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Why is it important to have good saddles? Other than the comfort in long rides.

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4 Answers 4

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There are several reasons, one of which is a fear of ED, which we can all agree is bad.

In my opinion, there are 2 other major reasons as well.

When you ride (or exercise otherwise), your body tries to adapt to the new form of motion, support, or what have you. This is why we create callouses, and new muscle. It is why we get more flexibility with stretching.

If your saddle is poor quality, it usually lacks the stability to be a platform your body can adapt to. We all know what it usually feels like to ride a new saddle the first 2 weeks or so. A quality saddle remains the same saddle, long enough for your body to adapt to it. It also allows the break in to happen in pre-designed ways, which means that break in of your new saddle does not equate to break down on your new saddle.

In addition, although I know you were not asking about comfort, if you are adapted to your saddle, it will be more comfortable. If you are comfortable you will enjoy riding more. If you enjoy riding more, you will ride more, with all of the associated benefits.

For the record, these same points can be made regarding saddles, gloves, grips, shoes, pedals, cycling shorts, jerseys, and any other point of contact with the bike.

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Taken from the livestrong website:

A March 2005 article in "European Urology" discusses the overuse injuries that can stem from long-term bicycling. The article states that, although cycling can be a healthy, beneficial sport, some injuries can occur to the urogenital system. Genitalia numbness was found to be most common, reported in 50 to 91 percent of the cyclists, followed by erectile dysfunction reported in 13 to 24 percent.

Prevention/Solution

Although studies do not link bicycling with specific prostate diseases, the pressure of traditional seats can create problems for both men and women. Fortunately, there are several types of seats that can help alleviate that pressure and prevent injury. Look for seats with a split saddle, or one with a space in the area that would normally press into the perineum. There are more extreme options like the "no-nose" bicycle seat, the moon seat and the easy seat that are geometrically different from a standard saddle.

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:O, Erectile Dysfunction !!!!!!!!!!!!, that's bad. –  Starx Jun 22 '11 at 12:42
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Although the percentage for Erectile Dysfunction looks bad, you have to wonder what the incidence rate in a similar group of non-cyclists would be? –  Amos Jun 23 '11 at 8:30
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The main advantages are better power delivery and lower rider fatigue. Also better aerodynamics - you'll note that all of the speed records and many of the marathon records are held by bikes or trikes that have proper saddles.

Something like this: a good saddle

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Can you put that on a diamond-frame bike, or is it only for recumbents or enclosed bikes? –  ChrisW Jun 23 '11 at 13:46
    
But hard to ride on a "real" bike. :-)_ –  zenbike Jun 23 '11 at 14:24
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@ChrisW: of course it will only go on a recumbent. But bike shape restrictions weren't part of the question. –  Мסž Jun 23 '11 at 21:45
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The saddle isn't just a point of contact for riding, it also gets to lean against walls when the bike is parked and maybe against the ground/floor (if the bike is in the ownership of a youngster).

Naturally road bikes do not get thrown to the ground every five minutes, but, a BMX, or other child's bike, will. For this reason it is horses for courses, a quality seat for a BMX doesn't have to be comfy at all, a quality seat on a touring bike should not come apart when someone tries to lift the pannier-laden bike by the seat and a quality seat on an entry-level hybrid bike should survive wall-park abrasion.

What amazes me is why there are something like 4096 different types of bicycle seat on the marketplace. Is that level of product diversity necessary?

As for that talk of 'erectile dysfunction' being promulgated by bike seats and cycling, there is no way that can be true with modern saddles in the use of healthy-weight riders. Any talk of 'erectile dysfunction' is to be instantly dismissed as General Motors propaganda, as disseminated by the old-fashioned car-driving journa-fogeys at The Sun.
Agree that old saddles had a problem as the pelvic bones were not supported, but you cannot get those older saddles anymore (unless you include the Brooks dead-cow and rivets efforts).

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Pardon, but the Brooks dead-cow and rivets efforts are amongst the most comfortable, durable, and worthwhile saddles in existence. As a data point, I went on a 300km (190mi) brevet on Saturday. Every single one of the non-recumbent riders sat on a Brooks saddle (including me!). After the ride, the one part of me that didn't hurt was my behind. –  Stephen Touset Jun 22 '11 at 14:56
    
@Stephen Touset Well done for doing 300km in a day, I have not done that myself and I am truly impressed/inspired, it is summer already... As for the Brooks saddles, they are different to the saddles of yesteryear (e.g. 'Turbo') in how they mould to shape like how leather shoes do, maybe I should have made that clearer. But, for people that do get 'dysfunction' I don't know if the Brooks saddles are any better. –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Jun 22 '11 at 16:33
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I'd welcome a more recent study, but: Nocturnal Penile Tumescence and Rigidity Testing in Bicycling Patrol Officers. And for the record, my touring bike often gets parked on its side. –  Neil Fein Jun 22 '11 at 20:06
    
@Neil Fein I take it you put the downside pedal up so that it is not scratching the seat? 'Youngsters' don't do that. As for your 'study' - lots of big words used but it is mere sales literature dressed up as 'science' by the Rigiscan Plus manufacturers. It smells of the same whiff that the science used to sell anti-wrinkling creams. Don't buy the hype. Those great cycling nations of India and China don't seem to have suffered penile dysfunction given their respective population sizes of a billion or so each, if you want a large scale study...! –  ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Jun 22 '11 at 23:07
    
Ah, I really don't care about scratches from everyday use. My touring bike is pretty scratched up, as is my saddle. And I've personally felt numbness in the past, and corrected it with better bike fit and better saddles--and, to a small degree, better bike shorts. I don't care to repeat that experience. –  Neil Fein Jun 23 '11 at 3:26
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