Guest poster Jeff Hemmel updates his review of the Bontrager Inform saddle — and likes it.
Regular readers may recall that last year I posted a review of the Bontrager InForm RL saddle, a relatively new design that had been getting a lot of attention due not only to Bontrager’s “size-to-fit” concept, but also designer’s choice to forego a cutout in favor of what they considered proper weight distribution to combat numbness.
Though I was never a gushing fan of the saddle, I was pretty happy with it overall…at least for several months. Then, for reasons that eluded me, I started to get that dreaded numbness. No, it never lasted after I got off the bike thankfully, but it got to be a real pain — literally and figuratively — during nearly every ride. By summer, I was finding it really annoying, and wondering if the seat’s foam had somehow broken down.
I asked Trek about it and they asked the obvious questions: had I changed my position, etc. Each time I analyzed the situation I couldn’t think of a single thing I had changed. Not my position, not my brand of shorts, nothing. I started to just think the saddle wasn’t that hot after all, and began researching alternatives.
A funny thing, however, happened over the winter. Here in Florida, it was one of the coldest in history, and as a result I did a lot of riding bundled up in far more clothing than I normally would. And somewhere in the midst of those cold, windy rides, I began to notice something. The numbness was subsiding. Ultimately, it went away for the most part. And that relative comfort has continued into the spring.
Like an on-again, off-again relationship, my saddle and I are once again an item.
Why the change of heart? At first I had no idea. But after analyzing things for a while, I think I found the answer. And I think part of it is the result of all that cold-weather riding in tights.
No, it wasn’t more padding, or a different chamois placement, or anything like that. I continue to wear my regular shorts, pulling on chamois-less Pearl Izumi tights over them. Those tights, however, are made of a more slippery material than my shorts. As a result, I found myself sliding around a little more in my seat. And what I discovered was that I was ultimately settling into a position a little further back of where I had been riding as of late — a position that spread more of my weight on my sit bones at a wider portion of the seat.
Why, or how, had I moved forward? I have no idea. But without any big conscious effort, I was now moving back a fraction more…and finding that riding could once again be a pleasurable experience.
Yes, I occasionally force myself to scoot my butt back just a little on the seat, but for the most part my body has now just adapted to this new position.
Long story short? I once again think the InForm saddle is worth my money, and I’m in no rush to replace it. I also have a fresh appreciation for that advice you so often hear about saddles — they need to support your weight on your sit bones, those two bony parts you feel when you sit on a flat, hard surface, and not on the perineum, that area of soft tissues between your legs that house all those nerves and arteries that you need for other, more important things.
I still think people should try different saddles to see which fit them best, and yes, I think a professional bike fitting is a great idea for any serious cyclist. But if you’re just not happy with your saddle, you might want to move around on it a little bit before you go shopping for a new one.
In other words, you might want to put a little work into your current relationship…before it leads to a pricey divorce.
As I search for a new saddle, I’ll keep this one in mind.