After my MS ride last month, I was sore. I wondered whether my bottom problems we the result of my saddle. I ride the Specialized Alias saddle — 143 mm size — and I’ve read and heard a lot of nice things about it. Last year, I even wrote about the comfort of the saddle. But since then, I’ve become less enamored of it.
My friend David invited me to try one of his spare saddles, just to see if it would make any difference, so I went by his house to pick it up. It’s a Selle San Marco Ponza, and comes as factory equipment on several mid-range bikes. Reviews I’ve seen online are all over the map; some reviewers love it, some hate it. I’ll bet that’s true of the majority of saddles, which tend to be the most personal pieces of equipment on a bike.
I was anxious to try anything new, so I put it on the bike and have ridden it a number of times.
It’s not apparent in the picture, but the first thing you notice about the Ponza is its width. It’s a racing-style saddle, and quite a bit narrower than the Alias. I’d been leery of trying a narrow saddle, so I began this test with some trepidation.
The other obvious difference is the lack of a cutout on the Ponza. That bothered me, too. I couldn’t imagine being comfortable, especially after more than about 20 miles, on a saddle that offered no relief to the softy bits.
But the experience was a revelation. The narrow saddle felt much better under me. It’s much easier to slide into and out of when you’re up out of the saddle during a hill climb. My important stuff didn’t get squashed the way I feared. On our 34-mile jaunt last Sunday, I completely forgot about the saddle — which I guess is a pretty good endorsement.
The saddle isn’t perfect. For one thing, it has an almost complete lack of padding compared to the Alias. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the saddle is supposed to handle only part of the job of supporting a rider. The pedals and handlebars have to absorb their share of the load, too. And once I got used to coasting with the pedals in a horizontal position, and standing to pedal on even slight hills, any discomfort went away.
Still, I think my search for the perfect saddle is by no means at an end. I’d like to try something like the Ponza with a cutout, or at least a depression down the middle. I’ve got one in mind, and I’ll be mounting that on the bike in the next week. Look for another saddle progress report in the near future.
Ben Von Handorf says
I’m 99% sure that this is identical to the saddle that came on my Jamis Quest that I bought last year. So far, it’s the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever been on… until 80 miles. During TOSRV (http://www.tosrv.org/09/index.htm), after 80 miles on the first day it was as though a switch has been flipped and I would gladly have paid someone $100 for a different saddle. The second day was not very pleasant, from a saddle point of view.
Now I’m not sure ANY saddle is really very comfortable after distances like that, but if you do, I hope you share the secret with us!
Ben, Riding the way the guy does in the TOSRV poster will probably give you some saddle relief!
Timothy Horner says
Count yourself lucky to have tried one of the 90s era ponzas, theyve suffered from some ill conceived redesigning. My bony rear has been fond of this saddle for many years, but my old one was swiped recently and I discovered to my horror and discomfort that the new variations on the one pictured are awful, and dont nearly live up to the former glory, which was very comfortable and durable for the price. The old good ones are identified by the canvas over the leading edge of the bevel under the nose, and the perforations along the center stripe. It takes a little more observation to notice the differences in the proportions, but a longish ride will make the inferiority of the newest ones all too apparent. Id love to find a crop of NOS or at least salvageable ones, Id buy a lifetime supply…. -Earthcycler
Check out the Brontager website. They have a video about their new inForm saddle line and they show us a bit of science about saddle sitting. It looks like the prices are $70 – $150 and they have come up with a way to measure your butt so you buy the right one.
I think this would be an off topic question. But since this is for newbies like me I suppose I can ask this question since I can’t find the right topic to post it on. Here it is: what is that brontager site about? Is it a kind of shopping network or a bike shop? Just curious.
Brian S. says
Bontrager is a major manufacturer of bicycle components/accessories, particularly things like wheels(rims), stems (handlebar stems, riser stems), bars (handlebars) and bike seats.
Don’t quote me on it, but I believe they are owned by Trek and have been for the last ~10 years. So you will find their name splashed all over Trek bikes, particularly the mid- to higher-end ones.
keith m says
Think about the geometry of a saddle and where your sit-bones are. The Ponza has been the most comfortable saddle for me since I first started riding 20+ years ago. I am 5’8″ tall and weigh about 145lbs. Not very wide. Narrow hips. Narrow saddle.