Do Noseless Saddles Work?
As a cyclist, you spend an awful lot of time with your butt planted on a bike saddle. Serious cyclists ride for hours at a time, several times a week, and that means saddle discomfort is a significant issue.
Many different companies and bike saddle manufacturers have tried to address this problem to ensure long-term comfort for cyclists. Perhaps no attempted solution is quirkier than the noseless saddle, which makes a resurgence once every decade or so.
These saddles come in various designs, and all aim to solve one key aspect of saddle discomfort: nerve issues in the perineum. Do they do the job? Longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie doesn’t think so. In this article, we’ll look at what noseless saddles are designed for and whether they do more harm than good in trying to accomplish it. We’ll also look at a better way to solve your saddle discomfort problems.
What Is a Noseless Saddle?
There are a variety of noseless saddle designs on the market. Some actually look like a traditional saddle with the nose chopped off or bent downward. Others simply have a platform with one or two cushions for the buttocks. In one way or another, all are missing the typical nose that extends forward between the cyclist's legs.
Whatever form they take, noseless saddles are designed to deal with pressure on the perineum, the soft tissue that extends between your anus and genitals. This is a highly sensitive area that contains a lot of key nerves and tissues related to your sexual and reproductive health.
With traditional bike saddles, cyclists complain of pain, discomfort or numbness in a few key areas: the sit bone, the genitals and the perineum. Noseless saddles aim to address the latter, claiming that numbness and nerve damage to the perineum are significant problems for cyclists. The question is, do they? And, how serious of a problem is it? As it turns out, it’s not the most significant type of discomfort cyclists face, and the noseless saddle solves it by creating other, more serious problems.
Problems With Noseless Saddle Design
Darryl identifies four critical issues with noseless saddles. We’ll explore each in turn below.
They Make It More Difficult To Steer
The nose of your saddle is something you don’t notice until it’s missing. You rely on it more than you think, particularly when steering.
During a typical turn on the bike, you lean your inner thigh into the saddle nose, which provides support for your weight as you turn. When the nose is missing, Darryl notes that you may find the bike harder to control during turns.
They Throw Off Your Balance
Front-to-back balance on the saddle is critical when you’re pedaling. And, here again, the saddle nose is something you take for granted.
“Without a nose, you’re going to feel as if there’s no stability at the front part of the saddle,” says Coach Darryl. “You’ll also have far more weight on your upper arms and pressure on your hands.”
Basically, a missing nose makes you feel like you’re constantly sliding forward, causing you to compensate with extra tension and pressure on your handlebars.
They Attempt To Solve a Very Rare Problem
Of all the saddle discomfort issues that cyclists experience, perineum numbness is the least common. We’ll look at a more significant one in a moment, but the concern here is that noseless saddles are marketed to cyclists based on the fear of something that’s not very likely. That’s always a good reason to pause before you buy.
They Put More Pressure on the Worst Spot
Noseless saddles trade one type of discomfort for another, and this exacerbates a problem that’s much more common. In Darryl’s decades of coaching and bike fits, it’s not the perineum that gives most cyclists trouble — it’s the sit bone. And noseless saddles only make this worse.
Because there’s less saddle surface on which to spread your weight, a noseless saddle means you’re putting even more pressure on your sit bones.
“With all of this weight concentrating on the sit bones, rides of more than a few hours will make that area very sensitive,” says Darryl.
In other words, by going with a noseless saddle, you trade an unlikely problem for a much more likely one — and you probably make it worse.
A Better Solution: The Selle Anatomica Saddle
The good news is that there is a real solution to saddle discomfort. Instead of a noseless saddle, you need something that addresses all the potential problems of saddle soreness without creating a new set of issues. And that’s exactly what the Selle Anatomica saddle does.
Instead of removing the nose, the Selle Anatomica saddle uses several key features to address saddle soreness:
- It has supple, tensioned leather that quickly molds to your body and creates a hammock for your buttocks.
- There’s no hard frame under your buttocks — the tensioned leather provides all the support you need.
- The flex-fly slot down the center relieves pressure on your perineum and allows the saddle to move freely with you as you pedal.
These features provide a comprehensive solution for saddle sores and sit-bone pain, and they do it without throwing off your balance or making it harder to steer.
If you’re experiencing saddle discomfort, don’t go noseless. Try a Selle Anatomica saddle. Each one comes with a 30-day guarantee, so you can send it back if you’re not completely satisfied. Shop all of our tensioned leather saddles now.
Find more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.
Photo by Jeromey Balderrama on Unsplash