Its a question I get from nearly every client over the course of an appointment. Its an easy enough question, on the surface at least. Without fail my stock answer always is “The one that feels good to you.” Indeed its an obvious answer but opens up perhaps the most broad and technical questions of a bike fit and an ensuing discussion that enlightens and educates the client.
When I began riding seriously, and racing, there were just a few saddles available, all of which had been around for years. Some of these saddles where bred out of tradition and some from select rider feedback. The selection, only a few dozen, compared to the tens of thousands of riders, seemed paltry. Of course we didn’t know then what we know today.
Fast forward nearly three decades and the technology, thought and engineering in the saddle industry seems to have caught up with the demand and need of the sport. The downside is a virtual sea of saddles with overwhelming marketing and sometimes inexperienced or untrained shop employees unable to speak to the benefits of each saddle. So what to do?
As I tell all of my clients, your saddle will be “The one that feels good to you.” Reading endless reviews about how a saddle feels is the same as reading how a bike rides. It probably helps but you have to get out and take the bike for a ride to see how you like it. You simply have to try saddles. Before doing that I urge you to ask the following questions:
- How is my current saddle uncomfortable?
- When does this discomfort occur?
- What would I like a new saddle to accomplish?
A cornerstone of my personal fit philosophy is comfort. If you are not comfortable on your bike your motivation to ride will wane. Your saddle serves as the primary contact point between you and your bike. The majority of your weight, and time, will be spent on your saddle. Comfort in the saddle translates to an enjoyable, productive ride. Its these issues that lead to the saddle being a paramount piece of equipment for your riding.
As I was forming my business I quickly found that I had access to everything in the bike industry. Indeed, vendors clamor to get their wares in the hands of the people in the industry who have close contact to consumers. Despite access to thousands of items, saddles included, I made the conscious decision early on to provide my clients only the items I felt would provide them value and are of the highest quality and fabrication available. Great margins and deep discounts do not dictate what I offer my clients. Quality does.
All of my saddles have been personally tested and evaluated to meet my standards. I offer an array of saddles that are designed for distinct biking disciplines. I also offer clients the option of testing as many saddles as they want, for as long as they want. Its the only real way to determine what saddle works for you. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Riding a saddle around a parking lot doesn’t provide the rider with enough information to make a decision. If you are working with someone who says otherwise I suggest you take your business elsewhere. You have to take the saddle out for a few rides. Fatigue, pelvic rotation, climbing, descending….they all find you perched atop your saddle in a different position. Moving from your tops to your hoods to your drops necessitates rotating your hips. Its this rotation that increases or decreases the width of your ischial tuberosity, or sitting bones. Moving fore and aft greatly changes the width of the saddle. Do you spend much of the time perched on the nose of the saddle? A rider needs to experience how a new saddle feels under these circumstances.
Here are a few of the saddle vendors I believe in and stock.
These saddles have been around for a few years and were quickly adopted by the pro peloton. They come in a variety of widths and lengths. Fizik’s primary focus on a riders’ flexibility has driven their saddle design, width and length. They have recently introduced a perenium cutout, termed their “Versus” line, in all of their saddle shapes. This line, like their original saddles, has rapidly gained many fans.
Short for Ideal Saddle Modification. These saddles have been around for over a decade and sport a distinct two pronged nose. The saddle design targets increased blood flow and perineal comfort. Tested via pressure mapping in conjunction with a noted urologist these saddles have found a wide audience in the world of triathlon and are also being seen in road cycling circles.
Selle San Marco:
Formed in 1935 this company began manufacturing bicycle saddles in 1940. Among their saddles are the revered Concor, perhaps the most ridden saddle in the professional peloton. Evolution has been at the core of Selle San Marco. After personally riding the Fizik Arione for years I now spend my time perched atop the “Zoncolon”.
I encourage anyone who has been frustrated by never being comfortable in their saddle to not give up. Finding a knowledgable resource is key. All of my saddles are available for demo. And remember, moving from one saddle to the next is a little trickier than simply affixing the new saddle. Stack height, width, length and shape can vary widely among saddles. You should expect your fit to remain unchanged when a new saddle is affixed to your bike. This takes a few minutes but is the only way to go.
Here’s what you can expect when you demo one of my saddles:
- Saddle demo installations are scheduled for thirty minutes.
- No labor charged for the appointment.
- Bring cycling kit with you. You’ll be pedaling atop a trainer.
- Saddle deposit required. Deposit credited towards final saddle purchase.
- Try as many saddles as you like.
- Bring thoughtful questions
Have a great ride!