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It looks peculiar and takes some getting used to, but the Cushion-Aid Saddledonut-Pro for Women (there's also a men's version) does a good job of helping to reduce soft tissue pressure. Fitting it in exactly the right place isn't the easiest, though, and those with sit bone issues may not fully appreciate the nobbles.
It's fair to say I've never seen anything quite like this. It's essentially a mat made from silicone gel with cushioned nodules of different shapes and sizes around the perimeter. It has a self-adhesive side and comes with detailed instructions (with visual aids) of how to measure your sit bones using the corrugated card provided and then cut and fit the nobbly bit to your saddle correctly. It's designed to stick firmly and securely, but be removed when required (though not reused).
Its aim is to provide a low-weight, inexpensive option for maximising saddle comfort by cradling the ischium bones to 'reduce micro-sliding, prevent saddle sores and provide comfort during long rides' without negative impact on saddle fit and performance.
Once you've worked out your sit bone width, if you don't already know it, using the corrugated card supplied or a rough estimate from a table based on the size of your cycling shorts (far from ideal, as sit bones can vary hugely, entirely independently of clothing size!), there's then a set of steps to follow based on that measurement.
I didn't find it massively tricky to work out the instructions, and securing the donut to the saddle wasn't difficult – the self-adhesive side stuck easily and effectively, giving a smooth attachment.
Trying the donut for the first time, I was aware of the stickiness of the silicone right away, but at least part of that was some residual stickiness from the factory, and also a small amount of stickiness around the edge where the adhesive stuck to the saddle. Both disappeared within a few rides, leaving the silicone slightly grippy but not sticky per se, as it is intended to be.
Following the instructions, I moved my position around the saddle, to make sure my ischium bones were cradled properly. The effect was quite strange, combining unusual levels of grip on the saddle with an almost massage-like effect on the sit bones.
Remounting after junctions took a bit of getting used to, with a certain amount of shuffling required, since sliding into a comfortable position isn't an option.
The shaping and subtly elevating effect of the nobbles meant there was little or no pressure on soft tissue areas, so if you struggle with that as a source of discomfort (I don't unduly) this could be excellent. But although the nodules are designed to have plenty of give yet still provide good levels of support for the sit bones, I didn't find them particularly comfortable.
I have saddles that are very comfortable and have also ridden on some that have been extremely painful on my sit bones. The donut, once I'd become accustomed to how it felt, sat somewhere between those two camps. It wasn't unpleasant to ride on – and there was no chafing, as promised – but it didn't quite deliver on the levels of comfort I had hoped it might. The nobbles actively pressed on my sit bones, meaning there was a slight sensation of bruising after a 30ish-mile ride, even with fairly well-cushioned shorts.
I can't help thinking that at least part of the issue might be down to getting the placement exactly right in that initial fitting stage. While the instructions are detailed, and the guide to measuring your sit bones is comprehensive but straightforward (mine came out the same width they always have in bike fits), there is an element of human error involved when it comes to placement of the donut, and if it's not in quite the right place you run the risk of it not properly supporting the sit bones.
The instructions recommend moving the saddle as necessary (up/down, backwards/forwards) but that comes with its own set of comfort issues. I'm fairly convinced that the donut was in the position it should have been, but I'm just acknowledging the possibility of operator error being a contributing factor.
I also attempted to remove the donut, to see if it could be repositioned or reused for a second time. It's intended as a single use option, though, and ripped into several pieces even with a fairly gentle attempt at removal. Even if it had stayed whole, the adhesive would have been insufficiently effective for a second try. On the plus side, there was virtually no sticky residue left on the saddle, and it was very easy to remove what did remain with an alcohol wipe.
It's also remarkably flexible in terms of what sort of saddle it can be used with – any shape or width – and what sort of riding style, and could actually enhance power output because nothing moves out of place while riding.
It's not particularly expensive either – almost certainly cheaper than trying out yet another new saddle – and fitting it doesn't compromise the weight/performance profile of your saddle, even high-end ones.
That said, it does only last six months, so if you do get on with it, it could easily turn into an expensive option in the long run. You'd only have to use it for a year for it to equal a cheaper saddle, or two or more years for a more premium model.
Ultimately, I'd say it comes down to what your saddle problems are as to whether the donut works for you or not. If you have issues with saddle soreness, chafing and soft tissue pressure, it could well be an inexpensive and effective answer. If your problem is sensitive sit bones, though, it could go either way, and fitting the donut for optimal comfort could be tricky.
I didn't feel that the Cushion-Aid was right for me, but I can appreciate that it could help those looking for soft tissue relief or who struggle with friction-related saddle sores.
I found fitting it perfectly correctly for maximum performance was tricky, and it would be useful to be able to remove and refit it, both from a positioning point of view and in terms of value for money. As a one-off it's inexpensive, but could quickly cost as much as an actual saddle as it only lasts six months.
Innovative option for fine-tuning saddle comfort and reducing chafing, but tricky to position perfectly and won't suit all
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cushion-Aid Saddledonut-Pro For Women
Size tested: One size
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Cushion-Aid says: "Avoid saddle sores and chafing. Designed to increase the contact area and cradle the ISCHIUM bones on the saddle to reduce micro-sliding, prevent saddle sores, and provide comfort during long rides."
I found it does a good job of reducing chafing and saddle sores but for me at least it also induced some bruising of the sit bones.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Silcone gel construction
Comes with corrugated card to enable measurement of sit bones
Lasts 6 months
Self-adhesive works well, smooth and grippy nobbles with good cushioning. It doesn't come off in one piece so there's no option of moving or reapplying – strictly single use only.
Did a good job of reducing soft tissue pressures and chafing, but some issues with sit bone bruising.
Intended to last six months, and seems like it would last that long quite happily.
Single use only, as it isn't easy to remove in one piece and the self-adhesive wouldn't work a second time.
A very lightweight option for increasing saddle comfort.
Effective and comfortable for reducing soft tissue pressure and chafing, but the nobbles bruised my sit bones somewhat.
Not bad value for an initial outlay, but would soon become expensive if used long term.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, although making sure it was fitted in 100% correct position was tricky, and you only have one shot at getting it right.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How secure it makes your position when seated (no sliding) and the support of the nodules meant there was very little pressure on soft tissue and little issue with chafing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The nobbles bruised my sit bones somewhat, and I found it tricky to remount when starting off after a junction, because of how securely the sticky silicone holds your position.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's not really anything else like it. The initial cost is not bad in comparison with trialling a new saddle, but if you DO like it, it only lasts six months. If you're not sure it's right for you, it's worth bearing in mind it's single use only. It could easily turn into a much more expensive option in the long run. You'd only have to use it for a year for it to equal a cheaper saddle, or two or more years for a more premium model.
Did you enjoy using the product? It was okay.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, particularly one who struggles with chafing and soft tissue pressure .
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a tricky one to score. I didn't feel it was right for me, but I can appreciate that it has a lot to offer riders looking for soft tissue relief or who struggle with friction-related saddle sores. I felt that fitting it 100% correctly for maximum performance was tricky, and that it would be useful to be able to remove and refit, both from a positioning and a value for money point of view. As a one-off it's inexpensive but it only lasts six months, so could quickly cost as much as an actual saddle – or more – if you continued to use one.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.