In this second part of our guide to getting the right bicycle saddle, we focus on the science behind it and how measurement and analysing pressure will go a long way to helping you get the best out of your ride.
If you haven’t check out part 1, go on over before getting into this…
So how will your bicycle saddle choice affect cycling experience?
Most cyclists have tried at least one or two saddles before finding the one that suits them comfortably. Also, most cyclists know that a lousy bicycle saddle will result in an extremely negative cycling experience.
One common mistake we make is that a saddle would be comfortable if the padding is thick and soft. It is not wrong, but every cyclist out there differs regarding pain tolerance.
Therefore, many cyclists would start to realize that soft and thick padded saddles do not necessarily provide much support and stability. Instead, it can result in increased discomfort and fatigue.
The second assumption is that the broader the saddle surface area is, the more comfortable it will be. This assumption is shared among beginner cyclists and cyclists with wide hips. Saddles with wider surface areas create a sense of perceived support.
However, a wider saddle causes more discomfort rather than providing support. A wide surface area creates more pelvic movements that can cause friction, which can result in painful abrasions.
Right bicycle saddle selection
Without the relevant knowledge to determine the right saddle choice for you, it will eventually affect your ride or body. These effects are the overall general comfort, blood flow, muscle development, and injuries.
As we mentioned earlier, a bicycle saddle that is comfortable for you might not be comfortable for someone else.
With the wrong saddle choice or setup, the overall comfort of your ride will be compromised. Cyclists may experience unnecessary abrasions on their groin or their thigh regions.
Cyclists may also experience uneven weight distribution. These uneven weight distribution may result in muscle imbalance due to poor muscle development caused by prolonged rides and incorrect posture.
Also, certain spots on the saddle with high weight distribution might cause restricted blood flow, resulting in numbness or sharp pain in sensitive areas. An incorrect bicycle saddle choice can also lead to the increased risk of injuries in areas such as lower back and lower torso.
However, muscles develop and adapt in any riding position over time, even the incorrect ones. Therefore, extreme muscle imbalance would result in injuries such as knee pain, bilateral lower and upper body aches, and muscle strains.
How to determine which bicycle saddle suits you best?
For cyclists to determine the right saddle choice for their rides, they need to have a rough estimate of the dimensions or layout of their sit bones.
In general, there are two ways to find our sit bone measurements.
The first method is to conduct a static measurement. To perform this measurement process, an individual would need a few items like cardboard, crayons, measuring tape, a flat bench, and a stool.
The process of measurement
1) Place a piece of cardboard (size of your hips) on the flat bench.
2) Sit down firmly on the cardboard, elevate both of your feet and rest them the stool (this will mimic your riding position).
3) Stand up and use a crayon to color the cardboard, take note of the depressions on the cardboard cause by your sit bone.
4) Measure the horizontal distance between the two depression spots on the cardboard with measuring tape.
5) To find the right bicycle saddle width, add 25-30 mm to the measurement.
However, it is ideal to obtain more accurate and comprehensive measurement to ensure maximum comfort on the saddle.
Many cyclists prefer the dynamic measurement process. The main difference between these two types of measurements is simple; static vs. dynamic.
Static measurement process
This process only allows a cyclist to get a rough idea of the layout of his or her sit bone. The dynamic measurement process, on the other hand, enables a cyclist to understand the interaction between the pelvis and the saddle.
The interaction between the pelvis and the saddle is vital because cycling is a sport that requires continuous movement. By understanding the interaction between these two factors will help us to choose the right bicycle saddle.
Gebiomized – A dynamic measurement process
Gebiomized is a German bike-fitting organization that provides high tech force analysis during cycling movements.
For cyclists, who are determined to make the right saddle choice should consider the dynamic measurement process. The dynamic measurement process uses the saddle pressure technology developed by Gebiomized.
The saddle pressure analysis uses software to enable the cyclists to find the optimal position on the saddle. It also helps them to analyze whether the current saddle choice is efficient enough to distribute their weight evenly across the saddle.
Additionally, the analysis provides other details such as maximum pressure zones, pelvic rotation, hips stability, etc.
Gebiomized customised saddles
Besides, the saddle pressure analysis by Gebiomized, cyclists can also opt to purchase a customized saddle from the company as well. This customized saddle uses the detailed measurements obtained from the pressure analysis.
Gebiomized customized saddles are developed with pressure mapping analysis and CAD tools.
Customized saddles from Gebiomized also include an individual surface milled structure, which is layered with real premium leather. Hence, creating a saddle that perfectly matches the individual’s body.
Are your bicycle saddles right for you? Spread the knowledge, share this with your cycling kakis!
Author: Edzel See (Loue Bicycles)
GebioMized Bike-fitter and Sports Scientist
Edzel is a certified GebioMized bike-fitter and an avid cyclist who participated in various cycling events organised regionally. He will be completing his Sports Science and Management (SSM) programme with Nanyang Technological University by 2018. He majors in growth and motor development, motor control & learning and motor movement analysis. With his background in motor related functions and development. He strongly believe that there isn’t just one optimized movement pattern for all cyclists but rather each and every cyclists would have their own individualised movement pattern which is optimal for them.