Gel Padding - (asqlerth, you might be interested)

I was coming to post something about Gel, and I noticed asqlerth’s airseat post where he mentioned gel. Anyway, I didn’t want to high-jack his thread - plus, I’m interested in specific gel experience.

As I’m trying to build up my Coker distance, I am frustrated to find that it is seat discomfort, not strength or endurance, that usually ends my day of riding. So, before any other modifications, I’m going to make the best possible saddle for the SpaceCruiser - and I think that means Gel and a Rail adapter/post.

So, Gel looks to be pretty pricey, but I’m going to give it a go. Here’s where I’m looking. My biggest saddle discomfort is what I would describe as pressure point pain. After riding a while, there is one nerve or joint or something in my undercarriage area that feels like its taking the entire weight of my body. If I can eliminate the pressure on that nerve, I feel like I’ll be set.

Does anybody have experience with Gel? I’m interested in:
A) How thick is it? Can the thickness be an issue when jamming it inside a saddle?
2) Anybody familiar with this memory foam dealy they’ve got going on? Seems like it could be nice, but it also seems like extra thickness, and if thickness is a problem…

Anyway, before I buy, I have to decide if I should go for the regular gel layer or the special Ultimate Gel pad with the memory foam.

If your interested in reading the details of my plan, here goes…
I’m going to cut the gel to the size and shape of the Miyata inner foam.

Then I’m going to start by building a Miyata air-saddle sandwich:
(bottom) Saddle frame
(layer 1) single layer inner tube
(layer 2) Original Miyata foam, perhaps with the plumbing channel carved out
(layer 3) gel pad
…all stuffed inside a Roach Cover.

I’m going to see how I feel about that. Then I’m going to try something different and compare. I think it would be nice to have a KH Velo - plus gel.

I’m gong to take the handle/bumpers off of the KH Velo. Without trying to disassemble the KH Velo, I’m going to lay the gel pad on top and bag it all inside a Roach cover. Then, I’ll replace the handles and bumpers as with a Miyata. I was playing around with a Miyata cover on a KH Velo, and I think if I strap it down right, a Roach cover could fit onto it OK. I may have to play around with glue or tape or something later to keep the gel pad from shifting.

Once I decide which is better, that will be my coker saddle.

One of my Miyata’s has been modified by using a cut up gel keyboard wrist support. I actually prefer my KH but even without an air layer I feel it is a lot better than a standard Miyata.

Considering this is a relatively cheap supply of gel you might want to experiment with this first before spending that much on a shaped solution which is aimed at bikes?

Just theoretically, although I have an air seat on my Coker, the air tubes may end up obliterating the effect of the gel. For gel to be effective, it has to a) have a hard surface to push against; b) you body parts that touch it have to be relatively hard. Like your wrists, the heel of your hand, or your sitbones.

I think that the gel will just mush into the air tubes and you won’t get any real help from it. It will be just like any other airseat. If you eliminated the air layer and put the gel on top of the Miyata foam, that might be better.

Aside from chafing, the major problem is overall pressure on the crotch, which (to me) seems to drive the blood out of the region, eventually leading to pain. Air seats are bad in this way. By putting the sitbones on the gel, the rest of the crotch has a lot less pressure on it and blood can flow. Then the gel’s job is to eliminate the third major source of trouble, grinding of the sitbones on the saddle.

So if I were going for gel (someday I will), I’d eliminate the innertubes entirely and try to position the saddle so that my sitbones were doing all the support of my weight. Then I’d position the gel right where the sitbones are.

I agree, gel and air only would not work. That’s why my plan is to have the inner tube on the bottom, the original Miyata foam on top of that, and the Gel layer on top of that. I may try thinning out the Miyata foam or try carving out the channel in the middle.

When I try it, I’ll let you know how it turns out and I’ll try to post pictures.

I wonder if the ‘taughtness’ of the Roach cover would restrict the maximum comfort level possible with the gel. I have noticed that on my air seats that if everything is packed in too tightly, the roach cover gets stretched and it’s harder to make a thumb-size impression in the saddle with the same amount of air in the tube.

I would think that for best results, you may want to consider having the gel on the top layer, but then this leaves the question on how to secure it properly.

BTW, I noticed that REI sells gel seats for $20, but they’re designed to wrap around a MTB seat and I’m not sure they could be cut to fit. I thought about taking one and seeing if it would fit over a Miyata seat. They sure felt comfy!

Of course the gel will be on the top layer. Where else would it be? You don’t mean to put the gel outside of the Roach cover, do you? I can’t see doing that.

Yes, that’s kinda what I meant. I’m not sure I’d use the Roach cover in that case since it wouldn’t be serving a purpose. But like I said, it would require some means to keep it all secured, which may turn out to be impossible, or maybe it requires a really clever solution. I was just throwing out an alternative layering that would allow you to have the gel in direct contact with your butt.

Re: Gel Padding - (asqlerth, you might be interested)

As others have suggested, I think using all three of those layers would be a waste. Originally I was thinking just air and gel, but U-turn’s suggestion has me wondering about that.

But now I’m wondering some more. If gel is so great, supported on a hard surface, what’s wrong with air then? I think both will tend to spread out your contact and pressure points, probably with similar limitations on how much they can do for you.

I think before you worry too much about what’s in your seat, you should make sure you’ve removed as much weight from it as possible. Body weight, that is. I’m talking handle.

I have just finished fitting a Wyganowski handle to my Coker, but have not ridden it to work yet as I’m getting over a cold. Maybe tomorrow (it’s supposed to be 100 degrees).

Without having ridden it any distance yet, I can immediately see the benefit of having a handle that’s away from the seat, giving your more choice of body and hand positions while riding. My handle is similar to the one on Nathan’s new Hunter 36:

Notice Nathan has a Reeder handle as well as the bar-ends added to his Wyganowski handle. Mine’s a little different, with the main handle closer to the front of my seat. On mine, I also find it comfortable to use the “bumper.” This is under Nathan’s dual bottle holder. I attached a pair of bar-ends there.

So I will have a choice of the Miyata seat handle (which I will probably only use when pulling the brake lever), the top handle, and the front bumper/handle. This gives me hand position choices, so I can shift around while riding. This is key for me in my bike rides to work, so I assume it will be the same for long unicycle rides.

So, you want to get some of your weight onto a handle or handlebar, like on a bike. Then, if you have enough handle (or handles) to offer a choice of hand positions, it will help you shift butt positions as well, and should help a lot on those long rides. At least I hope it will help me.

Disclaimer: Though I have done long rides over the years, I’m not an experienced long-distance rider, or Coker expert. Yet. Give me some time.

Re: Re: Gel Padding - (asqlerth, you might be interested)

John, this is an important day in my growth as a unicyclist. This is the day when I feel qualified enough to disagree with you about something :wink:

My experience with air is that it either is not flat (dogbone sock) or its way too bulgy and mis-shapen. My dogbone sock airseat bulges to an arc in the middle. If you’ll excuse the imagery, it fits snuggly up the butt-crack and offers no support around the butt-bone area. It’s more of a pivot fulcrum for my body to teeter upon, than a flat contoured surface offering support and control

What’s great about the stock Miyata and especially the KH is that it is flat and even, offering solid, equal support all around. As I said in another post, I was amazed when I got the KH at how valuable that an even, solid, flat contour is to comfort and control. Now, if I could put gel on top of that even contour, I think it will relieve the pressure points without losing shape (a problem with air). Placing a single layer of air in a miyata under the foam and gel will, I think, add extra shock absorption without hurting the shape maintained by the foam.

I also have to take to heart the advice of Kris and others and try changing the tilt angle with rail adapters. I really think this will also help my pressure point issue.

I have to do all this before I get a handle, because I’m not sure if I’ll decide on Miyata with gel or KH with Gel, and the saddle I choose will have heavy bearing on which handle I get. I think the handle will be important in the end, but if I can’t ride over an hour without getting this pressure point pain, I don’t think the handle is the solution.

If there’s anything safe to disagree about in unicycling, seat comfort is probably the safest one. No two crotches are alike. If they are, I don’t want to know about it. All I know is, different things definitely work for different people, regardless of the general truths we learn in our experimentation.

Something I forgot to mention in my previous post was to cut a slot down the centerline of your gel, if the material alows you to do that. What you want is to concentrate your support material under the sit (pelvic) bones, and leave a gap down the center for your soft tissues.

Before the proliferation of new products (and air seats), I used to ride Miyatas with an extra piece of soft foam on top of the stock foam. I’d cut a rectangular slot down the center. Not too wide, but wide enough to still be obvious after everything was crammed back into the Miyata cover. This worked very well, though not as well as air for me.

As for air, it sounds like you’ve had some bad luck getting your innertubes to behave. I’ve had better luck with my air seats, but so far haven’t used an air pillow, or anything else to hold the tube in place. I just stuck it inside the Miyata cover, instead of the stock foam, and so far so good. I recently got one of those dogbone pillows, but can’t imagine putting that much tube into a seat.

I think the one on my carbon MUni is a little more comfortable than my other one. This was my first air seat, and contains a relatively skinny 16" tube (it was all I could get at the store at the time, and it has “flat-fix” stuff in it). The pattern I ended up with is kind of a figure “8” on its side, squashed flat. For whatever reason, that shape worked out very nicely. My other air seat has a more conventional 12" tube in it. The main thing is to not put too much air in there. Hope some of that helps in the air department.

But gel should be able to work too. If it works for amputees who run across the country, it should work for a poor unicyclist’s crotch! :slight_smile: