After spending a small fortune on your dream machine, it can be all too tempting to stick with the stock saddle that comes with the bike without as much as taking a test ride. But your saddle choice is one of the most crucial elements of your ride. There are only three contact points between you and the bike: your feet, hands and, of course, your gluteus maximus, the latter being the largest part and where you generate the most power from.
Explained: ITU vs. UCI saddle positioning
How to choose the right triathlon bike saddle
Triathlon bikes buyer’s guide
A slight shift in your optimum position, particularly over a long-course tri, and some of that power could be lost; and if you stick with an uncomfortable position out of grit and determination, this can lead to numbness and painful saddle sores.
It might seem that a hefty saddle with plenty of gel in the nose might serve you best for longer distances, but this is at odds with the latest tri/TT-specific saddle designs, as it’s the density of the padding, not the size, that makes it comfortable.
Firm padding is less likely to deform
over time so, while it might seem uncomfortable, your sit bones will
thank you for the pressure relief.
Of course, saddle choice is incredibly personal, so the highest marks here have been awarded to saddles that we think will work best for the greatest number of riders, feature the greatest innovation and material construction, and are at a price that represents value for money.
The unusual Adamo range has become a firm favourite among triathletes from novice up to pro level since its introduction in 2006. The split ‘noseless’ front section on the 300g Road model is lengthy and consistent, which means you don’t have to sit right on the edge, and you can get the same level of comfort in any position you choose. It has a slight slope that provides some support behind you in the TT position, and it’s sizeable enough at the rear to give a comfortable ride on a road set-up. We’ve heard that some find the Road too wide but, if it suits your sit bones, there are few saddles that are this comfortable for long rides on the aerobars. And a new range is imminent, too.
Verdict: works a treat when in the aero tuck 88%
NB: This is out of stock in a lot of places at the moment but the company are releasing a new model so watch this space...
This budget saddle is a beast compared to anything else on test, at a whopping 446g. It lacks any tri add-ons but then, at £30, we wouldn’t expect them. It mimics some of the features of far more expensive saddles here, such as a pressure relief channel, but the padding surrounding it isn’t very firm at all and it’s a very wide platform, which is plush for short rides but will position your legs too far apart for extended faster efforts in a TT position. If you’re looking to tackle your first tri or sportive and want something relaxed and extremely well-padded, this will do the job. But if you’re racing for any length of time and putting serious miles in, then that squidgy padding is likely to lose its shape.
Verdict: Heavily padded but will appeal to beginners 68%
The Iron Tekno Flow is unchanged for 2017, but based on previous feedback from 220 testers and our experience it’s due an update. The back is designed to be aerodynamic, with a smooth, sloped finish to separate the air from your body. But it’s the performance that matters and this didn’t blow us away. The bridge has an odd piece of mesh, which is supposed to help drain water, although the same thing can be achieved by just taking it out. The nose is narrow and not as comfortable as similar designs from ISM and Prologo here. You can’t deny it’s well-crafted, but the asking price is out of reach for many of us and it’s extremely firm, which left us wanting a break after less than 90mins of riding
Verdict A huge price tag, and more ‘Iron’ than ‘Flow’ 61%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Continue reading our guide to this year's best tri saddles (2/3)