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07/11/2011 // INFO Leave a comment

Study seeks “better engineered” bike seats for men



We’ve blogged about how cycling potentially affects the quality of a man’s fertility before but what about male impotence. It is one of those cycling issues that retain an aspect of urban myth with riders unsure really whether long-term bike riding really causes sexual dysfunction in men.

New research from the School of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has been looking at how a bike saddle may affect erectile dysfunction. The focus of the study has been to look at how bike seats’ have an effect on pelvic blood flow to the penis and in turn whether there is a relationship with male impotence.

The researchers designed a study to precisely measure the pressure on the male anatomy as opposed to previous studies that had measured the pressure on the bike seat.

Study design

In the study, volunteers rode their bikes for five minutes while a device designed and patented by the UIC researchers recorded data in real time as they tried out six different seat designs.

Riders wore a special pressure sensor in their riding shorts and a portable monitor in a backpack, which allowed a radiologist to use ultrasound to determine how much pressure completely blocks blood flow in each volunteer. Seat designs in the study ranged from a classic design, to some modified in shape or with padding intended to improve comfort.


There was quite an amount of variation in how different seats affected different men. Issues such as their anatomy, their riding posture, and their riding habits all affected the amount of pressure put on the seat.

Additional data is currently being collected for the study and the researchers are now looking for more volunteers to add to their database before coming to more firm conclusions. At the moment, they believe there is no ideal saddle out there that protects men, despite claims by manufacturers.

“The question we would like to answer eventually is whether we can design a universal seat that is good for each and every man,” said Dr. Craig Niederberger, professor and head of urology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The video below lets you know more about the study.

Tips for more comfortable cycling

-Our advice when cycling is to take breaks during long stretches of riding in a sitting position by standing up on the pedals periodically and cycling.

-If you are suffering skin irritations and chaffing, adjust your saddle height.

-Consider getting a new saddle with padding (but not excessive padding) as they do not put so much pressure on the genitals

For more great cycling news and stories follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

See also

Peddling away male fertility?

Commuting by car or public transport can negatively impact health

from Going Going Bike – Auctions, Bike News, Cycle Stuff

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