Caveat: I do not own a noseless saddle, and I don’t know anyone who does. I did do some research to determine whether they’re the kind of thing road bikers would like. These are my conclusions based on that research. Take what I say here with a grain of salt.
A recent New York Times article extolls the virtues of noseless saddles. They mostly eliminate pressure on the perineum (the soft tissues down below) and make for a more comfortable ride. They also prevent erectile dysfunction in men that can result from repeatedly squishing your naughty bits against a saddle’s nose.
I was intrigued by the article, and followed its links to different saddle makers to learn more about what’s out there. There are a lot more of them — by more different makers — than I thought.
Some offer what amounts to a bench. The Nexride is one of these, but pivots 15 degrees left to right as your butt flexes with each pedal stroke.
Others make a special effort to cushion the sit bones. The Hobson Easy Seat is one such example. Two padded cushions cradle the sit bones, and there is no saddle nose to squish the perineum.
Or, the seat could be shaped like a crescent, to cushion the sit bones in a slightly different way. The ISM Sport model exemplifies these types.
One recurring theme soon became apparent:
Noseless saddles are mostly for upright riding.
The saddle websites say so. Here’s just a sample of what you can find:
The Hobson Easy Seat: “NOTE: The best position for the seat is sitting upright with handle bars positioned upward.”
Comfort Saddle: “The Comfort Saddle is best suited for cyclists who prefer to sit upright.”
ISM Sport: “Designed for more upright types of riding such as hybrids or light trail riding.”
But most readers of this blog are roadies. We don’t sit upright on our bikes, except to take a few minutes rest during a long ride. So as good as these saddles sound, they might not be the solution for us.
However, one of the companies in the noseless saddle business — ISM — might have the answer. They make the upright kinds of saddles just as their competitors do, but they also make oddly-shaped saddles with a split nose that is supposed to accomplish the same thing — take pressure off the perineum.
ISM produces a range of different saddles, geared for riders from time trialists to recreational road riders. The saddle pictured here is the ISM Adamo Road. It has two “arms” in front with a relatively wide gap between them — and the arms do not meet at the front. The design is supposed to prevent blood loss from compression of the soft tissue, as well as keep weight off the perineum and on the sit bones.
A check of various equipment review sites finds anecdotal support for the benefits of the ISM saddle. It boils down to this: The wide cutout between the two nose parts eases pressure on the soft tissues. The fact that there is still a “nose” of sorts to the saddle allows riders to have a similar sensation as a nosed saddle.
ISM saddles retail for a low of $119 to a high of $224, depending on the model. I’ve said before that I’m happy with my $25 WTB saddle. But when it’s time to replace it, I’ll be looking closely at an ISM.