When buying a new saddle it’s natural to expect a step-up in terms of comfort, not just when you’re sitting down, but when you’re pedalling too.
But sometimes expectations don’t match up to reality, and after a few rides you’re unhappy with the comfort and complaining of pain in the pelvic area and a suboptimal pedalling dynamic.
The culprit, in all probability, is not the saddle itself, but its incorrect fitting, which can, over long distances, create postural discomfort.
Let’s take a look then at the key points to bear in mind:
Will I be able to select the right saddle for me?
Selecting the correct type and size of saddle is essential to pedalling comfort, just as shoe size is when buying a new pair of shoes. This is why Selle Italia saddles come in six sizes to accommodate the structural and anatomical differences of each rider. It’s practically impossible to choose the wrong saddle with the idmatch system. The innovative method involves taking the rider’s functional and anthropometric measurements to identify their ideal saddle.
Can I fit my saddle myself?
Of course! Once you have identified the best saddle for your body shape, fitting and positioning it correctly is very simple. Particularly with regard to height, but also fore-aft adjustment too. To achieve the best position you just need to locate the ideal support point.
How do I locate the ideal support point?
On a bicycle there are three support points: two fixed, pedals and handlebars, and one moving, the saddle. The body is able to move about on it so it is crucial to find the ideal sitting point, one which can be maintained without effort throughout the pedal stroke.
There are two steps to identifying the correct position.
First of all, with the help of standard callipers, you need to find the BRP – Biomechanical Reference Point, which is the point at which the saddle is 70 mm wide. From the BRP you then need to measure 110 mm towards the tip of the saddle to determine the so-called fit line. Mark it with some tape. When sitting correctly, this line should protrude just beyond the crotch of your shorts.
Is it true that prostate-relief saddles should be mounted with a slight forward tilt?
No, it’s something we often hear, but it’s not true.
Whatever the saddle type, the first thing you need to do when fitting it is to make sure it is perfectly level and not titled up or down. Lowering “the nose”, as many people think you need to do in order to be able to push down on the pedals with greater power, actually drops the body down into an incorrect sitting position.
Moreover, if the ischial bones are positioned at a point on the saddle too far forwards, i.e. where it is narrower, the pressure exerted on the smaller surface area could give rise to the onset of pain and other complaints in the pelvic area.
What adjustments should I make during the first ride?
If the fit line has been correctly identified, further adjustments should not be necessary.
Vice versa, if over the course of the first few rides the line is no longer visible, it means the saddle is positioned too far back and the body is trying to compensate for this by moving forwards. So you will need to move the saddle forwards of this point. On the other hand, when a larger surface area of saddle is visible with respect to the line, it means the body is tending to move backwards. So the saddle must be moved backwards to achieve the right position. With this extremely simple method you support the movement of the body and its need to maintain certain specific angles.
A further check over the course of the next 2-3 rides will ensure the perfect fit.
How will I know if my saddle isn’t positioned correctly?
If the saddle has been positioned incorrectly, the body will feel uncomfortable and will try to adapt by constantly moving about on the saddle. The movement of the saddle should in fact be considered a 3D movement: forward-back and up-down. But you must also keep in mind that the body is free to move left and right because it is the only moving point of contact with the bike.
The certainty that everything is set up correctly usually comes after about 30-40 minutes of riding, when you lower your concentration on maintaining the sitting point but the ischial bones still remain supported in their initial position.
What issues cause an incorrect sitting position?
If you are not sitting at the ideal support point, the body will exert excessive pressure on the saddle and certain problems can arise. The first alarm bell is usually experiencing some difficulty urinating immediately after riding. This means that the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder to the outside, has been compressed for a long time by the weight of the body and is having to regain its natural shape.
Another classic “symptom” is tingling and numbness in the genital area, caused by an overly forward position, and the consequent crushing of the pudendal nerve against the pubic bone.
Using a cut-out saddle, like the Selle Italia Flow and Superflow, allows you to relieve sitting pressure, making the body less prone to this type of problem.
However, if after following all the tips above you still experience some discomfort, you should visit a biomechanical expert as soon as possible to have the effectiveness of your saddle position checked, thereby eliminating the possibility of set-up errors further down the line.
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