Bike Saddles and Taints of Steel

I recently went on my first long ride (100+ km) for some time. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been off the bike for a while and then do a longish ride there are always three body parts that hurt: my neck, triceps/shoulders and my taint. Is that term too lewd? Fine, then please allow me to apologize to you prudes out there and use perineum instead – the proper medical term for the sensitive nether regions that are most affected by a long stretch in the saddle.

My current saddle is getting a little long in the tooth. It has these random bouts of creaking that I finally discovered are being caused by the top cushioning becoming separated from the base. The tip of the saddle nose actually points up when I sit down towards the back…probably not very aero. The upshot is that I’m now in the market for a new saddle and have started to shop around.

Saddle shapes and the brands cyclists prefer are a very personal decision. Everyone is shaped a little differently and some brands’ shapes are simply a better match one’s body than others. I struggled for years with numbness and saddle sores and several different brands before finally trying one of the Fi’zi:k models. That long, flat architecture “just works” for me, and at the same time I have friends that curse them for being uncomfortable. The upshot is that I typically start with this brand during a saddle search.

Sporra is a cycling app so besides being avid cyclists we’ve got a little bit…OK, a lotta bit of geek in us, and I must admit I’ve been geeking out over the (warning: ridiculously long model name coming up) Fi’zi:k Anteres Versus Evo 00 Adaptive. It uses 3D printing technology to weave a multi-layered mesh that, Fi’zi:k claims enables the firm “to design and manufacture multiple functional zones within the saddle, tuning each of them separately for specific mechanical properties.Each of these key functional zones is engineered with a distinctive cushioning and mechanical response, joined together progressively and seamlessly in the same padding.”

It certainly looks like something descended from outer space; the mesh’s appearance like something an alien insect race might construct for their colony. I want to try it but have a few reservations:

PRICE – Let’s just get this out of the way up front: it’s expensive! At today’s exchange rates, EUR 350 comes to USD 380 and over 40,000 yen where Sporra’s offices are located in Japan. Ouch. That’s a big ask for a saddle.

COLOR – This is purely a vanity thing, but at present the saddle is only available in white. White looks really cool when you first pop it on. White is also only a temporary shade of grey. As always, with a few rides it will be some from of greige. It would be nice to have a few color options.

CLEANLINESS – The Fi’zi:k site illustrates that it can simply be hosed down, but color me sceptical. I can imagine a lot of grit and grime working its way into that 3D mesh, and while you can hose it down there are certain to be particles that get left behind. Over time those are apt to grind on and wear down the material, thus degrading the saddle’s performance.

Do I want to give it a shot? Absolutely. Can I afford to give it a shot? Let’s put it this way – I’ll never be able to sell this one to the wife. I’ll keep my eyes on the second-hand market, as there is bound to be a few people who take the plunge but for whom the geometry just wasn’t a match. In the meantime I’ll probably find a new saddle for half the price.