I have been playing around with saddle setups for a couple of years now and have struggle to find anything I find truly comfortable (But this is road cycling, will it ever be!). When I refer to a saddle setup I mean all the variables. You have the basics like saddle height, fore/aft positioning, and nose/tail elevation. You then have saddle shape itself, again with its own set of variables. These being rail material, sit bone width, nose shape, tail height, convex or concave body, whether it has a perineal cut out and if so what size, shape and position. You then have variations on material I.e. leather, carbon, plastic and on top of that you have the thickness and type of padding, plus any type of grip on the surface to keep you in place.
Confused yet? I was. Especially when you try to combine this with seatpost type and pad shape in your shorts.
I felt like finding a saddle would be an ever ending and very expensive task.
Initially my bike came with a Selle Italia x1 saddle that I rode for about four months, it was basic and relatively comfortable but I was getting sore 40 ish miles into a ride. (To note I had already had a bike fit so position wasn’t an issue). I decided to buy a little upgrade and though along the lines of paying more for a saddle would automatically increase comfort. I was wrong, I purchased a Selle Italia SLR flow that turned out to be no more comfortable than the X1.
Since then I have been riding a Charge Spoon that I transferred from my Kona. This has been a little more comfortable due to the slightly more raised rear section but it hasn’t really worked with my bib shorts. The Progetto X2 pad on my Castelli FreeAero Race shorts rides up between my legs when using the Spoon and needs readjusting if you don’t get out of the saddle to allow it to settle.
The only other thing I have changed in the last year has been my seat post. I have changed from a Deda aluminium with 20mm layback to a full carbon Deda Dritissimo with zero layback. This loss in layback has been taken out by the rails so seating position is still the same. The only issue I can see is that the direct fit on the Dritissimo may lead to a harsher ride over the layback post, but it is full carbon so should have better vibration dampening properties.
Then this odd looking wonder came along. The Ism Adamo Racing. It’s an odd looking number but has been a real difference whilst out on the bike.
The initial setup of the saddle is relatively easy but due to saddle construction there’s a couple of things to look out for. The rails sit 5mm proud so you need to lower your seatpost to accomodate, and due to the lack of a standard nose section you need to set the saddles fore/aft adjustment based on position of your sitbones (which you should always be doing anyway). I found setting the pitch of the saddle neutral was the best position for me.
Out on the road the first thing you notice is the little bit of extra width on the nose, but it’s not uncomfortable as the support given is in the right place. This saddle seems to match my sitbones near perfectly, and I feel like I’m actually sitting on something rather than straddling a bar. The pressure is dramatically reduced on your perineum due to the split design and cutout, I run roughly a 100mm drop between bars and seatpost so this is very noticeable. Time on the drops is now a lot more comfortable. The padding is quite thin but firm so it’s still not a perfect all-dayer but combine it with a great pad like progetto x2 (that now I don’t suffer any gathering with) and you are onto a winner. I really like the ride. Weight wise it’s no fatty at 300g but won’t please the weight weenies, but in my opinion there’s no point having the lightest bike if it’s not great to ride. The saddle is one area you compromise on.
I suggest anyone looking for a new saddle tries one. Get over the looks and get comfy!