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Difference between a men´s and a women´s bicycle saddle?

 distinction between a women's and a men's saddle is not necessary with a step saddle, because the decisive factor is the sit bone distance. The correct saddle width guarantees that the sit bones rest fully on the saddle. This is the only way to relieve the sensitive perineal area in men and the usually lower pubic arch in women.

The difference between men and women

The pelvis of man and woman differ mainly in the fact that a woman's pelvis must allow birth. For us however, the contact to the saddle is of interest – and here, the difference is less than often assumed.

The concept we developed to measure the distance between the sit bones provided us with interesting insights. There were no meaningful statistics about the sit bone distance relevant for the saddle so far. When researching the Internet on the subject of sit bones, you can find a lot about e.g. shepherd dogs, but almost nothing about humans. The statistics we have developed over the years show that the distance between the sit bones of men's between 6 cm and 16 cm and between 9 cm and 17 cm for women.

Why measure sit bones? 

The sit bones are used to support the body weight during normal sitting and can absorb high pressure, this should also be the case when cycling. The sit bones are the lowest point of our pelvis and transition from the ischial branches to the pubic branches. The left and right pubic branches meet at the pubic arch, where they form the pubic symphysis. Depending on the sitting position, the bearing surface extends from the large ischial tuberosities over the ischial branches and the pubic branches to the pubic arch.

The widely branching network of nerves and blood vessels of the perineal area extends from the anus over the genitals to the upper pubic arch. Laterally, it extends over the upper pubic rami. 

These can absorb light weight - but pressure reduction is urgently needed. 

Due tothe SQlab width concept, the main load of the body weight is placed on the sit bones when cycling. A uniform pressure reduction in the perineal area and the upper pubic bones is achieved via the lowered saddle nose of the SQlab step saddle concept. 

Anatomical explanation: pelvis and sitting bones 

The difference between bike sadlles for woman and a man

The anatomical difference of the pubic arch, which is usually much lower in women's pelvises, has hardly been noticed so far and often leads to unpleasant pressure points on the saddle nose. The lower saddle nose relieves the pressure on this sensitive area for both women and men across the entire width. Different saddles for men and women are no longer necessary with the combination of the SQlab step saddle concept and the individual saddle width. A measurement of the sit bone distance at a SQlab specialist dealer makes it easier to choose the right saddle and saves unnecessary test rides.

This results in the most important rule for more comfort and relief on the bicycle saddle: measure the sit bone distance!

Only by measuring the distance between the sit bones and calculating the optimum saddle width is it possible to guarantee that the sit bones rest fully on the saddle. With the additional lower saddle nose, the sensitive perineal area in men and the usually lower pubic arch in women can be relieved. 

Different saddles for women and men are no longer mandatory with the SQlab saddle concept! 

In 3 steps to the right bike saddle for woman and man

Here's what to consider:

1. Measure sit bones

2. Determine the correct saddle width 

3. Suitable saddle shape for relief 


Women & Bike Saddle: Tips & Tricks

The right bicycle saddle for women?

The right bicycle saddle for a woman must avoid soreness, numbness and pain in the genital area. It is important here that the sit bone distance is determined. Because only if the width of the bicycle saddle is correct, the pubic bone area of the woman and the important nerve tracts can be relieved. In addition, attention should be paid to the correct saddle shape. Because especially in women is often an increased pressure on the lower pubic arch a problem, because this presses on the saddle nose.

Through the SQlab sit bone measurement and the SQlab step saddle concept, the pressure is reduced evenly.

Three tips on what women in particular should look for when buying a bicycle saddle:

1. measure sit bones

More information about the sit bone measurement

2. saddle shape:

To reduce pressure on the pubic arch, care should be taken to ensure that the saddle nose is lowered. This is best ensured with a step saddle shape.

More information about the step saddle concept

3. saddle hardness:

If a saddle is too soft, the sit bones sink in and trigger pain.

Myth soft saddle

Pain in the pubic bone while cycling?

Pubic bone pain while cycling occurs in women due to their significantly lower pubic bone. Unpleasant pressure points often occur here due to excessive pressure from the saddle nose. To relieve pressure from the pubic bone, it is important to choose a saddle with a lower saddle nose. This should also be as flat as possible to provide a maximum contact surface. 

SQlab solutions

  • The SQlab step saddle with lowered saddle nose reduces the pressure evenly.
  • Tilting the saddle forward/downward has the same effect, but here the rider slides forward into the narrow saddle area.
  • An upright sitting position raises the pubic bone.
  • Important: Check saddle width again!

Which bike saddle for coccyx pain?

Coccyx pain while cycling is a common problem in women because the female coccyx is more mobile and often more sensitive than the male coccyx. With a very upright sitting position, the coccyx comes very close to the bicycle saddle. The main causes of this are usually bicycle saddles that are too narrow or too soft. To avoid a painful coccyx - especially for women - an SQlab step saddle is recommended. 

SQlab solutions

  • The SQlab step saddle with pressure distribution according to medical criteria on the sit bones
  • SQlab saddle models in different saddle hardnesses, matched to riding duration and range of use

Research about woman specific saddles

The German Sport University Cologne has performed research on women with pressure mapping and two different saddle types (Gel saddle and saddle with cut-out) in various different riding positions. None of the tested saddles showed a satisfactory relieve in the area of the pubic bone arch / saddle nose. The results concur with our own research performed in our own SQlab. The SQlab saddle width system in combination with the lowered saddle nose of the SQlab step saddle is hence not only first choice for men, but also relieves the typical pressure points women experience. This leads to the conclusion that women specific saddles based on a different shape and sitting position of men and women are no longer necessary.

Conclusion of the research

The bike saddle with a hole (control) distributes pressure over a smaller surface, with high pressure at the sides of the hole.

Therefore not only did the saddle with a hole not change the amount of pressure on the central part of the saddle, it centralised it in an area, which can potentially cut blood and lymphatic supply to a woman’s outer genitalia. On the control saddle (Fig. 14) high pressures can occur on the sides of the hole, therefore compressing parts of the Labia Majora (shown in red). In the central part of saddle, the Labia Majora gets caught in the middle of the hole. Compression over a limited portion at the centre of each Labium could damage the skin and the lymphatic system, compress the nerves or cut blood supply to the rest of the Labium falling in the middle of the hole. This does not happen on the flat saddle with gel.

One of the few studies on the subject of women's saddles. 

Another scientific study published in 2011 on the subject of women and bicycle saddles. The results here again largely coincide with the first study and with our findings.

Women’s bike seats: a pressing matter for competitive female cyclists

Marsha K. Guess, MD,1 Sarah N. Partin, BA,2 Steven Schrader, PhD,3 Brian Lowe, PhD,3 Julie LaCombe, MD,4 Susan Reutman, PhD,3 Andrea Wang, MD,5 Christine Toennis, BS,3 Arnold Melman, MD,6 Madgy Mikhail, MD,7 and Kathleen A. Connell, MD1


Result: Perforated saddles and narrow saddles have negative effects on saddle pressure in female cyclists.

Sitting perfectly in the saddle
Study of the German Sport University Cologne confirms the SQlab saddle width system

Another scientific study confirms the SQlab saddle width and step saddle system, which has been tried and tested since 2002. In this case, it is a study by the German Sport University Cologne, which analyzed the requirements for an optimal saddle based on three key points: gender-specific characteristics, distance between the sit bones, and pressure distribution in different riding positions.

The Cologne scientists measured 120 female and 120 male test subjects. The results of the two-year study lead to the conclusion that different saddles are not necessary for men and women; instead, what matters is the distance between the sit bones and the riding position. This finding confirms the SQlab unisex saddle concept as well as the saddle width system that we at SQlab have been using successfully for 13 years.

Which bib tight for women?

Pressure points, skin irritations up to pain. The alarm bells should ring! To find the right saddle, if you pay attention to some things (as already described). But now it is still to find the right bike pants for ladies? Preferably with a thick, soft padding? Absolutely not!  

Because the seat bones serve to absorb the body weight and can withstand a high pressure. If a saddle is too soft, this causes the sit bones to sink in. This irritates sensitive tissue, as well as muscle and tendon attachments. This means that deeply sinking sit bones lead to a higher load on the lower pubic arch in women.

But this is precisely where the question arises as to why we ride tight saddles, and then in turn simulate a soft saddle by using thick and super-soft cycling shorts pads? 

Because the result is the same: Sinking sit bones, restricted blood supply and increased friction.

It's the same as with a saddle: the sportier, the thinner and harder the pants pad!

The SQ pads are universally suitable for any seat bone distance. Accordingly, with smaller seat bone distances, the pad is slightly over on the right and left. This can be a problem with a hard saddle, but with a 4 - 8 mm thin pants pad are only two small pieces of foam that fit the anatomy of the body.
True, the foam layers could have been saved for smaller seat bone distances, but they do not really bother, quite the opposite: 
The slight excess width ensures that even during the pedaling movement, the sit bones rest snugly on the cushion and do not push this inward.

SQlab solutions

  • Perfect fit: pants must fit snugly so that the padding does not wrinkle
  • Thin, tight padding prevents the seat bones from sinking in 
  • Three different trouser pads for each area of application
  • Absorption of shear forces by a medical TPE gel layer

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