Bicycle seats are a source of discomfort for many riders -- men and women 1. For men, however, the bicycle seat has also been shown to contribute to significant health problems and chronic pain. Knowing what causes these problems will help you decide which seat is best.
Bike seats are constantly receiving criticism for causing a host of health problems in men. They have been linked to erectile dysfunction, prostate problems and extreme skin irritation. The basis for many of these problems lies in the anatomy of a man's body compared with the seat. As a man sits on a bicycle seat, the middle of the seat places pressure on an area with a high concentration of nerves and soft tissue, causing pain and, possibly, long-term health problems.
Designers now make bicycle seats that features holes or grooves in the problem areas of men's bicycle seats, specifically along the middle of the seat 1. The holes relieve pressure points in problematic regions, making the seat more comfortable and healthier. However, just getting a seat with a center channel or hole will not automatically solve seat discomfort for men. The key is finding a seat that fits and is designed for the type of riding you engage in.
Checking for Comfort
The most important fit factor when choosing a man's bicycle seat is aligning the ischial tuberosities. The ischial tuberosities are the two hard bones that you feel when sitting on a hard surface. On men, these bones are closer together than on women. As a result, men's bicycle seats are often narrower 1. Your ischial tuberosities should rest on the most padded part of the seat when you are in your riding stance. Try different seats while being conscious of where your ischial tuberosities are contacting the seat's surface.
Choose Your Riding Style
Two basic styles of seat exist, those meant for racing and more intense riding and those meant for comfort riding. Racing seats are typically built for road bikes and mountain bikes where the rider's position is more forward, taking weight off the seat and requiring less padding. These seats are also narrow to allow less obstruction and less chafing when pedaling rapidly. Comfort bikes encourage a more upright riding position that requires more padding on the seat. Comfort bikes are also pedaled at a casual pace, reducing the possibility of chafing that usually results from high intensity pedaling.
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