like a WTB Rocket V Pro ($165). It has a little rise in the tail to give you some support, a cut-out where your most sensitive parts are located, and a flexible shell. I have a WTB saddle on my Marin dualie and I've done several four- to five-hour rides.

Good shorts also help. Try some Zoic Ether ($66). They're a nice-looking short with a decent chamois pad. If you wear undershorts, make sure they are absorbent, fast-drying, and flat-seamed. Patagonia's Men's Active Sport Briefs ($29) fill the bill.

As for things to put on your skin—I dunno about Vaseline, but people have had good results with Paceline Chamois Butt'R ($15 for a tube). It'll help reduce friction.

So there you go. I hope you sit more easily soon. But time will indeed make even the gnarliest saddle a bit more comfortable.

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