Saddle Demo at ARB Cyclery

You are probably excited when getting a new carbon bar, or even a new carbon stem. But there doesn’t seem to much love for our old friend the saddle. For many people, bicycle saddles are just ‘there’. They exist for you to sit on so you can ride your bike. Even with the new carbon shelled and railed saddles, they just don’t seem to generate the same level of excitement as other components. More often than not, people use whatever saddle comes with the bike they purchase. If it’s initially a bit uncomfortable, they attribute it to a “break-in period”. This is true in some cases, but that doesn’t change the shape or the cutouts of the saddle which are areas that often play a more important role in saddle comfort than padding density. It’s like your desk chair. It usually isn’t the most comfortable thing to sit on, but you just deal with it. When you start thinking about it, why should you just “deal with it”? You spend so much time in it, it would be a worthy investment to make sure you aren’t hurting yourself.

ARB Cyclery Saddle Demo
ARB Cyclery Saddle Demo

Other times, it seems like I overhear people saying that they chose their saddle because they liked the way it looked or the color matched their bike better than other saddle options. OK, that might just be me. But the more I find myself riding, the more importance I place on my comfort instead of aesthetics. It is common to fall into the trap of getting a saddle for a great price without taking comfort into consideration. The mentality is, “if I can save some money on that saddle, surely I can deal with any discomfort it will bring”.

It’s understandable. Saddles aren’t cheap, and you might just have to deal with the saddle you buy if you’ve spent a good amount on it. Similar to shoes, you don’t really know how it will work out for you until you actually use it. So when you think about it, is that deal actually worth it in the long run? Fortunately, we have a saddle demo program right here at ARB Cyclery! As mentioned in a previous blog, I came from riding a full carbon saddle with no padding. It looked really slick and catered to my desire for weight reduction. It was quite literally a pain in my ass. I knew I had to switch to something else after going on rides with the other guys from the shop, but I had no idea where to start. Being on the small side, the only thing I was sure of was the need for a narrow saddle. But in today’s saddle market with hundreds, if not thousands, of options, picking a new saddle is quite a daunting task. I don’t like committing to a purchase of an item I don’t know much about, and reading the hundreds of subjective reviews online were doing nothing for me. It just made things even more confusing.

Utilizing the saddle demo program allowed me to test multiple saddles. I figured out that I was more comfortable on a saddle with a channel. I figured out I needed a medium amount of padding. I figured out how much flex I preferred in the saddle shell. Prior to testing out the actual saddles, I had my eye on the Selle Italia SLR saddle simply because of the look. Then I actually tried it out, and decided there were better options for me. I finally ended up choosing the Fizik Antares VS, and it is by far the best fit for me. I’ve done a metric century on this saddle and my rear end was thankful. And as a bonus, even though I put aesthetics behind comfort this time around, it looks damn fine. I was also pretty close to going with the new Brooks C15 saddle, which looked and felt great. It’s styling is certainly a very attractive feature, and it felt more comfortable than it looked. The rivets add a level of class to it that would have matched my titanium frame quite well, but the feel of the Antares came out on top.

My Fizik Antares VS with carbon rails
My Fizik Antares VS with carbon rails

Everyone is going to be different when it comes to saddle. There is only so much advice that we can give you, and a recommendation from me may not do it for you. The best thing you can do is to come in yourself and demo new saddles! If you mention this blog post when you come in for a saddle demo, you will also receive a Zjay’s Saddle Sore Soother (while supplies last)! We want to make sure you have a comfortable experience. Your butt will thank you for it.

 

What’s In Your Saddle Bag?

1000-bill-emerrgency-tire-boot

So you’re out on a ride, and your buddies decide to hit some of the dirt section off the side of the bike path. You follow behind them, taking some care not to do anything stupid on your 23mm tires. Just as you reach the bottom of the hill and prepare to launch yourself up the next hill, your bars slip and you barely manage to maintain your balance and keep yourself from being thrown into your stem. Your buddies are having such a great time they leave you behind in a trail of dust.

Lezyne Carbon Multitool
Lezyne Carbon Multitool

Moral of the story? Take the time and check to see that your bolts are torqued down properly. Also, it’s pretty important to carry a multi-tool. I was never a huge fan of saddle bags for aesthetic reasons (also my inner weight-weenie cries), and stuck mostly to placing tubes and other items in my jersey pockets instead. However, a multi-tool wasn’t something that I ever carried, because I never thought I’d ever really have a use for it on the road. Funnily enough, on the same ride, one of the screws on my Garmin mount worked itself loose, and that needed tightening down as well. Needless to say, having just started riding more seriously, I didn’t think to have a multi-tool handy and had to ask to borrow one.

arundel-dual-index
Arundel Dual Saddle Bag

I figured that having the tools to change a flat would be sufficient, but you never know what can happen on a ride. More importantly, it’s nice to have a range of tools as well to help someone else who may be in need of assistance. Coming from someone who wasn’t used to utilizing a saddle bag, I figured I could give a couple of suggestions now that I understand the importance of carrying one.  These suggestions are not only great functionally, but are also clean looking.

Personally, I prefer a slightly smaller and more compact saddle bag. There are many options currently available, and depending on the equipment you’re running, there are some choices that stand out. For example, if you happen to be riding a Fizik saddle, you can utilize their nifty clip and buy the Klik bag that attaches directly to the back of the saddle. It comes in both a small and a medium size, so depending on how many things you plan on bringing, you can choose between the two. The medium size would be a good idea for long solo rides when you would want to have two tubes in your saddle bag instead of one.

Alternatively, if you have a different saddle, I personally like the Arundel saddle bag. It comes in a convenient three sizes, and I am currently running the medium.
The small can only really hold a tube and a CO2 inflator, so if you’re planning on bringing a multi-tool, you’re going to want to go with the Arundel Dual. As a bonus, the bag comes in different colored edges. This slight bit of color really pops, and paired with the simplistic design, it’s hard to find another bag that is both stylish and functional.

After you’ve chosen a proper saddle bag, now it’s time to fill it with the essentials!

  1. Tube (s) – You’re going to want to carry at least one of these with you on your rides. Personally, I use Continental Race Lite tubes; weight weenies rejoice!  They’re still butyl and not latex, so no need to deal with a constant loss of air.
  2. CO2 Inflator – I use a hand pump that doubles as a CO2 inflator. I like to have the option of both, but you man find that those mini hand pumps are difficult to pump your tires up to a decent pressure.
  3. Multi-tool – Although I don’t have it yet, I have my eye on Lezyne’s carbon multitool. Carbon fiber replaces your usual alloy side plates, and the bolts holding this tool together are titanium. Not only is the excess weight shaved off from the base of the tools, even the bolts are tapered off. What you have left is a super slick-looking, 80g multi tool.
  4. Tire Boot – This is one of the things that more people tend to forget to pack into their saddle bag. There are many clever ways to come up with a temporary tire boot from empty gel packs, cut up tires, or if you’re feeling particularly epic, a hundred dollar bill should work just fine. However, Park Tool makes a nice adhesive tire boot, and this helps prevent the boot from shifting around, thus making it my personal favorite.
1000-bill-emerrgency-tire-boot
If you’re like me, you use $1000 bills as tire boots.

Other items such as a credit card and a phone end up going into my back jersey pocket for easier access. You want to be able to snap those cycling selfies as fast as possible, so you’re not going to want to have to fiddle around with your saddle bag for that.

If you have any personal favorites that you won’t leave home without, be sure to leave it in the comments below! Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@arbcyclery) as we will be showcasing what the employees here at ARB Cyclery keep in their saddle bags! Be sure to use #undermysaddle to join in on the fun!