One thing that’s absolutely necessary for you to be able to ride your bike is contact between your body and the bike. In order to successfully ride, you must make contact at 5 points – 2 at your hands, 2 at your feet, and 1 at your buttocks. If you get any of these 3 contact points wrong, you can end up paying for it with pain. No part of a bike is more individual, and no part can be more painful, than your backside contact with your saddle. Get this wrong, and you can pay with your enjoyment and your performance during a ride.
Correct saddle fitting is an art, and even with the best tools and process, is at best a hit or miss proposition. For the best fit, your ischial tuberosities (your sit bones) should be the primary contact points with the saddle. It is imperative that you pick a saddle wide enough so that these bones, and the muscle tissue covering them, make contact with the saddle. If this doesn’t happen, you will likely be making contact with the soft tissue of the perineal and pelvic areas creating the issues outlined below.
Symptoms of a Poor Fitting Saddle
If you have any of the following symptoms, you may need to look for a new saddle.
- Severe chafing, saddle sores, or cysts
- Genital Inflammation
- Prolonged numbness
- Pain or difficulty urinating after riding
- Loss or decrease in bladder control
Possible Properly Fitting Saddle Issues
The following issues are fairly common, even with a well fitting saddle.
- Minor bruising or a little bit of soreness under your skeletal system, particularly in the sit bones or pubic ramus area
- Minor skin irritation
- Increasing discomfort with increasing time in the saddle
New Saddle Break-in
It’s completely normal to experience some discomfort with a new saddle. You can make this break-in period easier on your tush by following a few key rules.
- Increase mileage gradually
- If your tri shorts aren’t cutting it, try high-quality cycling bibs
- Use chamois butter or similar product ( I really like “Bag Balm”)
- Keep the area sterile, dry and clean when not riding
- Only use shorts 1 time between washing
- Use Aquaphor (or similar) ointments to help with skin irritation
- Try acne medicine to deal with saddle sores.
- If symptoms persist, see a doctor.