How long in saddle on trainer

I am new to cycling and indoor training. I have not been fit for my saddle, so I am curious of a few things. I’ve been riding consistently for about a month at this point.

  1. How long should I be comfortable in the saddle during a zwift session? Due to discomfort I usually won’t go more than 20-25 minutes before I jump off the bike for a few minutes.

  2. What percentage of time/how often should I be trying to get up out of the saddle during my session in order to stay comfortable?

  3. Can a saddle fitting provide significant improvement or am I just not accustomed to the discomfort yet?

Thanks for any feedback!

The point at which you can really call yourself a cyclist is when you have a box of previously tried saddles somewhere in your house. A lot of people will suggest this saddle or that saddle - and the answer is what works for one person rarely works for the other.

Yes, you should be able to stay seated for more than 20 mins, so something needs to be looked at. Whether the saddle is level is one key thing. Your weight should typically be 60% on the rear, 40% through your arms. It should be at a point where you aren’t sliding forwards or suffering wrist pain, but some weight going forwards rather than all through the saddle.

Indoor training does exacerbate the issues as your body tends to be more static than with real road riding.

Whilst I hope the forum can help, it really needs a visual check from other experienced cyclists.

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Hey Ryan,

I fully agree with Mark. I can go into a long-winded guestimation or two of what it may be. But it will greatly help if you tell
a) what is uncomfortable? Is it sitting area, shoulders, neck, lower back, wrists, etc? What is causing the discomfort?
b) what do you see as “regular riding”?

Because it may be that you’re simply not riding long and regular enough yet to get your sit bones through the initial saddle soreness state. No saddle is going to make a difference there. If it feels like your sitbones are two bruised spots when you get back in the saddle the next day, then this is just it. And no shame in that. we all had to go through that phase and it semi hits again if you’ve not been riding for long enough.

Ito saddles, should that actually be the issue. You’re not going to get much helpful advise on the internet other than doing a sitbone measurement and getting the correct saddle width at least. I ride MTB with a 155 and rode road with 143, where the standard width is 132. And after that comes flat vs curved… See where the comment regarding a box full of saddles comes from?!

All the best!

I think I am past the saddle soreness stage as I can get on the bike the next day and feel the same as the previous day… No bruising anymore. I am riding about 4-5 hours a week on the trainer. I’m over weight a bit (15-20lbs) which I know whould make a big difference as well and I am working on that.

My ability to stay in the saddle is definitely the limiting factor and based on the response from mark I probably am not carrying enough weight on my arms. I think my short inseam and long torso force more weight on the saddle than for most people since I can only get the seat so high. I almost always stop my ride because of discomfort at the saddle well before I feel like my legs are giving out.

The weight does not play such a big part as you’d imagine, so don’t let that be a concern for now.

Like Mark said - get a knowledgeable friend to just have a look at your setup and posture. Because once you get into bad habits it is hard to break them! Saddle height and reach to bars are crucial.

And yes, I had all kinds of interesting pain transitioning to indoor from outdoor when I was forced to by lockdown. Indoor riding tends to make you remain a lot more seated. But you should to be able to sit for longer than your legs lasts.

All of this said, I am not a professional in setups or anything, just my 2c.

“Saddle discomfort” can take a variety of different forms. There is chafing/rubbing - which can be addressed with chamois cream, properly fitted good quality shorts, etc. There is soreness in the gluteal muscles. And there is tenderness in the sit bones.

A good, well-fitted saddle can go a long way. Saddle fitting has come a long way in recent years. They now can measure parts of your pelvis to get a “perfect” width.

Lastly, as others have said: Indoor cycling does take more of a toll on your comfort. You remain seated and pedalling with little change in position, etc. Plus you tend to get hotter and perspire more.

Stick with it, it will get easier.

Ryan, you best bet (considering COVID situation which probably makes it undesirable to go to a bike fitter which can take a measurement of your seat bones and recommend a saddle) would probably be to buy a BiSaddle ShapeShifter Saddle. It is rather expensive, but it has a huge benefit that it is adjustable. You can vary its width in the rear, in the front, and it has 3 settings of shape (using shims). This may be a huge learning experience for you, too, as you will learn how to recognize, from the feel in your rear end, if the saddle is too wide or too narrow on either side. Just be prepared to multiple weeks of testing: you will need to go through many combinations until you figure out what works for you.

With a well fitted saddle, you should be able to sit in the saddle for an hour or more, and if you sprint from time to time while standing, you can pedal for as long as you want.

The trick with picking a saddle is that it has to be customized for your seat bones width. Seat bones width is not a fixed parameter either - your seat bones are like two disks distance between which depends on how much you are tilted forward in your saddle. This makes seat selection a multilevel problem, which includes your saddle height and handlebars height and handlebars reach as variables. The general rule of thumb is, the more aggressively your torso is tilted forward, the narrow is your optimal seat.

Reviews or opinions of other people on which seats are comfortable are totally irrelevant because they do not have your body and your seat bones and their fit on the bike is different from yours.

If you are hesitant to invest in a new saddle, ask your friends or coworkers if they have any bike saddle in their garage which they would be willing to loan to you for a few days, so that you could try them and feel the difference. If you are lucky, you might find something that works for you, and in any case, you will learn how differently seats feel.

Don’t feel discouraged, most cyclist have went through the search of a better saddle and many are not quite reached their end goal yet. A seat can be quite comfy, it just takes a methodical approach.

The last but not the least, if you have a spin bike trainer or city bike with a very upright torso position, you might need an even wider seat that BiSaddle. BiSaddle covers the range of road bikes and some mountain bikes, which require narrower saddles. You would suffer tremendously on a road bike with a wide saddle, or on city bike with a narrow saddle.

I am on my fifth saddle and it’s the best so far. Also I found that the right bibs also make a difference. All that aside riding indoors gets to everybody because you usually never get out of the saddle. It helps if every ten minutes or so you get out of the saddle and pedal for a few minutes upright.