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Saddle Test!

Old 11-15-21, 01:33 AM
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downtube42
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Saddle Test!

My Selle Anatomica didn't do so well on a 1200k this past summer, so I signed up with a local bike shop's saddle library. Cost to sign up is $30, which goes toward the purchase of a saddle if I find one I like. Each test saddle can be checked out for just a week. For the next few months I'll be riding one 200k per month, so it's a good time to experiment. I'm going to take my time with this. I want to record impressions of each saddle (no pun intended), so I figured I'd do that here.

Complaints on the Selle, aside from general pain, included numb dangly bits for some time after the ride. Saddles with center cutout were advised, so we started there.

First up: Specialized Romin at 155mm. About width. The saddle librarian, as it were, offered to either let me browse the library and pick based on my own thinking, or to hear some advise. I chose the latter. We discussed my rides - brevets up to and including 1200k, and my past issues - pain and numbness. I asked about sit bone width, and she pulled out the sit-bone measuring device whilst generally poo-pooing the value of that particular measurement. Her advice: try different widths and see what feels good. Which is, after all, the whole point of the saddle library. She suggested starting with the Romin due to its generous center cutout, and I opted for the middle width as a starting point. This was on a Saturday. Sunday I put in a 30 mile ride, which turned out to be the only ride on this particular saddle. Between post time-change evening darkness, rain, general laziness, and my schedule, I returned in on Wednesday. I did not find it particularly comfortable, and if anything it felt narrow. I decided to try the same model, but wider.

2nd: Unfortunately the Romin at 168mm was loaned out, so I decided to go with a radically different saddle - Specialized Power 168mm. That's a short-nosed saddle with significant center cutout. Tonight I managed 18 miles, and it actually felt decent. The short nose didn't seem to have any ill effects. From what I read this saddle is designed to make super aggressive riding (i.e. pelvis rotated far forward) more comfortable. That's definitely not my form. I also read a criticism that isn't not good for long climbs, for reasons I don't really understand. I'll try to get in a 30 miler tomorrow evening, with some climbing. That is, if I can muster up the willpower to go out in the rainy darkness.
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Old 11-15-21, 04:09 AM
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]
I wish there was a shop near me that did this program. Sounds great

The specialized power saddles are the least painful for me out of a wide variety that I have tried. I do use it for audax / ultra endurance type riding, spending a lot of time on aero bars and really enjoy it for that purpose.

I also use it on my salsa Fargo in a much more upright position and also enjoy it for that

155mm for me
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Old 11-15-21, 08:27 AM
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Get a recumbent. LOL. I'll be reading with interest.

I hated the Romin and many other similar saddles. They are ok for 50-100 miles.

A B17 or Berthoud works for my butt. I did PBP 2015 with the Berthoud, lots of lantiseptic, and the Assos with the Kuku penthouse and did not have any butt discomfort during or after the ride. The B17 is similarly comfortable but is better on a more upright position for me. The problem with these leather saddles is the break in. It can be done with the Lon Haldeman very quickly but it takes nerve to dunk a $200 saddle.

The saddle or seat that I have not tried is an Infinity. Some endurance riders swear by them.
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Old 11-15-21, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Get a recumbent. LOL. I'll be reading with interest.

I hated the Romin and many other similar saddles. They are ok for 50-100 miles.

A B17 or Berthoud works for my butt. I did PBP 2015 with the Berthoud, lots of lantiseptic, and the Assos with the Kuku penthouse and did not have any butt discomfort during or after the ride. The B17 is similarly comfortable but is better on a more upright position for me. The problem with these leather saddles is the break in. It can be done with the Lon Haldeman very quickly but it takes nerve to dunk a $200 saddle.

The saddle or seat that I have not tried is an Infinity. Some endurance riders swear by them.
I have three PBPs under my belt on a recumbent. I'm stepping outside my comfort zone.

Speaking of puns, I taught my 6 yo grandson how to construct a pun. His parents are going to enjoy that.
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Old 11-15-21, 07:46 PM
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Keep in mind the more upright you sit, the more weight you take off you hands, and that weight goes to your bathing suit area. My last Brooks Pro was as hard and slippery as polished steel when new, but it got slightly softer with each ride for about a month, and not so dang slippery. I do not like the idea of accelerating a leather saddle's break-in with water, oils, etc., if you want it to last a long time. I tried a Selle Anatomica NSX with no cut-out (I dislike any sort of cut-out) and hated it. In short: buy and try a B-17 for a good long time before you dismiss them. Position of the saddle is important too, and might take some time to figure out. I love the idea of try-outs for saddles, but sometimes a healthy relationship takes time to nurture. Good luck!
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Old 11-15-21, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by venturi95 View Post
Keep in mind the more upright you sit, the more weight you take off you hands, and that weight goes to your bathing suit area. My last Brooks Pro was as hard and slippery as polished steel when new, but it got slightly softer with each ride for about a month, and not so dang slippery. I do not like the idea of accelerating a leather saddle's break-in with water, oils, etc., if you want it to last a long time. I tried a Selle Anatomica NSX with no cut-out (I dislike any sort of cut-out) and hated it. In short: buy and try a B-17 for a good long time before you dismiss them. Position of the saddle is important too, and might take some time to figure out. I love the idea of try-outs for saddles, but sometimes a healthy relationship takes time to nurture. Good luck!
I'm going to stay away from the leather saddle genre for a while, and give newer technology a go.
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Old 11-16-21, 10:35 AM
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What have been your saddle issues? My practice for a possible good fitting saddle was to do a century on it. That's maybe not practical for you now, but the thing is, you can't tell if it's really the right thing until after the 3rd hour. My experience in accumulating a few boxes of used saddles over the decades.
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Old 11-16-21, 12:33 PM
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I agree that it takes 100 miles to really tell if a saddle is acceptable. Although I dumped the Arione for unspecified discomfort after having ridden up to 250 miles on one.

I think it takes about 50 miles in one go to decide if a saddle is worth riding further. I always said that any saddle is acceptable up to 25 miles, but then I bought my fatbike. That thing felt like it was splitting me in half right away.
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Old 11-16-21, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
What have been your saddle issues? My practice for a possible good fitting saddle was to do a century on it. That's maybe not practical for you now, but the thing is, you can't tell if it's really the right thing until after the 3rd hour. My experience in accumulating a few boxes of used saddles over the decades.
Issues: General pain during the 1200k, to the point of deciding to DNF (though I changed my mind), and numb dangly bits for a while afterwards. In 11 years of rando I've dealt with some stuff but I've never DNF'd a brevet of any length.

As far as my plan, I'll be doing a 200k every month, so those will be the long ride tests. Since I can only keep a saddle for a week, I'll use the weekly loaners to rule out the ones I really don't like. For the upcoming ride, I want to try a wider saddle with center cutout. I *could* do more than one 200k per month, but my resolve for riding dawn to dusk in 50F/rain/wind is limited.
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Old 11-16-21, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Issues: General pain during the 1200k, to the point of deciding to DNF (though I changed my mind), and numb dangly bits for a while afterwards. In 11 years of rando I've dealt with some stuff but I've never DNF'd a brevet of any length.

As far as my plan, I'll be doing a 200k every month, so those will be the long ride tests. Since I can only keep a saddle for a week, I'll use the weekly loaners to rule out the ones I really don't like. For the upcoming ride, I want to try a wider saddle with center cutout. I *could* do more than one 200k per month, but my resolve for riding dawn to dusk in 50F/rain/wind is limited.
"general pain" on very long rides can be a tough one. IMO a lot depends on butt structure, bone, muscle, fat, skin and the exact shape of bone and the blood perfusion of the rest. For me, neither too had nor too soft works. I need a very exact amount of padding, no more, no less. I know what it should feel like when I press a thumb into the padding, but that's after long experience with everything outside that very narrow range.

I've had issues with saddle sores, not friction sores, but compression sores, which are the same as bed sores. I think age has everything to do with that. Anyway, there's science behind how we can sit on a bike saddle for so long. When we sit on a saddle, we compress the flesh between the bone and saddle. That vastly reduces the oxygen available in the tissue and it doesn't like that. However animals are amazingly adaptable to conditions. We have an extremely complicated series of chemicals which, over time, reduce the amount of oxygen our tissues need. We call that "breaking in our butts." That's why frequent standing is so important, to give our tissues a needed oxygen dose. In my case, my butt got to where I could sit for hours and not feel any bad effects or pain from it. And maybe that was the start of my problem, somehow screwing up my butt's natural defenses. Or maybe not, maybe just age. Anyway, I know when I get tired, I stand less often. Something to think about.

I have ridden saddles which were so hard that my butt never broke in. There was always compression pain after 3 hours and that never got any better, no matter how much I rode that saddle. Too bad, because otherwise that saddle was a perfect fit. I have also rejected many saddles which didn't taper sharply enough from seat to nose. I have substantial hamstrings and they need space or they chafe up high. I also need very good quality padding which won't develop a pocket right where I sit or the forward edge of that pocket will cause a sore. Padding quality doesn't necessarily increase with saddle cost either.

The dangly bits have never been a problem for me. I wear the tightest shorts I can get over my butt so my bits are held well up off the saddle. My perineum in another story. I get a numbie if I don't have a wide enough slot. A little tiny slot is useless for me. I need something like what comes on the Selle Italia Boost Superflow saddles. I don't feel the edges of slots even that wide. The first time I did RAMROD on a slot-less saddle, my wife told me that I'm never doing that again.

I hope you find some of this useful.
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Old 11-17-21, 05:24 AM
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12 years on a bent and coming back to an upright is a huge change. I have been on a recumbent for 4 years and did PBP 2019 on one. I have been on an upright since June but no really long rides. On saddles that I know work for me, the tissue over the ischial tuberosity sit bones gets generally sore. I can't guess how many hours or miles that it will take before my butt can cash the checks my legs are writing, but I have been trying to follow rule #5.

I poo poo'd leather saddles for a long time. I came to appreciate them. The pressure on the ischial tuberosity sit bones is more dispersed over a wider area, once it is molded to your particular butt shape. On other saddles, these sit bones got sore. I never had perineum issues but the boys can get in the way and just becomes uncomfortable. I pony'd up for two pairs of the Assos bibs with the kuku penthouse, it simultaneously keeps them out of the way but provides like a comfortable nest. Sorry if too graphic, trying to keep it clean. I don't lube for rides under 300k unless it is raining, then, I have found lantiseptic to last the longest and more importantly, it provides a barrier that "germs" and crap won't breach. The only brevet that I quit was on a recumbent.

On my bent in heavy rain, I would get nasty in the perineum due to puddles of water on the seat, solved with drilling holes and more generous lantiseptic.

Saddles are so weird. I have a beautiful white leather saddle with center cut. It drives me crazy, it feels like each cheek is on a separate hammock.

I am building up an upright bike that I hope to be able to do brevets on and need a new saddle. The saddle to bar drop is too much for the B17 on that bike. I probably won't be able to ride it and will end up inside a velomobile. But, I look forward to your impressions!!
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Old 11-17-21, 11:00 AM
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I m in a similar boat now. I still have the original Selle Anatomica saddle that worked really well on 1000k + brevets. Earlier this year I purchased a new Selle Anatomica and undragged to carbon rails for weight saving in order to prepare for 23 PBP, Unfortunately after riding plastics saddles for a few years the leather saddle does not work for me any more, too soft and uncomfortable, even on shorter rides. I kept putting it on and off all summer long, eventually I realized that I prefer plastic saddles, even for long rides. I have been very impressed with the new borrowed Bontrager Aeolus short nose saddle(still testing). I have not ridden more than 200k on it though, longer spring brevets will show me if it is a keeper. So far I have not had any issues. I do agree with Carbofiberboy about pressure saddle sores, but would not know if the Aeolus saddle will cause it or not unless I ride at least a 300k of more next season.
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Old 11-17-21, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
My Selle Anatomica didn't do so well on a 1200k this past summer, so I signed up with a local bike shop's saddle library. Cost to sign up is $30, which goes toward the purchase of a saddle if I find one I like. Each test saddle can be checked out for just a week. For the next few months I'll be riding one 200k per month, so it's a good time to experiment. I'm going to take my time with this. I want to record impressions of each saddle (no pun intended), so I figured I'd do that here.

Complaints on the Selle, aside from general pain, included numb dangly bits for some time after the ride. Saddles with center cutout were advised, so we started there.

First up: Specialized Romin at 155mm. About width. The saddle librarian, as it were, offered to either let me browse the library and pick based on my own thinking, or to hear some advise. I chose the latter. We discussed my rides - brevets up to and including 1200k, and my past issues - pain and numbness. I asked about sit bone width, and she pulled out the sit-bone measuring device whilst generally poo-pooing the value of that particular measurement. Her advice: try different widths and see what feels good. Which is, after all, the whole point of the saddle library. She suggested starting with the Romin due to its generous center cutout, and I opted for the middle width as a starting point. This was on a Saturday. Sunday I put in a 30 mile ride, which turned out to be the only ride on this particular saddle. Between post time-change evening darkness, rain, general laziness, and my schedule, I returned in on Wednesday. I did not find it particularly comfortable, and if anything it felt narrow. I decided to try the same model, but wider.

2nd: Unfortunately the Romin at 168mm was loaned out, so I decided to go with a radically different saddle - Specialized Power 168mm. That's a short-nosed saddle with significant center cutout. Tonight I managed 18 miles, and it actually felt decent. The short nose didn't seem to have any ill effects. From what I read this saddle is designed to make super aggressive riding (i.e. pelvis rotated far forward) more comfortable. That's definitely not my form. I also read a criticism that isn't not good for long climbs, for reasons I don't really understand. I'll try to get in a 30 miler tomorrow evening, with some climbing. That is, if I can muster up the willpower to go out in the rainy darkness.
Closing out the Specialized Power at 168mm, I never got out for a hilly ride, but got three rides in for about 50 miles total. I definitely liked it better than the 155mm Romin, and I could see giving this saddle a long test. But it's due back before the weekend, so if I want a longer ride it will have to be another time.

3rd: Fizik Tempo Argo at 160mm. I wanted to try the 168 Romin but it's still not available. I'm going to stay with the short/wide style for a while, thus the Fizik. It's slightly longer nose than the Power, but still a short saddle. The first impression was it's more different from the Specialized than I anticipated. Full disclosure: the 10 mile trip into Portland had a glorious massive tailwind, and for the 10 mile trip home I made it about 2 miles before jumping on the Max (light rail) to beat the wind. So saddle time was limited; this weekend should be my November 200k, so it's going to get a real test. Reviews on this saddle suggest it's on the comfort end of the spectrum for Fizik. I'll try to get out on a shorter ride before jumping straight to 145 miles, but the weather looks pretty uninviting the next couple days.

Verdicts:

Specialized Romin 150mm: No, too narrow. Consider the 158mm version.
Specialized Power 168mm: Maybe. Consider for a longer test.
Fizik Tempo Argo 160mm: TBD
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Old 11-18-21, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
...
I am building up an upright bike that I hope to be able to do brevets on and need a new saddle. The saddle to bar drop is too much for the B17 on that bike. I probably won't be able to ride it and will end up inside a velomobile. But, I look forward to your impressions!!
I find that the B17 or Flyer works well for me but only on bikes where I sit more upright or on bikes that I do not use the drops on drop bars.

When I use the drops I want a narrower saddle that is more rounded in back (less flat), I have a Brooks Conquest on most of my bikes and a Brooks Pro on two bikes. The Conquest is essentially a sprung Pro, the Conquest appears to no longer be made. Both the Pro and Conquest work well for me when I use the drops.
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Old 11-18-21, 01:31 PM
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If the saddle library has a Selle SMP TRK, try it. Your butt could be like mine. I find it distributes my weight along the entire inside edges of my sit bones, and if I want the weight all on the bottoms of them in a more traditional way, for a while, I just scoot back a little. For me, saddles should be saddle-shaped, with a dip in the middle.


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Old 11-21-21, 10:03 AM
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Which shop in Portland offers a saddle library? I may have to try that.
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Old 11-21-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ratell View Post
Which shop in Portland offers a saddle library? I may have to try that.
Gladys Bikes in Alberta
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Old 11-21-21, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Closing out the Specialized Power at 168mm, I never got out for a hilly ride, but got three rides in for about 50 miles total. I definitely liked it better than the 155mm Romin, and I could see giving this saddle a long test. But it's due back before the weekend, so if I want a longer ride it will have to be another time.

3rd: Fizik Tempo Argo at 160mm. I wanted to try the 168 Romin but it's still not available. I'm going to stay with the short/wide style for a while, thus the Fizik. It's slightly longer nose than the Power, but still a short saddle. The first impression was it's more different from the Specialized than I anticipated. Full disclosure: the 10 mile trip into Portland had a glorious massive tailwind, and for the 10 mile trip home I made it about 2 miles before jumping on the Max (light rail) to beat the wind. So saddle time was limited; this weekend should be my November 200k, so it's going to get a real test. Reviews on this saddle suggest it's on the comfort end of the spectrum for Fizik. I'll try to get out on a shorter ride before jumping straight to 145 miles, but the weather looks pretty uninviting the next couple days.

Verdicts:

Specialized Romin 150mm: No, too narrow. Consider the 158mm version.
Specialized Power 168mm: Maybe. Consider for a longer test.
Fizik Tempo Argo 160mm: TBD
Saturday I rode a 200k on the Fizik Temp Argo; 148 miles total with the ride to/from the start/finish. Three miles in I stopped and pointed the nose down a bit, as the back of my thighs were already getting sore from hitting the saddle edge. That's a good place for me to pause and say, it's a terrible idea to try out new gear on a long ride; I know that, and I did it anyway prepared to deal with the consequences. The route is an out-and back, and halfway out I was already standing up on occasion to relieve soreness. We're talking 30-40 miles into the ride and already the soft tissue at the sit bones was barking. My baseline saddle - Selle Anatomica - is glorious for the first 100 miles or so; this guy never achieved the saddle disappears feeling. So the Fizik goes on the no list. I still want to try the Specialized Romin and Power at the widest width before moving past the wide/short genre.

Specialized Romin 150mm: No, too narrow. Consider the 158mm version.
Specialized Power 168mm: Maybe. Consider for a longer test.
Fizik Tempo Argo 160mm: No. Sit bone area pain 35 miles into 200k.
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Old 11-22-21, 03:58 AM
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I have the same issue with short nose saddles - inner thigh rubbing.

I feel like these short nose saddles aren't really suitable for audax and similar ultra-distance type cycling. They're designed for single position sitting - which is something you don't want to do on these kind of rides. You generally want to have multiple positions to cycle through, the same logic with multiple handle bar positions for your hands.

Their promo material on their website (underlined for emphasis), and I also remember Specialized Power Saddle having a similar kind of focus from users and reviewers when it was introduced years ago:
Where a traditional saddle shape encourages riders to shift their position frequently for better leverage, Argo puts the rider in a more planted position, making for greater stability and better weight distribution.
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Old 01-01-22, 04:35 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Saturday I rode a 200k on the Fizik Temp Argo; 148 miles total with the ride to/from the start/finish. Three miles in I stopped and pointed the nose down a bit, as the back of my thighs were already getting sore from hitting the saddle edge. That's a good place for me to pause and say, it's a terrible idea to try out new gear on a long ride; I know that, and I did it anyway prepared to deal with the consequences. The route is an out-and back, and halfway out I was already standing up on occasion to relieve soreness. We're talking 30-40 miles into the ride and already the soft tissue at the sit bones was barking. My baseline saddle - Selle Anatomica - is glorious for the first 100 miles or so; this guy never achieved the saddle disappears feeling. So the Fizik goes on the no list. I still want to try the Specialized Romin and Power at the widest width before moving past the wide/short genre.

Specialized Romin 150mm: No, too narrow. Consider the 158mm version.
Specialized Power 168mm: Maybe. Consider for a longer test.
Fizik Tempo Argo 160mm: No. Sit bone area pain 35 miles into 200k.
Yesterday I rode a 200k using my original Selle Anatomica. With vacations and holidays I'd returned my loaner saddles and didn't have an opportunity to get another loaner.

Verdict: As noted, supremely comfortable for a while, then not so much.

After reading ad nauseum about saddles, I want to try something that's more flat (less rounded).
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Old 01-01-22, 05:45 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Yesterday I rode a 200k using my original Selle Anatomica. With vacations and holidays I'd returned my loaner saddles and didn't have an opportunity to get another loaner.

Verdict: As noted, supremely comfortable for a while, then not so much.

After reading ad nauseum about saddles, I want to try something that's more flat (less rounded).
This is the now out of production saddle I'm using, the only saddle I've found which works for my current butt. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B9DQQ9Q...osi&th=1&psc=1

It's flat.
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Old 01-03-22, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
After reading ad nauseum about saddles, I want to try something that's more flat (less rounded).
I like the Arione a lot. It's pretty flat. It's a popular saddle so there are always loads of them on ebay.
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Old 01-03-22, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
After reading ad nauseum about saddles, I want to try something that's more flat (less rounded).
This is a great illustration of why the Brooks Pro didn't work out for me. Tried it for about 1000 miles, adjusted it all different ways, but it "pressed in" more than I was comfortable with. It was a bummer because the thigh clearance and rear width were great.
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Old 01-03-22, 10:45 PM
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atwl77
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I like the Arione a lot. It's pretty flat. It's a popular saddle so there are always loads of them on ebay.
I've also just gone back to the Arione (but with the cut-out), after a brief stint with the noseless ISM PN4.1. I think the ISM works, just not on my particular bike because I need more setback to make it work. Anyways, back to good ol' reliable Arione. Maybe I should stock up a few of these just in case they disappear forever.
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Old 01-03-22, 11:08 PM
  #25  
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I've never needed any cutouts but the flatter the saddle the longer I've lasted on them. Wish I knew what my current favorite is but its just labeled Aureus, which is the oem labeling for Blue cycles. My wife hated hers and swapped it for a Specialized so at least I have two of them. I've done 100 mile days over gravel and washboard and never had a problem with it. Does have a center groove. Prior was an oem SDG saddle which was also flatter, and sadly I just had to toss my stock cannondale mtb saddle which has gone for 4 hour trips in the mountains with no adversity in the nether regions though I stand 1/3 the time anyways. I've also had luck with selle san marco on the road bike but also slightly wider and flatter, can't remember the model. My only effort at Brooks resulted in misery as the saddle definitely had too much curve and I could feel it, I'd seen plenty that flattened out so I tried riding through it but then got got an a sudden rain storm that soaked me and it for a good 20 mins, by the time I got back I'd dried but it was stretched and misshapen so I'm inclined towards modern. Never done a brevet, but charity rides and longer tours and rain isn't something I like having to keep complete track of to protect my saddle.
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