Behind Every Woman

Finding the Right Road Bike Saddles for Women
By Kate Carter
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Woman bike racer
How comfortably she sits helps determine how fast and far she will go.

Whether you are a man or a woman, the pleasure of riding a bicycle diminishes fast when your saddle feels like a two-by-four instead of like the comfortable, supportive perch it is meant to be.

The male genitalia and their rapport with the bicycle saddle have received a lot of attention in recent months, thanks to the controversial article that appeared in Bicycling magazine in August 1998. "The Unseen Danger," by Joe Kita, examined Dr. Irwin Goldstein's research on male cyclists who have lost the ability to get or maintain satisfactory erections because of injury allegedly caused by bicycle saddles. Since the article appeared (along with a first-person, true confessions sidebar by Ed Pavelka, Bicycling magazine's Director of New Ventures), manufacturers have produced many new saddles designed to lessen the possibility of impotence caused by long hours on the bicycle.

Unfortunately, no one has come forward to discuss women's saddle problems in such a forthright manner. According to Dr. Ellie Wegner, OB-GYN and Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont, "There is no data in medical literature regarding bike saddle trauma in women." In fact, Wegner, who is also a doctor at the Women's Health Center in Burlington, Vermont, has never treated a woman for saddle complaints. This is not surprising because many women who suffer in the saddle simply stop riding.

Any discussion of genital anatomy is sensitive and must be handled delicately. Women will listen to other women about "female problems," so it was only natural that the sisterhood at Vermont Sports Today should take on the project of researching women's road bike saddles currently on the market. This spring, we put together a test team of four female riders with very different body types and riding interests, who happily sacrificed their crotches in hopes of finding the perfect saddle. Eight saddles were tested and many discoveries were made.

For example, we found that most women are reluctant to make specificcomments about their own anatomy. Even the hangtag on a saddle made by Terry, a company which specializes in cycling products for women, states, "Our 'Women's Lib' saddle gives you nothing just where you need it. You know where."

Well, no we don't. Where exactly?

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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