What your saddle could be saying about your fit
When cyclists come for a fit at Winning Position, there are a number of ‘tells’ that I look for. These tells can provide an insight into what’s going on with their fit. One of the things I look at is saddle position.
In this article I’m going to share with you some of the saddle presentations that I see and some possible reasons as to why a cyclist might be positioning their saddle in this way.
If the saddle nose points skyward, the saddle could be trying to tell you it’s too narrow.
A saddle that lacks sufficient width leads to a rider scooting back, searching for a wider perch. We typically want to sit on a flat(ish) surface. If the back of the saddle kicks up then, to achieve a flat surface, it has to be angled up. It might be time for a new saddle.
Another possible reason for a raised saddle nose is that the cyclist is riding with a posterior pelvis orientation. Something I describe as “bottom tucked”. This often is a carry over from how the cyclist sits during other activities. Like desk work. (I’ll revisit this in a future article.) A bottom tucked position leads to the lower back being in a more convex or rounded position. This is not great as the firing of the gluteal muscles is hampered. In addition, the load placed on the lower back can lead to pain and potentially ongoing medical issues.
If the saddle is doing a good impression of a playground slide, it could be saying that the position is off.
If the reach or drop to the handlebars is too much for a cyclist, they will typically roll their pelvis forward on the saddle. Doing so can result in excessive pressure on the “soft” bits around the pubic bone. The rider may then try to relieve this discomfort by tilting the saddle nose towards the floor.
An excessively angled nose is not optimal as it can result in the cyclist sliding forward on the saddle. It can also lead to hand and shoulder pain as the rider has to brace themselves with their upper body.
Uneven saddle wear
Occasionally a saddle will present with more wear on one side. This saddle is telling you that the rider does not sit symmetrically on the bike. This is most commonly due to a rotation of the pelvis. Many individuals , even when not on the bike, will present with an asymmetrical pelvis/hips complex. In fact the majority of the population have some level of asymmetry. This can show up when sitting on the saddle. Or it may not – the body is very clever at adjusting and adapting to its environment, such as a symmetrical bike.
Rotation of the pelvis can be reduced by improving the foot-pedal interface and/or altering the saddle height. We don’t need to achieve perfect symmetry, just reduce it enough to avoid any of the problems that can flow from it.
Saddle height too low.
Finally I’ll quickly mention this one as I see it far more often that I would have expected! A saddle that’s too low might be telling you to check your position more frequently. And to use friction paste.
Seat posts often slip gradually over time. It’s so subtle that the rider doesn’t notice, even if they have dropped centimetres! It is a good idea when first fitted to place a small marker on your seat post then check monthly that everything is where it should be.