Reflecting on modern day saddle design, MAAP developed an all-new ergonomically engineered chamois for our Team Bib 2.0
Reflecting on modern day saddle design, MAAP developed an all-new ergonomically engineered chamois for our Team Bib 2.0

The Chamois silhouette - Engineered to match modern day saddle design

Reflecting on modern day saddle design, we’re seeing an emerging trend in the profile and technology used in contemporary performance saddles. The evolution in design is a response to the progression in competitive cycling and the recognition of scientific literature illustrating the physical demands placed on the body while riding.

To dive further into this trend, as well as unpack how we applied these findings to the all-new ergonomically engineered chamois in our Team Bib 2.0, we caught up with Ken Ballhause, Sports Scientist and Founder of Adaptive Human Performance.

An evolution in saddle design

Before we jump into saddle trends and chamois, can you give us all a little background on Adaptive Human Performance and your experience in Health and Sports Science?

Ken: My experience with the demands of road cycling really started in 2011 and 2012, while working with the Drapac Professional Cycling team. I was finishing a Health Science Degree and working with the team exposed me to the profound injuries and issues that athletes experience as a part of competitive cycling. This was an awesome practical experience and really shaped the focus of study in the years that followed that. I went back and finished a Sports Science degree, with a focus on biomechanics and how this applies to cycling. I see position optimisation as being 50% the application of Health Science and 50% the application of Sports Science and that's exactly what Adaptive Human Performance is.

Can you share some of the scientific literature driving the trends in saddle design?

Ken: Sure thing. For the best part of a decade, the scientific literature has been quite clear on the role of saddle ergonomics and saddle setup, in preventing sexual dysfunction and injury to soft tissue structures. There is also a growing understanding of the role that spinal kinematics play in the presentation of low-back pain in the cycling population and the role that saddle choice plays in both prevention and treatment strategies.

You’ve talked about how today’s elite cyclists are also responsible for spurring an evolution in saddle design. Why do you think that is?

Ken: Within the pro-peloton there is a growing trend for athletes to have a focus on aerodynamically efficient riding positions (even on the road) and this seems to have sparked interest in how saddle ergonomics can improve both comfort and performance. We are now seeing saddles being set further forward and with more tilt, facilitating an aero position. Commercially we are now seeing saddles with more effective distribution of width and considerably larger pressure relief channels.

Racing comes down to speed and a more aerodynamically efficient position offers greater speed for a given work rate. Attention to saddle ergonomics is the thing that makes aggressive (fast) positions sustainable.

There’s a lot to consider when analysing how our body interfaces with the saddle while riding. When thinking about this, what’s most important and why?

Ken: We have started the process with MAAP's Team Bib 2.0 chamois from an anatomical perspective. The key consideration when looking at the saddle interface, is how to provide better support for the bony structure of the pelvis. When resolved, this relieves pressure on the anterior soft tissue structures of the perineum. The end result is greater comfort, improved health outcomes and improved performance outcomes.

Duel-density chamois padding

Walk us through how key pelvic pressure points while riding influences the thinking around chamois padding distribution.

Ken: The goal of the cycling chamois development was to provide additional support, without adding unnecessary bulk. Through the front third of the chamois, where the cyclist’s load is more concentrated to a small contact patch, we went with higher density foam and added thickness. We also catered to the ischiatic area, providing a smarter distribution of padding across the cyclist's key contact points when in a performance riding position.

What would you say is a key benefit to having padding distributed based on weight concentration?

Ken: Where previously a lack of chamois support (density) would have been a limiting factor in ride comfort for any cyclist, this considered distribution of padding in the bib short provides a protective boundary between the cyclist and their seat. This improves comfort when dealing with impacts and persistent vibrations from bumpy and inconsistent road surfaces.

The Chamois-saddle silhouette

Physiologically, why is it important the chamois silhouette trace the framework of the saddle?

Ken: With chamois development we wanted to support the use of the ergonomic saddle type, promoting the health and performance benefits that come from this. Matching the footprint of the saddle, with the padding and support of the chamois in the cycling bib short is the first step in achieving this.

From a sexual health perspective, we are matching the ergonomic properties of the saddle, placing padding where the padding is required, while removing bulk from the component of the chamois that sits over the pressure relief channel.

From a biomechanical perspective, this better supports anterior tilt of the pelvis. It’s this anterior pelvic tilt that really offers favourable outcomes for improving aerodynamic efficiency and reducing flexion loading of the lumbar spine and is a desired outcome from the use of an ergonomic saddle.

As a result, with the latest chamois development for the Team Bib 2.0, we have created a product that matches the development of the ergonomic saddle type and supports a modern perspective of the biomechanical demands of cycling.

Soft-touch and smooth contact

Microfiber sounds compelling but what are the actual benefits?

Ken: During long days in the saddle, or under extremely taxing training conditions, movement of the chamois over the skin (friction), be it from road feedback or the natural movement of the garment as we cycle, can lead to abrasions. This irritation to the skin is a common source of discomfort during and following a ride. A soft-touch microfiber lining creates a more uniform surface across the entire chamois for smooth contact throughout the ride. This is less abrasive to the skin and reduces friction in sensitive areas.

Really appreciate the time and conversation, Ken. Thank you for swinging by.

Ken: My pleasure, guys!

Working with Ken to unpack and apply the trends in modern day saddle technology and scientific research led to a highly considered evolution of key features in MAAP's Team Bib short. For the Team Bib 2.0 short, we combined our signature fit and advanced fabrics with an all-new ergonomically engineered chamois to create a cycling bib short designed to deliver greater comfort and performance during maximum level efforts across a wide spectrum of riding. We'd like to thank Ken and Adaptive Human Performance for the support and critical thinking provided to MAAP throughout the entire process.

You can learn more about Adaptive Human Performance here.

To see the Team Bib 2.0 bib short go here for men's and here for women's.

Adaptive Human Performance, Melbourne

Free Shipping

On orders over $250 AUD*

Free Returns

On full priced items only.*

Crash Replacement

40% off your new kit.*

What is Bluesign?

We're on a path of sustainability, protecting the places we ride.

Roll with us

Sign up to our Newsletter

Roll with us

Sign up to our Newsletter