My recent test drive of the Brompton brought home to me the effect of, and the need for, a good perch. The streets of London are not, surprisingly, paved with gold and having a comfortable saddle, fit for purpose is an essential, often overlooked piece of kit.
The state of London’s roads make a good saddle essential. Those pot-holes and bumps in most of the so-called cycle lanes are a joke! Actually, not a joke…a bone-jarring reality for most of us.
Swayed towards a Brooks saddle
Until a couple of years ago I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about changing the saddle on any bike I bought. Indeed, I’ve ridden my old Trek hybrid with the saddle that came with it for about 18 years.
Only when I bought a commuter bike did I get round to changing the saddle. Mostly because I wanted to try a Brooks saddle and the bike shop persuaded me that it would be a good idea. The original bike had a Specialized BG Sonoma saddle which whilst not uncomfortable was not really in keeping with the style of the bike.
I bought it on the Bike-to-work scheme so the extra cost of putting mudguards on and a new saddle was partly borne by the company I work for.
I bought the Flyer S model and away I went. I had heard lots of horror stories about Brooks, the need to break them in and so forth, but I followed the instructions about proofing and I’ve never looked back. It took me about a week of daily riding to get comfortable and now I find the suspended leather saddle the only way to travel.
When I bought the Wilier, the saddle that came with it was a Selle Italia XR, which, for me, was like sitting on a razor blade. I paid for this one myself and the extra cost of a new saddle was, at the time, a little more than I could bear.
Rather rather than buy a Brooks or other leather saddle, I put the Specialized Sonoma from my commuter bike on there which seems to do the job.
The more padding the more pain
It’s only when I ride another saddle that I realise how uncomfortable the normal padded ones are, like the one on the Brompton. It seems that the more padding there is, the more jarring the ride. The Flyer S is the women’s shortened version of the standard model but I really didn’t notice the difference so when I bought the B17, I went for the men’s version, the Standard. On a more forward leaning position I think that I should have gone for the ‘S’.
Without what Bike Snob calls his ‘pants yabbies’ to support, the longer version does seem a little long for me but nevertheless it is much more comfortable than anything else. Suspended leather saddles just seem to absorb those bumps and lumps in the road in a way that extra padding just doesn’t.
Many more years ago than I care to remember, I did the London-Brighton bike ride on my Trek and I remember a stage where, rising out of the saddle on a hill almost made me sick with the pain. A combination perhaps of lack of miles in the saddle and a lack of fitness but, even with a gel cover it was hellish. I’ve since ridden that far in a day and felt no ill effects on a leather saddle.
I may be more used to it now but a few weeks back I had a big ride in Antwerp on the Trek and the feeling on my nether regions was the same. Pain. Maybe saddle technology has come a long way because I don’t get that pain from the Specialized on the Wilier but for daily riding, I find the leather saddle the only way to go.