Updated: May 13 2007
In 2016 this original article has been expanded and turned into a book: Don't Let Your Bike Seat Ruin Your Sex Life: Ergonomic Bike Seats And Practical Pointers That Could Save Your Sex Life. Also see updated listing of ergonomic bike seats and scientific studies on Cycling-Related Sexual Dysfunctions.
Apparently many serious male cyclists suffer (or may suffer) from erectile dysfunction (impotence) due to the unhealthy bike seat (which most seats are). And if you have one of the problems like prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), coccyx pain, painful urination then you can't really use the conventional style bike seats.
As some sites say for female riders, these seats create physical distress to the vulvar region (especially those who have have vulvodynia or contact vulvitis).
And almost any serious bike rider has at least pain, numbness and something chafing complaints.
Scientific evidence proves that saddles with "horns" cause erectile dysfunction in males and suggests that females may also have health issues with traditional seats. (Schrader 2005; Schrader, et al 2002)
You can read the article in NY Times: Serious Riders, Your Bicycle Seat May Affect Your Love Life (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/04/health/nutrition/04bike.html?ei=5088&en=8279186f16a1ca32&ex=1286078400&pagewanted=print). Here is a quote from that article:
"We make kids wear helmets and knee pads," Dr. Goldstein said. "But no one thinks about protecting the crotch."
Here is an Interview (http://video.indiana.edu:8080/ramgen/ip/soundmed/2006/032606_3.rm) with Dr. Schrader on the subject of horned bicycle saddles (Real Audio)
Lowe, et al (2004) (http://www.bycycleinc.com/pages/lowe_4_saddles.pdf) summarized their findings that "The recommendation of a saddle without a narrow protruding nose appears to be justified to reduce pressure to the perineum of the bicyclist."
And here is another article from Massage Therapy Journal: Cycling And Your Health.
I guess you could find a lot of related information online. For me - I didn't need any of these supporting articles, my toes would just go numb after 30 minutes bike ride -- hence my research, so that I could continue bike riding, and still keep my partner happy in bed.
To save you time I decided to write this article. I've also tried to find direct "factory" links to purchase the seat and also ebay and similar online shops so that you can buy it cheaper.
So these are the bike saddles I found that are reported to be a good solution for the problems described in the introduction to this article. Almost each one of these bike seats had contradictory reviews, where someone loved those seats and someone else hated those (of course you'd have to read those on the net and not on the manufacturers' websites - since they would only post positive testimonials). Since these bike saddles aren't a commodity (yet?) most of the time you can't even go to your local bike shop and try them out, but have to order online from somewhere and hope that it'll be a good choice. Luckily most offer a money return guarantee.
So here are the "safe" bike seats for you to consider (in no particular order). Some of those are similar to a standard bike seat, but without a center horn. Others are made from two halves. Apparently the latter are better, since all the weight goes to the seat bones.
Unisex Bicycle Saddle Super-tough, all-weather polyurethane seat pads High-grade polished stainless steel frame Pre-loaded suspension system.
Super-tough, all-weather polyurethane seat pads
High-grade polished stainless steel frame
Comfortable pre-loaded suspension system
Comfortable ergonomic design
Fits standard seat posts and clamps
The SPONGY WONDER BICYCLE SEAT puts absolutely no damaging pressure on the tailbone, prostate, nerves and arteries in the perineum (the area between the rectum and genitals) and completely eliminates all irritating and damaging pressures to the vulvar region.
The SPONGY WONDER BICYCLE SEAT is approximately 4 inches shorter than most seats and the front part of the rail does not get in the way or present any danger.
The dual platforms of the SPONGY WONDER BICYCLE SEAT are tilted to eliminate the problem of non-adjusting seatpost clamps. If you do have a tilting seatpost clamp, then the SPONGY WONDER BICYCLE SEAT gives you even more adjustment options!
MoonSaddle has been specifically designed to eliminate pressure on the perineum of bicyclists. This is especially important as the "horn" or nose of traditional bike saddles has been shown to contribute to erectile dysfunction, lower sperm counts and contribute to health problems in women. Traditional saddles can be painful. MoonSaddle solves both of these problems. Constructed of long lasting high tech materials it will provide bicyclists years of trouble free riding in "pressure free" comfort.
Dual Pad "Pressure Relief" Seat. Hobson seats eliminates painful pressure on the perineum of male riders and eliminates vaginal nerve damage to women riders.
The SEAT® takes the pressure off soft tissues and tender organs. The Seat reduces the risks of impotency and other injuries with its revolutionary "horn-less" design.
The SelleSMP SMP4Bike saddle was born out of extensive ergonomic studies of high mileage cyclists and the way they interact with the bicycle saddle on long rides.
I couldn't find the seat on their site, but did find it on amazon.
No one has to be told how uncomfortable cycling can be.
Lifelong cycling enthusiasts who say they've got used to eating up all those miles on their trusted conventional saddles, beware the physical damage you could be doing to yourselves. Chances are you're not actually 'breaking in' your saddles as you might think.......... the saddles are breaking you in, although you might not want to admit to it!
Leisure cyclists: that numbness feeling you're getting during and after your ride is very real. Your body is trying to tell you something and you should start to heed its warnings.
And for those of you whose bicycles are doing nothing more than collect dust in the garage because you find using them too uncomfortable: if there was an affordable solution to this discomfort wouldn't you prefer to ditch the car once and a while in favour of one of the best forms of exercise there is?
Amazing isn't it. With all the engineering sophistication that goes into today's bicycles, whether they be road going racers or off-road mountain bikes, perineal (that's the 'crotch') discomfort has yet to be seriously remedied....... UNTIL NOW, THAT IS!
The BiSaddle® was initially designed primarily to function as a saddle for long distance road or exercise bike riders, but can and has been used successfully for all sorts of riding. The latest BiSaddle® construction uses thicker outer elastomer or foam surface materials which are more comfortable.
The saddle is designed to support riders only on the bottom of their pelvic girdle and not put pressure on any soft tissue (perineum). The saddle consists of two individually adjustable surfaces that have two points of adjustment each (front and back, thus lots of adjustability). These surfaces are contoured to fit the curvature of the bottom bones of the pelvic girdle (Ischiopubic rami and Ischial Tuberosities to be exact.). These surfaces are mounted on a frame that allows the surfaces to be positioned to allow for both separation and angular variations.
This design addresses erectile dysfunction in men by allowing for up to 3/4 inch of separation of the surfaces in the front, which is where the dorsal artery passes under the pubic symphasis (bottom of the V) and into the genitals. By only supporting riders on the bones at the bottom of the pelvic girdle it also eliminates pressure on the perineum. The perineum is where the prostate is for men and where all of women's genitalia resides.
The design also eliminates the pressure that the standard saddle horn puts on nerves, arteries & veins that run along the sides of the ischiopubic rami (legs of the V).
The adjustability of the surfaces was initially thought to allow riders to position the surfaces directly underneath their unique pelvic architecture. Subsequent experience has shown that positioning of the surfaces must also take into account individual variations in where nerves, veins and arteries exist.
The latest version of the BiSaddle® includes optional height shims for the surfaces to accomodate potential pelvic variations.
The Comfort Saddle is a revolutionary breakthrough in bike seat comfort for recreational cyclists.
It is a unique bike seat designed to alleviate the discomfort many cyclists experience with conventional saddles.
The patented RQ8 suspension system moves with you as you pedal, matching the motion of the seat to your natural swaying movements, giving you a more efficient, balanced and smoother ride.
The suspension does not require you to balance on the horn of a bicycle seat so the Comfort Saddle has no horn. It can take you over any terrain without risking damage to those parts of your body normally defended by your pelvis, that conventional horned saddles are so perfectly designed to defeat.
With this revolutionary saddle you do not need any more wadding to avoid pain. After trying this you will not use the old shape saddle anymore! Consider for just a moment where your body weight is concentrated when you sit on your bicycle... with this new saddle, the central support that hurts you litterally desappear consequently your weight is not pressing there anymore. You will regain the pleasure of riding a bicycle avoiding any pain and any prostatic problem as well. With this new concept saddle you will confortably seat. Your way of pedalling will be fluid and stronger because you can better thrust on the pedals.
This saddle is fully made in Italy from fist quality and durable materials. You can easly set it up to find your best riding position. Unisex. Suitable for every kind of bicycle. Worldwide patented.
(website no longer available.)
Pamper your bottom with padded 'lawn chair like' comfort and start enjoying your bicycle once again today. No longer will you have to tolerate straddling an unyielding, unforgiving, and uncomfortable bike saddle. Saddles are for horses!
In addition to human and mechanical tests and trials, more than five years of rigorous Research and Development also made extensive use of computer modelling to guide the development to a successful outcome.
As indicated elsewhere, the concept of a bicycle seat was first conceived some three decades ago - at least as far as resorting to the first patent in regard to such a product. None of them understood the critical importance of Point-Vector-Positioning (PVP) in the 'inverted L' design.
PVP is essential for setting up the correct triangulation between handlebars, seat and pedals. But the 'inverted L' design comes at a price... huge stresses are generated around the seat clamp area. In the first two years of R&D, this was not understood. As a result, all the first prototypes failed, all the way up to and including the Mark 8.
It was only the introduction of computer modelling technology to the problem that came up with answers. In many ways, this was an extraordinary period of the R&D. For as small as the seat is on the outside, the inside was full of problems that in microcosm replicated those found in dockyard cranes!
Created with your health and riding comfort in mind. Riding on an ordinary bicycle saddle is like straddling a fence, with much of your body weight bearing down uncomfortably on a small area. Imbedded arteries are being compressed, perhaps even crushed, which could result in numbness, pressure on the perineum urethra and could even cause or contribute to other causes of impotency. Our unique design eliminates these concerns by eliminating numbness, pressure on the prostate, arteries, tailbone, perineum and urethra. Removing the traditional horn and forming two pads instead of one eliminate numbness created by conventional saddles, as well as pressure on the tailbone and other sensitive body parts.
(website no longer available.)
If you know of other seats that aren't on this list, please let me know and I'll add them here.
Have a safe ride!
As I finished the research I decided to try the Spongy Wonder. I haven't been biking much lately, so it's hard to tell whether I'll get used to it quickly. I don't suffer from numbness anymore, but I find it hard to signal turns, since I don't feel safe enough to let my hands go of the handle bars. My friend who uses this seat, said that I need a bike with a higher frame, so that I could use my hip to lean on the frame, while I take my hand off the handle bar. He says it works well for him. Time will show.
Another update. I ended up not using the seat, because it wasn't safe for cycling in the city. Perhaps more advanced cyclists will have it easier. I found a normal seat with a special hole in the center that seems to work quite well.
Later on I received an email from Jeff Dixon, quoting it in full: I am Jeff Dixon owner of Spongy Wonder Inc. I hope you do not mind if I respond to your comment that the SW is not safe for riding in the city. The first thing I would like to say is that we have been in business for 11 years and if the seat was not safe to ride we would have been sued out of existence long ago. The second thing is 90% of my riding is in the city and I can use my arms to hand signal no problem. Most of our riders are city riders and we do not receive reports such as yours except for a very small percentage who confess to have only tried it once or twice. Let me use a comparison: If you have had dogs for 20 years and never had a cat - quite obviously it is a different animal and one cannot expect to fully understand and/or appreciate it in the first day or week. It takes a little time as does a complete "paradigm shift" like moving from a single platform to dual platform seat.
Bicycle Seats Explained (http://www.jimlangley.net/crank/bicycleseats.html)