This notion first came up in 1997, and since then several manufacturers have devised supposedly "safe" saddles that have a V-shaped groove from fore to aft, designed to relieve pressure on the key area. A good example of this: WTB's Speed V Comp ($40; www.wtb.com). Trouble is, there's not a lot of evidence these workit's the nose of the saddle that does the damage. They may even make things worse.
The good news in all of this is that only a small percentage of men are affected, due to anatomical differences or the fact one rider may weigh more than another. As for myself, I spend probably ten hours a week in a bike saddle, sometimes more, and I can say with complete confidence that... [censored to spare readers details they don't want to hear].
Several doctors who have studied this problem are advocating the use of nose-free saddles, so all the weight of a rider is on the sit bones, not the crotch. An example of this is the Easyseat saddle ($30; www.hobsonseats.com), which has two padded lobes on which the rider sits. People who use them like them very much, but serious riders may find the seat position disconcerting. And they're not practical for mountain-biking, where the saddle nose helps give a rider control and balance, a problem to which you allude.
So "solutions" are in short supply. Mainly, use caution. Male riders need to be wary of any feelings of numbness in, um, sensitive parts. My own belief is that setting the saddle in a neutral (level) or slightly nose-down position can help. I'd also say that if you haven't yet run into any problems, you may well be in that majority that never will see a difference in their performance.
Recumbent riders, start your gloating...
Getting paddled by your saddle? Get a covetous look at the mother of all seats in the 2005 Buyer's Guide.
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