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Effect of bicycle saddle designs on the pressure to the perineum of the bicyclist.

Lowe BD; Schrader SM; Breitenstein MJ
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004 Jun; 36(6):1055-1062
Increasing awareness of an association between bicycling and male sexual dysfunction has led to the appearance of a variety of bicycle saddles that share the design objective of reducing pressure in the groin of the cyclist by removal of the narrow protruding nose of the saddle. This study compared three of these saddle designs to a traditional sport/road racing saddle with a narrow protruding nose in terms of pressure in the region of the perineum (groin) of the cyclist. Saddle, pedal, and handlebar contact pressure were measured from 33 bicycle police patrol officers pedaling a stationary bicycle at a controlled cadence and workload. Pressure was characterized over the saddle as a whole and over a region of the saddle assumed to represent pressure on the cyclist's perineum located anteriorly to the ischial tuberosities. The traditional sport/racing saddle was associated with more than two times the pressure in the perineal region than the saddles without a protruding nose (P < 0.01). There were no significant differences in perineal pressure among the nontraditional saddles. Measures of load on the pedals and handlebars indicated no differences between the traditional saddle and those without protruding noses. This finding is contradictory to those studies suggesting a shift toward greater weight distribution on the handlebars and pedals when using a saddle without a nose. The recommendation of a saddle without a narrow protruding nose appears to be justified to reduce pressure to the perineum of the bicyclist.
Excretion; Equipment-design; Bicycles; Reproductive-effects; Reproductive-hazards; Men; Sporting-and-athletic-goods; Sports-medicine; Author Keywords: Bicycling; erectile dysfunction; impotence; groin pressure
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Mail Stop C-24, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Fertility and Pregnancy Abnormalities
Source Name
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division