Dash Cycles Tri.7 Review
Sep 7, 2011
article & images by Nick Salazar
TriRig is proud to be the first in the world to show you the Dash tri.7 triathlon saddle. This one is the first off the line, and later models may show some minor changes. Watch this page for a full ride report once we've received and tested a final production version.
The product I'm about to show you has me more excited than just about any other piece of kit I've ever published on TriRig. And that might be because I had a hand in its development. But it's also because I've wanted this exact product for years, but no one produced it. The product in question is the new Dash Cycles tri.7, a new saddle developed specifically for the triathlon market. Why am I so jazzed about it? Well, of the three contact points on the bike (hands, feet, and butt), the saddle is the piece of equipment that's most sensitive - it's the hardest one to make comfortable. For many triathletes and time trialists, a split nose saddle is the only option that works, and there are precious few saddles in that category. The Adamo saddle is becoming increasingly popular, appearing underneath many pro riders who have to buy them retail, even in the UCI Pro Peloton. But the Adamo is a boat anchor, at nearly 300 grams even for the lightest versions. There hasn't been any lightweight entry into this very important corner of the saddle market.
The Story Begins
About a year ago, Dash approached TriRig and asked me what sorts of design cues I liked in a tri saddle. This was a dream come true - a boutique saddle maker asking what I'd like to see in a product. We discussed the merits of split-nose design, and I noted that my favorite of these is Adamo's Podium model, which has a rounded front rather than a blunt one, and longer flat portion which affords multiple riding positions. What I don't care for about that model is its unusable rear segment, which is both useless while in aero, and far too wide to be very comfortable while sitting up. So I discussed these pros and cons at length with Dash, and then they went to do their thing. For months, they were silent, and I didn't hear anything about their developments.
Than, back in June, I was invited to test ride their test plug - basically, a wooden block, carved to shape, with saddle rails on it. As you can probably imagine, solid wood isn't a very forgiving material to test ride. But despite its rigidity, it was very much what I was hoping for. Dash had pretty much nailed the shape. Split-nose front, without getting too wide as it goes back. It was nearly perfect, and even the solid wood form was relatively comfortable riding on smooth pavement. The production version could only be better. I gave them some feedback, and they went to work finalizing their molds.
Introducing the tri.7
Finally, their work is done. Dash has unveiled their new saddle, which they are calling the tri.7, to correspond with the naming scheme of their other models. The 7 stands for its astonishing weight of just 79 grams. And that's 79 grams for a fully-padded version with three layers of dense gel and a plush leather top! The padding is thin but dense, making for a very giving top layer. Dash is releasing the tri.7 as a fully padded saddle because they wanted to make an eminently rideable saddle. They want you to fall in love with how comfortable it is. They want to cement this saddle as a legitimate, comfortable, usable piece of kit. And in another month or two, they'll release an unpadded, ultralight, carbon-only version for those who want to save those last few grams. That version is appropriately named the tt.4, as it might be better for time trialists who race shorter distances and wear shorts with a thicker chamois. But for triathletes, the tri.7 model is a dream - at 79 grams, it's already lighter than almost every production saddle on the market, yet fully padded and suitable for long training rides and iron-distance racing.
As you can see, the saddle is basically a split-nose saddle with a massive cutout running from front to rear, and a small carbon bridge joining both the front and back together. These bridges are a notable feature, as I've seen Adamo riders whose nose prongs have gotten out of whack, one higher than the other. That's not possible when they're connected like this in one carbon structure.
Other important aspects include the large flat sidewalls that help prevent rubbing against the legs, and the flat top that gently increases in width as you go back on the saddle. That shape makes the saddle quite comfortable both in aero and also sitting up. And beyond that, there's really nothing to it - no superfluous back end that you won't even use, and no weird sloping at the back. Just pure function, made of gorgeous carbon and wrapped in plush leather. The tri.7 is now available directly from the Dash Cycles website. As with other Dash products, this one doesn't come cheap, at $555. But for that price you get your choice of several different colors of leather, and can choose between one, two, or three layers of foam gel padding. We recommend going whole hog with all three, as the saddle is only 79g for that version.
Yeah, the price is steep, but in my opinion, this may very well be the best tri saddle that money can buy. And to help offset the high price of entry, Dash will be launching a demo program for riders to try the saddle without committing to ownership. Full details are forthcoming and will be posted on the Dash website. To sweeten it further, Dash has a pretty decent crash policy: if you happen to wreck with your saddle in the first two years of ownership, Dash will replace it for $100. Update: I've now had a chance to really use this saddle, and get to know it inside and out. Jump to page two for the skinny.
To be clear, I DO NOT have any financial interest in Dash Cycles or this saddle. If my language comes off as overly effusive, it's only because of how genuinely excited I am about this product.