Saddles Pt 2: When-a You Butt Feels Fine…
When-a you butt feels-a fine…after hundred mile rides… Ass Amore!
The latest Saddles rolling our way from Italy, in the form of the Selle Italia C2, SLR Trans Am Gel flow and Koobi Xenon make it pretty apparent that materials and workmanship continue to improve upon the balance of comfort and weight. None of these saddles are on the heavy side (with the SLR being the one that put the most emphasis on weight) and all have features that work to make your time in the saddle a better place.
A side by side look at the underside brings things a little more into view for the Koobi and the C2, while the best part about the SLR is up top.
You’ll notice on the Koobi that Ti Rails run from nose to back and insert into well designed arches (somewhat like their flagship PRS model that goes a step further and puts in extremely well functioning shock absorbers). The C2 Rails are Vanox and run back in to an elastomer damper, while the SLR’s Vanox rails run back into the traditional platform mounts. Of the three, the C2 and Koobi rail set ups are better than the SLR. Both do a fair job of taking out the chatter.
The SLR is still a minimalist saddle. In it’s first editions, it got most of its comfort from the fact that it was a flexy piece of material with flexy Ti rails. It was comfortable for some, but I saw a few come apart in minor accidents (In fairness to Selle Italia, who are probably the best saddle makers on the planet, I have seen this happen to competitive light weight saddles as well) were there was almost no damage (other than bar tape) to the bike. This new version foregoes the 135 grams as it’s main selling point to beef up the bed, add their very good gel flow padding and their very well placed Trans Am uh…Genital slot (I am sure they call it something more ear pleasing). This all combines to tip the scales at a very low weight, while giving the saddle a feel of more stability. It also makes for a very comfortable ride, with a mid-narrow platform, and a flat profile.
The Koobi Xenon is another good one from folks that are typically known in Mountain bike world but are becoming a force on the road. It has Ti rails (the SLR would have been better with these I believe) and a two fabric top shell that supplies just the right amount of traction. The split rail design is a Koobi standard, and works very well. Whether you are a little forward or firmly pounding out revs at the back of the saddle, the slot is providing relief. The padding is very good and the platform is very flat and broad at the back. As mentioned they run rails into a couple of arches that chew up a good amount of road chatter. So if comfort is your game, Koobi makes probably the most comfortable saddle on the market that is still sleek enough for the road and very light in their PRS. Insert pic (000343)
Last up was the C2 from Selle Italia. I have to say I was kinda bored when I looked at it at first, then the details started to kick in. It has great Carbo effect accents and also has a skin that reminds me of a nice pair of Italian Wing Tip Shoes. The aesthetics are understated (which is probably why it took a minute for a style depraved ass like me to catch on) but matter, and they make for a great looker. The looks are secondary to a comfort level that was a nice surprise for a saddle without a more cluttered and lumpy look. It wasn’t a Trans Am or Gel top and didn’t have several colors all going on at once. It was simply an understated saddle that was very stable and extremely well made. With great padding (firm but provided cushion) and a low profile – wide platform base, that allow lots of folks to find a comfort spot, this saddle was a super ride!
The “Bottom” line is that saddles have as much to do with shape as with padding etc. when it comes to finding the right one, weight is the least important thing you can use to determine your choice, followed by looks. The priorities should be (1st) Shape, (2nd) Padding / rail system, (3rd) whatever floats your boat. Materials and workmanship are a huge factor, as replacing saddles shouldn’t be a concern and should last as long as you own the bike (and the benchmark for craftsmanship is Selle Italia!). The saddles shown are made very (very very) close to one another in Italy and are of absolute top quality. The Koobi’s you can find at www.Koobi.com and the Selle Italia’s are distributed through ProNet inc. in Bremerton Washington, can be viewed at www.selleitalia.com and are found everywhere.