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I’m getting a new road bike saddle: perineum compression causing numbness.

Monday, June 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

June
17
2013

I’ve been using the WTB Devo saddle on both my mountain bike and my road bike and, overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it. I think as a mountain bike saddle the Devo is perfect for me, but now that I’m doing long road rides pretty regularly, I’ve found the Devo to be unconformable as the rides wear on.

Also–and this is a major concern–when I do trainer rides I’ve noticed that my junk goes numb. This is because the design of traditional saddles restricts blood flow and compresses the perineum. From http://www.medicinenet.com:

The perineum is the area between the anus and the base of the penis in males and between the anus and the vagina in females; it contains both blood vessels and nerves. Compression of the perineum can lead to nerve damage, swelling, artery insufficiency (lack of blood flow through the vessel), and even occlusion (blockage) of blood vessels, which in turn can lead to temporary or permanent groin numbness, tingling sensations, decreased penile blood supply, erectile dysfunction (impotence), decreased orgasm sensitivity, and pain.

Forté Pro XFR Saddle

Forté Pro XFR Saddle

Guys, as we age I think we’ve got more than enough to worry about in that department without doing things to make problems even worse. The numbness is a huge red flag, and I’d be foolish to ignore it.

When I was riding with Harv the other day, during a break we were talking bike equipment. Harv was using a saddle with a cutout, which is designed to completely eliminate pressure on the perineum. He bought it from Performance Bicycle, and I believe it was their house brand, Forté. If I recall correctly it was the Forté Pro XFR Saddle (sorry if I got this wrong, Harv–email me and I’ll edit), which is a steal at around 60 bucks.

Towards the end of the ride Harv offered to let me ride his bike around and check out the saddle. I think at that point I had ridden around 60 miles, and my butt was a little sore. I was pretty shocked by how much more comfortable Harv’s saddle felt compared to mine.

ISM Adamo Road Saddle

ISM Adamo Road Saddle

So the Forté is definitely one option. Another is the Adamo series of saddles by ISM. I know some of you swear by Adamo saddles, and they seem to be extremely well regarded.

ISM offers a really large selection of saddles, and so choosing one is not as straightforward as one might hope. I was looking at ISM’s Road Saddle and their Prologue saddle.

The design of the Adamo saddles looks a little funky, but if they are comfortable on long ride and eliminate numbness that’s fine by me. I’ve got big legs, so it seems like the Podium might be the better choice because it’s a little more narrow than the Road saddle?

The price on the Forté Pro XFR Saddle is extremely low, so that’s a huge plus. Harv remarked at the end of the ride that he’d not even thought about the saddle the whole way. That’s a good thing.

Thoughts on all of this? I’m especially interested in hearing from those who use Adamo and Forté saddles, as well those who use other brands of cutout saddles.

John Stone Fitness Comments

6 Responses to “I’m getting a new road bike saddle: perineum compression causing numbness.”
  1. Oh man, where to begin. When I started seriously riding again, I too noticed some numbness in that area. I park my butt near the back of the saddle with most of the pressure on my “sit bones” (i.e. the Ischium bones). I went through a few saddles with a mid cutout location, but it turned out I needed one whose cutout extended from mid all the way to the back. I ended up a Men’s Terry FLX saddle. It is a race saddle, so it is firm. Saddles with the mid to front cutout are more for time-trialing/triathletes as they usually on the nose of the saddle.

    http://www.terrybicycles.com/Saddles/Mens-Performance/Mens-FLX-Saddle_2

    End of the day, a good bike store that has loaner saddles might be your best friend. I know stores that carry the Specialized saddles have loaners and may even have fitting equip. That Forte saddle is a good price though, so you may luck out.

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  2. Can’t you just stand the whole time, isn’t that like Rule 5 or something. 🙂 j/k, j/k

    On a related note, my parents own a bed and breakfast here in the Allentown/Bethlehem area of PA and they’ve always had this one guest who comes usually at least once a year to do some road rides over like a two week period. Apparently this area is some of the best road riding around…who knew. Any way, I never much paid attention to what they’d tell me about him, but visiting this blog daily has heightened my antennas for this kind of talk. On Saturday they mentioned he went to Lancaster and back…which is a 130 mile round trip! And they say he’s doing road rides everyday of between 80-120 miles. He’s gone 4-8 hours a day. Every morning at breakfast he’ll update them on where he went the previous day and what he saw, and then give them his plans for that day.

    I thought nothing of hearing this in the past few years, but I realize what a feat putting those kinds of miles in actually is. Crazy.

    John, if you ever need a place to stay in PA for a bike-riding vacation or whatnot, I know a nice little private historic B&B you could stay at. 😉

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  3. I run with the adamo and it can get a little uncomfortable at times too. Anything shoved way up there for a prolonged period of time won’t be fun.

    The adamo is designed to have you sit a little more forward on the nose, so be aware that you positioning will change. As joec4242 said, I’m on the front getting as aero as possible though.

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  4. I was having the same problem with numbness and decided to get a different saddle last year. My previous saddle was a Terry Butterfly Ti with a small cutout and I was still getting numbness. My LBS has most of the saddles they sell available to sample before buying, so I tried the ISM breakaway, Racing 2 and a specialized Romin. The Cobb Max also looked interesting, but there was not one available to try. Check with the bike shops in your area to see if they will let you try the saddles you’re looking at before buying.

    For me, the Romin was too hard and narrow. I wanted to like the breakaway, but couldn’t find a comfortable position on it. The ISM Racing 2 was the most comfortable of the 3.

    I’ve had the Racing 2 about a year now and am happy with it. I still get sore on longer rides, but it is all in my sit bones and I don’t get numbness any more. I also feel like I can put down a bit more power because I don’t feel the need to stand up or move around on the saddle as often.

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