Bike Ergonomics: Rider and Bike together as one

People are the focus—the bicycle is perfectly adapted to the rider.

The overall system

Cycling is one of the few types of travel in which different body parts interact with different parts of the bicycle to form a single unit. The slightest changes have an impact on the body and the efficiency of travel. Therefore, the bicycle should be matched as a whole to human body.

According to Ergonomics

  1. Ergonomics supports you The design of the product takes on the form of your body and leads to a better distribution of opposing forces. Unpleasant pressure points and related discomforts are avoided.
  2. Ergonomics guarantees optimum handling The physiological adaptation of ergonomic products to your body makes it exceptionally user-friendly and comfortable.
  3. Ergonomics directs you Your joint position, range of motion, and overall posture can be optimized. Misalignments and the associated pains will be corrected or prevented.
  4. Ergonomics gives maintenance Different materials with specific properties on the various contact points of the bicycle optimize your contact to the bicycle, thus enabling a better control.

Ergonomics of sitting

Why do I have saddle problems and what can I do to combat it?

The Sitting Area

When cycling, most of your body weight lies on the relatively small saddle surface. The seating area is one of the most sensitive regions of the body. This situation often leads to discomfort, numbness feelings, and saddle problems while cycling.

A man is sitting on a bike. Arrows showing where the pressure is applied to the saddle.

Why do I have saddle problems?

On the buttock lies the pressure-sensitive perineum and genital area. If the rider’s weight is not transmitted uniformly to the insensitive points of the buttocks, arising pressure points can lead to increased seat symptoms. Between the pelvis and saddle, compressed nerves are leading to numbness and discomfort, particularly the pudendal nerve which is comprised of a web of many nerves.

What can I do against saddle pain?

For healthy pressure distribution of your body weight on the saddle the sit bone distance and torso inclination should harmonize together. Equally crucial is the right saddle width, so that sufficient contact surface is provided for weight distribution and the thigh is still free to rotate. In the perineal and genital area there should not be high pressure so that nerves and blood vessels aren’t being pinched. A relief channel fills accommodates this need and distributes the pressure off the pressure points.

Illustration of the neural pathway across the pelvic.
Topographic anatomy The Nervus pudendus (pudendal nerve) is a nerve that originates from the Plexus sacralis. It spreads into smaller nerves in the perineum and genital area. A flat sitting area makes it possible to find a healthy seating position without pressure points.

The Female Anatomy

The Bone structures

More Flexibility

Women are significantly more flexible in the pelvic area than men. This is why, when in the saddle, their pelvis often rocks further forward.

Low Public Symphysis

In women, the distance between the sit bones and the pubic symphysis is lower by 25% than in men.

The Sensitive Nervous System and Soft Tissure Areas

In the female anatomy, the pubic symphysis (front cartilage connecting the two halves of the pelvis) is positioned 25% lower than in the male pelvis, and the angle of the pubic bones is wider overall. Additionally, when on the saddle, mobility is higher in women as their pelvis often rotates further forward. This can create high pressure in the genital area.

The Solution:

Gender-specific Surface against Numbness and Pain

Thanks to the forward positioned relief channel and the saddle's wide wings (V-shape) the pressure is effectively transferred to the sit bone area.

The Male Anatomy

The Bone structures

Pelvic Tilt

In comparison to the female, the male pelvis is less flexible, meaning male riders are sitting more upright on the saddle and put more strain on the sit bones. This allows the transition zone between the saddle's fore and aft to be narrower (Y-Shape), creating more pedaling room

Pubic Bone Angle

In contrast to the female anatomy the male's pubic blades stand at a much steeper angle and the pelvic symphysis sits notably higher.

The Sensitive Nervous System and Soft Tissure Areas

With men numbness when biking most often occurs due to high pressure in the sensitive perineal area. The external genitals are usually not the cause for discomfort because they can yield and are generally not compressed by bone structures.

The Solution:

Gender-specific Surface against Numbness and Pain

It all depends on the optimal pressure distribution. The task with male specific saddles is to keep pressure off the perineal area and transfer the loads to the sit bones and to parts of the public arch. That is what the relief-surface of the new Ergon Men's saddles is doing.

Dynamic sitting

Cycling is not static. The body naturally tries to counteract the occurring pressures due to slight variations in the seating position. Uphill, the rider slips intuitively towards saddle nose to displace the body center of gravity forward. Downhill, it behaves in an opposite manner.

Ergon saddles are designed for dynamic sitting. The seating area is designed to be completely free of steps and allows all variations of the seating position through its anatomical shape.

Ergonomics of gripping

What causes hand pain and what can I do to combat it?

The hand

Many recreational and professional cyclists know the problem when the hands fall asleep or begins to tingle. The hand is a very complex and sensitive part of the body, a lot of nerves running through the wrist, which is a bottleneck and thus a problem zone. Due to the low fat and muscle, the hand is less protected and thus vulnerable to pressure load.

A man sitting on a bike. Arrows showing where the pressure on the grips is applied.

Why do I get hand pain?

The hands bolster a large part of the upper body weight onto the handlebars. Thus there is constant and high pressure onto a small area causing nerves to be irritated. To make matters worse, many cyclists bend their wrists too much. The result is sensory loss, tingling, numbness or abnormal sensations in the little finger and ring finger. In extreme cases, even the grasping function of all fingers is limited.

What can I do to combat hand pain?

Hand pressure must be distributed on a wider scale. Through a larger contact area of the grip, the forces are distributed better and the nerves are not irritated. A rider who has these problems should opt for an ergonomic wing grip. Through the use of a screw clamp, Ergon grips can be fixed to a custom and individual angle on the handlebar. The result, the wrist is actively prevented from kinking of falling downward.

One should also pay attention to the seating position, since a poorly adjusted bicycle also has negative effects on the body. A correct bike fit is assured from your dealer, a fitting expert, or the Ergon Fitting Box.

Der Ulnarnerv ist auf einer Hand eingezeichnet. Ein roter Punkt signalisiert die starke Belastung des Nerves.
Strong pressure points lead to kinking off the Ulnar nerves. This can lead to numbness or impaired mobility.
Der Ulnarnerv ist auf einer Hand eingezeichnet. Seine grüne Färbung signalisiert keine Belastung des Nerves.
The wing grip enlarges the contact area of the hand. The pressure is distributed over a larger area, relieving the ulnar nerve and increasing comfort.
ulnar nerve irritation In the area of the little finger, the ulnar nerve runs close below the skin surface, leaving the nerve very exposed against pressure loads.
Die Position des Karpaltunnels und einiger Nerven ist auf einer Hand eingezeichnet.
Eine Hand umschließt einen normalen Griff. Sie ist stark abgeknickt.
Longer rides with increasing fatigue complicate the ergonomically correct position of the hand and cause a bent wrist.
Eine Hand umschließt einen Ergon Flügelgriff. Sie ist nicht abgeknickt.
Through the wing construction, the hand is supported and the wrist is automatically put in an ergonomically ideal position.
carpal tunnel syndrome With the bending of the wrist, nerves, tendons, and blood vessels are compressed. Consequently, the carpal tunnel can narrow and damage the median nerve.

Functional Areas

Ergon grips are seperated into different functional areas. Different textures are used to optimize the specific use of each area.

  • gelbe Fläche Grip in the finger area.
  • gelbe Fläche Reduced friction in the thumb area during switching.
  • gelbe Fläche Grip, cushioning and comfort in the palm area.
Funktionsbereiche sind auf einer Hand eingezeichnet.

Size differences

Every hand is different. Ergon grips are available for different hand shapes and sizes.

Handgröße 85 bis 105 mm – 102 mm Griffumfang. Handgröße 65 bis 105 mm – 92 mm Greifumfang.

Special grips recommended for all-mountain and enduro riders

On long, rough descents, there is often a burning of the hands, which makes it hard to hang onto the handle bar. The so-called “Arm Pump” arises when the gripping muscle is tensed for a long time and there is blood congestion. All Ergon Gravity grips are slightly ergonomically formed and thus support the position of the arms. Through cut outs in the grip core and the use of special rubber compound, shock is better absorbed and considerably reduces wear on the postural muscles of the hand.

Illustration of a hand gripping an Ergon Enduro grip.
The counter-rotation grip texture increases hand grip and can help to reduce “Arm Pump”.
Schematic representation of an Ergon Enduro grip. Specific parts are labeled with numbers from one to three.
  1. Window in the inner core supports damping characteristics.
  2. Extra damping comfort in the far outer gripping area.
  3. 4-time adapted texture for increased grip.

Ergon is Ergonomics

The three disciplines; ergonomics, engineering, and design work closely together in our company. Here ergonomics is the main component that makes up the Ergon DNA.

Diagram showing the relations between Ergonomics, Engineering and Design.
“We noticeably want to increase the riding pleasure for every cyclist.”