by Robert Brown
North Precinct Bicycle Patrol Officer #6194
Seattle (WA) Police Department
As a full time bicycle patrol officer for the past six years, I have gone through several bicycles issued to me by the city. But I faithfully used the same BiSaddle no-nose bicycle seat for the duration. Only recently did the seat that was originally issued to me as part of a NIOSH health study wear through on the elastomer rubber cushioning, requiring replacement. The seat frame itself is still in excellent condition.
When I contacted Jim Bombardier of Bycycle Inc., to order replacement elastomer seat pads, I raved about the wonderful performance of his seat design. That is how I got the idea to write this review.
I am a forty-two year old man with two children and a third on the way. I have worked as a police officer for the Seattle Police Department for fourteen years. When I entered police work, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: Bicycle Patrol. In February of 2000, I started working full-time mountain bicycle patrol in the University District of Seattle. It is my dream job. I love it too much to leave it, so here I am — eleven years later — still riding bicycles full-time, year-round, even in the Seattle rain.
Sometime in 2005, my Captain pulled me aside and mentioned a study being conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Some of the downtown bicycle patrol officers were volunteering to be test subjects. He told me that the study focused on the health of male police officers working patrol on bicycles. Specifically, he said that officers in other agencies had complained of erectile dysfunction as a result of their job. An awkward subject for my boss to dive into… I laughed in response and reassured him that I was just fine. “No problems here!”
I had not detected any “problems”. No alarms were going off in my head. Such is the case with any condition that has a slow, insidious onset. It was only in retrospect, after participating in the study, that I recognized the direct benefit of using a no-nose bicycle seat to my health and well-being. But my Captain’s passing comments made enough of an impression that I got in touch with Dr. Schrader, who was conducting the study in Seattle at the time.
At that point in my career, I had already been riding bicycles on full-time patrol for five years. I was accustomed to the feel of a traditional bicycle saddle. When I showed up to participate in the study, I was given a selection of no-nose saddles from which to choose. I did not select the BiSaddle. I immediately dismissed it in my mind because the seat simply looked too small to adequately support me.
Instead, I selected some big, cushy thing that looked like a broken donut. I tried the donut-shaped seat for a day, but it simply felt awkward. I brought my complaints about the donut-shaped seat to Dr. Schrader, who suggested I try the BiSaddle, explaining that it was designed to support the pelvic bone where it is closest to the skin.
I decided to give the BiSaddle a try. It performed exactly as the doctor explained. My pelvis is supported, but there is no pressure on the parts of my body that a no-nose seat protects. It took perhaps a day to adjust to the different feel of the BiSaddle, and I have ridden on the BiSaddle ever since.
After six months, Dr. Schrader returned to Seattle to conduct follow-up testing. I will omit the specifics of the testing (which still draw snickers from my co-workers). Suffice it to say that I had to wear a device to sleep at night and conduct other “sensitivity” tests. But I can take being the butt of a joke if the study improves my health and that of my fellow bicycle patrol officers.
I noticed a marked improvement in my own health that had nothing to do with Viagra. The duration of a sustained erection had diminished with years of riding on a traditional bicycle saddle, but bounced back with regular riding on the BiSaddle. The data to back up this perception arrived about a year and a half later. I got a letter from Dr. Schrader regarding the results of the NIOSH health study. The overall data supported a marked improvement in men’s health over the six-month period of exclusively using a no-nose saddle. Of more interest to me were my own results. Although it is just one sampling, my “Percent of Time Erect” (a measurement of the erections experienced while sleeping, as measured by the device I wore to bed) had increased from 18 to 28 percent over the six-month span of the study. If my calculation is correct, that is a 36% improvement.
This subject matter always draws juvenile chuckles, and unfortunately is often quickly dismissed. My skeptical co-workers dubbed my seat the “Nut-Saver 2000.” They don’t even listen long enough to understand what part of a man’s anatomy is being protected here. I hope that you, after reading this testimonial, will realize the importance of riding a no-nose bicycle seat, such as the BiSaddle.
Personally, I believe that police agencies should mandate their bicycle patrol officers exclusively use no-nose saddles as a workplace safety initiative. Individual officers are often embarrassed to discuss such issues – shouldn’t agencies move to protect the health of their officers?
Rob was born in Urbana, Illinois, and attended the University of Illinois, receiving a B.S. in Math and Computer Science. He served as a Naval Officer onboard the destroyer Deyo prior to joining the Seattle Police Department. Besides riding a mountain bicycle at work, Rob enjoys being active and outdoors with mountain climbing, sea kayaking and scuba diving. He can be reached at Robert.Brown@seattle.gov.
This article appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of IPMBA News.