Put simply, there is now a wealth of scientific evidence that riding a conventional bicycle saddle is very dangerous. Summarized below are some of the main studies. Here are the highlights:
- Researchers found that bicycle riding more than 3 hours per week is an independent relative risk for moderate to severe ED.
- In a study of police offers, the use of noseless saddles significantly reduced incidence of sexual dysfunction, improved blood flow, and improved nervous system function.
- Laboratory results show that sitting on a bike seat with a nose causes relatively high pressure on the perineal area.
Here's the quick anatomy lesson. A very important nerve has to get from your spinal cord to the front of your pelvis area (ahem). It's called the pudendal nerve. See it illustrated on this pelvis model.
A conventional bicycle saddle supports your body weight exactly where you don't want it to -- by pressing up against the pubic arch and crushing the pudendal nerve. This is ok if you do it 30 minutes a week, but not if you ride seriously. You think you're just getting older, but it's probably the saddle.
The Nexride saddle is a padded "bench" that supports cyclists under their sit bones, rather than their very sensitive perineal areas. The sit bones were engineered by nature to support your body weight. Your perineum, to put it delicately, was not. (See our diagram and explanation of the anatomy.) Here you see the pudendal nerve is free and clear of the pressure on the Nexride saddle.
The combination of a robust bench and a pivoting base offers both safe and secure support of your pelvis and unimpeded pedaling for the sport cyclist.
Here are the main studies. Enjoy.
International Police Mountain Bike Association Newsletter
Some of the best medical research on cycling and saddle pressure has been conducted on police officers who ride bicycles. The International Police Mountain Bike Association Newsletter has a nice article on one study (pdf) and a personal account from one of the participants.Full article on police officer study of bicycle seats
Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Contrary to some cyclists' beliefs, it is not normal for any part of your body to go numb or lose feeling. Numbness in the groin or genitals is a warning sign that should not be ignored. Workers who ride a bicycle as part of their job can take the following steps to help prevent sexual and reproductive health problems:
Use a no-nose saddle for workplace bicycling. Give yourself time to get used to riding with a no-nose saddle. At first, it may seem very different from the saddle you have used in the past. No-nose saddles may not always be available at retail bicycle shops, but they are readily available for purchase through the Internet. Full CDC report on noseless bike seats (pdf).
Key Findings from the Scientific and Medical Communities
In the 1990s Irwin Goldstein, a urologist at Boston University (now at San Diego Sexual Medicine), wrote an article that rocked the cycling world. He asserted that bicycling was a serious risk factor associated with erectile dysfunction. Cyclists relaxed a year or two later as criticisms were levied against the underlying research and the strength of the evidence related to bike seats.Less well known is that over the next 20 years, a large number of studies essentially reinforced Goldstein's original assertions. We now have ample evidence that, for serious cyclists, conventional bicycle seats are associated with long-term damage to critical blood vessels and nerves, the plumbing and wiring associated with normal sexual function.
Below are recommendations and research from a variety of independent organizations. You can also learn more about the anatomy of bike saddle pressure
Huang et al. Review Article - Cycling and Erectile Dysfunction
This review article summarizes the findings of more than 20 studies published since 1999. The review finds that bicycle riding more than 3 hours per week is an independent relative risk for moderate to severe ED. In case control studies, the prevalence of moderate to severe ED in bicyclists was 4.2% and 4% vs. age-matched runners 1.1% and swimmers 2%, respectively. Therefore, bicycle riders should take precautionary measures to minimize the risk of ED associated with bicycle riding: change the bicycle saddle with a protruding nose to a noseless (nose-less) seat, change the posture to a more upright/reclining position, change the material of the saddle (GEL), and tilt the saddle/seat downwards.
Schrader et al. Study of Bicycle Police Officers
Bicycle police officers found no-nose saddles quite usable. The use of noseless saddles significantly reduced incidence of sexual dysfunction, improved blood flow, and improved nervous system function.
Munarriz et al. Study of Perineal Pressure with Bicycle Saddles
This laboratory study measured perineal pressure for riders while seated on various bicycle saddles and surfaces. Sitting on a bike seat with a nose causes relatively high pressure on the perineal area. These studies have mostly focused on the perineal area and not on prostate pressure per se.
Other key pages on this site with related content are: