You spend a lot of time on the saddle of your bike. As a chap, that’s a lot of pressure going through very small, and sensitive area of the body. Some people get worried about problems with the prostate and the perineal region as a result of cycling, so a series of saddles have been produced to help protect that area. The Rido R2 saddle, has been specifically designed to consider problems in that sensitive area. But with the range of saddles available, what is the science behind perineal pressure?
Rido R2 Saddle Review
There are many saddles in the market, covering all shapes and sizes. There are also multiple “noseless” saddles, from Adamo to Fizik Tritone, which as the name suggests tend to be more focused towards the triathlon crew, along with rafts of saddles all promising the last word in cornering ability, comfort or style…although it appears you can only choose one of those!
Rather than creating a saddle with pressure points as an additional focus, John Kenney at Rido looked at specifically producing a saddle for people who may already have issues, or problems down below and then worked backwards from there to give the R2 saddle.
Before we look at the Rido R2 saddle in detail, lets look at the science behind the saddle, and the interactions it can have with a man’s perineum!
Saddled by science
That might sound a little bit focused purely towards comfort, but at the end of the day, cycling, even for fitness, is not going to be looked at favourably if it’s a highly uncomfortable time. But that discomfort relates to a more significant consideration – damage.
As biological organisms, our bodies are, at least to some degree, good at looking after us. If something is causing discomfort or pain, that’s basically your tissues saying they are sustaining damage, and to stop NOW
An important point here – I’m not saying that means you are causing harm. After all, that burning pain in the legs at the top of a climb is due to micro tears in the muscle fibres, which in turn allow us to heal and become stronger.
However there are other areas of the body which don’t particularly adapt well, nerves particularly – just ask anyone who has ever had a disc prolapse!
So where am I going with this?
A few months ago at work we had an update from one of the local urologists – Mr Chris Lewis – who brought along a very startling statistic that 50% of men under-50 years of age coming into the urology clinic with perineal pain (the area between the anus and penis) are cyclists… that’s potentially a significant proportion of his work load. Then, probably because I was aware of it, I came across several young patients as the practice with perineal and prostate issues, which seemed to be irritated by cycling. The issue for me though, was that I wasn’t able to confidently recommend, from a medical perspective, any particular saddles or solutions – just saying “Dont bike for 6 months” didnt really seem to cut it either!
With that in mind, this will be the first in a series of saddle reviews aiming to try and protect our sensitive parts on the bike.
Perineum, Prostate, What is the science?
OK, let’s take a look at the anatomy downstairs, we might be able to see where things go wrong – it just so happens my office is full of plastic specimens!
So the yellow arrow is the prostate – the sort of slight triangular organ sitting around the urethra (labelled in red). As you can see here the prostate is actually hidden relatively deeply inside. As a result it it quite well protected from the saddle and injury generally
Lips et al in 2005 even studied the PSA levels of elite and professional cyclists doing over 3 hours a day in the saddle, and compared them with skiers, runners and sedentary chaps. Their well designed study, showed that in a NORMAL PROSTATE (vital statement) the PSA level was not affected by cycling. So that sounds great!
Just to clarify that point:
Most men are aware of the PSA, and that it has something to do with prostate cancer. One very simple way to look at it might be as “tears of the prostate”. There are three big things going to raise the PSA, and cause the prostate to “cry”
- – Prostate cancer
- – Prostatitis
- – Urinary tract infections
- – Injury – but as we have seen from the above studies, in the short term there doesnt appear to be a big impact on the prostate, if you already have no issues in that area
Given that we have studies saying that a healthy prostate doesn’t seem to be affected by cycling – What is it that causes the problem for male cyclists and the prostate, or the perineum.
We all know that cycling can cause issues for chaps, but what is going on? Certainly there are lots of places that tell you cycling isnt great for the prostate – Prostate.net. There are even patents specifically for prostate protecting bike seats. However as we’ve just seen, there isn’t a huge amount of clinical evidence to support that. It may be that if you already have an issue with the prostate, it may aggravate it. But lets look at what happens on the bike from an anatomy perspective
So when you sit on a bike, your weight it taken through the feet, perineum “between the legs”, and through you ischial tuberosities, or sit bones. If we can shift weight through the ischial tuberosities, we’re going to reduce the chance of damaging the squishy bits!
However there is also a lot of pressure going through your perineum shown below by the yellow arrow
The problem with pressure on the perineal area is that, there are a lot of important blood vessels and nerves there, as shown here, – nerves being drawn on in yellow:
This area can be strained by pressure from a fall onto a bike cross bar, but also from continued pressure from a saddle pushing up. This part of the anatomy is also shared by women, and can be similarly damaged, so cut out and pressure reducing saddles are not just for the boys!!
Some papers have 7-8% of cyclists on a long day ride affected by pressure in this area, with symptoms being pain, urinary issues, and genital discomfort, all of which are very similar to the problems men can complain of with the prostate. The paper linked here has an awful lot of very interesting information including how bike fits can affect this region.
Offloading pressure from this area is VITAL for the healthy use of cycling, and a slight tingling or numbness may really suggest an issue that needs addressing, which leads us to the saddle reviews
Rido 2 Saddle Review
The Rido 2 Saddle is a bit of a beast… and that might actually be a compliment. It looks huge, being 2.25″ wider, something which is greatly visually exaggerated in this Prostate Cancer Support blue and white colour scheme, but that is actually a good thing for protecting the nether region
But part of that size is for the actual design, as you are trying to off load the perineum, and the blood vessels and nerves it contains. The nature of the Rido 2 design encourages you to put more weight through the ischial tuberosities/sit bones, helping to off load the perineum through posture, in addition to the saddle shape.
The all important CRO-Mo bars
But we are not going to see braided carbon here: this saddle is focused to looking after you first and foremost!
The Rido 2 is build for maintaining comfort and your soft tissues and, as a result, function is the priority, not necessarily weight!
As mentioned above, a lot of cyclists can end up inflaming the ligaments around the pelvis, due to the way a classical seat supports you purely through the ischial tuberosities. By being that bit wider, the Rido 2 reduces that pressure as well.
Just to cover this one, the PSG mentioned on the side of the saddle stands for Pressure Shift Geometry
As mentioned, the white densely padded areas help to encourage pressure through the sit bones, in turn promoting slightly flexion, or rolling the pelvis forwards, and your soft tender bits away from the saddle. With the channel between also helping to reduce pressure on the perineum.
It looks the there is a lot of padding here. However the padding is actually very dense, so compresses slightly, and comfortably, but not excessively
Using the Rido 2
So, after taking off my usual Fizik Tritone saddle, the Rido 2 was bolted on. The colour doesnt quite go with the Foils silver, black and red highlights scheme – but a reviewer has to suffer these things ?
Using the saddle is initially a bit of an odd experience. You feel quite high initially, which results in a little tweaking. But it is so comfortable. The only way of comparing it is like sitting on a sofa – possibly as it also feels very wide.
By keeping the nose, you retain good cornering control over the bike – I’ve had lots of conversations before with people saying that they feel like they are falling off noseless saddles like the Adamo. You certainly feel in a different position on the bike.
I did a 65Km test ride with a friend and swapped bikes half way round for a short section – WOW, he was on a Prologo – I think a Navo, I was very pleased to swap back. By comparison it felt like I was riding a razorblade!!!
But I’ve never really had an issue with bike seats outside, so it’s a bit hard to say how things are affected outside… inside though, I have noticed issues before.
Rido 2 on Zwift
On Zwift, riding the bike attached to the turbo, you dont move around as much as when outdoors. Because of that very fixed position for long periods of time, I have previously noticed some discomfort. After tweaking the Rido 2 position again, I can say it was a very comfortable Zwift ride. No numbness at all.
Yes it feels a little wider still when sat on the turbo, but overall the outcome seems a much better feeling than with the Tritone.
The science behind the Rido 2 for protecting your perineum is good, although I’ve not managed to find any scientific support for prostate issues directly – but that goes for any such saddle.
The Rido 2 was design by a man who had a problem getting back on his bike. Unsurprisingly it worked for him, and feels very comfortable for me to boot.
I think one of the real uses for the Rido 2 is on the turbo. That lack of movement which we take for granted outside really builds up on Zwift. If you are lucky enough to have bike purely for use on the turbo, this might be a saddle to consider to deal with any problems you might have. If dont have any issues, but think the saddle is a good idea, Rido also produce the RLt – same design, sleeker, preventative package, but I haven tested that yet.