Gebiomized Saddle Pressure Analyzer: A Closer Look
Your saddle is probably the most important part of your bike. Yeah, your blingy deep-dish wheels are nice, and that aftermarket aerobar is pretty fly, and your custom paint job is super PRO, but if you don't like what you're sitting on, you're unlikely to sit on it long, and you're definitely not going to be able to ride your bike hard. On the contrary, you're likely to end up slower, with a series of ancillary injuries to boot. Why is this? Well, if you're not initially comfortable on your saddle, you can bet that your body (much smarter than you give it credit, btw) will find a way to make itself more comfortable on that saddle, regardless of whether that makes you faster OR injured somewhere else. Get this part right, and everything else will tend to fall into place. Remember our tagline? Comfort = power, power + aerodynamics = speed. If you don't have comfort, you don't have anything.
Consider George. George came to us with an intriguing problem. He would buy a saddle, enjoy it for 6-12 months, and then begin developing saddle sores which didn't make him ride his beloved bike. George doesn't race; he's firmly in the arena of enjoying cycling, enjoying speed on a bike, but if he's not comfortable doesn't really enjoy the ride. We didn't do a fit with George, diving straight into the saddle analysis. His initial saddle is top left, but here's a closer look, with explanations:
OK, here it is! Lemme explain what you're looking at. This is a top-down view of how George rides his saddle. The lower areas of pressure are blue (or nonexistent, which means he doesn't put any pressure on those parts of the saddle), the higher areas are yellow to red, and then there's that red line stretching across the middle of the saddle, with a lot of thin black lines behind it. What does it all mean? Well, first of all, I can tell that George is someone who really uses the wings of the saddle, where his sitbones are (in fact, this is the area where he usually gets those saddle sores...). Second of all, from the length of the red line, I can tell that he moves around A LOT on his saddle. The red line is the average of the thinner black line behind it. The black line is actually a whole bunch of points (just like any line, really). Each point is a measurement of where George's Center of Pressure (COP from here on out, because, well, COP, right? Super fun) sits on the saddle. Your COP is where your weight lands on the saddle, and you can see that George's COP travels almost the whole width of the saddle. For someone who is complaining about saddle sores, a light went on for me. Perhaps the sores aren't coming from pressure, but an excess of movement? George arrived with a very wide saddle, and I headed over to our saddle library to see if I could find something narrower that would limit his ability to travel too far. Here's our next try:
Not bad! That red line shrank almost in half, suggesting that we'd gotten him to stabilize a little bit on the saddle. The red line also tells us if a rider is slightly twisted in their saddle, depending on the angle of the line. Once we're in a certain range (-15 to 15 degrees from horizontal) then we call it good, but for purposes of explanation, you can see that George is slightly twisted to the left, with his COP moving a little farther forward on the right side of the saddle than on the left. Not a big deal at this amount, but why not see if we can make it even better?
Kaboom! Boy will I take this. This is the Cobb Plus2 saddle, and although it is a "triathlon" saddle, it's shaped a lot more like a road saddle. It's narrower than George's original saddle, and firmer than the Cobb San Remo, which was our second run. You can see that George's COP is the most constrained it's been yet (but with an appropriate and regular amount of movement; if you look closely, you can see that the think black lines behind the red make a nice regular shape), and it's almost perfectly balanced between left and right. He's using the right amount of saddle for a road bike (about 60-40 rear to front), and the pressure is evenly distributed over both sides of the saddle. Yes, there are some higher areas of pressure in those saddle wings than we've seen yet, but I believe that's due to the fact that the Cobb Plus2 is a good bit firmer than the two previous saddles. George may have some rocking in his pedaling motion, but without doing a full fit, we couldn't be sure if it was due to saddle height, a muscular weakness, or habit. We played around with raising the saddle a little bit, but didn't see much an improvement from this. I would happily send George out the door with the above pressure profile, guessing that less pelvic travel would result in less friction, and fewer saddle sores.
Interested in figuring out what saddle will work for you? You don't have to get a full fit to utilize this very cool tool (although we use the pressure analyzer in every fit we do). You can always sign up for a consultation slot, and we'll tear through as many saddles as possible in the time allotted.