Previous research on the link between saddle pressure, rider comfort and urological disorders have focused predominantly on saddle design, bicycle setup and workload. Yet, the effect of chamois design on saddle pressure and perceived comfort during cycling in both men and women remains unresolved.
PURPOSE: In this study we investigated the effects of chamois design on perceived comfort and peak saddle pressure during seated sub-maximal cycling in men and women.
METHODS: Eighteen subjects (9 M; 9 F) participated in two separate protocols, one laboratory- and one field-based. The laboratory protocol required subjects to ride at 2.5 W.kg-1 for 5 minutes using either a new (A) or old (B) chamois design. Saddle pressure was captured for 30 seconds during each trial. At the conclusion of each trial, subjects were asked to rate the chamois on seven different comfort categories (Overall Comfort, Genital Sensation, Genital Comfort, Sit Bone Comfort, Buttocks Comfort, Stability on the Saddle, Off Saddle Comfort). The field protocol required subjects to complete one week of regular cycling training in each chamois design and were asked to complete the same comfort questionnaire at the end of each week. A repeated measures, two-way ANOVA was performed to test for main and interaction effects (Chamois x Sex) on saddle pressure and each comfort category in both the laboratory and field study.
RESULTS: The laboratory protocol resulted in a significant main effect of chamois design on ‘Overall Comfort’ (A>B, p<.05). The field protocol also resulted in a significant main effect of chamois design on ‘Overall Comfort’ (A>B, p<.05) as well as ‘Buttocks Comfort’ (A>B, p<.05). Peak saddle pressures were significantly higher in Chamois B than Chamois A (B=24.5±3.54 psi vs. A=23.06±3.53 psi, p<.05). There was a significant main effect of Sex on Genital Sensation and Genital Comfort (Males>Females, p<.05) under both laboratory and field conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Chamois design is an important factor that affects both peak saddle pressure and perceived comfort for males and females during cycling. Innovation of future chamois designs should focus on providing individualized comfort for males and females. Further research is needed to investigate the possible link between chamois design and the development of urological disorders.