Are you sitting comfortably?
Arguably the seat is one of the most important parts of the bike to get right and if you’re not sitting comfortably you could be doing untold damage to your important little places!
Remember your first proper road bike ride - ‘Wow that was ace!’ and then ‘ow my #@$*!’
Riding a bike is definitely something you have to get ‘used to’ but if that same uncomfortable feeling becomes repetitive, it’s time to rethink the position and possibly the type of your saddle.
It’s all about your sit bones!
First off you need to get the right bit of your bot on the saddle. There’s a misconception that the bigger your bum, the bigger the saddle you need but in fact bum size has very little to do with finding the right saddle. It’s all about your sit bones!
The sit bones (part of your pelvis) are designed to support your back and upper body and this is what you need to be sitting on. The distance between sit-bones can vary tremendously but has no relationship to the size of your anywhere else.
You can be a skinny lad with wide apart sit bones or a larger lad with narrow sit bones, it all depends on the size and shape of your pelvis.
So if you have wide sit bones and a narrow saddle all the pressure and weight of your upper body is going on… parts that can go numb easily aka ‘soft tissue’!
Finding out the distance between your sit bones is the essential first step to a comfortable saddle. Some cycle shops do have ways of measuring your sit bones, we’re not entirely sure what they’re called… maybe an arse-o-meter? Although you can make your own ‘arse-o-meter’ at home, there a plenty of videos on YouTube showing you how to! Here’s an example of one:
Now you know your sit bone width, what is the perfect saddle?
Don’t rush into making a decision, you’re going to be spending a lot of quality time with your saddle so take the time to get it right and don’t feel that you have to choose a saddle at the shop there and then. There’s no point in buying one and realizing it’s not quite right 2 months time.
There is a much better solution. Fat Lad in Charge, Richard met Selle’s UK distributor, Dillglove http://www.dillglove.co.uk/test-saddles/ at a recent bike show where they had their full range of saddles - there you can ‘try’ as many saddles as you like, until you get one which feels right and then, they’ll let you trial the saddle at home. It does take a while to get to know the saddle and you may have to swap a few times to find a perfect match but it’s well worth it.
It’s made a huge difference to Richard and the office is no longer subjected to detailed information about his numb bits, so it’s a win win!
The positioning of the saddle is another factor that you need to think about. For example if your seat is too high and you are using clipless pedals, you are actually pushing your nether-regions into the seat! You might have found the most comfortable saddle in the world and it fits to your sit bones perfectly, but the increase of pressure could give you numbness and saddle sores (as you try to reach down to the pedal on each stroke). Minor adjustments work best to get height and angle of seat right, so go for a leisurely ride and take a friend and a bike tool and keep pedaling and adjusting until you’re sorted.
Although bike fit comes at a cost, it can make the most significant difference to your comfort and to your overall ride. Most people think that there’s no point spending on bike fit unless they have an expensive bike, but that’s not true and in the long term a proper bike fit may well save you money and make you appreciate/love your bike even more!
You can seek professional bike fitting help with www.cyclometrics.co.uk and get a specially negotiated Fat Lad discount 20%. Paul is a qualified professional bike fitter for Cyclometrics and member of the International Bike Fitting Institute. He has professionally fitted a wide variety of riders from those buying their first bike to world champions.
He has worked in sports for many years and spent time with Middlesbrough Football Club as a development coach, York City Academy in their centre of excellence and more recently working alongside British Triathlon.
He is a Gym Instructor, Kinesiology Taping provider for Rock Tape and as a Biomechanics Trainer is one of only five UK based providers of gebioMized pressure analysis.