The Saddle Experiment – Feedback #2Written: February 1, 2011
As planned, last night I rode with my San Marco Mantra FX back on the bike – this really opened my eyes to what had been happening on the Selle Italia SLR, what was happening on the Mantra by comparison and was frankly considerably more comfortable.
I claimed previously that the SLR was almost too supportive. What I realise now is that the SLR actually supports your backside (well, mine at least) very differently from the Mantra. The contact points of your backside and pelvic bone are in very different places on each saddle – this is what creates the comfort / discomfort.
When viewed from the rear as in the above pic, the SLR is actually quite flat (either side of the carbon piece surrounded in red stitching). This means my ‘sit bones’ were sat on top of the saddle rather than sitting ‘in’ the saddle. Hopefully this makes sense when you see the rear view of the Mantra below:
Here you can see the saddle drops down either side of the cutout, meaning the saddle is able to move up between my sit bones and support my under carriage more. This is where the width and length of the Mantra’s cutout becomes so important. The fact that my under carriage sits so much lower on this saddle (by virtue of my sit bones being able to get lower onto it) means that pressure I would feel if the saddle didn’t have the cutout would be seriously uncomfortable, and I have no doubt that numbness would be a real problem. As it is, my nether region has no pressure on it at all and the only numbness being felt at the moment is because of the cold!
Going back to the SLR, I think the problem is that the nose of the saddle seems to rise up and the cutout of the ‘Flow’ version is insufficient to relieve any pressure from this convex shape that is created. How anyone rides the SLR pictured above with no cutout at all completely bemuses me, and again I am understanding more about what Darren was suggesting in his comments when we first spoke.
I’ve previously ridden saddles like the Mantra where the cutouts are wide and long (Specialized Toupe & Romin, Selle SMP Composit), but they seemed to suffer from the saddle nose being too wide through trying to manage the cutout effectively, or from the cutout still not being wide or deep enough to actually relieve pressure. The Mantra seems to avoid this by offering enough pressure relief without having a wide nose.
I’m already beginning to think the Fizik Antares won’t work for me as a comfortable saddle, but I’m still intrigued to try it – I’m wondering if the shape of the saddle will mean my sit bones hold me up on the saddle, and that it’s flat front section might eliminate the need for a pressure relief channel / cutout. Time will tell. I will also be back to commuting regularly on my Brooks Swallow soon so it’ll be interesting to see how that compares.
Hope you’re finding this interesting – I’m enjoying the experiment so I’ll continue to feed back. I’m in the process of developing a ‘saddle matrix’ too, which might help to define features of saddles on the market. Hopefully that will be of use to you when it’s published.
Tags:antares,arione,aspide,carbon rails,carbonio,Fizik,flite,k:ium,kit carbonio,mantra san marco,Prologo,rails,regale,Saddle experiment,selle,selle italia,SLC,SLR,technologika,the saddle exchange,ti rails
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