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Bringing Ergonomics to Cycling: The creation of the Body Geometry Bicycle Saddle
31 October 2002
George E. Pake Auditorium
The bicycling industry was shaken in August 1997 when an article accusing bicycle saddles of causing impotence in male riders was published in Bicycling Magazine. A famous urologist in Boston terrified the cycling world with estimates of over 100,000 impotent men in the U.S. alone as a result of this trauma.
I read the article without realizing the depth of the problem or the impact to the cycling industry as I was a medical researcher at the time and not involved heavily with cycling.
Because of prior experience in seating design (including the United 767 pilot's seats), I redesigned my own bicycle seat by removing a central wedge to relieve arterial pressure described in the magazine as well as medical abstracts I researched.
I sent the saddle to the magazine with the intention of having an article published advising readers how to safely modify their saddles. Several weeks later I got a call from Mike Sinyard, president of Specialized who found out about my modified saddle and asked if I would help Specialized design a production bicycle seat.
Two years later, the Body Geometry Saddle was the biggest selling bicycle product in history and virtually changed the design of bicycle saddles around the world.
Other ergonomic products followed the saddle with great but not equal success. This talk outlines the product design with three dimensional anatomy and animations and also describes why these products were so successful with respect to marketing, timing and luck.
Dr. Roger Minkow
By training and education, I am a medical doctor trained in Family Practice and Emergency medicine. In reality, my interests range from playing the guitar to computer graphics and design, mechanical engineering, automobiles, airplanes and photography. I have been unusually optimistic in the many things I have created, even the ones that turned out poorly. For every one success, there have been many failures and times to start over. Lucky for me that I have a great wife who puts up with me changing careers and projects. If there is one gift that I am most appreciative for, it is the ability to sense problems that need to be solved for large numbers of people as well as the ability to find simple solutions to these complex problems.
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