I’ve been experimenting with saddles. Which will win the honour of supporting my bum for the 1400-plus km of London-Edinburgh-London?
After years as the kind of person who swears at Brooks saddles rather than by them, I’d been using these since 2010 or so:
It’s a Brooks Imperial. Basically a B17 with a cutout (my perineum gets distinctly unhappy on saddles without a cutout).
I’ve found the Imperial generally pretty comfortable, but unless you lace the skirts together they have a tendency to splay. And if you lace the skirts together, the laces can chafe the top of your thigh. Durability seems variable. One of my saddles has become simultaneously sway-backed and humped in a couple of years, while the other is still fine. And, like all Brooks saddles, the Imperial is rather heavy.
So, with London-Edinburgh-London coming up, I’ve been giving Selle SMP saddles a go. I found Steve Hogg’s blog post interesting… The first SMP saddle I tried was this:
First thing to say is that this inflicted significant pain in the wallet, like many of the Selle SMP saddles, but seems very nicely made and decently light for a substantial saddle.
The Avant is a non-gel saddle, with firm but quite thick foam padding, and is covered in good-quality leather. I went for it as it seemed the closest match to the Brooks in width, and I seem generally to suit broader saddles. The cutout is wide and goes the full length of the saddle. My underparts appreciate this.
As Selle SMP say, the saddle is quite sensitive to installation angle. Slightly nose-down seems best, though I’m not certain I have the angle perfect yet. It lacks the hammock-like qualities of the Brooks, but still seems to offer a variety of different positions so you can alter the contact points a bit on long rides. Riding on the nose of the saddle, as I tend to do when pushing hard, is fine.
I rode the Avant on several 200km events. At a few points I was “conscious” of the saddle, but no more so after 200km than after 20. A good sign… No numbness. Another good sign… The main drawback was that the relatively wide nose of the saddle caused a bit of chafing at the thigh-groin interface.
So I continued the Selle SMP experiment with this:
This is narrower in the nose than the Avant. Well, narrower everywhere, in fact, but the width of the bit at the rear that you sit on is effectively about the same as the Avant, since the tumblehome at the edge of the saddle is steeper. It seems to share the good points of the Avant, and to mitigate the chafing. At present, after a few more 200km rides. I think the Lite 209 just has the edge over the Avant. Name apart, of course.
I’m confident that one of the above will be on the bike for LEL. I’m just not sure which one, yet. The Lite 209 leads in the early running. By a nose…