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  1. #1
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    My week with a bike saddle demo kit from Competitive Cyclist

    Thought some of you who are hunting for the perfect saddle might be interested in this -- I decided to give the Competitive Cyclist saddle demo kit a try.

    The deal is you pay them $75, they ship you a box of 13 saddles, and you get to try them out for a week. After a week, you ship them back (return shipment already included in the price of the kit). If you decide to buy a saddle from them, you then get a $35 discount on a saddle (for those of you keeping score, that means it "costs" $40).

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...RODUCT.ID=4819

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...T&BRAND.ID=118

    I thought it sounded like a great deal -- there are online dealers with return programs, and some local shops with demo saddles, but I figured I would never have the patience to ship lots of saddles back and forth, or go back and forth to the LBS repeatedly to try out such a variety of saddles. In the end, I learned a lot.

    So here's what you get:

    - a nicely packed case with instructions on how to ship the saddles; even a couple of zip ties to secure the case on its return journey.



    - 2 layers of saddles



    - they sent me 12 (they told me in advance that 1 of the 13 was not available for trial)



    What I did/what I learned:

    - 12 saddles is a lot to try in one week! I immediately disqualified several saddles because they were women's models (3) or just too minimalist/racing oriented (2) to try. That left 7 to try out, which is a lot of saddles to get through in a week.

    - I devoted a couple of evenings to taking saddles out for short, 2 to 3 mile trials. A couple of saddles didn't even make it out of my neighborhood. But I picked 4 for longer rides.

    - I did 20 to 35 mile rides with each of 4 different saddles -- the Selle San Marco Regal, one of the Selle Italia models , the WTB Rocket V, and the Fizik Arione. While not conclusive, I felt this was enough mileage to at least make a purchase decision on these guys.

    - The test confirmed that for me there is no substitute for long rides on a saddle. Reading online reviews, others' comments, or short rides didn't teach me much. The 2 or 3 saddles that I really, really believed would be perfect for me ended up being horrible (for me). A couple of saddles I couldn't imagine I would like ended up making my "final 4" selection process. A couple of saddles that felt great for 30 minutes were not so great after two hours in the saddle.

    - As a result, I think the kit was definitely worth the money -- if nothing else, it saved me from buying (and returning) one of the saddles I was committed to buy before I did the test rides. It also confirmed for me that my worn out Selle An-Atomica was worth rebuilding, so I sent it off to get rebuilt ($75). For long distances, I still think the Selle An-Atomica was better for me than any of these (though I'm a little annoyed it has to be recovered after less than 3 years of riding).

    However, I am still deciding about a saddle I need for a 2nd bike (currently mounted with a Brooks Swift I have never gotten used to). For what it's worth, the 2 I liked the most were the Selle San Marco Regal (not such a surprise, since it felt like a cross between my Brooks Pro and my Brooks Swift) and the WTB Rocket V SLT (which really shocked me, because it's not like any saddle I've ever owned). I have no clue, though, if my preferences make sense for anyone else -- but I do think this is a good way to try out *lots* of saddles in a hurry.

    Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-01-10 at 10:13 AM.

  2. #2
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Very good idea - leave it up to CC to come up with a real good way to pick the right saddle.
    I'm with you - if the saddle fits for 12 miles it needs to be ridden for 40 to 50 to give it the real test.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    - As a result, I think the kit was definitely worth the money -- if nothing else, it saved me from buying (and returning) one of the saddles I was committed to buy before I did the test rides. It also confirmed for me that my worn out Selle An-Atomica was worth rebuilding, so I sent it off to get rebuilt ($75).
    Who does the saddle rebuilds?

  4. #4
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Who does the saddle rebuilds?
    The same company that makes the saddles. It's a leather crafting company in Wisconsin -- you go to Selle An-Atomica's website, you "purchase" a rebuild, and then you put the receipt and your saddle in a box and mail it off to Wisconsin. They promise a one-week turnaround. The cost was $75 for the rebuild and then I spent $12 on priority shipping.

    I have mixed feelings about this -- I love the Selle An-Atomica saddle, and I had about 7,000 miles on it when it suddenly stretched a bunch (it has 7,500 or so, now). I had to tighten the tightening screw all the way to the end, so I figured it was only a matter of time before the leather needed replacing, and I didn't want it to fail on a ride. So I'm a little peeved that I have to have it rebuilt, but maybe 7,500 miles under my not-so-tiny-butt is all one can reasonably expect.

  5. #5
    Infinite Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tip, BB. However that is a lot of saddles to go through in a week. Still it beats doing what I've done in the past. Walking around a bike store holding a saddle to my rear going "hmmm, hmmm"

    Let us know what your final decision is. I to probably would have rejected the WTB just looking at it. Looks "too soft" to me.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Boy I wish I knew about this before. I must have gone through 8 saddles and I did it one at a time. I'm with you guys on the 7 days really isn't enough time. I wonder if you could extend that time for a small fee. Also do you pick the saddles or do they? I looked on there web site, but I didn't see what saddles they include. I do recognize some of the ones in the package and tried them, but I wonder what others they have. Thanks BB I think I'm going to try that program. Right now I'm pretty happy with the FIzik Aliante, but there may be a better out there. I heard some good reviews on the Flite.
    George

  7. #7
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=George;11014750 Also do you pick the saddles or do they? I looked on there web site, but I didn't see what saddles they include. .[/QUOTE]

    They pick the saddles that are in the program.

    You know, since I ordered the kit, a bunch of the information about the program has disappeared from their site. I saw a bunch of stuff on on their Facebook page about how they have just gone through an "upgrade" of their site, so maybe some of the links to the saddle demo kit got lost (?). I remember that before I ordered the kit it was super-clear what I was getting, but I can't now find the links to all the information --- as I recall, there was something right in their saddles section that explained the demo kit.

    I would suggest giving them a call, or trying their online chat (which works pretty well) to get the current details on the kit.

  8. #8
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    Why the heck would they include women's saddles for a man?

    Also, although this sounds like a decent way to pick a saddle, I don't understand why they limit it to a week. It's unreasonable. Not only is it not enough time to try that many saddles, what if it's rainy?

    I would want a month to try that many saddles! At least 2 weeks, minimum.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    Not only is it not enough time to try that many saddles, what if it's rainy?
    I'm wondering why you would assume it *wasn't* raining during the week I had the saddles?

    Two of my four 30-mile tests were done in the rain -- if I didn't ride in the rain, I wouldn't ride much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    Why the heck would they include women's saddles for a man?...
    I would want a month to try that many saddles! At least 2 weeks, minimum.
    I assume it's just a numbers game. Rather than pick and choose which saddles go to which potential customer, they just have a package that goes out to anyone who wants a saddle trial. I don't think the idea is that anyone really wants to try all 12; the idea is to put enough saddles in a package that a reasonable number of people are satisfied.
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 06-27-10 at 06:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Really interesting .... and you are right about the time issue: two weeks would be much better to do this testing process justice. I am not too surprised that the WTB saddle did well. I tried one of its cousins (the PURE V) recently and have been very impressed with it.

    And +1 on long rides being important... Fizik Arione is an example: it was a good saddle for me for one hour or so but then it goes away. I think I can ride anthing for 20 miles... but then we find out what is what. If you get the chance, post pics of your finalists.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    Really interesting .... and you are right about the time issue: two weeks would be much better to do this testing process justice. I am not too surprised that the WTB saddle did well. I tried one of its cousins (the PURE V) recently and have been very impressed with it.

    And +1 on long rides being important... Fizik Arione is an example: it was a good saddle for me for one hour or so but then it goes away. I think I can ride anthing for 20 miles... but then we find out what is what. If you get the chance, post pics of your finalists.
    Just to show the total individual nature of saddles, I tried a WTB saddle once (from Performance mail order), and it was a total a$$ hatchet. So I sent it back for a refund.

  12. #12
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I really like the concept involved here. You can quibble about the specific saddles offered in the kit, the time alloted to try them, etc., but it's still a great idea. I'm curious about how you dealt with the adjustments for each saddle. Did you have a "standard" staring place in terms of tilt; did they come with recommendations about setup? My experience has been that some are more sensitive to minor changes in tilt. For example, my Selle An-atomica was real difficult to get dialed-in, and just the most minor tilt difference made it unbearable.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    If you get an Anatomica saddle, you really should get the wateproof leather and the Clydesdale patch. The leather moves
    a lot more than on other saddles, and wears out faster. The patch slows that down.
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  14. #14
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I like the idea and hope it catches on so more of this kind of offer are available. Given the specifics of this particular deal, however, I don't think I would be able to get enough benefit from it to make it worth the trouble and expense. I need more time to evaluate a saddle and I would want more choice in the selection of saddles to try.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    . I'm curious about how you dealt with the adjustments for each saddle. Did you have a "standard" staring place in terms of tilt; did they come with recommendations about setup? My experience has been that some are more sensitive to minor changes in tilt. For example, my Selle An-atomica was real difficult to get dialed-in, and just the most minor tilt difference made it unbearable.
    There were no recommendations or instructions, just the saddles. I didn't really have a good answer, other than take the saddles I wanted to try on a "trial" run for a couple of miles to pick the saddles I wanted to try. I rode around with a wrench in my jersey and stopped frequently to tweak the saddles. I think the problem with this approach is that I might have "missed" a great saddle because I didn't have it adjusted right.

    The other variable I probably missed is getting seatpost height "correct." Because the saddles have such different profiles, I really should have been doing more to adjust seatpost height as I went.

  16. #16
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    Just to show the total individual nature of saddles, I tried a WTB saddle once (from Performance mail order), and it was a total a$$ hatchet. So I sent it back for a refund.
    So true. I'm that way with a Brooks. But yet I run the WTB Rocket V's on all my bikes and they're wonderful.

  17. #17
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    Campus Cyclery in Cincinnati has a similar loaner program. They have a dozen or more saddles up on the wall. You put in a deposit, then check one out for a few days and return it. Last year, the whole thing cost me $10.00 net. I ended up getting a Specialized saddle instead (they didn't carry those). But it was worth it to try out different styles.

    Fizik has a set of orange covered saddles for testing, too. I've seen the display at another bike store in town.

  18. #18
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Thanks for an excellent write-up. I've been using a Flite gel but find it slopes too much for me. So, I switched to a Selle Arrowhead which is flatter but definitely lacking any "flex." Arrowhead is a good name for it. If it were a bit softer I think I'd love this thing. So, to cut to the chase, the demo kit sound like a great idea. Thanks for the heads up.

  19. #19
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Let us know what your final decision is. .
    While I'm under no illusions that anyone cares about this any more, I did want to close out this thread with my final-final saddle choices after a couple of months of fiddling around. This all started because my Selle An-Atomica (on my Davidson) needed replacement and my Brooks Swift (on my Tommasini) didn't like me.

    Final disposition:

    - I purchased a Selle San Marco Regale, which I found via this kit, for my Tommasini. So far, I've had it on a couple of 50+ mile rides, and really like it. I sold the Brooks Swift on eBay, which more than covered the cost of the new saddle.

    - I sent my Selle An-Atomica off to get re-covered and refurbished; I got it back a couple of weeks ago and it's doing great. Still my most comfortable long-distance saddle.

    - My commuter bike, the Boedie, still has a Brooks B-17, and is doing fine.

    I also brought a Brooks Professional out of semi-retirement while I was doing all of this testing and re-discovered how much I like that saddle. It's on a backup bike for now but I will make sure I hang onto it (it's almost 30 years old now, still going strong).

    So my lesson here, 25+ years after I bought my first Brooks, is that non-padded, smooth-shell leather saddles is what I like -- Brooks, Selle San Marco, Selle An-Atomica. The one thing in common, for me, is the almost complete lack of padding to make a saddle comfortable to me. The WTB saddle that I liked is the only saddle here w/padding that worked at all for me, but still ended up not working as well as the San Marco Regale. But, as I learned, that's just me -- this kit overall taught me there's no way I would know what works for me unless I try it.

    BTW, someone on another forum mentioned that this demo kit is no longer being featured by Competitive Cyclist -- the link on the website still seems to work, but I'm not 100% certain this is still something they do.

  20. #20
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    The San Marco Regal was a good choice; it's what I use on my fixie, and I ride the fixie on randonneur brevets. Of course, everyone's sit-bones are different, so there's no absolute right choice. Just a couple of points:
    - the Regal is not unpadded leather, like a Brooks. It's a padded, leather-covered saddle over a nylon base, like all the other non-Brooks saddles. However, for me, it's way more comfortable over longer distances (200 km +) than the San Marco Era I used to use.
    - the shorts you are wearing are a confounding variable. You have to make sure you test the saddles wearing your most comfortable shorts. The process for doing this is the same as testing saddles - keep trying different shorts until you find one that's really comfortable, and then go back and buy several more!

  21. #21
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I don't know guys, I don't think this program would work for me, because it takes my butt a few weeks and a number of long rides to get used to a new saddle. After one long ride, I might reject a saddle which would be perfect for me once I had adapted to it.
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  22. #22
    Are you with me Flash's Avatar
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    Is this program still active? I can't find it on their website. thanks
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  23. #23
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    It seems to be gone.
    I used google to find the page, but the linked page no longer exists.

  24. #24
    Badger Biker ctyler's Avatar
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    Or, just get a Brooks B17. Worked for me. Now I have Brooks on all my bikes.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Here's the page:

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...RODUCT.ID=4819

    I just tried the "schedule a demo" function and it seemed to work. Worth sending them an email or call if you want to check it out...

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