Tag Archives: saddle

What is This Saddle?

Somewhere there is a product manager for Wilderness Trail Bikes getting a bonus for having cut out anything resembling comfort in this saddle:

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A ride on this saddle is like experiencing one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno.  My first ride was a short ~16 mile out and back on a paved recreational trail.  Smooth asphalt and concrete the whole way at a nice 16 to 17 mile per hour pace.  Nothing special and nothing extreme.  Oh boy did my rear end hurt at the end.

I chalked it up to the first ride of the season, which is always a somewhat tortuous experience as winter’s rust is shaken off.  Seriously, I feel like some kind of waylaid creature summoned when the weather warms up—kind of, if you know what spring has been like in Iowa this year—who breaks free of magical stone shackles.  No seriously, how can I spend the winter working out five and six days a week yet suffer mightily on the first easy ride of the season?  It’s like I should stop trying.

A subsequent ride confirmed my worst fears.  This saddle was designed to drive traffic into bike shops by users looking to upgrade to something that would not turn their most personal of areas into overcooked brisket.  Thankfully the solution to this problem was in my garage already: the Selle Anatomica Titanico X on the old dirtwagon.  Much better:

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A human being interfaces with a bicycle at three contact points: pedals, handlebar, and saddle.  At each contact point there are almost infinite options for one to choose from, but the saddle stands out for products to really suck.  Maybe it is personal preference or just the many ways our asses can be shaped.

On a related note, I had forgotten just how much fiddling was required to get a new bike dialed in.  After you have ridden thousands of miles on an old bike these little details are generally already taken care of and you just throw a leg over to get riding.  On a new bike you are fiddling with saddled tilt and height, fore and aft position, SPD cleat alignment, and the list goes on.  At this rate I do not think I will have everything locked down until well into May.

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Stuff I Like: Selle Anatomica Titanico X

Is it possible to purchase a bicycle saddle that is made in the U.S.A.? Yes.

Would you actually want to purchase said saddle? Yes.

This brings me to the saddles from Selle Anatomica:

Selle Anatomica Profile

I own a Selle Anatomica Titanico X. I purchased it with my own money, so there is no friendly bias to the company other than that accrued through the performance of their product relative to the dollars that I spent. Currently, the Titanico X is being replaced by a similar saddle for 2014 so not all of my impressions may be relevant. I also purchased a clearance saddle that may have had defects, although I cannot find any, so the price was reduced by about one-third off normal retail.

There is no more personal choice for a cyclist than his or her saddle. Unlike handlebars with multiple positions a cyclist generally has limited variability upon which to place their rear end. Sure, you can slide fore and aft but those are generally very minor adjustments in position and I find that you end up returning to a sort of equilibrium point quickly.

The key is to find a saddle that fits well and is comfortable over the length of a ride. Too many people end up with overly padded saddles that actually begin to rub the wrong way when the mileage gets high.

For years, I was an ardent fan of the Selle Italia Flite. The shape is classic cycling. If you remember watching cycling in the 1990s, you remember seeing Flites in every color under the sun on almost every bike in the peloton. Over time the shape has seemed to change very little, but I no longer find it the perfect partner in crime for long days on gravel roads.

The Titanico X, like all Selle Anatomica saddles, is made using a suspended leather design. You may be familiar with this design If you have ever seen a Brooks saddle. The Titanico X does however feature a slot in the saddle:

Selle Anatomica Behind

The idea is to allow the differing sides of your body to move somewhat independently. I do not know if that is what the biometrics are but the saddle is uber comfortable in the few long rides I have put in during the early season. Plus, in terms of being able to adjust my fit on the bike the Titanico X’s long rails allowed me to really dial things in. Too often I would find myself wishing I could slide a saddle back just a little more. It’s a personal thing.

Like all leather saddles the material will begin to stretch and sag. Adjustment is super easy using a single hex bolt at the front of the saddle.

Icing on the cake is that the saddle is made in the U.S.A. with a lot of the materials, primarily the leather, being sourced from the U.S.A. as well. I think it is important that we embrace a level of quality manufacturing in this country and that means seeking out makers of goods rather than just blindly purchasing something from a catalog with little consideration given to its origin. It’s a small thing, but I think it is important.

As the miles accumulate this summer I look forward to updating everyone on the new saddle.