Bike Seats aka "Saddles"

Choosing a Saddle That Fits Your Anatomy Is Key To Preventing Pain And Injury While Cycling

Sitting on a bike seat puts pressure on the genital area which can result in numbness, pain and injury. When you sit on a saddle for extended periods of time you compress the nerves and blood vessels in the area between the anus and the genitals. Prolonged pressure can result in numbness, erectile dysfunction and a frequent need to urinate in men, and frequent badder infections and skin irritations in women. 

To prevent pain and irritation the perfect bike saddle should support the pelvis... the saddle must be wide enough to support a cyclist's "sit bones" so that as little pressure as is possible is placed upon the soft tissue area between the sit bones and the genital area. Women have wider sit bones then men, and as such need a wider saddle in the back in order to support the width of their sit bone pressure points. 

  

The type of riding a cyclist does also plays a factor in what seat is best for them. Sit Bones are wider at the back and then get narrow at the front. If you ride in a more up-right position you will put pressure on the back part of the sit bones (the widest part). When you ride in an aerodynamic position you put more pressure on the soft tissue area surrounding the genitalia. When you put pressure on the nerves, arteries and soft tissue surrounding the genitalia blood flow decreases which causes numbness and tingling. Prolonged pressure can cause damage and long term health issues. The goal is to find a seat that matches the cyclists anatomy (width of your "sit bones", and style of riding so that pressure on the genitalia can be reduced. 

Up-right Riding Position

Recommended Saddle:

 

 

Standard Riding Position 

Recommended Saddle:

 

Aero/Race Riding Position 

Recommended Saddle:

This style of Saddle is great for any type of cycling that places the rider in an up-right cycling position on the bike such as most cruiser bikes, comfort bikes and some hybrid bikes.

Features:

  • Wide width fully supports sit bones
  • Extra thick padding acts as a cushion to protect soft tissue around the genitalia.
  Most recreational cyclists sit upright and lean slightly forward transferring some of their weight from the sit bones to the pedals and handlebars. A medium width saddle with less padding and a thinner nose is the best saddle choice.

Features:

  • Minimum width needed to fully support Sit Bones (make sure the back of the saddle is wide enough to support your sit bones) 
  • Medium padding provides some cushioning but is not so thick that it interferes with pedal cadence.
  • Narrow nose does not interfere with pedal cadence when a cyclist is leaning forward on the bike.
  Pro Racers and Elite Cyclists who spend most of their time in an aero position put the majority of their weight over the handlebars and pedals when they ride.

Features:

  • Narrow width 
  • Minimal padding 
  • Narrow nose
  • Lightweight

 

Additional Considerations 

Seat Height and Seat Angle

Your seat height should be set for pedaling on the bike, not for standing still or you'll lose power on your pedal stroke. 

Set your seat height so that at the bottom of your pedal stroke your knee is slightly bent.

 

To get maximum power your knee should be directly over your pedal at full forward stroke. Slide seat forward or back to set seat in the proper position.

Start with a level seat and then adjust as needed.

Padding:

Less is more. As a general rule: If you are going to be cycling for exercise or fitness, where your riding longer distances with a faster pedal cadence, you will most likely be wearing a fitted bike short that has a pad inside. The purpose of the chamois inside the short is to wick moisture and to prevent chafing. It is not designed to be a "cushion". Don't by cycling shorts with big, bulky pads inside. The same goes for the saddle. The most important function of the saddle is to support your body weight while you pedal. A saddle should be designed for support, and not as a cushion to absorb shock. Stay away from heavily padded seats and heavily padded shorts for longer distance riding.

Saddle Width:

No matter what saddle you buy, make sure that the saddle is wide enough to support the width of your sit bones. If your sit bones are too wide or narrow for a certain seat, the seat does not fit you and you will not benefit from any of its features.

Saddles with Cutouts:

Saddle manufacturers are now making saddles with cutouts or indentations to help prevent putting pressure on the genitalia. The shape and style of the cutouts and indentations vary greatly. Test a saddle before you buy to ensure that the saddle fits your unique anatomy. No all cutouts work for ALL bodies. TRY LOTS OF SEATS BEFORE YOU BUY. As you can see the choices are unlimited.