ECD Introduce Radical New Cycling Seat
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
Wether you are a bicycle racer, commuter, tourist or even one of those 'way out' mountain bike types, if you spend large amounts of time in the saddle, one question is sure arise again and again. What effect does all that time on a bicycle have on your 'downstairs equipment'?
Long before I was even a twinkle in a cyclists eye, arguments and studies have been claiming that cyclists, particularly men, should be careful which bicycle seats they choose. Traditional saddles, the kind with a narrow rear and pointy nose, can play a role in sexual impotence and erectile dysfunction due to vulnerable areas of the human anatomy meeting with the bicycle saddle. The 'vulnerable area' in question is the perineum that contains an artery and a nerve that supply the penis with blood and sensation. When a cyclist sits on a hard narrow saddle, the artery and the nerve are compressed which, over time can cause a reduction of blood flow meaning there is not enough pressure to achieve a full erection.
When I'm out cycle touring, I rest my perineum nerve on a good old fashioned Brooks B17. The kind of traditional leather seat that breaks you in and your old man would say is character building. But having now done some more research into this tender subject and after years spent cycle touring all over the world, I now have some concerns.
Single and with no offspring to show off, only time will tell wether or not I'm packing a starting pistol or a high calibre assault weapon in my lycra, so you can imagine my delight when the good folk at ECD (Ergonomic Comfort Design) sent me one of their new and revolutionary noseless saddles for a test ride.
The noseless ECD Seat is said to reduce pressure on the sensitive perineum area and shift the rider’s weight back onto their sit bones. Distributors ECD claim this gives cyclists the enjoyment and health benefits of a longer ride without paying the price of discomfort or risk to their health. Founded by Jonathan Wallach and Mark Burns, who is a committed triathlete, ECD market products that bring healthy living, exercise and fun into every part of people’s lifestyles and they have some heavy weight medical endorsement to back up their new product.
Dr. J R W Harris, Consultant GU Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, London said
"Each year I see a number of people who have suffered from prolonged riding on conventional seats, causing them discomfort and sometimes leading to health problems. What I like about this seat is that it has been ergonomically designed to enable the cyclist to sit more naturally. This is a breakthrough in comfort design for cyclists."
But with all these health benefits, what is the ECD actually like to ride? Easily fitting my new ECD onto my fold-up Bickerton, not dissimilar to other fold up bikes favoured by many commuters, I took the train to Paris to find out, and what better place than 'the city of love' to test ride a seat that claims to prevent erectile disfunction.
Taking to the streets and cobble stones of the French capital I would be lying if I said the ECD didnt take some getting used to. Without the length of an ordinary saddle you do have to perch on the ECD, and feeling a little like a young monkey on his first day up a tree, and sometimes slipping forward left me somewhat 'unnerved'. But after a couple of hours and good lunch I was flying. Not wearing any lycra while in France, so as not to offend the locals, the ECD certainly felt more liberating and there was none of that uncomfortable pinch or bunching often felt when riding in jeans in the city. I also felt more upright. There was less pressure on my lower back, and my 'sit bones' which In ever knew I had, certainly felt a little tender and like they had been taking the weight at the end of day one. But the next day I felt comfortable, efficient and safe, and it was easy to jump on and off when the traffic stopped for some bloke in a beret carrying onions baguettes.
So what faults if any does this revolutionary humanity saving saddle have? Well the only one I could find occurred when it rained. The saddle soaked up the rain water like an old bath sponge and remained damp for a couple of days. Voul les voux couchet abvez mois se soir? With or without erectile disfunction, with wet patch between my legs any attempts at pro creation were doomed. But hold on, looking at the ecd website I could invest in a vinyl covered water proof version of the saddle or get a plastic bag.
So would I go and by one of these strange looking seats? Yes if I hadn't been given one. For the regular city rider or someone with a reasonable commute the ECD is a must have. Most on a commute don't wear padded shorts and this is where the ECD is in its element. It's comfortable and protects what needs protecting without the need for wearing inconvenient lycra.
I'm not sure I would take one on a long tour, but thats mainly because I need proof the saddle is up to the hardships of years on the road in all types of terrain, an area where Brooks have a proven track record. But for the commuter or daily rider who spends an hour or so on a bike each day the ECD is comfortable, ergonomic, and a joy to ride. The good folk at ECD clearly arn't firing any blanks with this great new product, and I have no doubt noseless saddles will be cradling he perennial nerves of our nation for years to come.