Do Gel seats work?

Arrowfoot

Veteran
Anyone? Like my sportives and long rides and wondered if they actually do make a difference. Asked the folks in my group and most felt that it was not necessary.
 
Anyone? Like my sportives and long rides and wondered if they actually do make a difference. Asked the folks in my group and most felt that it was not necessary.
Personally I would say no. The softer the seat the more comfy it may appear when you first sit on it, but it becomes painful for longer rides. Conversely, a firm seat seems hard at first but I find on a long ride you stop noticing it as it is supporting you rather than digging into places that the gel eventually does.
 

Keith Oates

Janner
Location
Penarth, Wales
I also agree that Gel seats are not so good as the harder ones, of course there is also the Brooks saddles which are not cheap but most people who've used them speak highly of them. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Berties

Fast and careful!
A seat that would be measured for your seat bones and fitted correctly would be the best way forward topped with a good pair of bibs with a good pad
 

screenman

Legendary Member
Gel seats work great, for the first 30 seconds and it is all downhill from there. Do as Berties suggested and cycling will become even more pleasurable.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
There are good gel seats but resist the temptation to go too soft and still make sure you get the right width for your sit bones and right shape for your riding style.

I think the Selle Royal Maya range is currently a bargain for a fairly firm gel saddle. I've got a Maya moderate on one bike and a Brooks Flyer on another and it's a tough choice which I prefer. I've ridden both on 50+ milers.
 

ScotiaLass

Guru
Location
Middle Earth
Horrible things!
After quite a few saddles, I finally found one that works for me (a Bontrager MTB saddle) but everyone is different, although I think most agree that a soft gel saddle isn't good for anything other than short leisure rides.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Ghastly things; they make you sweaty, which creates sore spots. You need to be prepared to find a saddle that's firm and suits the shape of your anatomy; many people swear by Brooks saddles but my feeling is that they are actually beaten together by blacksmiths in the same factory as leather and iron medieval chastity belts were once made. They work by stretching to fit your shape. The modern alternative is a saddle with a well-shaped shell, which cups your sit bones - lots of folk swear by Charge saddles; my Charge Knife is super-comfy even over 100 miles - I just don't notice it.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Horrible things!
After quite a few saddles, I finally found one that works for me (a Bontrager MTB saddle) but everyone is different, although I think most agree that a soft gel saddle isn't good for anything other than short leisure rides.
I'd agree that a soft thick gel saddle isn't a good choice for longer rides unless you're either really upright or need it for some other reason.

Can we please remember that gel in saddles isn't gel like in a tube of ointment: it's usually just a plastic foam with trapped air bubbles. As it says on SheldonBrown.com's saddle page, "The fact that a given saddle says "GEL" in big letters has no correlation with how comfortable it is...it's basically hype" and I'd say that it's currently out-of-fashion hype with many riders.

All Bontrager MTB saddles seem like they're probably gel, although some now call it things like "Zone Density foam", so they can still sell them to gel-bashers. So is it a horrible thing?
Ghastly things; they make you sweaty, which creates sore spots. ... my Charge Knife is super-comfy even over 100 miles - I just don't notice it.
That's the Charge Knife which Charge say has "foam padding"... or in other words, probably a gel. So does it make you sweat and create sore spots? :rolleyes:
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
That's the Charge Knife which Charge say has "foam padding"... or in other words, probably a gel. So does it make you sweat and create sore spots? :rolleyes:
Not a gel. I've stripped and re-covered several of these modern plastic saddles and it's a dense foam cleverly moulded onto the flexible shell, then covered in a perforated vinyl. Even riding the Cape Argus in temperatures around 30 C I didn't find the Knife sweaty.
 
Like most things in cycling, it is a trade-off. You would not like to ride a steel saddle. Not, the other extreme, one made of (say) marshmallow. The right shape and softness for you, is what works. Personally, I have a horror of soft saddles, but they work for some people. The biggest downside is that they ruckle and then rub.
 

Gravity Aided

Legendary Member
Location
Land of Lincoln
Leather saddles mold best to the anatomy, and provide the best support for longer rides. Foam leather covered saddles work well too. I'm still using an Avocet from the 70's, but prefer leather saddle over it. Gel seems to be too cushy. I think my sit bones sink down too far on them, causing discomfort. Seems like a great idea, riding on gel, but one who's time has come and gone. Charges seem a good value, and get good testimonials from many cyclists.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Not a gel. I've stripped and re-covered several of these modern plastic saddles and it's a dense foam cleverly moulded onto the flexible shell, then covered in a perforated vinyl.
So they've all been open foams rather than any being a closed-cell foam (aka gel)? Seems surprising, given what's on sale.

There seem to be three main types of saddle top: hard (unicanitor and so on), padded of various depths/mixes (most, including some padded with only leather) and hammock (most brooks and similar). Statements like an entire material like gel behaving in only one way are just silly - it just means it's the wrong gel for you or there's too much of it or it's in the wrong place for your bum. Another saddle shape made from the same stuff may fit like a bumglove.
 
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