Noseless Saddles – My Two Cents Worth

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.

Nexride - it pivots.

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.

Easyseat

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 ISM Sport.

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 Adamo Road.

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.

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15 thoughts on “Noseless Saddles – My Two Cents Worth

  1. I rode on my new ISM Adamo Road saddle this morning on my 6 mile commute to work. I ride a road bike, and like to get aero, even on my commute.

    My first impressions on that short ride is that the saddle really does put most of your weight on your sit bones, I could really feel it, and it’s going to take some getting used to. I’ll have to build back up to 50 and 60 miles.

    Secondly, the aborted nose is much wider than my normal saddle, and I have to consciously fight the urge to let my knees spread out.

    Other than those two things, it felt like a normal saddle. I can’t really feel if it’s putting less pressure on the boy bits, since I never had any problems with numbness, but a physical check shows that indeed, that particular area is free from contact.

    • Thanks for the input, Jon. I was wondering about the nose on the ISM, since it does seem wider than normal ones. Anyone else out there have experience with either the ISM or with noseless saddles?

    • I think the best and cheapest way is to cut out the portion of your regular saddle that put pressure on your family jewels but not all the way down on each side in order to keep to tip nose of the saddle attached to the railing guide . That’s what I am going to do !

  2. I know a guy in San Antonio who has used such a saddle for years, swears by it. His is one of those that just has the two pads for the sit bones. I swear, it looks like something I’d fall off of, but doctors seem to feel they are better for us.

  3. I busted out the ISM sport that someone had given me a few years back and finally decided to try it out just this week. I put it on my hybrid/commuter bike which has the bars about even with the saddle. I did not like it at all. It felt like it forced my legs open and my sit bones kept rolling from side to side which gave the bike a twitchy feel. I’m going to further investigate positioning the saddle, but my first impression is not a good one. I’ve got a Brooks B17 on order since that seems to what everyone seems to recommend. I’m quite fond of the Terry Liberator too as it has a pretty generous cut-out, but retains a more conventional shape for a “sport” saddle. I do suffer from numbness while riding more than 10 miles on a roadie with a conventional saddle or even a small cut-out like the Terry Fly, which is why I’m going through the trouble. I usually do most of my riding MTB style, where most of the riding is done out of the saddle, but I’ve started commuting 30 miles round trip and my wife wants another kid soon, so sitting directly on the baby-maker is probably not conducive to that. Anyway, if I am able to figure out how to get the ISM sport to not fell like hell I’ll drop a note, otherwise assume I’m riding the B17.

  4. Speaking as a doctor, and an internist, and a cyclst, it amazes me how many riders are either ignorant or predjudiced against noseless saddles. It is true, that many cyclists don’t spend the time adequately having themselves fit to their bike, however, it is UNDENIABLE that damage to the peroneal nerve and blood flow is affected by a traditional saddle. It is not all the fit and cyclists that say this are ignorant. I personally suffered with everything from numbness to actual impotence for almost 6 months until I saw a urologist that said “it’s the bike stupid – stop riding”. I didn’t want to believe it. I thought I could just power through it but when I started to get up 6 times at night to pee I realized that the problem was getting worse. Changing to the Alias Specialized was no benefit. Off the bike for 6 months everything slowly returned completely to normal. I have now tried a few of the nose-less saddles and I can say this – they do protect your parts. It is a really weird ride though. I had to ditch my zero shoe clips because my balance was so off. Now finally going back to clipped shoes. I strongly recommend that cyclists look seriously at their seat if any symptoms start.

  5. Pingback: Riding a Bike? Take Some Care « MiddlesexMD Blog

  6. I got an Adamo last year. It took about ten minutes to get used to it and I took a 60 km ride the next day. I barely noticed the difference for control and have practically forgotten how numb I used to get after a half hour of riding.

  7. Can anyone tell me if the design of the ISM Adamo Road is appropriate for a female cyclist wishing to cycle with no weight put on the most delicate area of the body? Obviously, the issue is slightly different from that of male cyclists because of differences in anatomy, but basically, the nose of a saddle can do a lot of damage to such sensitive tissue on a long cycle. I am trying to find a saddle that is that little bit wider than a men’s saddle, as women’s saddles should be, and also takes the saddle nose issue out of the equation. Anyone have any input? Thanks a million. (PS I am a road cyclist, and have read that going completely noseless can compromise handling…so I’m thinking a saddle with a split nose might be best).

  8. Jesus- a quick google search (Literally typing in “ISM Adamo Road”) will give you all the options you need. Loads of online sources selling them for $130-150. As a convert to the ISM Adamo series (I use the Peloton) for both road races and triathlons, I have to say I’m hugely converted. I’m not a small cyclist (225 pounds), and I have to say I’ve had ZERO discomfort with this seat. You need to angle it forward a bit to get comfortably aero, but since dialing it in it is the best seat I’ve ever owned, period. ZERO next day discomfort, zero numbness… it’s made a world of difference to me.

  9. I’m 65 years old and cycle 7 miles each way between home and the railway station every day, so not doing huge distances. I ride a Cannondale hybrid with a standard long-nose saddle. I tried a Spiderflex noseless saddle a couple of months ago after experiencing growing perineal numbness and discomfort after riding. I chose the Spiderflex saddle because it had better reviews than most. After trying it for a couple of weeks I came to the following conclusions. It might be OK for someone riding a traditional “sit up and beg” bike in an upright position, but for a hybrid with saddle at a height on a par with the handlebars you’re leaning forward and it feels like sitting on the edge of a shelf. The complete absence of a “nose” meant that the perineal numbness disappeared and from that point of view it was a success. But I soon found that I was getting sore at the top of my legs where they join the buttocks, because of the pressure of the saddle. I tried tipping the saddle forward but that only transferred too much weight to the front and I found I was leaning too much on the handlebars. Keeping the saddle level and shifting the saddle forward didn’t help either. I gave it a couple of weeks and various other adjustments in case it was a matter of getting used to the change, but the saddle didn’t get any less uncomfortable. So I went back to square one and bought an ISM Adamo Road saddle. This has a split nose and feels much more like a normal saddle. But the split nose avoids putting any pressure on the perineum and has completely solved the problem. The saddle is the most comfortable I’ve ever had – highly recommended!

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