Bad saddle discomfort / numbness

Hi all,

I’m pretty new to cycling, coming from a running background. I cannot seem to get back running without reinjuring myself and so bought a stationary trainer and a bike that I have been using since january this year. I can’t ride outdoors in my area at the moment and have been doing long rides up to 3 hours on the trainer where I’d usually do my long runs. Physically, from a muscular endurance and aerobic standpoint, it’s absolutely fine and would like to continue high volume on the trainer in the winter months to keep building a big base. This will be nearly all zone 2 endurance and maybe the odd sweetspot session.

I’m trying to enjoy my time on the bike and am considering a full switch to cycling, but there is one major issue right now, which is genital numbness and bone pain starting only about 10 minutes into the ride, giving a very uncomfortable experience that has me getting out of my saddle every couple of minutes until I finish the ride. This is worst with endurance rides and makes it difficult for me to stay in low intensity zones.

I was wondering if anyone has had a similar experience and is able to offer some recommendations for saddles to try. I’ve tried a few, but don’t recall exactly which ones I have tried (stupid I know).

I’m female, but have narrow hips. I am currently using the selle italia slr superflow with no relief. I of course always wear cycling shorts, but also feel a lot of cushioning could be making the numbness worse. I feel this is not healthy in the long term and that in order to carry on on the bike I need to sort this out.


Edit: I have also had a professional bike fit, so that probably isn’t the issue

For starters, check out the compiled list of suggestions I have made:

Everything on Chad’s list is a good place to start.

Otherwise, I can’t remember where I saw it and I always get flamed for suggesting it, but raise your front wheel up (using books or a block) so the bike is actually pointing upwards an inch or two above parallel. You’d think it’d just make things worse with the saddle being slightly pointed up, but it immediately helped me. Obviously your results may vary but it’s worth a try.

Other than getting another bike fit and trying out some other saddles, the only other suggestion I have is to just ride more and get used to it. Eventually everything down there “toughens up” enough to not be uncomfortable (the numbness is an issue though). Also, 3 hour rides are really long for indoors. If you can’t handle it, I’d ride for less time and ride at a higher intensity. Work your way back up to three hours.

1 Like
  • I have this very suggestion in the 2nd part of my link (as part of the “Rocker Plate” solution).

When you have a bike that is perfectly comfortable outside, and then leads to problems when ridden inside, I feel it is important to look at what is different. When you do, there are two key differences.

  1. Lack of wind resistance on the body riding inside. That is a difference that I find because you end up with slightly more weight on the hands and arms, because you don’t have the wind pushing your upper body back.
  • To compensate for that, I recommend that people raise the front axle about 1"-2" [25mm-50mm] higher than the rear axle. This shifts the weight slightly back onto the saddle and off the hands and arms.
1 Like
  • I don’t have this outlined in either of my guides above (and need to add it), but specifically for lower power work like Endurance, I mix in lower cadence efforts as a rule. The reason is that applying the same power & resistance at a lower cadence results in more FORCE at the feet.

  • What this does in practice is “lift” us a bit more that the same power at a faster cadence (lower force). As such, the lower cadence and higher force from your legs actually decreases the force applied to the saddle and our related body. I tend to mix in bouts of maybe 5-15 minutes of regular cadence, swap to lower cadence and simply repeat that alteration through the workout.

Hi, thanks for the suggestion. I tried raising the front wheel months ago but unfortunately it didn’t help. I also burned myself way out on intensity and would like to try a more traditional base approach until I feel ready for more intensity so would rather zone 2 volume which I generally enjoy a lot more :slight_smile:

Thanks Chad. I’ve read all the suggestions and tried all I can minus the rocker plate (student and budget is very tight atm). I should have been clear though that the saddle is not comfortable indoors or out.

  • Then you just identified the place to start, IMO. A saddle that is bad inside and outside means it needs to change. I say this with the caveat that you said you had a bike fit already… but I would have expected a saddle issue of this magnitude to have been addressed.

As such, I would re-focus on the saddle. If you don’t have that foundation right, the rest will always be some level of “off” as a result.

  • Once the saddle is addressed, even a decent trainer mat or other compressible foam can be a real improvement in motion. Pure rigid setups are a problem IMO and it’s possible to make it better with even cheap options. I can cover more ideas if you want and if I know what trainer you have as well.

This may explain why im much more of a grinder then. I like climbing a lot and get a lot less issues with lower cadences so already include way more low cadence work than I should. A regular endurance ride for me is around 70rpm, so lower than many would suggest. Having resistance to push against is essential for me to comoplete my rides

1 Like

I used to get numb but changed my indoor saddle to an EC90 short nosed type with a hole through the middle of it, I think it might be a Chinese copy of a $200 specialised saddle. Anyway, it made a big difference and I’ve seen them on eBay for £17-25 (UK). I still get sore sit bones though after 2hrs.

I think the numbness is better addressed sooner rather than later.

1 Like

This might be it

I experienced pretty bad perineal numbness even after switching to a saddle with a cutout. After some digging it seems like the best saddles for those numbness issues (if that is the area you are feeling it) are the SQ Labs 612. I got the 612 active. 612 – SQlab. Check out the Ergonomics section of the site for more info on their approach.

I heard about them when watching some Neil Stanbury (sp?) bike fitting videos on youtube and he mentioned a significant percentage of riders with saddle numbness issues had them fixed (assuming it wasn’t another fit issue like too slammed of stem or too long of crank).

Thanks! I’ll take a look, my current saddle looks similar with the cut out but wondering whether a short nose or a TR or tri saddle would be better for my position

1 Like

Thanks, unfortunately this is one saddle I have actually tried and still didn’t work for me unfortunately :(. I believe I tried a selle smp well one once and felt it helped with the numbness but the nose was way too wide and crushed my adductor tendons with every pedal

Ps misleading title - the bikefitters argument is that saddle issues are 99% of the time caused by fit not saddle. Try lowering your saddle 2cm and see if you experience less pressure. Other things - fix reach, setback, bring cleats back a bit, put insoles in with arch support.


Saddles are such a tricky fit issue. The right saddle in the wrong position, or even simply sat on incorrectly can lead to problems. I’ve spent more time chasing this issue with some customers than I wish was necessary.

I do know that there are right & wrong saddles for people. The shear magnitude of options in shapes, sizes and padding mean there is absolutely NOT a single solution that will work for everyone. It is likely that there are several options and sizes that can work for a rider, but finding those in the literal sea of options is no small challenge.

To the mention of the video above, proper setup and location of the saddle are just as important as the saddle selection itself. But it is also not a cure-all if they are on the wrong saddle for their needs.

The OP mentioned having a fit, but later admitted that the saddle is not comfortable inside or outside. Not sure of the specifics at play here, but the lack of the saddle and/or setup being properly addressed in that fit is a red flag that is worthy of a revisit (as I mentioned above). Maybe the saddle is fine but suffering from bad setup, or the setup is perfect with the wrong saddle, or a 3rd option is a mix of both (saddle and setup both off a bit).