Why You Need a New Bike Seat
Why You Need A New Bike Saddle
As people take to their bikes, more than ever and for a multitude of reasons, one serious problem with bikes has not been addressed - the uncomfortable and numbing saddle. Discomfort of the perineum, the butt, and inner thighs has become an accepted fact of life for the bicyclist. It should not be.
If you get off your bike and feel like the saddle is still attached to your behind, it is time to make some changes.
The "As Is" Saddle
When purchasing a bike, a consumer tends to take it as is - with whatever stock saddle that comes with the bike. But if you are riding more than ever, planning to ride, or in the market for a bike, paying attention to the saddle is a must. Or it may be time to replace the stock saddle on your old bicycle.
Different Saddles for Women and for Men
Manufacturers are changing the width and length of the cutting of the saddles and have developed two distinct versions of it: one for women and one for men. For women - a narrower cut to offer relief at the center of the saddle without over compressing the sensitive tissues on the side. For men - to relieve pressure from the sensitive genital areas, research has proven that a wider cut is needed. Also, many saddles are made with anatomical cutouts. I like the idea of less pressure in certain areas and also a way for air to circulate.
What is "Sit-Bone Tenderness?"
A stock saddle may be the cause of sit-bone tenderness. Your sit-bones are the bones you can feel when you sit on a hard surface. But I suspect this applies much more to men as women tend to come with much more cushioning. Yet, I still feel the numbness when I ride but maybe not as quickly as a man would. Therefore, since all our skeletal systems are not the same, it is important to match your saddle to your skeletal construction. It is suggested you match your seat width in the rear to the width of your sit-bones.
What is an Aged Saddle?
In addition to the changes in length and width, and adding cutouts, many saddles now come aged. The aged saddle offers immediate comfort without that endless break-in period. With the oils and waxes massaged into these saddles, a softer ride happens with your very first ride.
There are saddles designed for different bikes:
- If you will be traveling mostly upright, say on a cruiser bike (see link below for cruiser bikes), and commuting, or shopping, or staying local, you should opt for a saddle that is designed for the upright cruiser type bikes. It will be very wide, fully padded and may have gels or springs. Most of your weight will rest on the seat.
- If you are using a road bike or mountain bike, opt for a sport’s women’s or men’s bike saddle. This saddle will have an ergonomic and anatomic design with medium padding, sometimes with gel, it may have a cutout in the top, but most importantly it should match your sit-bone width.
- If you are into racing and performance riding you should opt for just such a saddle - a racing women’s or men’s saddle. These are the lightest and narrowest saddles. They come lightly padded, may have cutout features in the tops, and the rear width should match your sit-bones.
Further, if you are still experiencing numbness, the anatomical cutout may be for you. Some studies have shown a loss of blood flow in a cyclist due to the saddle. The cutout has a groove cut out of the center of the saddle and is designed to relieve pressure from the perineum area, which contains blood vessels. There is a wide range of cutouts on the market.
If you already have a bike and your saddle is numbing you, these suggestions may help:
Dress for cycling - many people swear by a good pair of bike shorts when riding the racer type bikes. Riding a cruiser you can wear what you want.
Shift around on the seat - shift forward, backward, rearward, stand up as you pedal - I often see bikers doing this - this will keep your blood flowing. It is not unlike sitting in an office chair (or here at the computer) all day - you must move.
Check your saddle height and angle - often a simple adjustment can make a difference.
Condition your body by riding more often. It may take a few weeks for your body and saddle to get used to each other. If you are numb months later, consider adjusting the saddle or buying a new one.
It is totally up to you the consumer to pick the right bike and saddle. Fortunately, there are plenty of good articles on the internet to prepare you.
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