I have become convinced that the modern saddle is fundamentally flawed, specifically that the shape we have all become inured to is, in fact, wrong. This idea has been reinforced by speaking with female friends about the net effect of having their sex organs pummeled for hours at a time, and further by male friends discovering that their prostate health isn’t enhanced by having their urethra smashed against a plastic shell covered in leather. All manner of cutouts and workarounds have sought to preserve the saddle’s basic shape, but the problem, to my eye, seems to the be tip.
Yes. Just the tip.
There are bike seats out there that have no tip. I have never heard anyone complain about them. If I wasn’t such a sheep, conditioned to shudder at the thought of utilizing a non-conforming butt perch, I’d be able to give you more input than hearsay and anecdote.
What does the tip of the saddle do? I have seen pros sitting there during time trials, but it looks way less comfortable than the backseat of a Volkswagen. It is difficult, in fact, to ignore the visual euphemisms implied, but maybe that’s what it takes to win at the top level. And really, despite my love for cheap jokes, this isn’t the narrow aperture I want to take this review down.
What I want to get at is the possibility of a mass delusion on the part of cyclists of all stripes and sizes. My friend Phil has a book coming out in which he posits that the current day bicycle is really a Victorian contraption frozen in amber by the UCI, a low-level torture device whose evolution has been curtailed by unimaginative bureaucrats, leaving the general public with an array of repetitive use injuries (much more from Phil in upcoming podcasts), and the saddle is merely one more flawed aspect of the original design.
All of this is compounded by the fact that so few of really understand our asses or what’s good for them. And ok, you can’t see your ass, except in a mirror. Where your body meets the saddle, the sun don’t shine and even a contortionist doesn’t have the wherewithal to get a true sense of the place. It might as well be the dark side of the moon (Ok, ok, relax. I didn’t really mean to do that. It just happened).
So you might have an ample rear, but narrow sit bones, or a narrow rear and wide sit bones. Then you have to consider pelvic tilt. YOU HAVE TO!! And anyway, neither of those things really matter that much, because the tip of the saddle is still doing nothing for you, except on those bowel-clenching descents when you slew your buttocks back out into space and clutch the tip of your seat between your knees, as if that’s gonna be worth a Euro when gravity decides to heave-ho in the other direction. See, even then, the tip of the saddle is only offering false comfort.
Be honest with me. How many times has the tip of your saddle hurt you vs. the number of times it’s helped you?
It feels as though we need to make a pact, each of us shuffling up to the edge of the tipless cliff, holding hands, and then all counting to three and jumping off at the same time. It’s sad to think that all those saddles out there might become garbage all at the same time, but it’s equally sad to think my sex life (such as it is) might be seriously curtailed by my stubborn refusal to ride the cycling equivalent of those five-finger shoes.
So who’s with me? And where is there a good cliff?
Maybe this is a new sideline for bike fitters, the removal of saddle tips, a sort of velo circumcision. Initially, I can imagine some sort of incantation, perhaps some burning of incense, and then just an absence of crotch pain. It sounds almost spiritual, doesn’t it? In the meantime, take Phil’s advice. Get your ass mapped to the right saddle. In the absence of that option, angle your saddle down, not dramatically, but enough to free the nerves and tubes that do the stuff you’re gonna wanna do in perpetuity.