Question for guys

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Anonymous's picture

Hi guys,

I have somewhat of an embarrasing but serious question. I'm fairly new to road riding, and have a question regarding safe seat positioning. I do have a split seat but worry about long rides causing 'damage.' Is this a true risk, or more of a nasty rumour? If there is some truth to this, please let me know how any sort of injury can be prevented.

Thank's a bunch,

Anonymous's picture
Goon Koch (not verified)
Don't Worry

"It is a spurious, unfounded rumour.

I do not know of a single cyclist who has suffered ""damage"", of the type you allude to, as a result of cycling.

When you are properly positioned on a good saddle, on a bicycle that fits you, there will be very little pressure on your plumbing. Your weight should be distributed on your sit bones, and your sit bones should rest on the flat portion toward the rear of the saddle. I consciously try to sit on the rear of the saddle. Many riders mistakenly assume that because the saddle is straddled, your weight should be borne by the ridge; like sitting on a narrow metal pole. Not so.

Do not be afraid to try different saddles, and to reposition them many, many times until you find a setup that works for you. Carry a wrench and do not hesitate to reposition (fore/aft, angle) the saddle during long rides.

What works for one rider may not work for another. Personally, I don't like split saddles, because the weight that would otherwise be distributed over a larger area (not that this area should bear much weight to begin with) is now transferred to a smaller area: the ridges on each side of the hole. On the other hand, if most of your weight is properly distributed over the rear of the saddle, the hole may not make much of a difference and may offer some relief for you.

Texture is nothing, shape is everything. The saddle should feel like a wooden bench, not an easy chair.

I don't know what you consider a ""long"" ride, but I've done rides up to 370 miles in length, and never suffered any damage ""down there"". Moreover, I don't know of anyone in the randonneur community (rides to 750 miles and beyond) who complains about or reports this type of injury. Hand and finger numbness is far more common and difficult to prevent.

Bottom line: the ""cycling impotence"" issue seems to be a bunch of unfounded hullaballoo. The occasional studies play well in the press, but where are the impotent cyclists? I've never met them or even heard about them.

Yes, saddles can get uncomfortable after a long day on the bike, there may even be some short-term numbness, but you need not worry about long-term damage."

Anonymous's picture
Geo. (not verified)
Saddle issues

"I agree with MOST of what you say. Saddle fit is personal and must be experimented with to get just right. One should not be afraid to tweak saddle position to get it right.

A good test is to feel with your hands on your own posterior (in the privacy of your own home) for where your sit bones are located. Then sit on a solid surface, like a bench. Place something that will leave an impression there and measure the distance, or feel for the location for the sit bones and measure the distance between the two bones with at tape measure. Take that measurement and match it the saddle construction for a good fit.

However, What I disagree with you on is the ""Spurious unfounded rumor"" part. While it has been grossly exaggerated (I know of no professional cyclists with the problem), the problem does exist with very real consequences. I have experienced erectile dysfunction that lingered for about three months followinng a 350- mile multi-day-cycling event last year. At the close of the first day's ride, I experinced nunbness in my groin area. I went to the medical tent and was told to either discontinue the ride, or lower the nose of my saddle to avoid the nerve. Naturally, I chose the latter option.

It was due to the fact that I had a new bicycle which I had not properly broken the saddle in. I rode it for only ten days prior to the event. (I thought that was enough but I was wrong) The problem did clear itself up. According to the doctor whom I later saw, there is a damaged sheath that encases that sensitive nerve. but it healed itself over time.

While the rumors may be exaggerated, they are unfortunaely possible and true in my case. Care must be taken to get proper fit and proper break in time.

Ride Safe

Also, I always reccomend cyclist go to and check out the id bands they make for the wrist, ankle or on a chain. They are engraved metal plates with your personal emergency info. It can identify you when you may be unconsious and unable to identify yourself after an accident.


Anonymous's picture
Goon Koch (not verified)
Point Taken

"I did not mean to be huffy or dismissive and retract any allegations of ""spurious, unfounded rumours"".

The main point I wanted to get across is that, in the grand scheme of cycling, impotence is pretty low on the scale of things to worry about.

It is also important to remember that saddle position and orientation, as well as overall bike fit, is equally or more important than the saddle itself. If a saddle hurts you, it is unlikely that a different saddle (cutaway, gel, leather, whatever), without changing anything else, will alleviate all that ails.

Also, if you want to be identified in case of incapacitation (not sure how this is relevant to this thread) you can have dogtags made at almost any army/navy store, write your name, phone no. and blood type on your helmet, or (this one's revolutionary) just carry your wallet."

Anonymous's picture
<a href="">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Identification (thread drift)

Good idea about carrying ID. I wore a military dog tag style id. It worked well. Stopped wearing it when my contact info changed.

I purchased it at a small shop in the West Village. It took 3 trips to the store for the non-native English speaking shop owner to finally get it right.

Anyone know of a good (walk-in) shop source? ( is MIA, by the way)

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
Don't Sit For Long Periods

A suggestion: do not sit for long uninterrupted periods. Every 15 or 30 minutes, stand up on the pedals for 5 - 15 seconds. Also, take advantage of the time when you're at a stop light to get off the seat. We learned this in the C-sig this past spring.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
I'm not a guy...

"...but I care too!

Check out this review of literature, according to which the problem is a ""myth"":"

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
In order ...

Yes, as said, you should sit with your butt bones on the large part of the saddle. I sometimes feel my chammy while I sit to check my position, but sitting properly is something that takes time to just feel.

You should have a good fit on your bike. If your saddle position is too forward or too backwards, it may be due to rail length, handlebar height, stem length, top tube length, etc.

Riding style: for general cruising on the flats, I adopt the standard bone-saddle position. Climbing, in the saddle, I scoot back and wack those pedals. For TT type riding on the flats, I scoot forward and bring my knees to avoid my elbows. THIS SADDLE POSITION CAN HURT! You get lots of power, but the front tip of the saddle is RIGHT THERE. TT saddles have an extended, padded tip to lessen this discomfort.

Yes, stand up every once in a while. It relieves the pressure, allows some air “down there,” and works different muscles.

Gel saddles – I tried one once and found too much padding is no good. Yes, its soft, but there is no room, well, ... for the twins to be comfortable. Too much padding.

Chammy buttr – use it. Friction is my biggest enemy down there. Friction means chaffing, means pain, means a pimple, then boils and infection. I never had such problems but know some who did. Lance is a name ... but also a procedure. So, lubricate. And keep it clean. I shower before and after a ride.

Remember, not only are these our private and tender parts, but we squash them for hours with sweaty shorts into a saddle with little or no air flow and no sunshine.

Now aside from discomfort from time to time, I have never noticed any problems that you mention. Well, nothing that a carb-protein smoothie and a quick nap won’t fix ;-)

G'luck, JP

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
"recent ""Ride"" Magazine article (issue #111) covers this issu

"titled ""the Impotence Fallacy""---I can fax/mail it to anyone who wants it"

Anonymous's picture
Laughingstock (not verified)

"I don't know if any of you remember Ed Pavelka of Bicycling magazine. He rode thousands of miles a year for years. He finally got a girlfriend and realized ""things ain't working like they should be"". He now rides a recumbent.

Saddles are a personal choice. Split or not, proper positioning and fit on the bike (and elsewhere) is important."

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Not so...

Ed Pavelka does not ride a recumbent, though he may have in the past.

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