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  1. #1
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    Rounded, firm2hard, preferably flat along length, cutout or not, road seats

    Hi everyone,


    The title says it all. I am in the hunt (eternal, it seems) for a road seat, and have determined through already significant investment in online buying of road seats (over the past 6 months) that my particular butt has aged & developed the preference for the following:

    1) when viewed from the rear, the profile has to be rounded, the more the better (especially in terms of the drop-off from sitting back in the seat to sliding forward)
    2) firm2hard seat, minimal cushioning
    3) when viewed from the side, the seat should be flat as possible along the top for me to slide back & forth along its length
    4) can either have a cutout or not---doesn't matter.

    I've been thru Selle Italia, San Marco, Brooks (both leather & new cambiums), Selle San Marco, Fizik, Bontrager Montrose and the house-brand seats of PerformanceBicycle, Nashbar, & Wiggle. What I've found so far is these (listed below) are the best so far, but I am still looking and hoping maybe any of you on RBR might know of some alternatives if your butt likes the same characteristics as mine:

    1) Fizik Volta R3 - great rounded shape, completely flat along top, very hard. Only problem: Even though it says 140mm width, the transition from the rear to the front, the side skirts are too wide & unforgiving, causing massive rubbing on the inside on both points where my leg, butt and sensitive area meets. To be fair, my knees track very close to the top bar of any bike, which is perfect for my gait and stroke, and my sit bones are 110, so the narrower the seat towards 130mm, the better. The problem is seat manufacturers may make a 130mm seat, but the transition area from the back of the seat to the front is crap, with not enough dropoff as you come forward on the seat.

    2) Cambium c15 All Weather - nice seat, firm, rounded shape, but again, it suffers same problem as Fizik Volta. Additionally, not sure what Brooks was thinking with the seat tops of these Cambiums. Every one of them tear at your shorts after a while as they are not smooth in texture for people who slide (changing positions frequently on the seat) and/or people whose thighs brush the nose.

    3) Selle San Marco Regale - good seats, rounded, firm, but they lack in the flatness profile, forcing you to sit more towards the rear.

    4) Prologo Scratch T2 (or any Prologo Scratch version) - again, nice seat, firm, somewhat flat, but despite their marketing literature saying the seats have a "rounded profile" (when viewed from the rear), their idea of what constitutes 'rounded' leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the above 3 seats.


    That's it.

    Examples (listed below) of seats that I've found untenable: anything that has any sort of hammock shape to it (when viewed from side) and/or back seat tail, plus anything that, when viewed from rear, is flat & broad, such as:

    --Fizik Arione & it's various iterations
    --all Ergon seats
    --all SDG saddles
    --all WTB saddles
    --all Performance, Nashbar & Wiggle branded seats


    Does anybody have any "other" ideas, given the preferences stated above in the beginning? Any other seats that might be in the realm of what I am looking for? I get a bit sick to my stomach thinking about all the money I've wasted in seats over the past 6 months, all useless to me now & thinking of the Ebay hassle I am going to face trying to sell them from here. Where I live, I am in a region that has no local shops that offer "seat trials'. The closest shops are all 1 1/2-2 hours drive from me. So I was forced to go this purchasing route.

    Thank you for reading, and for any tips on other seats (specific and/or the manufactuer) that I might be overlooking.




    P.S. Not sure if it matters, but I am 55 yrs old, 6'2, 190-200 lbs (depending on time of season), 110mm sit bones, mid-to-lower spine flexible as crazy (also can rotate hips too while keeping spine locked), seat and handlebars are level (no drop) due to upper spinal cervical issues, I ride 1 1/2 to 3 hrs 5 times a week, checking avg speed (after reaching home) for whatever solo ride I do are anywhere from slow 24-25 kmph to fast (for me at least) 30-32 kmph. Group rides here (southern Belgium) are always 35-40+ kmph leg searing painful sessions. Ride only steel/Ti frames for past ~30 years, but just this month picked up a new alu 300 Alpha Emonda frame from Trek, and am a bit gobsmacked (blown away) at how nice this alu frame can ride, while still being stiff for hammer sessions and being light for climbing bergs. With 28mm tires front & rear, have been ripping & dropping many a high-end carbon-frame rider around these parts while yet remaining comfortable---something I would have never thought possible given that I rode & survived alu back in the late 80s/early 90s, and have uber bad memories of how painful those frames were.
    Last edited by BelgianHammer; 03-06-2018 at 04:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Sir Descends-a-lot
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    check out the fabric scoop flat. the also make the scoop shallow and scoop radius. i like mine and they have generally been given great reviews all over
    1985 Trek 670
    2017 Trek Emonda SL6
    2016 Ritchey P29

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekninja View Post
    check out the fabric scoop flat. the also make the scoop shallow and scoop radius. i like mine and they have generally been given great reviews all over
    Hi trekninja,

    Thanks for responding. I have tried to Google about Fabric seats, but I'll be danged if I can find either a description and/or (especially) a pic to show me if the seat truly has a "rounded" profile. Do you have one? Does it have a "rounded" profile like what I show below? Here is the rear & front pics from the Fizik Volta, and this is what I am looking for:

    Rounded, firm2hard, preferably flat along length, cutout or not, road seats-fizik-volta_rear-profile.jpg

    Rounded, firm2hard, preferably flat along length, cutout or not, road seats-fizik-volta_front-profile.jpg


    The problem with the Fizik Volta are the low side skirts; they hang down so low that, if a person has a straight-ahead pedaling stroke (knees stay straight on and/or track a bit close to the nose), those low skirts put pressure on the inside of their thighs and eventually causes pain after an hour or more. Otherwise, the Volta is fantastic (if quite ugly, though, lol, both shape and colour), as the rounded profile (and flat along its length from nose to tail), the hardness of the seat (it is one of thee hardest I've ever ridden over 3 decades of racing/riding) makes it just sublime for my butt & backside.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    my sit bones are 110, so the narrower the seat towards 130mm, the better.
    I have same sit bone width as you and buy "narrow" saddles. I don't slide front-back much at all and found Selle SMP Dynamic to be good fit. Also works well for me is Specialized Power saddle narrow version.

    I've spent over $1000 in search of the right saddle so you're not alone. What I ended my search with is the custom saddle by https://www.meld3d.com/

  5. #5
    hfc
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    Have you taken a step back? Older saddles like The Selle Italia Turbo, San Marco Concor.

  6. #6
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    @bvber,

    I looked at that meld site for a long while. it's nice. The only problem I see with it (and I think it is major) is that they are taking a measurement of my sitting bones while a person is seated, not while they are on their bike & replicating actual riding on a trainer. What meld is doing is no different from Specialized and/or others measuring sit bones only, then asking you to describe what rider you are. Meld does the same: worse, they (Meld) tell you (as if we are supposed to know) to make changes to the seat 'after" the butt impression of a non-riding position is sent back to them. Not good, imho. Anyhow, there are 2 German firms who are currently doing the much improved, more high-tech step. They've designed special saddles with multiple sensors, where you come to their shops with your bike, and ride trainer-wise on their saddle (on your bike) while hooked up to their computers & monitors for an hour or more. While the seat is recording all kinds of data, you're also being filmed----even with special tape placed on your body so the video can record your mechanics from the front, sides and rear. It is quite incredible. The problem?: 1) it s expensive as all get out, and 2) there's currently almost a 4 year wait at both places and this wait is showing no signs of easing up.

    @hfc,
    Well, back in the 90s, I raced (in Europe) and rode on Turbos & Concors, but when I tried the current revived versions of both saddles, I found them nowhere near what the originals were like. So I contacted San Marco & Selle Italia people, and eventually they said when they updated the old versions for current releases (what is being sold now), they each adopted two new things: 1) they made the shell of the saddle more flexible (translation: it is soft, not hard like it used to be), and 2) they increased the non-flatness shape of the seat where the tail is higher in the back and the nose lifts up (in effect, incorporating more of a 'hammock' shape as opposed to the stiff, washboards they used to be). This drastically prevents riders who both want and need to move around a lot (forward & back) on the saddle. Indeed, these two "updated" traits were exactly what I found when riding both saddles. Actually, the Turbo and Concur updated versions were the first two saddles I tried when I started this 6 months ago. What I do wonder about is supposedly the San Marco Concor Racing version (which I didn't try). I've read where it retains much of the original quality of the Concurs from the 90s. Maybe I should re-visit this idea again. I never did ask them specifically about this "Racing" version. Thanks for mentioning it.



    [UPDATE: Here is a review from road.cc of the Selle San Marco Concur Racing saddle. Unfortunately, it looks like they did the same thing to it as what happened to both the updated Concur and Selle Italia's updated Turbo:

    Review: Selle San Marco Concor Racing Saddle | road.cc
    Last edited by BelgianHammer; 03-06-2018 at 01:07 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    The problem?: 1) it s expensive as all get out, and 2) there's currently almost a 4 year wait at both places and this wait is showing no signs of easing up.
    Sounds like you need to go with the next best option available.

    Have you tried adjusting your current saddle to see if the issue you are having is solved / improved?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    Sounds like you need to go with the next best option available.

    Have you tried adjusting your current saddle to see if the issue you are having is solved / improved?
    Oh, yeah, three ring-binder notebooks of meticulously kept records (I am an anal-retentive engineering in real life). Plus 30 yrs of riding, 10 of those racing in and across Europe in the 90s. Today, I just ride for enjoyment, and every once in a while to mix it up with the youngsters & let them know this old lion can still roar a bit. Was just posting here on RBR hoping someone had a similar butt to mine, found the 3 main characteristics as I have always known once the 90s saddles were stopped being made, and have other suggestions than what I've already found and (especially) have tried.

    Looks like I will have to stay on the Fizik Volta, deal with the seats' low-skirt-causing-thigh-pressure issue, until new knowledge and/or seat comes along.

  9. #9
    hfc
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    There are still plenty of the old saddles around. I just bought an only slightly beat up old white Turbo for $15 and a nice yellow one for $30. I know Belgian riding and riders are harder on saddles but Iíll bet you could find some on the Euro secondary market. LFGSS is a British site with an active used market.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
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    Take a look at Shimano's Pro saddles. At one point they had 3 saddles, 1 flat, 1 rounded, then 1 in between the two. All were offered in both 130 and 141

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    @bvber,

    I looked at that meld site for a long while. it's nice. The only problem I see with it (and I think it is major) is that they are taking a measurement of my sitting bones while a person is seated, not while they are on their bike & replicating actual riding on a trainer. What meld is doing is no different from Specialized and/or others measuring sit bones only, then asking you to describe what rider you are. Meld does the same: worse, they (Meld) tell you (as if we are supposed to know) to make changes to the seat 'after" the butt impression of a non-riding position is sent back to them. Not good, imho. Anyhow, there are 2 German firms who are currently doing the much improved, more high-tech step. They've designed special saddles with multiple sensors, where you come to their shops with your bike, and ride trainer-wise on their saddle (on your bike) while hooked up to their computers & monitors for an hour or more. While the seat is recording all kinds of data, you're also being filmed----even with special tape placed on your body so the video can record your mechanics from the front, sides and rear. It is quite incredible. The problem?: 1) it s expensive as all get out, and 2) there's currently almost a 4 year wait at both places and this wait is showing no signs of easing up.
    Hey BelgianHammer, I thought the same and asked them about it. It's not just the sitbone measurement they are taking, they use the imprint itself to generate the saddle model. They do allow changes to the model after the physical imprint is captured, but those changes do not impact the basic profile. I have tried the saddle, and a few of my friends, and it works really well.

    I've also thought about the German firms you mentioned. The problem is that the data gathered is dependent on the saddle they use when the data is being captured. I suspect that that data has to be corrected, and the manner in which they do so is manual which is why it ends up being so expensive. Meld's solution on the other hand is non-dependent on any saddle surface, usage of software reduces cost and time-to-design, it's simpler and more elegant.

    The other reason why the Germans' solution is more expensive is that they have not found a way to be efficient in their manufacturing process. Mass produced saddles from say Specialized have economies of scale hence lowering prices. Having efficient manufacturing processes while still creating unique saddle shapes is what helps Meld lower costs, and enable mass customization.

    Here's Meld's explanation of why they use the imprint when the cyclist is in the upright position, rather than on the bike. They posted this on their Facebook page:

    Now and then someone asks us why we sit upright on the imprint foam rather than adopt the same posture on the bike. Here's why:
    .
    There are two main approaches to creating the saddle model: physically (i.e. shape the foam ourselves), or digitally via software. We started with the physical method: we would sit on the foam leaning forward, and alter our positions in small steps along the length of the foam to emulate fore/aft movement while pedaling.
    .
    This photo of an imprint foam, which is a few years old and badly discolored from age, shows the result of physical shaping. We even thought about adding a plastic spoon to the imprint kit since its curved surface can help shaping.
    .
    The foam was photographed after a number of prior attempts on multiple foam pieces: it isn't as easy as it sounds, and it looks awful. And it's still some ways from being an actual saddle model (e.g. it doesn't account for leg movements).
    .
    By this time it dawned on us that physical shaping of the foam isn't the way to go: it's too difficult to get anywhere near reasonably correct, and it cannot accurately capture the continuous range of positions and postures adopted on rides. Instead, we aimed to rely on as little physical input as possible (i.e. just sit upright), and use software to account for the various positions and postures taken during a ride.
    .
    This turned out to be crucial for us. Even with the requirement that we just sit upright on the middle of the foam, we still encountered significant numbers of user-related issues, at least at the beginning when the imprint kit instructions weren't as comprehensive. If we had relied on actual physical shaping, things would have been disastrous.
    .
    Relying on software instead reaped other benefits as well. We have a great deal of control over model shaping, which came in useful when we learned about natural bias. Natural bias basically means we tend to lean to one side due to the way we habitually use our muscles, and it (usually) isn't because our skeletal structure is asymmetrical. We use software to correct the imprint asymmetry that's due to natural bias. This ensures that our body is properly supported while pedaling.
    .
    To summarize: minimal reliance on physical foam shaping (sitting upright rather than adopting on-the-bike postures and positions), and instead primarily using software to shape the model, provided great flexibility with regards to model shaping and significantly reduced the number of user-error occurrences.
    Last edited by tmprider; 03-07-2018 at 10:50 AM.

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