Sitting Pretty

I was discussing things prostatic with my doctor recently, in light of various nerve irritations and pains, perhaps related to gout, that I’ve been dealing with in my left knee and leg.  Naturally the conversation worked around eventually to the tuberosity of the ischium.  The doctor’s a cyclist too, and so he understands the pressures and forces that act upon the pelvic region when you’re seated on a bike.

Trek 2.1 original equipment Bontrager saddle.

I have always held the opinion that the exact shape of a bike saddle is not important, within reason (although the powers of reason are not usually associated with this region of the body, except in derogatory colloquialisms).  I’ve always held the opinion that my butt can and does get used to whatever shape and degree of softness the saddle of a particular bike offers.  Within a week or two everything seems comfy enough.  So while some online comments on the Trek 2.1 recommended a saddle upgrade from the stock model, I decided to see whether I could get used to it.

And indeed I could.  I’ve been using it for three years with a minimal discomfort.  Every now and then I have experienced a kind of numbness in the area of the ischial tuberosity, but five minutes of rest always has cleared it up completely for the rest of the ride.  But that Bontrager saddle is hard and light, with a bit of padding (unlike those tiny rigid carbon platforms that the pros sit on), a V cut out on the back end, and a fairly narrow nose.  My other bikes run the gamut: one has an oval cutout, one a large gel sac and a groove, and two not much of anything special.  One of these last two is leather, an ancient Turbo model that is on the Bianchi Squadra.

New Performance Pro SL installed.

But, and it’s a big ”but,” I never got beyond the occasional stinging-to-numbness experience with that original equipment saddle.  And so when Performance Bicycles had their white Pro SL model on sale recently, and the price was at its lowest ebb, I bought it to replace the Bontrager.  It has an oval cutout, a bit of padding, a slim profile with enough rear end support, and a slightly wider nose.  Field testing has yielded perfect results: no break-in period of discomfort, no ache or numbness, just perfect comfort even on longer rides.  I give it two thumbs up.  Oh, wait, let’s just say that the ol’ ischial tuberosity has never been better.  Though in all honesty the most comfortable of my saddles has always been that ancient Turbo.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2012.

1 thought on “Sitting Pretty

  1. Agreed, that Selle Italia Turbo — original equipment on my 1986(?) Specialized Allez SE — was more comfortable than it had any right to be, and remains the best saddle I’ve owned. A nice shape with just enough padding of the right density and a nice (leather) cover material.

    I don’t care all that much for the saddle on my current bike but told myself I shouldn’t make a snap decision, should wait until my butt has more miles on it. I’ll probably reevaluate some of these things next season. Never having ridden one I treat the newfangled notched saddles with some skepticism but most likely I’ll end up trying one because the industry seems to have mostly decided that’s the way to go, and if they were actually worse they would never have reached this kind of market saturation. Your positive review is encouraging.

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