Effects of a novel bicycle saddle on symptoms and comfort in cyclists
L R Keytel, T D Noakes
While the bicycle frame and other parts of the bicycle have undergone many improvements, the bicycle saddle has remained relatively unchanged since it was first designed more than 100 years ago. Given the number and range of cycling injuries believed to result from the saddle, this is surprising. This study investigated the effects of a novel bicycle saddle on saddle-related comfort and symptoms during cycling. Eleven competitive or recreational cyclists, 6 females and 5 males, performed three
... -hour stationary cycle rides in the laboratory, using their personal bicycles. Ride 1 was performed using the standard bicycle saddle and rides 2 and 3 using the novel bicycle saddle. Subjects reported saddle comfort rating scores (SC) while using the different saddles. Subjects also completed a questionnaire evaluating saddle symptoms (SS) when using either the conventional or the novel bicycle saddle during daily cycling. The most common saddle-related medical complaint with chronic use of the conventional saddle was painful pubic bones, with or without chaffing. Others were severe chaffing, saddle sores, chaffing and back pain, and painful pubic bones associated with a loss of feeling in the pelvic area. The mean SS rating score during the 2-hour laboratory ride was significantly less for the novel saddle (11.6 +/- 1.2 versus 19.1 +/- 3.2 arbitrary units, P < 0.01). Similarly the mean SC score was significantly lower for the novel saddle (36.2 +/- 10.5 v. 54.7 +/- 11.2 arbitrary units). Values for both SC scores were similar for rides 2 and 3. On completion of the trial all subjects indicated that they would continue to use the novel saddle in preference to the conventional saddle. Three months later 9 subjects (82%) reported continued use of this saddle in preference to the conventional saddle. These results show conclusively that this novel bicycle saddle: (i) significantly reduced reported symptoms during daily cycling compared with the conventionally designed cycling saddle; (ii) significantly improved saddle comfort during 2-hour cycles in the laboratory, such that (iii) when given the option the majority (82%) of the subjects chose to use this saddle 3 months later. Furthermore, the beneficial effects of the novel saddle were apparent during its first use, suggesting that the novel saddle is effective because the design is anatomically correct.