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2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Saddles

Check out the complete saddle section from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide.

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Check out the complete saddle section from the 2012 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide. The complete guide is available on newsstands now!

Fizik Arione Versus $150

The Arione Versus is shaped very similar to the popular Arione Tri 2 saddle. Instead of an extremely padded nose, this saddle is noticeably firmer and has a channel running the entire length. Testers found it most comfortable when sitting toward the back of the saddle instead of scooting out on the nose. The saddle is a good match for athletes with a flexible lower back who prefer to use  their sit bones instead of rotating their pelvis forward.

Kontact Anatomical Saddle $110
The Kontact saddle was developed based on the research of Joshua Cohen, P.T., M.S., author of Finding the Perfect Bike Seat. It features a relatively flat rear portion to support the sit bones and has a softer gel zone in the center of the saddle’s long bulbous nose (instead of a cutout) to provide perineal relief. Testers found the nose to be a bit too narrow and rounded for comfortable nose riding, so the saddle is best for a relatively upright posture or riders who sit toward the back of the saddle.

Selle SMP Stratos $260
Though the SMP Stratos was originally designed as a road bike saddle, many triathletes have found its dramatic cut-out comfortable for low tri positions. It allows the pelvis to rotate forward, similarly to the ISM Adamo, without creating undue pressure on the perineum. It cannot be nose ridden like a traditional triathlon saddle—it is essentially a noseless saddle—so thankfully it comes equipped with very long rails for forward positioning. The saddle works well for both men and women and is available in multiple widths for the perfect fit.

Bontrager Affinity R WSD $80
The Affinity is a very comfortable road bike saddle available in both men’s and women’s versions. It features a soft, cushioned top and a gender-specific softer Contour Relief Zone rather than a cutout to provide perineal relief. It is sure to become very popular among triathletes who ride road bikes. Female testers loved this women’s version.

ISM Adamo Podium $200
The Adamo Podium is intended to provide all the benefits of the original Adamo while making the transition from a traditional saddle to a noseless saddle a little easier. The nose is longer and more tapered than the original Adamo. It’s more comfortable than the original for a slightly more upright position but still effectively relieves perineal pressure for both men and women when riding in a triathlon position.

Terry Women’s FLX Carbon $200
The Women’s FLX Carbon saddle features a wide nose and a perineal relief cutout. It is a performance-minded women’s specific saddle featuring minimal padding and light weight. Women who ride in a more aggressive road or a moderately aggressive triathlon position may find it to be a good match. Testers all agreed that small adjustments to saddle tilt went a very long way in achieving comfort.

Specialized Romin Expert $120
The Romin Expert is a saddle for minimalists preferring solid bone-on-saddle support rather than a soft, plush feeling. It is extremely light and does not feature much cushioning. Created with Specialized’s patented Body Geometry design, the firm upper holds the rider up by the sit bones rather than allowing him or her to sink into the saddle and pinch the perineum. Its cutout spans the rear two-thirds of the saddle. This saddle is best for triathletes who prefer to sit farther set back on the saddle instead of riding the nose.

Fizik Vitesse Tri WF $170
The Vitesse Tri WF is an all-purpose women-specific triathlon saddle well suited to most riding styles. It borrows some features from the popular Fizik Vitesse road saddle and other features from the Arione Tri 2. The heavily padded nose, relatively flat, wide rear section and Fizik’s Wing Flex technology break in specifically to each owner. It softens in time, and comfort improves with each ride.

Cobb Max $180
The Max is one of the softer saddles, featuring a generous perineal relief cutout. The feeling of riding the Max is similar to the Adamo but with a narrower and softer nose. The cutout zone is also slightly narrower, ideal for more compact physiques. It lets the pelvis roll forward to ease stress on the lower back without creating excessive perineal pressure. The saddle rails are relatively long and allow for a wide range of position adjustment. Heavier riders will wind up compressing the nose of the saddle quite a bit and may find it less comfortable as a result.