One of the most important things to consider regarding your current saddle is its ability to consistently support your weight when riding. If (and when) your saddle gets significantly broken down, it can lead to a greater risk of developing injury. So, how do we know when it’s time to replace?
Firstly, saddles are made of a variety of materials of varying thickness and quality, which in turn can break down at faster or slower rates depending on a rider’s size, weight, and/or the amount of time riding. In general, thinner, lighter saddles, or those with a cutout will break down faster. Without this adequate support, the knees and especially lower back/hips take on more stress, leading to injury, regardless of saddle height or position.
One easy way to assess your current saddle is by performing the “Squish Test”, wherein you place your fingers on the seat, and compress through the saddle to see how much it gives. The easier it is to compress, the greater likelihood you’ll be needing a new saddle in the immediate future. Compare right versus left sides, which also reveals if you tend to lean to one side when riding. This video is a classic example of a client complaining of low back pain, secondary to an extremely broken-down saddle, as evident by the amount of compression, and squeakiness!
—Kevin Schmidt, MSPT, CMP, Bike PT – PT/owner of Pedal PT in Portland, Oregon