The team in Cologne was asked to answer three questions:
- What widths of saddle are required to match the sitbone widths of riders?
- What are the gender-specific requirements for saddle width?
- What shape of saddle is best for different riding positions?
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Average sitbone widths are slightly greater in women
The university measured the ischial bone dimensions of 240 people, male and female, of different ethnic origins. Female sitbones were between 9 and 17cm apart with an average of 13.04cm, while male sitbone dimensions varied between 7 and 15cm with an average of 11.58cm, but there was significant overlap in ranges between the sexes.
Gender differences are only significant in more racy riding positions
Sixty-six subjects were asked to ride a static bike for 30 minutes at torso angles of 30, 45 and 60 degrees and the pressure profile on the saddle was measured using an array of 64 sensors. At 30 degrees much of the body’s weight is borne by genital soft tissue and there are differences in pressure distribution between the sexes, whilst in more upright riding positions there is little difference as the majority of the rider’s weight is borne on the sitbones.
A raised back to the saddle distributes pressure better
The team looked at pressure distribution for different saddle shapes. It determined that the saddle’s nose should not be too narrow, to promote better pressure distribution. A central cut-out does not help as it just resulted in more saddle pressure in other areas, but an indent does help reduce saddle pressure. A slightly raised rear platform to the saddle also helps provide better support to the sitbones.
The new Scientia saddle is based on these results
Based on this research Selle Royal developed its new saddle to accommodate different rider profiles. The fitting system uses a bench with a gel pad to determine the rider’s sitbone width. Sitting on the pad creates an impression of the bones’ contact area, which is used to measure the sitbone width. Based on how upright the preferred riding position is, this is then used to select one of nine different saddle profiles.
The Scientia saddle has a gel insert running down its centre and comes with curved rails which meet the saddle top right at the rear to help absorb additional road shock. Since the research did not identify significant differences between results for men and women, the new saddle is not gender-specific.
There’s more info on the Scientia saddle range, which will retail at 79 Euros, on Selle Royal’s website.
Selle Royal is a leisure-focussed saddle brand, so its saddles are designed for more upright riding positions, but it has shared its results with its sister brand Fizik, which is very much a performance brand. So expect new products from Fizik based on Selle Royal’s research.