Endura has embraced the taboo of women’s saddle discomfort with a new approach that was developed alongside a pool of highly critical female pro riders like Lucy Charles-Barclay and Denise Schindler, utilizing ergonomic innovation and comfort engineering backed by medical science and rigorous rider testing to create its new Women’s Pro SL EGM bibshort.
To develop the Women’s SL Pro EGM bibshort, Endura partnered with renowned physiotherapist and ergonomist Phil Burt.
Burt is an internationally recognized cycling health and performance innovator having spent 12 years as the Head of Physiotherapy at British Cycling, as well as 5 years as Consultant Physiotherapist at Team Sky. After a long career supporting some of the world’s best athletes at three Olympic Games and seven Tour de Frances, Burt joins forces with Endura.
“The collaboration of Burt’s unrivaled medical and ergonomic expertise and Endura’s disruptive engineering approach catalyses the “Ergonomistry” concept. The aim of this partnership is to develop products that provide superior comfort and wellbeing on the bike through a collaborative process from concept through development, refinement and rigorous testing. Only products that have been successfully created through this process will bear the “Ergonomistry” mark. The first result of this partnership is the NEW Women’s Pro SL EGM bibshort featuring the revolutionary Women’s 800 Series ConForm EGM Pad,” says Endura.
Comfort is often, wrongly, separated from performance. Burt explains the motivation and need for the new shorts, “if you are thinking of your saddle pain you can’t focus on your training or race performance. If saddle injuries are preventing you from training back to back days you can’t develop to your full potential as a rider. A lot of people adopt a riding posture that is suboptimal to alleviate saddle pressure – pushing back in the saddle or sitting in a more upright position. Good shorts allow you to sit where you want to sit and achieve the position that allows you to perform to your best.”
Professional triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay says, “in terms of technical cycling apparel, I definitely think that female athletes are less catered for. Endura are trying to change this by making women-specific items for cycling, just to give us that comfort that we need, because we’re obviously very different to males, so we need our own range of cycling apparel.”
Danni Shrosbree, ambitious rider and part of Endura’s pool of female testers, adds, “as a female rider I’ve definitely come across many issues when it comes to chamois. And sadly I think that’s something that myself and many other women accept, you know, we just accept pain after a ride and we dread the first time we get on the saddle the next day, but it’s something that we’ve just got used to. It’s great to see brands like Endura focussing on the innovation of seat pads and really putting a lot of research into what women need, and the comfort they need, to make their riding so much more enjoyable.”
To find out more about the problems women riders face, taboos had to be broken down for the women of the test group to talk openly. Burt say, “it can be really hard and distressing to talk about saddle sores and their causes. We don’t know how many women give up cycling and are lost from the sport. The ones we know about are the tip of the iceberg.”
“Saddle sores are caused by four specific things; heat, water, pressure and friction, which is why we have developed a complete system to approach the problem. The new short pad with medical grade silicone elastomer prevents pressure, it sits within a foam pad that wicks sweat and aids breathability. To reduce friction, we have developed a pad cream, plus a wash to remove it after your ride and a post-shower moisturiser to maintain skin health,” explains Burt. (Endura Ride Skincare will be launched later this year).
Positioning of the gel in the short is key, continues Burt, “gel at the back supports the sit-bones but we know women have problems further forwards. Because of a woman’s mechanical structure, the hips tend to rotate slightly forwards transferring weight on to the soft tissues at the front, so we have put more gel in this area. Gel doesn’t wick away sweat and foam doesn’t fully protect against pressure so you need both. To house the gel and foam together Endura has employed a chamfered edge so you can’t feel where the gel begins or ends.”
Lucy Charles-Barclay states, “the finished pad feels really good, it just gives you the right amount of cushioning on the saddle. I am riding for up to 5 or 6 hours on the bibshorts, so I’ve put them through their paces, and I definitely can feel the difference in comfort. I am not getting any rubbing or any irritations, I am really happy with the final product. It’s comfortable, I am not really noticing that it’s there, so I am just getting on with my job and riding my bike.”
The pad is the heart of the short design but only part of the story. “The short itself is really important, the pad needs to be positioned and held in the right place throughout your ride. In the past there have been over-engineered solutions for going to the toilet, or how to position straps over breasts, but with this design we have kept it simple. Throughout the process we checked every detail with our team of female product testers to ensure legs are the right length, grippers stay in place and that whilst you can easily wee without taking off your jersey it’s secure and doesn’t impact the fit of the shorts,” explains Endura.
Experienced cyclist and journalist Hannah Reynolds talks about the development process, “working with Endura has shown
me how quickly changes can be made. Phil would phone me up, ask for my feedback, and within a week something would be winging its way to me that addressed that particular issue, I’d get on my bike, and it was sorted. That’s such a refreshing thing for a female cyclist, to be really, really listened to.”
Taboo busting philosophy
Women sit on a saddle differently to men for a whole host of reasons, so we have completely re-engineered this pad from back to front. This approach confronts the taboo around the considerable variance in how women’s bodies present, with particular emphasis on the vulnerable frontal skin structures where the injuries and pain regularly occur.
Medical Grade Elastomer
Endura have deployed medical grade elastomer, as used in advanced prosthetics. It is much more effective at dissipating pressure than foam or traditional PU gels, thereby protecting the skin and underlying soft tissues by spreading pressure across a wider area and reducing frictional forces.
CVP Liquid Elastomer Process
Game-changing comfort is achieved via this novel application whereby the medical grade elastomer in a liquid form is combined with Endura’s continuous variable profile (CVP) pads. By designing pre-formed reservoirs in the pads and carefully controlling the manufacturing conditions, the liquid elastomer penetrates the foam cell structure at its interface, accurately securing the gel in place and providing a smooth transition between the pad and the elastomer sections.
Symbiotic fit system
Endura has remastered the garment fit where pad and short fit work symbiotically, as the best pad in the world will not work inside a poorly fitting short. Unparalleled attention to detail has been applied in every aspect, from gripper to seam placement, delivering a consistent fit that positions and holds the pad on the rider for optimal all-day ride comfort.
Zipless Dropseat Function
Oh… and last but certainly not least Endura’s unique zipless DropSeatTM function…. the ‘elegant solution for when nature calls’. This means that her comfort break will be low hassle and lightning fast … and from now on she’ll be leaving the guys sitting!
Rider centered design approach – designed for women by women
Burt sums up, “what we have created is a women’s short, designed by women. We had a female designer and a female test panel; the panel’s feedback has guided the design at every stage. We have made well over 250 pads to establish what was making the difference to rider comfort. I can’t stress enough how important the test group has been for this. Cycling is so equipment heavy we can get obsessed with objective measurements and forget the importance of subjective feedback. We shouldn’t dismiss comfort – if you feel comfortable then everything is in the right place for you to perform.”
Susie Cheetham, professional long-distance triathlete, says, “helping develop this new gel women-specific pad has really changed the comfort of my cycling, and I really look forward to in the future being able to doing my training and racing with something that’s a lot more comfortable for me.”
Paralympian Denise Schindler praises the new Women’s 800 Series Conform EGM Pad, “this pad is really (…) taking away pressure on all pressure points. I can recommend it from the bottom of my heart.”
Hannah Reynolds states, “Endura have really, really done their research, and that shows – in the conversations we’ve had, in the shorts that have been created. And ultimately in the fact that the pair of shorts that I’ve got now, I don’t even know that I’m wearing them, and that is the biggest compliment that you can pay.
Burt concludes, “it’s been a two-year process because we have been using a brand-new substance in a pad. It has been massively time consuming and expensive but worth the investment, especially when you hear from the testers that it is the best short they have ridden in. But we are not arrogant enough to think this is the end of the process, we want to continually evolve the short and look forward to feedback from riders once the short is available to purchase.”
Details of the Women’s Pro SL EGM Bibshort in overview:
• High quality Italian power Lycra® fabric with PFC-Free, non-toxic durable water repellent finish
• Women’s 800 Series Conform EGM Pad with medical grade Elastomer technology
• Ergonomic, pre-shaped multi panel construction
• New bib construction combining wide elastic crossover back straps and supportive high wicking front mesh panel • High power, lumbar support panel
• Innovative, discreet, zip-free and unique Drop Seat comfort break function • 90 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
• Available in sizes XS-XL
Below is a recording of Endura’s launch of the Ergonomistry Project, where the brand officially announces its partnership with Burt.
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