The fundamentals of being a cyclist are simple – maintain a healthy lifestyle and maintain your bicycle! When it comes to looking after your bicycle there is one very important item that most people tend to forget about, can you guess what that is? It’s the saddle.
First of all it’s probably the most difficult item to choose on your bike and with good reason – there are just so many. Saddles these days come in all different shapes and sizes, whereas back in the day, saddles seemed very similar. We all have a saddle and we all enjoy riding, but how do we know when it is time to test or replace a saddle? To answer this I have compiled a few ideas from personal experiences and from the professionals.
Starting off on your new saddle it might feel slightly uncomfortable and hard but eventually the saddle forms itself into something you need, rather than something it needs to be – if that makes any sense. Think of a new pair of shoes that you use for running and how they slowly lose their agility over time.
We all have that friend that has been using the same saddle for the last 5 years and has clocked and average of 15 -20 thousand km’s per a year. Yet, he refuses to seek a new saddle option or replace his current one with the same model because it has “become comfortable”. This isn’t wrong but l would just like to point out that saddles do get old just as people do. So here is a bit of helpful information that might convince you to look at replacing your saddle once it hits its lifespan.
Take a note – Remember that a saddle isn’t going to always be new even if it looks like it’s in good shape. The foam on the inside will lose its vibrancy and you wouldn’t notice it straight away – it happens at a slow rate, much like hair growth. So remember to take note of how long and how many kilometers you have been using your saddle, so that when the thought comes along for a saddle replacement you have an idea on the time and distance spent using it.
There are so many saddle brands out there and they are in some or other way different. Most saddle companies agree though that saddles should be replaced around the 15.000km mark.
We should also remember that a saddle is only as comfortable as we make it out be. If you haven’t tested multiple saddles how would you know what is comfort and what isn’t? What I’m trying to say is, make sure you don’t settle for the first saddle that is handed to you, test a few or have a professional assist you in finding the perfect fit.
There are a few good ways of finding out what saddle is best suited for you such as Gebiomized, this uses a mat that one places over the saddle and identifies where the pressure is being loaded. Another system is MyOwn by Prologo, this uses a gel mat to indicate sit bone location and also takes flexibility and BMI into account then predicting what saddle suits the customer’s physique better. Lastly, another one that I would like to mention is that of Selle Italia called IdMatch. This system measures waist, inner thigh width and flexibility to identify the best saddle in their range.
To close off, remember that a saddle is very important to the rider as it provides the comfort for long and hard hours on the bike. Log your kilometers and remember to take your saddle into account when booking a bike in for a service – the time will come when replacing your saddle is necessary. If you are willing to try out a different, I recommend it. It is best to test the field as you will only know what is truly comfortable when you have tried a few different types.
Author: Mark – Wolfis Bike Shop
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