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Short or long saddle, which one suits you?

Short or long saddle, which one suits you?

The bicycle saddle is a component that has undergone a great transformation in recent years. New forms and measures have gone beyond high competition to break into the amateur field. The short saddle is the legacy of this whole movement. New options for the cyclist that come with some doubts: Which saddle is the most suitable or comfortable? [irp posts="4183" name="How to know the correct height to place my bicycle seat"] [irp posts="4137" name="What advantages do antiprostatic saddles provide?"] Understanding the differences between a short and a long saddle is interesting if you are looking for greater comfort on the bike. Here we offer you a comparison, so that you are clear about which one best suits your posture and the type of routes you do.

The short saddle: features and advantages

The trend to shorten the length of saddles, cutting the protrusion of the front part or nose, emerged a decade ago in the world of triathlon and time trial bicycles. The objective was to better accommodate the cyclist's pelvis and advance his posture, bringing it closer to the handlebars, for a more aerodynamic and coupled ride. At the same time, brands like ISM, one of the pioneers in adopting this type of design, expanded the rear part, that of the support of the ischium, to compensate for the less support in the perineum. The sit bones are two bones located at the base of the pelvis that support most of the pressure of the cyclist's weight. In practice, the length of a conventional saddle (260 to 270 mm) was changed to 250 and even 240 mm models. [caption id="attachment_8352" align="alignnone" width="744"]Selle Italia X Green Superflow Saddle Image: Selle Italia X Green Superflow Saddle.[ /caption] Short saddles generally have more ergonomic benefits than those with long noses. Let's review some of them:
  • More comfortable aerodynamic or attack posture. They are recommended saddles for competitive runners, whether on the road, triathlon, and even in the MTB Cross Country modality.
  • Reduced pressure on the perineum. By advancing the posture forward, the perineum (the part of the pelvis located between the genitals and the anus) receives all the pressure of the body's weight against the saddle. As the miles go by, it causes pain and numbness, given its proximity to the pudendal nerve. By reducing the size of the central and front part of the saddle, the pressure point is also reduced and moved more towards the rear pelvis or sit bones. An area further away from this nerve.
A short saddle will have a 10 to 20 mm shorter tip or nose (240 – 250 mm).
  • Less friction (for developed thighs). As the dimensions are compacted, the risk of friction between the thighs and the saddle is lower. Above all, for cyclists with very developed thighs, generally rollers, time trial specialists or track runners. They are the most faithful to the short saddle.
  • Wider and curved. Brands that manufacture short saddle models take the opportunity to widen their rear part, as it is the part that receives a good part of the pressure. Likewise, most are antiprostatic, with a central channel that further relieves oppression of the perineum. Finally, the profile is usually not as straight as in a conventional model. It has a wavy shape that distributes pressure better, also releasing it from the central area.
  • Saddle best adapted to women. The proliferation of short saddles is also beneficial for women, whose specific shape of pelvis adapts perfectly to this type of seat.

Long saddle: advantages and who it is intended for

Even with many points in its favor, the short saddle may not be the best choice for certain cyclists or modalities. This makes the conventional design, with a longer nose, still the majority option; especially in amateur cycling. You want to know why? [caption id="attachment_8355" align="alignnone" width="744"]Fizik Antares R3 Large Saddle. Image: Fizik Antares R3 Large saddle.[/caption]
  • Comfortable in upright postures. A long nose saddle is usually narrower and the support areas on the seat will tend to go backwards. This makes it the best option for riding for a long time in a relaxed pedaling position, not so much in an attack position.
  • More practical for MTB. In this mode, it is strange to ride sitting and coupled for a long time. On the contrary, position changes are frequent to face unevenness, make changes of pace, maintain balance, etc. Therefore, the biker needs a balanced saddle with different support areas, both in the front and rear. Furthermore, the greater width of a short saddle can be counterproductive on descents. The cyclist tends to lean his body backwards to compensate for the inertia of the bike, which could increase the risk of getting his pants or baggy caught in this rear part.
  • Less possibility of friction. Related to the previous point, a greater width is not always the most comfortable option. The hip width of the cyclist must also be taken into account. A wide saddle for a cyclist with narrow hips could cause friction in the thighs, discomfort and inefficiency when riding.
  • More economical saddle. The range of conventional saddles is broader. This is synonymous with price variety. A short saddle has a specific ergonomics and a specific utility. These are factors that end up translating into a higher price.

Short or long saddle: factors to choose the right one

In short, different factors play a role in choosing the type or size of the saddle that you must take into account. The first is your physique. Sit bone width is the basic measurement when looking for the ideal saddle width for you. On the other hand, the degree of pelvic rotation (forward or backward) has a great influence, which determines the length of the saddle. Greater pelvic rotation implies a more forward posture, with greater pressure in the central area.
The choice of one or another size of the saddle will depend on your physique, number of hours sitting, posture and modality.
Another decisive factor is the time you spend sitting on the bike. Many hours riding sitting will imply choosing a more specific saddle or one with improved ergonomics. In this case, short will be the right choice. [caption id="attachment_8353" align="alignnone" width="744"]Bontrager Verse Comp short saddle Image: Bontrager Verse Comp short saddle.[/caption] The position in which you like to ride also influences. If you like to sit towards the tip of the saddle, in attack mode, a short saddle will be the most comfortable option. On the other hand, if you like to roll upright, more relaxed, a longer one will put less pressure on your pelvis. Finally, take into account the type of routes and cycling modality you practice. In general, short saddles are more associated with road or XC cycling. Long saddles are more common in Cycle Touring, Gravel or the more radical MTB (Trail, Enduro, etc.). The sum and balance between all these factors will make it easier to choose the ideal saddle for your bicycle.
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