Lighten Up - Saddle
article & images by Nick Salazar
Mar 7, 2011
Let's start with this basic premise about saddle comfort: it's all about shape. That is, a saddle with minimal padding (or even no padding) can be very comfortable over long distances, as long as the shape suits its rider's butt. On the other hand, if a saddle's shape is poorly suited to its rider, then it won't be comfortable no matter how much padding it has. You can strap on one of those ungodly gel covers, but even if that increases comfort somewhat, all you're doing is (literally) covering up the problem.
In our quest to build an ultra light, yet still potently aerodynamic tri bike, we saw the seat cluster as an ideal place to save weight. Seatpost clamping mechanisms can top 150-200 grams, and saddles can get up to 300-400 grams. It would be pointless to simply use a lighter off-the-shelf saddle, which are universally ill-suited for triathlon. We have a bit of a love affair with split-nose saddles, and wanted to see if we could take that concept and "Lighten Up" with it. So that's exactly what we did.
This saddle is literally a carbon copy of the Adamo Breakaway. We started with a basic shell, and then for good measure applied a thin layer of dense foam padding. Total weight: 76 grams. No, it doesn't have any rails. Instead, it got bonded directly to the seatpost of the frameset we're using for this project, and actually saved weight in the process, since we eliminated a bunch of metal hardware. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a bit longer to see how it looks mounted up, because this article isn't about the full build yet, just this piece.
So how did it turn out? Awesome. The saddle performs just as expected - it looks like our old saddle, feels like our old saddle, and just fits. The only difference is how light it is. Actually, there is one other difference, and it's a bit of an unexpected benefit. Due to how we laid up the 3K carbon, the saddle has a slight amount of flex inwards. That is, the outermost parts of the saddle can be compressed in. This is exactly like Fizik's "Wing Flex" feature, and helps stave off chafing. It's brilliant, and actually makes this featherweight beauty even better than the original. Sorry, not for sale at a dealer near you.