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  1. #1
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    Cycling and men's health

    I have tried researching the whole urethra/nerve/prostate health thing and figure out what is the optimal bike seat for someone looking for long-term risk reduction and who is willing to sacrifice performance for this. However, there seems to be a ton of contradicting articles, studies and products. Has anyone really looked deep in all the available data, analyzed actual scientific evidence impartially and came up with simple conclusions on what is the best seat to use?

    Cut-outs? Gel? Noseless? All three? Something completely different?

    Thanks a lot!

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  3. #3
    enthusiast JamieElenbaas's Avatar
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    More important that the saddle IMO is proper fit and posture. If you have your sit bones are what is engaged with the saddle, the rest takes care of itself.

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    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieElenbaas View Post
    More important that the saddle IMO is proper fit and posture. If you have your sit bones are what is engaged with the saddle, the rest takes care of itself.
    Yes. Fit is the key. People who have tried 100 saddles and were never comfortable probably don't understand the basics of fit.

    For what it is worth I personally find hard leather saddles to be the best for me--if the saddle is set up properly. Gel pushes up into areas where I don't want it, and cutouts seem unnecessary. I think noseless is a fad and probably total snake oil. But your mileage may vary.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson) San Remo Plus, 1989 Trek 520, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

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    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    I ran in to similar problems when I tried to research this. There are some issues that are believed caused or exacerbated by lean forward posture so in these cases upright is the ticket more than any particular saddle. No idea what the prevalence of these problems is though and anecdotally I know many men who've ridden road bikes well in to their 70's (though many also migrated to increasingly higher handlebar positions).

    I would fall back on listen-to-your-body and if something isn't comfortable then figure out how to relieve the discomfort. FWIW I've become an increasingly big fan of Brooks leather.
    "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." - ATL Urbanist

  6. #6
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    justaguest, I can understand your concern because one's health is very important and when it's a man talking about a very prized area, it's very easy to want to immediately switch your saddle when some seemingly pertinent advice is given. Can a standard saddle cut off blood flow causing numbness and perhaps long term issues? Yes, but this is generally when the saddle is either the wrong saddle for you, or is not properly installed/fit to your body and bike.

    Keep in mind that people have been riding bicycles for well over a hundred years now, and pro riders who put in more miles a year than some do in a lifetime ride all sorts of various saddles with no long term health consequences and are still able to father children.

    The cutout works for some, but not for everyone. Most serious saddle manufacturers offer both "standard" saddles, saddles with relief "channels", and saddles with full cutouts. I tried a cutout saddle once before and found my sitbones hated bearing all the pressure. I switched to a standard round top saddle and my body was much, much happier.

    I would encourage you to try the cutout saddles, but if you find them uncomfortable, don't lock yourself into it because you think it's the only medically viable option. If this were the absolute truth, a lot of saddle manufacturers would have a really hard time selling their standard saddles that they currently sell loads of. If your current saddle is causing numbness, look at the fit. If your current saddle is causing no discomfort and you're just looking to switch because of what you read on the internet, slowly step away from the "scientific studies" and go outside to ride your bike.

  7. #7
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Proper fit with your sit bones and as little padding as is practical. Padding makes things worse if you're in the saddle for more than 10 minutes at a time.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Senior Member pvillemasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Proper fit with your sit bones and as little padding as is practical. Padding makes things worse if you're in the saddle for more than 10 minutes at a time.
    This has been my experience. I went through more than a few saddles with cutouts, gel padding, etc. and I was always numb. I thought it was just part of the deal.
    I went to my LBS and had my sit bones measured, took about 60 seconds (you sit on a gel pad, get up, and the dude measures the distance between sit bone impressions). I ended up with a Specialized Phenom, hard with no significant cutouts or gel, and I never go numb even after 6 hours in the saddle.

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    There is no best saddle that works for everyone. The best saddle for you depends on your posture on the bike, fitness, pedalling technique, and body shape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Proper fit with your sit bones and as little padding as is practical. Padding makes things worse if you're in the saddle for more than 10 minutes at a time.
    That is what Specialized claims and they even have gadgets at their stores to help you measure the size of your "sit bones". On the other hand, Fizik claims that the best saddle shape depends on your riding technique. In particular, they recommend narrower saddles to people with better flexibility and fitness.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Worknomore's Avatar
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    I have an almost full bushel basket of reject saddles. I should probably give them all away but it is a monument to victory in the "comfy saddle battle". For me, no matter what saddle I have tried, no cut out = a bad case of numcox. Saddles with cutouts I can ride. Broken-in leather saddles with cutout I can ride all day.
    Last edited by Worknomore; 07-27-14 at 09:52 AM.
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    There are men who will have serious health problems related to their bicycle saddles. Those are the outliers. The vast majority of people will have no serious issues even if their saddles don't fit ideally.
    A ride on a bike is not a walk in the park

  13. #13
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    There seems to be hundreds of saddles "that are the answer" when in fact none of them are. The only real answer to the problem for almost all cyclist that dont race is the seat on a recumbent. Recumbents, all gain and no pain!!!!!

    In fact I can really crank up the hate mail when I say that there is really NO DF saddle that is truely comfortable, and also state that people that say they are, also state they NEVER stare down at their front wheel. Just remember all of us bent riders have thousands of miles on DF bikes----------------been there done that------------so we know where of we speak.

    Just to add to the conversation, I am 75, have been riding bents for 9 years and some 15,000 miles, and still do NOT have to get out of bed at night to go pee.
    Last edited by rydabent; 07-27-14 at 06:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    There seems to be hundreds of saddles "that are the answer" when in fact none of them are. The only real answer to the problem for almost all cyclist that dont race is the seat on a recumbent. Recumbents, all gain and no pain!!!!!

    In fact I can really crank up the hate mail when I say that there is really NO DF saddle that is truely comfortable, and also state that people that say they are, also state they NEVER stare down at their front wheel. Just remember all of us bent riders have thousands of miles on DF bikes----------------been there done that------------so we know where of we speak.

    Just to add to the conversation, I am 75, have been riding bents for 9 years and some 15,000 miles, and still do NOT have to get out of bed at night to go pee.
    The OP, as I read it, isn't speaking to comfort. Tales from the internet have him worrying about serious medical issues, the kind that will land you in the hospital.
    A ride on a bike is not a walk in the park

  15. #15
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    coal

    But how can any DF rider that says his seat causes no pain, or is comfortable can say he is not subjecting himself to damage in the long run?

  16. #16
    Senior Member klmmicro's Avatar
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    There was a company that had a test program for saddles. They would send a saddle, you could try it for a while to see it if worked for you and then get another to see (and feel) the difference. This way one could actually determine which worked best for their personal anatomy. Everyone is different, so pressure points are never the same person to person.

    I just tried to find the link, but could not. I did find the following, however:

    http://www.amazon.com/WTB-Test-Ride-.../dp/B0069IHZ2I

    Saddle Demo Program | METALMTN Cycling

    Competitive Cyclist used to have a program as well, though it does not appear on their site at present. Might be worth a call.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    coal

    But how can any DF rider that says his seat causes no pain, or is comfortable can say he is not subjecting himself to damage in the long run?
    I can't but that doesn't mean the converse is true.
    A ride on a bike is not a walk in the park

  18. #18
    I STILL miss East Hill :) Rollfast's Avatar
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    I have a lot more trouble with my computer chair over long periods.

    Of course, I have a big old TROXEL on Tempest and the OEM Varsity? on my Schwinn.

    If you don't ride you have worse problems than pleasing ladies.
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  19. #19
    Randomhead
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    To address the original question, the evidence of problems caused by saddles is mixed. I have no doubt some people see damage. I suspect that problems are often related to lack of core strength, but I'm not sure. I haven't had numbness in the saddle area for a couple of years now. It used to happen very infrequently, now I can't remember the last time it happened to me. I guess I sorted out my position.

    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    But how can any DF rider that says his seat causes no pain, or is comfortable can say he is not subjecting himself to damage in the long run?
    not sure I understand the question, but after 35 years of riding a drop bar upright bike, two kids, and no symptoms of damage I believe that I'm doing ok. And my saddle is really comfortable once I have my butt broken in for the year. At the distances I ride, recumbent riders have saddle problems too, which surprised me a little.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
    coal

    But how can any DF rider that says his seat causes no pain, or is comfortable can say he is not subjecting himself to damage in the long run?
    As an absolute, you can't. But the indications that a properly-fitted saddle could cause damage are slight, while the evidence of health benefits for regular cycling are incontrovertible, so the conservative approach is to accept the net health benefits of cycling while seeking to minimize any potentially-plausible side effects.

    Looking at the Copenhagen Heart Study, for example, regular cycling correlates to a 40% reduction in *all cause* premature mortality. Some causes go up, some causes go down, but on net, deciding not to bike would substantially increase your risk of premature death.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jputnam/collections/72157604835074312/

  21. #21
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    That is what Specialized claims and they even have gadgets at their stores to help you measure the size of your "sit bones". On the other hand, Fizik claims that the best saddle shape depends on your riding technique. In particular, they recommend narrower saddles to people with better flexibility and fitness.
    The two don't contradict each other.
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