We have all been there. As someone who spends long periods of time straddling a bike seat I had become all too familiar with groin numbness. In fact, I had just started accepting it.
“Don’t worry about it”, my friends would say. “It happens to all of us”. So for a while I just started to search for a reasonably comfortable saddle and accepted the fact that my groin was going to go numb.
Then out of the blue I just said “screw it”. I couldn’t do it anymore. There had to be a better way.
So after researching the issue for hours on end I realized that I needed to get my hands on some “split nose saddles” asap. Why you ask? What is a split nose saddle?
I will go into it in a little more detail later in a bit but for all encompassing purposes a split saddle is simply a bike saddle that has a split in the nose rather than a solid “one-piece” nose.
After reaching out to a handful of companies and ultimately receiving a multitude of split saddles it became quite clear which one was the standout: ISM’s PN3.0 saddle.
It didn’t come as much of a surprise since ISM has pretty much been the market leader in split nose saddles since its inception in 1999. Here is ISM’s excerpt on the PN3.0:
“The PN3.0 is the latest evolution of ISM’s long line of popular saddles. This seat inherits a lot of features from other ISM models with claims of increased thigh clearance and rounded edges. The most notable new feature is a new covering that is much higher quality than previous models—aesthetically this is a big improvement and may be the first split nose saddle that actually looks good. The “30” series padding featured on this saddle provides a nice level of cushioning but isn’t exactly plush. While it does provide some real estate for the rider to move around—and the rounded edges will reduce irritation from some seams—the rounded nose limits nose riding to some extent. Overall, this saddle is a great new option.”
Groin Numbness From Cycling
Groin numbness from cycling comes from the compression of your nerves and blood vessels in something called your perineum.
Your perineum is basically the space between your back and your front (if you catch my drift). While this issue primarily affects men, women can also suffer from it.
The compression stems from all the downward force, sheer force and twisting while riding coupled with your position, weight, height, angle and practically every other factor.
So basically as long as you are riding a bike there is a chance for groin numbness to happen.
How common is it? Too common.
Depending on the study you read, about 70% of riders experience groin numbness from cycling. Some studies had it as low as mid-50% while others were as high as 91%! It is mind blowing that people simply accept this.
The Split Nose Saddle
The basic idea behind the split nose saddle is that instead of riding on a saddle where the pressure point is directly on the soft tissue perineum and bundle of blood vessels and
nerves therein, the split nose saddle places pressure on the pubic bones.
By doing this you allow complete blood flow and no compression of the soft tissue thus eliminated groin numbness.
The ISM PN3.0 Review
When I first got this saddle I noticed the interesting shape. Some split nose saddles try and mimic a normal cycling saddle but just put a split down the center. Not this one.
ISM focused purely on the result when crafting their saddles and the result was 100% blood flow. They weren’t afraid to take risks on making the “nose” a bit wider or the shape a bit different.
Because of where you place the pressure on the saddle they advise you to slide the saddle a little more back than your traditional one. The saddle is also designed with your anatomy in mind so your body sits a little differently on it. Due to this they recommend you dropping the saddle height about ¼ inch from what your typical saddle height was at.
When first looking at it I figured it had to be uncomfortable to ride. The “nose” portion was way wider than a normal saddle so I thought it would rub my legs when riding.
However, the minute I started riding I didn’t even notice it.
It does place a lot of pressure on your pubic bones so expect them to be sore until you get used to it fully. It took me about a full two weeks of riding before I didn’t feel sore in that area.
So the question remained – is this the best cycling saddle for groin numbness? Yes, yes it is.
After 1000’s of miles now on this saddle I can safely say that I haven’t had a single ride with groin numbness.
You can find the ISM PN3.0 Saddle Here: https://www.ismseat.com/pn-30/
NOTE: I do not receive any compensation from ISM for any products sold from this, or any articles.
Sources: Photos and other relevant content from https://www.ismseat.com/