What Bike Saddle Should a Lady be Looking For?
So what saddle should a lady be looking for? There’s a confusing array of choice and opinion on offer to those seeking a ladies specific saddle: short and fat, hard and thin, cutout in the center, chromo rails, titanium rails, gel inserts, gel padded covers… So where do you start?
Here are a number of bike fit faults that can cause saddle discomfort:
The most common cause of saddle discomfort is a poor saddle. Some saddles are too hard and some are too soft. A saddle that is too thick and soft will make you sink down from the weight of your sit bones and cause the middle of the saddle to push up and place more pressure on your soft tissue.
A firmer saddle is usually better, especially for longer rides. A proper woman’s saddle should have good padding for the sit bones and a cutout or groove in front to provide relief from pressure on the perineum and to improve blood flow. A women-specific saddle is essential for most women.
This is why it is important to have your bike setup done by a professional, they will provide you with accurate advice on which saddle suits you best.
Poor Saddle Tilt:
A saddle tilt that is too nose up will put additional pressure on the front soft tissues. This also usually causes a hunched posture on the bike.
A saddle that is too nose down will cause you to slide forward on the saddle and make you sit on the wrong part of the saddle. The sit bones will no longer provide adequate support and more weight will be placed on the hands, causing numbness and hand pain.
The saddle should either be perfectly level or slightly nose down by a few degrees. On a time trial bike, the saddle should be more nose down as the pelvis is rotated more forward at the front of the bike. A seat post with adjustable angles allows you to find that ideal tilt. Many posts have saddle clamps with scores that often leave you with the choice of being either too nose up or too nose down.
The Saddle is Too High:
A saddle that is too high will take your weight off the pedals and place more weight on the saddle. It will also cause your hips to rock, causing side-to-side movement and chafing. The perfect saddle height is measured using specific tools. We set the right and left leg at 150 degrees.
The Drop Between the Seat and the Handlebars is Too Large:
A more aggressive position at the front will put more weight on the hands and the perineum. The difference in height between the seat and the handlebars is calculated by assessing the riders’ flexibility in the hamstring and lower back. Flexible rider = more aggressive (lower at the front). Inflexibly rider = less aggressive (higher at the front). Specific ratios are used to finally set this height difference for each rider.
The Handlebar Reach is Too Far: Having to stretch too far out at the front reduces support from your arms and places more of your weight on the front of the saddle. Measuring the upper body angle sets the rider’s reach. The 90-degree angle is measured differently during a road setup, MTB setup and TT setup. A rider will complain of lower back, neck and shoulder pain if the reach is set too far. If the reach is too close then riders usually complain of wrist pain.
Wear a good pair of cycling shorts with a good quality seamless chamois. As with the saddles, shorts and the thickness of the chamois are a personal choice.
Do not wear underwear. Put your shorts on right before you ride to keep them clean and dry. Remove them as soon as the ride is over. Never wear the same pair of shorts 2 days in a row without washing them.
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