A Summary: 2017–2018
As we end another year making anatomy-customized saddles, we pause, examine the past year, and think about what comes next.
As before, we begin by thanking everyone who used our saddles in the past year. In particular, we appreciate the efforts of those who helped us understand more about asymmetry, and those who provided invaluable feedback during beta testing.
1. Improving the overall experience
As part of our continual push to improve the overall customization experience, we regularly prioritize the issues encountered during the process. The most pressing was the inaccurate capture of a user’s anatomy: this inaccuracy propagates to the physical saddle necessitating troubleshooting and repetition of the entire process.
To reduce the number of these cases, we noted the common issues and updated the imprint kit instructions accordingly. We also had to introduce a fee to cover the cost of additional kits. This had a larger impact than we expected since, we believe, users seem to pay more attention to the instructions afterwards and the number of inaccurate imprints dropped dramatically. Without the need for troubleshooting and repetition of the process, the overall experience consequently improved significantly.
2. Handling a type of asymmetry
This year, we were fortunate to have the chance to work with Ken and Heather, his physical therapist, on an asymmetrical saddle. We noted a general shortage of information in this area, hence we decided to put our thoughts and experiences into an article. It details the symptoms, diagnosis and a reasonable solution to Ken’s hip asymmetry.
While such a saddle can help a certain type of asymmetry, it does not work for all cases. For instance, leg length differences would be more appropriately resolved using shims. For hip asymmetry where one sitbone protrudes further in front, rotating the saddle slightly around in the seatpost may help. Finally, we still aren’t sure if a general solution exists for scoliosis.
3. A most unexpected, problem-solving user
Every now and then we’d find ourselves working with a user to resolve a certain issue. In many cases, the user’s help is necessary, for instance for saddle installation checks and fit troubleshooting. Among all the users we worked with this year, the one whom we least thought would successfully resolve her saddle issue was Dawn G.. Dawn’s case was unique as she has a slight leg length difference, mild scoliosis, and had been sitting a little too far forward on her saddle.
We first built an asymmetric saddle based on Dawn’s initial feedback, but subsequent usage of that saddle resulted in discomfort. After some troubleshooting, we figured out that she was sitting too far in front on her saddle. She then moved her saddle forward so she can sit further to the rear.
Dawn tested this new position and realized that she doesn’t actually have hip asymmetry, nor need an asymmetrical saddle after all. She found that, when she sat too far in front, her sitbones were not supported resulting in her tilting to one side (natural bias). This in turn gave her the impression an asymmetrical saddle was needed. With her sitbones properly supported, the impression that she has hip asymmetry was eliminated.
Based on past experiences with a handful of users, we weren’t expecting Dawn to push through the issues and were ready to offer a refund. Those handful of users had bailed the moment they sat on the incorrect spot on their saddle or installed their saddle inappropriately. It was Dawn’s persistence, and willingness to participate in the troubleshooting process, that led her to a satisfactory saddle experience.
4. Prolonged sitting on perineum: a cause for concern
A triathlete wrote to us about her saddle experience a while back. She had been using a triathlon-specific saddle for a number of years, and didn’t encounter issues until she started taking longer rides. Due to pressure on her soft tissue, her body began depositing fat in the region to better bear the load (unlike the skeleton, soft tissue is not intended for this purpose). The deposited fat began to constrict the blood vessels and nerves, and ultimately required surgery to remove. The last we heard, she was working on getting rid of the resulting scar tissue, trying to get back on the bike.
The triathlete’s experience made us think about potential changes to the body as a result of cycling. Having worked with a small number of riders who usually sit on their perineum, we noticed a couple of them had indicated that
(a) after a period of many years, they have started experiencing discomfort in their perineum where they had not before, and
(b) they now also seem to have issues with having their sitbones bear weight.
While we believe (a) to be a definite possibility, we are unsure of the extent of (b). If you have first-hand experience with either (a) or (b), we would like to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org).
5. Our time-trial/triathlon saddle
Up till about a year ago, we didn’t think there was sufficient motivation for us to work on a saddle intended for time-trials and triathlons. Since then, we have surveyed a large number of triathletes, learning about the issues they encountered with their saddle. Furthermore, there have been riders who were, shall we say, quite enthusiastic about us making such a saddle.
Based on our survey, we now think maybe we can do something about it. Though the reason probably isn’t what most people think it should be, and… we’ll leave it at that. The saddle is undergoing beta testing at the moment, hopefully we’ll get to announce its general availability very soon.
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