Saddle sore is definitely not part of the deal
TEXT / BAS TOOMS | PHOTOS / CAPTUREDNL
Are you one of those cyclists who think that saddle sore and pain are the unavoidable downsides of cycling? Get a bike fit and consider a different saddle, because there’s much to gain, says BBB ambassador Lise Visser. Most people do their bike fitting themselves, or their bike mechanic gives it a well-intended try. This will do the trick for some, but everyone stands to gain from a bike fit – and in some cases: a lot to gain.
Bike fits come in all shapes and sizes, but if you’re looking to be comfortable on your bike and want only the best for your derrière, bike fitting advice and material are not to be skimped on. That’s why Robic in Amsterdam spends two hours analysing Lise in and out before she returns home with BBB’s flagship saddles: the Echelon and the Convoy.
Before trying the saddles on her new bike, however, Lise steps into physical therapist Florian Smits’ room. At Robic, every bike fit starts with a screening session with their physio. Lise is measured, weighed, and thoroughly tested. Florian examines her physical constitution, injuries, and ambitions. And most importantly: what does she feel when riding thousands of miles a year as part of her team, de Jonge Renner?
“Really no complaints, or no real complaints?” The question surprises Lise. “Well, I do occasionally have shoulder and back pain, but that’s really no big deal.” The pain flares up especially on long rides, and lingers for days afterwards. Florian shakes his head several times over the course of the consultation. “Of course it shouldn’t be like that.”
Everyone thinks a little pain and discomfort come standard with cycling, but whoever came up with that?
Physical Therapist at Robic
Yet many riders are content with it. “Everyone thinks a little pain and discomfort come standard with cycling, but whoever came up with that?”, he says while instructing Lise through some stretching exercises that test her mobility.
Saddles play an important part. No two people are built the same, let alone their bikes and their positions on them. So why settle for a standard issue saddle?
Over the course of the session, Florian keeps finding more seemingly small issues, like a snapping hip. Then he puts his thumbs into Lise’s back. Her face disappears into the white examination table, she gasps and her fingers grasp the fabric cover of the table. “I felt that alright,” she admits.
Lise should visit a physical therapist more often. And she should make sure her bicycle fits her body perfectly. That’s where bike fitter Wouter Ruchtie comes in. In the next room he has already mounted her bike on a trainer. Florian goes through his findings with Wouter, who then knows what to pay particular attention to.
Wouter immediately notices there’s a standard issue saddle on Lise’s bike. That’s far from ideal. He puts a saddle cover with a pressure mat on Lise’s saddle, fits insoles with pressure plates in her shoes, and rigs her with all kinds of sensors. The sensors produce heat maps on Wouter’s screen. He can see exactly where improvement can be made and what he needs to adjust to better fit Lise on her bike.
Wouter notices a large gap in power distribution between left and right. Similarly, Lise leans more on the right side of the saddle. Wouter manages to partly remedy this by adjusting her shoe cleats and saddle height, but Lise clearly needs a different, wider saddle.
First in line is the Convoy, a robust saddle that offers great support on long rides. It also has a pressure- relieving channel that makes sure the bloodstream isn’t obstructed.
Every time a change has been made in the setup, Lise has to pedal for a few minutes to generate new heat maps. The red areas in the heat maps are a lot less pronounced, yet Wouter isn’t entirely satisfied yet.
That’s why he fits the bike with a wider, 155 mm version of the Echelon. Designed with a pressure-relieving cut-out in the middle, the saddle should be a perfect match for Lise’s ambitions: the Echelon is perfect for cycling fanatics who want to take long rides in an aggressive position. Wouter’s screen shows him that he’s got it right: the heat maps are much more symmetrical and the red areas have all but disappeared.
Wow, what a difference!
Backyard Crew Member
“Wow, what a difference!”, Lise cries out as soon as she starts pedalling. The saddle suits her build and offers support in all the right places.
Amazing what a two-hour bike fit and a different saddle can do. It makes you think: why spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on a bike, and then try to economize on a proper fit? You and your bottom deserve better.