Bicycle face?

Once upon a time, when women hopped on bicycles to acquire a little social mobility, the forces of scientism were deployed to argue that they should hop back off.

Read the whole thread. It’s fascinating.

And look at the horrors they imagined. Not only would bicycling make women jut-jawed and pop-eyed, they might be secretly masturbating while peddling.

I had no idea. Maybe someone should have asked women if they got a sexual thrill from a bike seat, rather than some guy with a feverish imagination?


  1. davidnangle says

    They didn’t realize that clenched jaw and bulging eyes were aimed at them for other reasons? And that they probably were confronted with clenched jaws and bulging eyes all day, every day?

  2. kaleberg says

    On the other hand, that article proposing an end to the gold standard was rather sensible if not presciente.

  3. davidc1 says

    Reminds me of the stuff Harry Enfield.s characters ,Messrs Chumley-Warner and Grayson would come out with .

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I thought it was men who were at testicular damage from those bicycle seats shaped for maximum force focused on the crotch.
    I know, I used to ride a racing style bicycle rigorously, until my accidental TBI. And, yes, I have those testicle thingies down there.
    I never knew female masturbation reduces their fecundity, who knew

  5. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @7 I thought it was men who were at risk of testicular damage …

  6. says

    The men who wrote that were afraid that if women got fit and strong they would tear off cocks with their vaginas.

  7. lotharloo says

    The tweet seems to contain a huge dose of bullshit though.

    On the positive side, it links to this blog post ( by a historian named Sheila Hanlon) which is a fantastic read. I’ll try to look at other posts on the same blog later.

    On the bad side, the tweet simplifies the issue, ignores a lot of other interesting stuff and injects the part about “dating”. They seem to be affiliated somehow with “” so that seems to be the reason. That last part is to be honest very infuriating. Do we really need fucking corporations corrupt feminism or other social movements by grabbing legitimate articles and then doing covert product placement somewhere in it????
    I hope I misunderstood something but as far as I can see, this seems to contain an unhealthy amount of marketing.

  8. lotharloo says

    Ah okay, maybe I got confused. Their “creative marketing agency” thing threw me off.

  9. cartomancer says

    Not quite the first. About fifty years earlier there was a similar misogynistic kerfuffle about the invention of the postage stamp. Victorian prudes were unhappy with the idea that young ladies could write and post their own letters without their fathers’ knowledge – what sort of scandalous young men might their feeble little lady-brains get them involved with unsupervised, to eternal familial shame?

  10. says

    Not only would bicycling make women jut-jawed and pop-eyed, they might be secretly masturbating while peddling.

    It wasn’t only in 1896. In 1960, my first husband (who’s not rotting in a non-existing hell, more’s the pity) made me quit riding my bike for precisely this reason. I knew he was wrong, but I was young and naive, and didn’t realize how this played out in general misogyny.

  11. jrkrideau says

    @ 11 lotharloo
    Thanks for the link. I have a reading interest in cycling history and Dr Hanlon’s blog looks very interesting. I don’t remember seeing tmuch specifically about women cyclists.

    On a slightly OT point. Physicians seemed prone to making some wild statements When the Stockton and Darlington Railwy IIRC opened they were warning of all kinds of health effects from people traveling at such high speeds.

  12. Chris Capoccia says

    The bicycle seat thing seems like pure fantasy. Go to a bike store and look at the seats. Aside from colors, there is only very minor differences between seats for men and women. When you’re actually pedaling hard enough to have bike face, the blood would be flowing to all the other places. I can’t really speak to the female experience, but I know I’ve never gotten an erection from bicycling

  13. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Right, bicycle store owner here.

    The crucial factor in saddles is whether or not the two low points of your pelvic bone (ischial tuberosity, or sit bones) are supported.

    Women more often have wider sit bones for obvious reasons, but not always. The outer width of the pelvic bone does not directly correlate to how wide the low points are.

    If the bones are not supported the saddle will push up between them and compress blood vessels and nerves. The classic symptom of this for men is a numb penis. Crushing those nerves repeatedly can result in permanent damage. But you really have to work at it by ignoring the problem.

    Women less often report numbness, central pain and chafing are more common.

    The solution is the same: make sure you are sitting far enough back that your sit bones are over the widest part of the saddle. And if that doesn’t work, replace your saddle with a wider one. Making it softer won’t fix the problem because the compression will still happen.

    I’ve been using saddle rather than seat because that’s what you find on most bikes. It isn’t intended to take your full weight. You should be leaning forward and taking some weight on your hands. If your bike is set up do your torso is vertical you need to replace your saddle with a seat, which will be flatter in profile and much softer, often with gel inserts to evenly distribute the pressure.

    Men and women, again in general, carry their upper body weight differently. Women’s saddle are softer not because of any kind of delicacy, it’s because their centre of gravity tends to be lower in the torso so the forward lean takes less weight off the bum.

  14. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Oh, and as to sexual arousal from bike saddles, never say never I guess? Seems pretty damn unlikely though, because if it touches anywhere there’s enough nerve endings for pleasure the pressure is likely to be great enough to generate pain. But hey, I’m a penis haver so I’ll confess my ignorance

  15. says

    Margecullen, a good friend of mine was grumbling about unwanted pressure on her forward anatomy, so I found her a ladies version of my saddle with a bigger cutout. Not particularly hard to swap and one more happy cyclist.

  16. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    The cutouts are mostly there for show. A slight dip is usually enough, though really soft saddles need a deeper dip because the sit bones sink in farther which in effect raises the centre.

  17. says

    FossilFishy, regardless of the “show” value of cut-outs, my current softy saddle with ample cutouts is the best thing I’ve ridden on in the last 20 odd years. That’s probably because I ride upright MTB’s sedately not carbon fibre razor blades at high speed.

  18. says

    @30, after logging more than 65,000km over the last 25 years I have worn out quite a number of saddles. The current saddle remains cool and comfy after long hours of crunching trails so I guess the cut-out style saddles are better for me than the ones without.

  19. jrkrideau says

    I (male) just get on the bike and ride. Others (M & F) in my old club can go through 5 or more saddles before they get one that works.

    There seems to be a huge amount of individual differences. A local bike shop owner at a club talk said that said that saddle fitting for some people could be the most difficult of setting up a new bike.