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I completed my first half Ironman in 2018. It was an awesome experience, and I am beyond proud of my finish. However, I’m a person that always looks to be better than yesterday. With that in mind, as I hear up for my full Ironman this year, I felt that the biggest room for improvement was the bike. Percentagewise, it is by far the most time-consuming part of the triathlon. I am hoping to finish the bike portion around 7 hours. That means 7 hours in the same saddle.
I knew that I was hoping to buy a new saddle. Comfort is key, right? Or at least, I think it should be! I didn’t always love cycling. In fact, I still wouldn’t say that I love it. But on my best days, it is some of the most enjoyable moments, and I certainly love the view from the saddle. A long term goal is to become more of an everyday cyclist, but my short term goal is definitely to feel good (or as good as possible) while training for and competing in IMWI. I have had multiple knee and foot surgeries, and really don’t want any lingering pain to come back to bite me.
I did a lot of online research leading up to this experiment of sorts, and ended up trialing four different saddles. Of course, every person is different, and everyone is looking for different things, but this is the breakdown of the four I ended up trying, and ultimately, purchasing. The following were specific things I was looking for:
- Comfort in base bars (while sitting upright)
- Comfort in aerobars
- Overall weight (not a huge factor for me)
- Overall price
Profile Design : This was the original seat that was on my bike when I got it. I don’t actually know the model of the saddle, just that it is made by Profile Design. I hated this saddle from the start. This is the saddle that made me realize that you can be more comfortable on certain seats. Before this, I was under the impression that a saddle was a saddle, and everything else was pretty much the same. WRONG! No part of this was comfortable. My longest ride on this bad boy was 55 miles, and every second was unbearably painful.
VELO CR-MO Carbon : I like this seat for most regular, short distance, road cycling. In the aero bars, it is so uncomfortable, however, and this was a big reason to try something else. I am training to be able to use aerobars for a majority of the Ironman. For the price however, not too bad in my opinion. This was by far the cheapest of the lot. The comfort level made it a no go for the VELO saddle though! (Sidenote, I do own this saddle, too, but will not use it for triathlon/training purposes)
Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow : love at first sight (spin). This seat felt cushiony to feel as luxurious as possible but still firm enough to be able to last for Ironman distance training and racing. It was equally as comfortable in the aerobars as well as on the base bars. Reasonably priced, a sure winner.
ISM PN 3.1 : I could have easily been swayed toward this seat. The short nose made it even more comfortable than the Diva when using aerobars. However, when riding upright / on the base bars, it felt a little too wide, and wasn’t comfortable at all even for a short amount of time. I can imagine chafing would be an issue over a lot amount of time. Price was in the range of decent, but was a little higher than the Selle.
Final review: I ended up purchasing the Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow for around $120 and have just over two full weeks of training on it at the time of this post. It may have been the best investment I’ve made to date for gear. This week’s long ride was 80km and it was the most comfortable long ride I’ve had to date.
Overall, I am not a “buy every new piece of gear” person, and definitely am thrifty or will buy used or not at all if possible. This was my splurge. And I totally think it’s worth it.
Get fired up! What updates, modifications, or experiments have paid off for you? Or, what have you been researching to try?