Cruzbike: Protect Your What-What ~ Truth in Advertising

I trust you have seen this Cruzbike Ad. It has resulted in lots of discussion on ‘Bentrider Online [BROL]. As a DF [diamond frame], as well as recumbent, rider and planned Cruzbike Vendetta buyer, I am concerned that the viewer of the ad and reader of related material at the Cruzbike website could be left with the impression that Erectile Dysfunction [ED] will happen to DF riders.

I have ridden an upright/road bike/DF of some type since I was 5 years old and seriously, a properly fitted road bike since 1992 [my Trek 5200]. I am fortunate to NOT have had problems with numbness of the genitals or ED.

Dr. Jim Parker [Jim Parker, M.D. and co-founder of Cruzbike, answers some questions about the health aspects of riding regular bicycles.] writes:

According to numerous recent peer-reviewed medical articles there is a real risk of serious injuries to the perineum in cyclist who ride more than a few hours a week. For example, researchers have found genital numbness may occur in 50% or more of serious male cyclists and erectile dysfunction (ED) in 13 to 24%. Some experts claim the numbers could be higher because many men are too embarrassed to talk about it or refuse to acknowledge cycling as the cause.

In discussion with John Tolhurst, Cruzbike founder and designer, I state the converse of the above:

I think that means 50% or less of serious male cyclists do not have genital numbness and that 87 to 76% of those with genital numbness do not have ED.

To which John says:

I would agree.

I go on to say:

You guys make it appear that is all or none and have since your first Cruzbike video. Dr. Parker comes across as the Doctor and because he has peer review studies that give the percentages I quoted, a recumbent is a must to avoid these problems. I take issue with that. I think of it as “truth-in-advertising.”

Dr. Parker puts it another way:

Hi Jim,

No two people have the exact same anatomy; not even identical twins. I would expect some people will be much less likely to have their pudendal nerve and/or artery pinched when sitting on a bike saddle… maybe their nerve/artery lie deeper, is protected by their unique skeletal structure or takes a course that avoids the pressure points where they rest on the saddle. Let’s call them Group 1.

For people more susceptible to injury from the saddle, they are going to experience pain, tingling, and numbness in their genital region more quickly and frequently when on a bike saddle. Switching saddles and other minor modifications are unlikely to eliminate the problem. Let’s call them Group 2.

Most of the Group 2 population has already decided that bike riding is just not for them. People have a strong instinct for self-preservation and avoiding pain… especially pain in the “what-what” area. They have selected other recreational activities.

I would expect that most high-mileage DF riders are in Group 1. I would expect that you are in Group 1.

There’s most likely an in-between group that has some susceptibility to pudendal nerve/artery compression that can be ameliorated with minor mods.

These population differences are useful in understanding Relative Risk ratios. As I wrote earlier, 3 hours of bicycle riding per week is a relative risk factor of 1.7 for moderate to severe ED in men.

Regarding the emphasis of ED in the ad… For this ad, we relied on the advice of Kevin T. Wilson. We told him the demographic we were looking for. He wrote the script after reading our whole website, which has many, many reasons to ride a recumbent and a Cruzbike other than ED. I made many of my own ads for Cruzbike, and I don’t think we’ve over-emphasized the problem. This ad is designed for the majority of the population, which I believe is in Group 2 or the in-between group. Maybe we can coax them back onto a bike that promises gentler treatment of their what-what.

And just to be clear, ALL recumbents address the issue of compression of the pudendal nerve/artery. We have never claimed that benefit is something that only Cruzbike provides.

Hope to see you out on the road soon. The riding weather in NC doesn’t get much better than this.

Jim Parker

I responded:

 I think I am in Group I, as are roadies with whom I have ridden over the years. Maybe it is anatomy. I think fit and saddle adjustment. My current DF was built to my measurements and then I went through about 3 saddles to get the most comfortable ride.

I purchased the 4 recumbent bikes I have ridden for the fun of it rather than for health reasons. Should I buy a Vendetta, it will NOT be because I am have genital numbness issues. OTOH, I welcome sit-bone comfort that can be experienced on a recumbent seat versus the saddle of a road bike.

The video ad in discussion here would have worked better for me if one of the DF  riders had said “not me” to the question “Do you guys hurt downstairs?” As I research the Cruzbike Website and read their replies in BROL threads, it seems to me that the other side of “the coin” is not clearly stated. I recognize you can only do so much in a commercial. It is their written arguments that do not seem in balance to me. For these reasons, I am conflicted regarding a Vendetta purchase for me. With time, I will sort that out.

I do not want a DF rider, who has not discomfort, numbness/tingling, etc. to make a change to a recumbent without additional information and perhaps a fit/saddle adjustment. This should be an individual decision based on informed decision and not just based on an advertisement, nor the decision of someone else to ride a particular type bicycle. With regard to recumbent seats, please note the comments in this BROL thread.

I think it is a GREAT bike! I commend Cruzbike for recumbent advertising and look to other manufactures to put forth advertising to attract mainstream riders to ‘bents. I trust my readers appreciate that my effort is to provide information that allows them to make informed decisions and to better understand my buying choices. I know some are influenced by things I do and say.

Thanks for reading.

I welcome your comments.

Jim

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9 thoughts on “Cruzbike: Protect Your What-What ~ Truth in Advertising”

  1. I too find the ED marketing to be unnecessary and actually may hurt some sales. Sport upright riders expect some pain as a rite of passage. Back in the 80s when starting out, I remember the cool, racer guys saying not to worry, I’ll either break the saddle in or it will break me in. As I became more experienced, I told many a new guy the same thing.

    As for ED, who knows, but shouldn’t the bike be marketed on its performance merits and comfort? Why the specious ED marketing?

    I’m a fan of Cruzbike and have never ridden one. I would love to get my hands on a Vendetta for a test ride. My brain is halfway sold before I’ve even had the chance. :)

    Denny

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    1. Thanks Denny,

      I agree with you and have expressed the same to John Tolhurst. The advertising comes across as a trick or deception when they have so much more that will sell their bikes. Interesting that other ‘bet manufacturers have not resorted to this health issue. II guess we will see how this play out. THANKS!–jim

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  2. I always thought people rode recumbents because it put less strain on the back. Now if the ad has no statistical evidence to justify its claims then they should be punished for feeding the fear on ED. On the other hand if it gets someone’s attention because of a trendy topic, and this bike style offers an improvement then what is the harm?

    Now we all know you can customize anything to get what you want, from a perfect saddle to a $200 thudbuster to absorb bumps to the saddle. However, if the recumbent also offers the same relief, plus other advantages, it sounds like a positive marketing plan.

    I have two diamond bikes and see recumbents all the time… Have absolutely no interest in riding one. I bought a few saddles and switch them around from time to time… Works like a charm.

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    1. Hi,

      Less strain on the back may be a reason for some. I ride for the fun of it. I know many others in the fun category. We do not ride for health reasons–certainly not because of ED.

      Bikes can be sold using different marketing strategies. Given, my blogging responsibilities, I have to be above board on facts I know. In this case, the stats tell me the problem is not as pervasive as it come across to me in the ad or other materials I find at the Cruzbike website.

      Should I buy a Cruzbike, it will not be for health reasons. Actually, many roadies will NOT ride recumbents for the very reason you state in your first sentence. The ad for them is a turn-off.

      Readers my choose to buy as they choose. I try to write/report in balance. Please tell us why you have no interest in recumbents. I certainly have had fun on mine, yest ride my road bike more frequently because of who I am ride with or I want to ride my splits on the same bike. I also like working different muscle groups.

      Thanks Joe,

      Jim

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      1. No ED… Had some numbness in my hands and groin, but switched out to ERGO grips, V groove saddle or padded saddle and a gooseneck with infinite adjustments. All that allows me to move the pressure points around. Also have a full suspension bike in addition to my beautiful Lemond Racer. At 3000 miles a year and middle age it’s just somehting that needs attention.

        DF’s in an upright position gives an unobstructed view. Every recumbent I’ve seen puts the rider’s head behind the knees and hands, and lower than a DF rider… All to the bad of enjoying the scenery IMO.

        And the axis of rotation on a DF, esp one with wide tires, allows some great cornering… I don’t know if recumbents can or cannot do the same.

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        1. In terms of comfort and view, you wold love the ride of a Long Wheel Based [LWB] Recumbent such as a RANS Stratus XP. Because of the low-center-of-gravity, you can corner closer to the ground–particularly with a low racer like my VK2. The rides are wild. A DF has its fun as do recumbents. Exploring new and different is fun–plus the speed advantage of riding beneath the wind [with a low racer]. –jim

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  3. It’s just an ad. Expecting balance in an ad (especially one written by a high-dollar marketing firm) is like expecting to meet the tooth fairy one day. I think that most people are smart enough to know what’s an ad and what’s not and strip away the bs themselves.

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