Selecting a Bicycle Saddle

By Shular Scudamore

Have you ever experienced numbness riding on your current bicycle saddle? If so, this article is for you. Riding with the wrong saddle can lead to nerve damage or worse. I have tried many saddle over the years, including thousands of miles on a Brooks. Don't ignore the fit and adjustment of your bicycle in this equation. Remember saddle selection is important.

Width of the bicycle saddle

One thing for sure about the old leather Brooks Pro saddle is you can see exactly where your Ischial Tuberosity or "sits bones" rest on the surface. The distance between these points on your pelvis are key to the width of the saddle you should use. If the saddle is too narrow, your weight will be on the soft tissue in between. This area is called the perineum. Compressing the blood vessels and the penile nerves in this area causes the unwanted genital numbness. Women generally have wider spacing between the sits bones than men. One size does not fit all. You really have to ride on a saddle to see if it will be comfortable for you.

A view from the back

Brooks Pro Saddle back view

Take a look at the picture of the back of a Brooks Pro saddle. It has a slight curvature. This is good for a comfortable ride without pinching. When the saddle has too much curvature, you are riding on the soft tissue compressing the nerves and blood vessels. Take a look at the back of your saddle. What do you see?

Is your saddle flat

Selle Italia Turbmataic Saddle The shape of your saddle from the nose to the tail will also make a difference in your comfort. Note that this Selle Itallia turbomatic rises toward the rear. This too can cause discomfort or problems in positioning yourself on the saddle. Try to find one that is nearly flat. A small dip is okay.

Is it padded

You probably know someone who wants to find a really soft padded seat for their bike. Padding is a place where less is more. If you have too much padding, then your sits bones sink down and are not supported. This also will put pressure right where it does not belong.

Riding Position

Other factors to review include your saddle height, tilt and fore-aft position. Also take a look at your handle bar height in relation to your saddle height. Remember to make your changes gradually. It is best to make one change at a time so you can tell which adjustments are helping. Move around on the saddle from time to time. Stand on the pedals once in a while.

One more thing. Wearing padded bicycle shorts also makes a difference.

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