The pelvis of men and women differ due to the fact that women’s pelvis need to be able to facilitate giving birth. For us however, the contact to the saddle is of interest – and here, the difference is less than often assumed. The concept we have developed to measure the sitbone distance provides us with interesting findings. Meaningful statistics about the sitbone distance as relevant for a bicycle saddle were previously not available. Internet research on the topic of sitbones yields information about German Shepherds, but barely any information about humans. The statistics we have developed over the years show that the sitbone distance in men lies between 6 cm and 16 cm and in women between 9 cm and 17 cm.
The previously rarely considered anatomical difference of women’s generally lower positioned pubic bone arch often leads to high pressure experienced on the saddle nose.
The difference between men & women
There are many women with a narrow sitbone distance and many men with a large sitbone distance. A professional sitbone measurement performed by a trained SQlab dealer simplifies the correct saddle selection and makes multiple test rides unnecessary. Different saddles for men and women are no longer needed with the SQlab concept! The lowered saddle nose relieves the typical problem zone of men, the perineal area and about 2 cm further forward the pressure point between the female pubic bone and saddle nose. (The difference between men and women with only just 2 cm is much smaller than often assumed.)
Research about women specific saddles
The German Sport University Cologne has performed research on women with pressure mapping and two different saddle types (Gel saddle and saddle with cut-out) in various different riding positions. None of the tested saddles showed a satisfactory relieve in the area pf the pubic bone arch / saddle nose. The results concur with our own research performed in our own SQ-lab. The SQlab saddle width system in combination with the lowered saddle nose of the SQlab step saddle is hence not only first choice for men, but also relieves the typical pressure points women experience. This leads to the conclusion that women specific saddles based on a different shape and seating position of men and women are no longer necessary.
The bike saddle with a hole (control) distributes pressure over a smaller surface, with high pressure at the sides of the hole.
Therefore not only did the saddle with a hole not change the amount of pressure on the central part of the saddle, it centralised it in an area, which can potentially cut blood and lymphatic supply to a woman’s outer genitalia. On the control saddle (Fig. 14) high pressures can occur on the sides of the hole, therefore compressing parts of the Labia Majora (shown in red). In the central part of saddle, the Labia Majora gets caught in the middle of the hole. Compression over a limited portion at the centre of each Labium could damage the skin and the lymphatic system, compress the nerves or cut blood supply to the rest of the Labium falling in the middle of the hole. This does not happen on the flat saddle with gel.
Women’s bike seats: a pressing matter for competitive female cyclists
Marsha K. Guess, MD,1 Sarah N. Partin, BA,2 Steven Schrader, PhD,3 Brian Lowe, PhD,3 Julie LaCombe, MD,4 Susan Reutman, PhD,3 Andrea Wang, MD,5 Christine Toennis, BS,3 Arnold Melman, MD,6 Madgy Mikhail, MD,7 and Kathleen A. Connell, MD1
Cut-out and narrower saddles negatively affect saddle pressures in female cyclists. Effects of saddle design on pudendal nerve sensory function were not apparent in this cross-sectional analysis. Longitudinal studies evaluating the long-term effects of saddle pressure on the integrity of the pudendal nerve, pelvic floor and sexual function are warranted.
Pressure pubic bone / saddle nose
The problem is common amongst women! The low positioned female pubic bone presses onto the saddle nose.
The SQlab step saddle with lowered saddle nose reduces the pressure evenly.
Tilting the saddle forward achieves the same outcome – the rider however, will slide forward into the narrow part of the saddle.
A more upright riding position lifts the pubic bone.
Important: check again the saddle width!