Fog of War

Sitbone width

Although multiple ways and tools to measure sitbone width exist, most of us still do not know what ours are. We look at the distribution of sitbones (shown below), then conclude that ours is 110mm (for men), or 130mm (for women). Or we look at the range of saddles on the shelves, then pick the middle option assuming it’s the safest.

Sitbone width distribution

Reference points

Feedback from multiple sources regarding comfort of a particular saddle can cause the fog of war to worsen. For instance, one may claim that the saddle is perfectly comfortable, while another says perineum pressure is excessive. Another example is the definition of an aggressive versus non-aggressive position on the saddle: an experienced racer’s non-aggressive position may be considered aggressive for a recreational rider. Such vastly differing opinions relied on facts (e.g. sitbone width, riding posture) that is not explicitly stated or known, and can therefore be difficult to reconcile. We call these facts reference points, which help when discussing saddle comfort.

Saddle design

A saddle is typically designed with certain sitting postures in mind. For instance, only an upright position having weight on the the sitbones may be suitable for a cruiser bike’s saddle. A time-trial specific saddle may be optimized for supporting the rami, not sitbones. In the event that the intended postures for a saddle are not properly conveyed to cyclists, we have to resort to trial-and-error attempts at getting comfortable on the saddle.

Multiple contributing factors

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selecting and using the right saddle is teasing apart the factors that can contribute to a particular discomfort. Without knowing the root cause, problems encountered may be incorrectly attributed to the saddle.

Lifting the Fog of War

It is difficult lifting the fog without investing some time and effort into learning more about our anatomy, the way we ride, and possible causes of issues.

  1. The intended posture(s) for a saddle needs to be conveyed from the designer to the cyclist. In addition to the general type of cycling activity (e.g. time-trial, or cyclocross), how and where the cyclist sits on the saddle should also be stated. This knowledge can be used for saddle adjustments, enhancing fit and comfort.
  2. Consider relevant reference points when providing and receiving saddle-related feedback. For instance, when discussing saddle flexibility, include weights of cyclists who tested the saddle. When discussing saddle fit, include sitbone widths, sitting location on saddle, fore/aft position of the saddle and its tilt, and whether weight is placed solely on the sitbones and/or the rami.
  3. To determine root causes, change variables one at a time and observe the result. E.g. if chafing tends to occur in the summer and/or on long rides, try using chamois cream to mitigate friction caused by sweat.

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We create comfortable, performance saddles based on your anatomy and inputs, at meld3d.com.

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