Performance Insiders

Friday, September 26, 2008

Q: What type of bike seat should I buy to avoid dage downstairs?

I'm in my 20's, ride to work three times a week, and put in a couple hours in the saddle most weekends. Should guys my age be concerned about the long-term negative impact downstairs? Or are the special seats marketed to protect the nether regions a ploy? Scott Freeland Washington D.C.

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A:

Considering the recent baby boom at the Carmichael Training Systems office, as well as the constant stream of kids being born to pros in the peloton (there were something like three riders in this year’s Tour de France who missed the births of their children due to being in the race), spending hours on a bicycle doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to damage sensitive organs in your groin. Years of research and saddle innovations have shown that different shaped saddles work for different riders, and that above all, proper bike fit has more to do with preventing injury than anything else.

The first thing you want to do is find a high-end local bike shop that carries high-quality saddles in a variety of models. A good seat will cost roughly $70 or more. Some saddles are wider than others. Some have cutouts in the center. Some have more or less padding in strategic areas. You want a firm saddle if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on it. That doesn’t mean it lacks padding, but the saddle shouldn’t be as soft as a marshmallow, either. The saddle will support your weight in the right places and alleviate pressure on the soft tissues in the groin.

Just as important as the saddle itself is the fit of your bicycle. To get this right, you need to see a professional who is trained in bike fit. I’ve invested heavily in motion-capture technology from Retul and training for my coaches so they can perform accurate bike fits at our Colorado Springs, Asheville, and Tucson locations, and I encourage you to find someone in your area who can perform the same service. Having the saddle in the correct position for your body is essential for riding comfortably, powerfully, and without injury.

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