Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saddle Demo

A while ago I had an idea to start a company called NoMoreSaddleSores.com. My plan was to rent people saddles until they found one they liked. This probably seems like a silly idea to most folks. However if you are one of the unlucky people like me who gets saddle sores from riding your bike, then this service might not seem so silly to you.

I have tried lots of different saddles, but I have never ridden one that felt like it really fits me. It is very hard to look at a picture of saddle and know if it is going to be comfortable. So the best you can do is take a guess then give YourBikePartStore.com your credit card and hope for the best.

Saddles start at $100 and many go up from there. If you guess wrong more than once or twice then you just wasted a good bit of money.

Apparently Competitive Cyclist came to the same conclusions that I did and started their own saddle demo program. Amy (having heard my crazy NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea many times) decided to surprise me on my birthday with a week rental of mountain bike saddles.

On the day the saddles came I took them all out of the box and rode them on my spin bike.

Here are my initial impressions

Fizik Gobi - This saddle is close to the right width for me. The roundness of the saddle feels a little weird though. Plus there is very little padding. The saddle seems to flex some though.

Fizik Aliante - Feels very similar to the Gobi except that the top is flat instead of round. Not as slippery as the Gobi either. Has these little Y's cut into the top to add friction. Both saddles are extremely well constructed with no seams.

Intense Sacred - Very thin. Can flex it with my pinky. Feels like it would break on the first ride. Extremely uncomfortable when riding it. Amy laughed and made fun of this one.

Maxm Ti Rail - Feels very similar to my Terry Ti Fly. Maybe a touch wider. Top of the saddle is smoother and slicker then my Terry as well. Has plush foam padding on top.

Selle Italia Yutak - Extremely weird to the touch. Feels like Styrofoam or stuff they use to make art sculptures. Shape is weird too. I threw it back in the box quickly.

Selle Italia Flite - I have tried one of these before. It is too narrow for me.

WTB Rocket - This one was too narrow for me. The shape is unique though. Has a deeper dip in the middle of the saddle.

WTB Devo - This one is very flat and very hard and very thin. It doesn't flex much. I wanted to like this one, but I am not man enough.

WTB Laser - This one might actually be too wide for even me. I could not tell if it was too wide or just not the right shape for me. It felt kinda like when you go camping and forget your pillow and try to fashion a pillow out of your jacket or something. It is kind of lumpy and disjointed. It also has a large number of seams on the top. The stitching was already coming undone on the one shipped to me. I threw it back in the box and moved on.

A couple of days later I took the two Fizik saddles and the Maxm saddle to demo on the trail at Big Creek.

First I rode a lap on my Terry Ti Fly. I had ridden a really tough ride two days before. I chased a bunch of people around that are way faster and more skilled than me for about three hours. Plus the trail was very rocky and steep. The next day I rode for 5 hours at my own pace on a much smoother trail. The combined effect of those two rides left me a little sore in my saddle area so I wanted to make sure I had a good frame of reference before I rode any of the new saddles.

After I riding my Terry, I rode the Gobi. My first impression was wow this is kinda hard. It didn't really hurt, but it didn't have the familiar inch of foam padding that my Terry does. As I rode it more though I didn't really miss the padding. The saddle seemed to get more comfortable the longer I rode. I think the foam compresses on my Terry after awhile and doesn't really do much good. Instead of using foam, this saddle seemed like it was designed to flex a little while you ride it to increase comfort. I came away at the end of the lap feeling like I liked the Gobi better than my Terry.

Next I rode the Aliante. This saddle felt very similar to the Gobi. The big difference I noticed was that end of the saddle was flared more than the Gobi. As I ride I tend to push my butt backwards across the top of my saddle. Sorry I don't know why I do this. I do know that when I do this with a flared saddle like my Terry or this Aliante I eventually get a sore on my butt right where my cheek hits the flared part of the saddle. So I gave the Aliante the thumbs down and moved on to the Maxm.

The Maxm felt very familiar. This saddle is almost a carbon copy of my Terry just a little wider. It has the same foam top and the same basic shape. I got the same flared saddle feeling when I push backwards and felt the same sore flare up. I think this saddle would be an improvement from my Terry because I need a wider saddle. I don't think it is perfect saddle for me though.

I switched back to the Gobi and rode another couple laps. Eventually my butt started hurting with this saddle as well. I don't think Gobi is perfect for me, but it is probably the best thing I have tried so far. I switched the Gobi over to my road bike and commuted to work one day on it. I didn't really learn anything new. It felt about the same as my mountain ride.

I may hunt around on ebay to see if I can find a cheap used Gobi to test further. The one week demo at competitive cyclist is a little too short for me. Plus the number of saddles they send you is kind of limited. I would have totally blown their service away with my NoMoreSaddleSores.com idea. :)


Lisa said...

Bummer on the Aliante..that's what I've got on two of my bikes and its the saddle that got me through TR without any butt soreness whatsoever. But then I might have an iron arse..

Anonymous said...

You should still form your saddle demo company! Competitive Cyclist only has a small and fixed range of saddles, which do not include any ladies saddles or anything that I would like to try. What's the point in trying saddles if they are not the ones you are interested in trying? It would be more useful if you could choose which saddles to try.