Scientia: the Science beneath the Design | Selle Royal

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The scientific studies

Selle Royal, along with researchers from the Center for Health through Sport and Movement at the German Sport University Cologne, the largest sports university in Europe, has applied theory, data and methods to bicycle saddle research in an attempt to unmask the fundamental design characteristics essential to optimising well-being and overall cycling performance. The result is SCIENTIA, a full spectrum of 9 ergonomic saddles scientifically engineered to precisely and comprehensively fit each rider.

The scientific studies

Using hundreds of volunteers, researchers developed rigorous methods for quantifying the classic considerations of saddle design: gender differences, saddle shape, and the role played by ischial distance. Afterward, a list of recommendations were published and passed on to a team of designers tasked with combining these proven fundamentals with designs for a new range of saddles.

Shape Study

The goal of the shape study is to find the optimal shape for the Scientia line, considering both male and female users.

A special pressure-sensor-foil with 64 sensors on the saddle surface.

27 different saddles are tested by 35 male and 31 female subjects in three riding positions:Athletic(at 45°),Moderate(at 60°) and Relaxed( at 90°).

Saddles are analysed under different paremeters, whose combination lead to a ranking. The measured parematers are:
- Maximum pubic pressure{mbar}(the less the better)
-Average pubic pressure{mbar}(the less the better)
-Used space on whole saddle {mm} (the more the better)
The saddle ranked highest has received the most points(1 for the saddle with the worst outcome and 7 for the best).

The results of these tests clearly indicate that for each Riding Position there are specific shape elements found in the saddle nose, profile, rear, and lateral edges which produce greater comfort.

Gender Study

The goal of the Gender study is to determine if further anatomical differences (ex. The lower female pubic bones,soft tissues,nerves) result in a differing pressure distribution between the sexes in the pubic area.

A special pressure-sensor-fail with 64 sensors on the saddle surface. The chosen saddle has a neutral shape.

35 males and 31 females

1. Test subjects cycled in three riding position: 30°,45°,60° on a bike linked to a static cycle-trainer.
2. The height and position of the saddle and handlebar are modified depending on the riding position and anatomy of each subject.
3. Data (maximum and average pressure,expressed in mbar) is collected from a pressure distribution map.

The test does not consider the 90°spine angle of the Relaxed riding position since the pubic area is not under pressure.

A significant difference between the two sexes is shown only in the 30° “Sport” riding position. This could be explained by the anatomical differences between men and women.

Ischial Variation Study

The goal of the ischial variation study is to determine and analyse the variety of "seat bones" distances across the population.

A stool with a gel pad is used to determine the distance between the ischial bones.

240 test subjects (120 males,120 females).

1.Subjects are placed on the measurement stool wearing trousers without pockets.
2.The spine is upright at 90°and the feet are placed flat on the floor.
3.The subjects are advised not to move after being placed on the tool.
4.The handholds are used to get a better imprint on the pad.
5. The distance between the imprints is measured with the help of a caliper.

Ischial distance varies according to riding position due to the v-shape pelvic anatomy. In the more inclined spine angle, the distance will become shorter as the contact points move from seat bones towards the pubic bones.

Both male and female groups show a wide range of scores that cannot be represented in one distance for women and another for men, or a fixed formula. Instead, we identified 3 ischial distance clusters to cover the widths of all cyclists.

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