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What Causes Bike Saddle Wear on One Side?

article by BikeFit

We’ve received this question from numerous riders and would be happy to shed some light on the situation. In regards to what you found on the web, finding a saddle is extremely important and a difficult part of achieving cycling comfort, but we’ve seen uneven wear on a variety of saddle types. It’s possible for a rider to favor one side over the other and unfortunately they’ve potentially acclimated to an off-center position. This is where we strongly recommend that you visit with a professional bike fitter or BikeFit Pro in order to analyze your riding style and get a full bike fitting.

Are your legs different lengths?

Regarding the potential leg length discrepancy, this could also be the culprit. If you visited a professional fitter, they would hopefully ask the following questions to pinpoint if a leg length issue is an origin of the saddle wear.

1.) Do you have an x-ray or medical information diagnosing a leg length difference (considered by many as the Gold Standard, the STANDING AP Scanogram Full-Length X-ray used by clinicians is the most accurate way to diagnose a Leg Length issue)?

2.) Have you been told you have a leg length issue?

3.) Do you get saddle sores, but only on one side?

4.) Does the saddle show uneven wear (your original question) or even tilt lower to one side?

5.) Does one knee have more bend than the other when pedaling?

6.) Do you rock lower to one side than the other when pedaling (viewed from the rear)?

7.) Do you sit off-center or side-saddle?

8.) Is it obvious or observable (perhaps others have mentioned something to you)?

9.) Do you have lower back pain or discomfort on one side?

Even with all these questions from a fitter, we would recommend that a medical professional would be the best person to diagnose you with a leg length discrepancy. If that is the diagnosis, leg length shims could be a possible remedy. We do not recommend cleat stagger if you are looking for a quick fix.

Often, the problem starts with the foot/pedal interface

We’ve noticed that many riders are misaligned due to the inherent tilt in their feet. Using a Cleat Wedge can help align the foot in its connection to the pedal and improve the alignment of the kinetic chain up the leg, through the knee, and up to the pelvis.

Even with all these questions from a fitter, we would recommend that a medical professional would be the best person to diagnose you with a leg length discrepancy. If that is the diagnosis, leg length shims could be a possible remedy. We do not recommend cleat stagger if you are looking for a quick fix.

Often, the problem starts with the foot/pedal interface

We’ve noticed that many riders are misaligned due to the inherent tilt in their feet. Using a Cleat Wedge can help align the foot in its connection to the pedal and improve the alignment of the kinetic chain up the leg, through the knee, and up to the pelvis.

The image on the left displays the knee collapsing inward as the foot is forced flat to meet the pedal. This knee collapse causes the leg to push inward, which then rubs excessively against the saddle. You likely also noticed that your cycling shorts may show significant wear on one side vs. the other.

The image on the right shows how cleat wedges improve alignment and in turn, reduce saddle wear on one side. The reason it likely only occurs on one side is due to the asymmetric human body. Most cyclists discover that one foot may need wedges, leg length shims or pedal spacers and the other may not. There are also other great benefits to using cleat wedges when riding.

You can find numerous other articles on bike fit by visiting BikeFit’s blog here.

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