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Old 05-24-16, 07:18 PM   #1
rankin116
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How does your saddle feel?

I'm having some saddle issues, I think my old one is past it's prime and it's time for a replacement. I'm taking a start from scratch approach and I've tried a few different ones now, but I'm not happy with any of them. In fact, I was never really happy with my old one either, I just dealt with it.

So it's got me thinking, what is the goal when searching for a saddle? Should I expect no discomfort whatsoever? Or is a little discomfort the norm?

If you had to rate your enjoyment of your saddle, with 1 being like sitting on rusty nails and 10 being a saddle made of fluffy cumulus clouds with angels flying around your head singing and playing harps, where would you fall? And does it depend on how long you ride?
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Old 05-24-16, 07:34 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rankin116 View Post
I'm having some saddle issues, I think my old one is past it's prime and it's time for a replacement. I'm taking a start from scratch approach and I've tried a few different ones now, but I'm not happy with any of them. In fact, I was never really happy with my old one either, I just dealt with it.

So it's got me thinking, what is the goal when searching for a saddle? Should I expect no discomfort whatsoever? Or is a little discomfort the norm?

If you had to rate your enjoyment of your saddle, with 1 being like sitting on rusty nails and 10 being a saddle made of fluffy cumulus clouds with angels flying around your head singing and playing harps, where would you fall? And does it depend on how long you ride?
Heh.

I got so used to my old favorite saddles (Titanio 2000 and a similar shaped Cinelli that I got when I was 16?) that I probably grew into them. When truly seated in them I thought it was as close to fluffy cumulus clouds with angels flying around my head playing harps and such.

I got a bike that had a Fizik Arione on it. I tried it, it was different, and I didn't like it. I was starting to break my 15 year old saddles so I was looking for another saddle. I tried an SLR and that was bearable but not really comfortable (bearable = okay for 8-10 hour rides, which is as long as I've ever ridden in a day).

Recently I had a fit done. I'd bought a Tares saddle to see if the shorter/stubby saddle would make my bike a bit more normal (i.e. set back). The fitter suggested trying an Adamo ISM saddle. I did and it felt... okay. It was foreign but the nose was okay, meaning I could sit on the nose and not go numb right away. I didn't think much of the saddle until I got on the bike at home and sat on the SLR. OMG.

I immediately scoured eBay for a saddle (the fitter specifically doesn't sell ISMs even though he has one for his TT bike), got one, and believe it or not I think I avoided riding until I got the saddle.

I realized after the fact that the ISM isn't "fluffy cumulus clouds with angels flying around my head playing harps" but critically it never gets worse. I can move around on it, sit on the front, the back, and it's all sort of "yeah, whatever". But no pain, nothing super negative, just "meh". But it's always "meh", never "ow!" or "holy, what nerve did I just sit on because I just went numb!".

As a bonus I have 5 cm of set back now. Well maybe 4 cm. But it's better than 4mm of set back.

FWIW I never had any "issues" with saddle stuff. The ISM is nice though, the whole saddle is 100% usable. I like it.
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Old 05-24-16, 07:38 PM   #3
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Yeah I don't think I've ridden a truly comfortable saddle, just one that doesn't hurt. Actually many. As long as it's not too narrow, I can ride anything.

I rode a toupe again today after being on a power for many months. The toupe felt kind of like a Brooks in that I could feel the give, and it was good. The power is super firm.

And yeah, 5cm of setback probably isn't happening unless I get a custom frame.
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Old 05-24-16, 07:39 PM   #4
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It depends.
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Old 05-24-16, 07:44 PM   #5
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I went from a Spec. Romin which I really liked, as in it really didn't bother me to sit on it for hours, to a Spec. Power and I have now really stopped thinking about my saddle at all. I am never shifting around trying to relieve hotspots etc. Of course, YMMV.

So I think that you likely have room to improve your level of comfort, but again YMMV.
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Old 05-24-16, 07:44 PM   #6
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Seriously, my Brooks get uncomfortable after 3 continuous hours, which is why I don't ride longer. My SMP Pro is uncomfortable at the start, but more tolerable every mile. At the 40 mile mark the SMP toleration line starts heading the other direction. I'd say duration is a big factor.

The only saddle I can ride without bike shorts is a Brooks, but it won't be a very long ride.
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Old 05-24-16, 09:05 PM   #7
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when i first started, a fitter fitted me on a romin evo, because it offered more padding, in 155, because I have a wide ass. I'm pretty sure romin would do just fine. I think the main thing is saddle width and shape (eg. flat vs curved). The nose width might be an issue for people with narrower sit bones. But I think the romin and romin evo saddles serve as a pretty good baseline, considering I see a lot of them on people's bikes.

with exception to brooks, my experience has been that it takes me a minute or two of spinning to figure out whether the saddle is a hero or a dud. I went to a shop that had smp saddles, because I was intrigued by their profiles and the large cutout. They let me try one saddle after another using their fit machine, which was super kind of them. I was quick to realize that the large cutouts took away a lot of real estate from my sitbones, and I was having trouble staying centered. The wide noses were also generally pretty bothersome.

so my advice is to try out a wide variety of saddles of different shapes and sizes, and get a better general understand about the profiles that fit your ass, and narrow it down from there. It's like trying out helmets, but on the other end. I'll also mention that I hate hate hate hate hate narrow saddles.


yet to try my brooks for longer than 3 hours, but I can see why it might get uncomfortable. without the cutout, it's easy to get pinched in the taint. the imperials are supposed to address this problem, but they tend to not last as long. perhaps the cambiums with cutouts are the answer, but I'm not yet taken on the synthetic leather thing. I so want to do a tour without padded shorts. padded shorts are a pain in the ass to wash, dry, pack, and maintain.

hmm I wonder about the idea of using brooks cambiums as racing saddles...

Last edited by spectastic; 05-24-16 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 05-24-16, 09:29 PM   #8
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S-Works Power.. its not plush . it's pretty stiff actually... but I does not hurt me so I'm good . Bontrager XXX was also pretty good for me... TT saddles I'm still searching for.
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Old 05-24-16, 09:30 PM   #9
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I've tried a lot of saddles. A lot. Settled on the SMP Dynamic. It's pricey, but on average it's an 8, and at its best it's a 10 for me.

Its really geared toward keeping you in one spot on the saddle and at times I tend to slide up when really digging deep. If I hit potholes or something it feels like I got kicked in the nuts. I just need to remind myself to keep in the same spot.
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Old 05-24-16, 09:46 PM   #10
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My best saddle till date has probably been a 8/10 and that's a Hylix (chinese) full carbon saddle which I purchased after hearing about it here. I stopped using it because it had some sharp edges and it was slowly tearing my bibs. I'm very very picky about the saddles I ride on and so far only a Specialized Toupe has come close (after all, the Hylix was a Toupe knockoff). I found the Romin also to be pretty OK. I'm still looking for the perfect saddle but after trying out a lot of saddles, I have an idea of what works but I don't expect to ever find a 10/10 saddle. I have a Spec. Power saddle on order and looking forward to trying it out.
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Old 05-25-16, 03:52 AM   #11
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Romin Evo 143. It can be a pain to set-up but for me, the wide nose allows for a secondary TT / IAB position and the hammock created from setting it level makes for a really wonderful ride. (8/10)

I tried the Power Saddle when it came out, but I quickly found that the "1 position" wasn't what I wanted. I also have tried Fizik saddles multiple times and I normally can't walk straight later.
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Old 05-25-16, 05:01 AM   #12
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also a romin evo fanboy.
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Old 05-25-16, 05:18 AM   #13
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Toupe here. I don't know about clouds and angels but I can't say I ever give a moment's thought to my saddle and I guess that means it's doing the right thing. All these new saddles sound cool but if it ain't broke...
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Old 05-25-16, 05:28 AM   #14
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I also have a Romin Evo -- which I do enjoy quite a lot. Mine's a 155. It's weird because I never used to think about it, but on my new bike, after about 10 miles, I start to feel it rub a bit on the inner thighs. I could have just picked up some extra fat there from last year though. I may have my leveling off by just a little bit -- on the Romin you're supposed to level just the "middle third" of the saddle to get it level and that middle third of mine might be pointing up a degree or two -- I changed the angle last night and haven't ridden yet.

Either way, while mine was on order, the shop lent me a 143 Toupe and I always remember back to how comfortable that thing was...and consider going back to one. Of course I moved to that from a 130mm Bontrager, so just about anything would feel comfortable for me.
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Old 05-25-16, 05:33 AM   #15
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timely topic for me, as i've tried many many saddles, all three fizik models, specialized toupe and romin, fabric scoop, and several others, always hoping the sitting on clouds feeling. nope lol I think I've got bigger issues going on, like a leg length discrepancy (I have a shim on and it seems to have helped) that always seemed to add pressure to my right side.oddly enough, I set up my arione again this past week and rode 2hrs straight on the trainer without any major discomfort, and it's a saddle I've had for almost a year and never really liked.

anyhow, i'm super intrigued by those pressure mapping saddle fittings that a few spots around here do now. I think it would help me a ton both in terms of identifying a saddle and maybe how I'm sitting which may help contribute to discomfort.
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Old 05-25-16, 07:11 AM   #16
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This is all helpful, thanks. Knowing that 8/10 and is a reasonable goal is helpful for sure.

I was on a 130mm Toupe, forget the version, and I was much heavier than I am now when I first started with it ~4 years ago. Maybe two months ago I started getting some saddle sores and general discomfort bordering on pain. So went to a shop, got measured for the first time, and tried a Spec Power 155 and it did not like me.

I switched to a Romin, and it's ok. I get a little discomfort and I notice some numbness when I'm really hammering, especially in races. I'm thinking of going back to the Toupe in 155 or 145.

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Romin Evo 143. It can be a pain to set-up but for me, the wide nose allows for a secondary TT / IAB position and the hammock created from setting it level makes for a really wonderful ride. (8/10)

I tried the Power Saddle when it came out, but I quickly found that the "1 position" wasn't what I wanted. I also have tried Fizik saddles multiple times and I normally can't walk straight later.
What about the setup was a pain? Maybe I need to fiddle with that before switching saddles all together again.
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Old 05-25-16, 07:35 AM   #17
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So, it is the interplay between angle and position since one affects the other. Setting up the Romin is hard because it is not flat so you will always gravitate towards a certain position on the saddle depending upon the angle. You then need to have that point set-up so that the rest of your fit is good. So for example my current position is great. But if I tip the saddle nose downward by .5 degrees I will shift forward A LOT, which isn't ideal.

There is a serious interplay between angle and a saddle's X/Y position. My approach has been to follow the manufacturer's suggestions on angle and then try to move it in the X/Y planes to find a position that works.
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Old 05-25-16, 07:42 AM   #18
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Toupe here. I don't know about clouds and angels but I can't say I ever give a moment's thought to my saddle and I guess that means it's doing the right thing. All these new saddles sound cool but if it ain't broke...
Concur. It is a gentle and thoughtful lover. There are no whips or chains, and there is nothing particularly exciting about it. But, it is greater than the sum of its parts and I appreciate it with a stalwart devotion.
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Old 05-25-16, 09:06 AM   #19
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I currently ride a Specialized Phenom in 130mm. The original design, they don't make one that narrow anymore. It's really sold more as a MTB saddle, but whatever. It's ok, basically. Not amazing, not terrible, but works well for a wide range of positions. I had a Toupe years ago, when I was having knee issues and I think it was contributing to them because of how much it moves. Slapping it on my cross bike after recovering from my 1st clavicle break seemed to confirm that as my knee problem flared up pretty much immediately. But that also could've been because it was collapsing after a few years of use. Otherwise I felt the same way about that one, as I did about the Phenom. It's ok. Which makes sense, the two saddles are quite similar. I'd like to try it again, but I'm nervous about knee issues. Probably the Ronin is next on my list.

Which saddle works depends a lot on the bike, by the way. I got an SLR Flow to try on my road bike, and it just didn't work. Not comfortable at all. So I tried it on my cross bike instead, and it's glorious. Perfect for that bike. Probably can only get one more cross season out of it, all that on and off is pretty rough on a saddle.
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Old 05-25-16, 09:27 AM   #20
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i didn't mind the toupe at all, but i broke a couple. then i got a new bike with a romin and it broke a few times. went to get it warrantied right before a race and the shop only had romin evos in stock so they gave me that and i haven't broken it after a number of years.
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Old 05-25-16, 09:27 AM   #21
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It's interesting how much difference there is in the saddles designs. And how preferences aren't very predictable without testing.

After riding for a few years, I did a bike shop saddle trial, trying 4 or 5 different saddles for a week at a time each. I thought my preferred saddles needed to be flat and narrow, with a cutout. I had a Specialized Alias saddle that finally broke down, so I got another newer model Alias and rode it for a few more years.

Then I rode the Fizik Aliante that came with my new bike. I just assumed that this curvy saddle with a raised back section and no cutout wouldn't work. But I had to ride it for a couple weeks before I could go try anything else. The first two rides were torture, the next few rides kind of okay, then "very good" after that. It's good for a century ride for me. Huh. (I later tested their cutout version of this--ouch.)


Last edited by rm -rf; 05-25-16 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 05-25-16, 11:02 AM   #22
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I'm looking at Spec's site and I can't figure out what the difference is between Romin and the Romin Evo. Any ideas?

I think I'm going to stop in the shop at some point and talk with them about the set up, maybe they can give me a hand with positioning.
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Old 05-25-16, 11:33 AM   #23
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Evo has more padding. I think.
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Old 05-25-16, 11:47 AM   #24
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Romin evo here too. I've done 6 plus hour rides on it with no issues. I have a Bontrager women specific saddle on my Trek that I'd rate a 5/10. I wanted to like the saddle that came with my new TCR but after a couple weeks, I replaced with the Romin and it was like sitting on a cloud
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Old 05-25-16, 12:00 PM   #25
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Rode a hilly century on a $50 eBay all carbon saddle. Surprisingly comfortable.
It's on my main/race bike pretty much all the time.

I have an ISM Adamo Prologue on my trainer bike. It's the only saddle that doesn't cause numbness after 45 minutes on the trainer.
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