Monday, August 3, 2009

Wheels North Swag/ Saddle Up!

So on to the product reviews...

I figure I may as well start with where I sit...make up your own jokes now.

Tom at Selle An-Atomica graciously provided us with some of his fine saddlery, of which I was a lucky recipient. The short review goes something like this; I freaking love this saddle!

The long one follows, longly...

My previous favorite mount was the venerable, and still expensive Selle Italia Flite, and I still really like it. If I were doing a short race, say, and weight was an issue, then I'd start loosing weight a couple months beforehand. Then, a week before the event, while munching on some pizza and beer, I'd resign myself to the inevitable, swap out for the Flight, and get dropped like a rock, and curse myself for not leaving the An-Atomica on so I could at least be comfortable while off the back.

Note to Tom: free advert idea..."Selle An-Atomica, because if you're gonna get dropped, you might as well be comfortable."

My model is the Titanico, in the Clydesdale model as I'm 6'2" and weigh 190lbs. It comes with the specially treated leather so I don't have to worry about treating it prior to a rainy day or whatever. Aside from the plushness, more later, this is my favorite aspect of this saddle as I am really unlikely to do the correct maintenance. That being said, if you are one of those kind of people who goes to the extent of Armor All-ing the valve caps on your wheels when you wash your car every week, sometimes twice, well, don't let my laziness discourage you from purchasing one of the fine saddles from S.A. that allow you an outlet for your OCD.

I was both surprised and pleased with the instructions and info that came with the saddle concerning upkeep and, more importantly, fit. I have heard plenty about Tom's excellent customer service, and this just proves it. It gives one the, probably very accurate, feeling that he and the company want to do everything they can to make sure you get the best chance at finding out if this is the saddle for you. Granted, it won't be the saddle for some, but then, I guess masochists exist for that very reason.

It did become the saddle for me. So I guess I'll have to tell why. First off it's way comfy. While my bike is steel, and should thus be all kinds of plush, it isn't. It's got a really short rear triangle, slightly compact geometry, and was basically built to be more aggressive. So the trade-off has been that I really feel road shocks coming up from the rear wheel. "Has-been" is the key phrase now that I have the An-Atomica installed. The hammock style really does an excellent job of eating up both the regular, small road buzz, and takes quite an edge off the big hits. If that sounds like I'm talking about a suspension fork, well, there's good reason for that. I've had other so-called "suspension" saddles before, and none come anywhere near what the An-Atomica does. Quite literally, I did not have to think about the comfort of my posterior for the entire 1100 miles to Seattle. That, in and of itself is one of the most important reasons I felt so good on this ride, the entire time.

I'd like to give some impression of how the ergo cutout helped, but I've never ridden a leather saddle before, so I really don't have a good basis for comparison. It says enough however, that I was very comfortable, and had no, um, ergonomic complaints.

One other plus would be, I guess, cargo room. There is so much rail space that you could strap on a dishwasher for a saddle bag. My huge Carradice isn't going to look so huge anymore.

Oh, right, style. Yes, this is a very stylish perch. Maybe not so much on a top of the line carbon race bike, but if you bought one of those, your sense of high-style runs in direct proportion with how many garish, over-informative decals crowd up all the tubes. If you've got the kind of money it takes to buy that 6lb rolling billboard, may I suggest that you buy a dozen An-Atomicas and give them away to your friends who have real bikes. It'd be kind of like a cycling style pollution abatement version of the carbon cap and trade solution.

Here is a picture of my bike with the An-Atomica saddle.

And here's what it looked like before I put on the An-Atomica.

There are downsides to everything. For this saddle they are but two, both dealing with the nose of the saddle, and both very livable considering all the positives. Getting down in a TT position, more forward and on the nose of the saddle is not very comfortable, at least for me, given that the nose is pretty stiff and solid. Then again, if you expect to be doing a time trial, you wouldn't be on this saddle anyway, so no worry. The second is that I kept getting my shorts stuck on the nose of the saddle when sitting back down. Granted, this is mostly due to my other saddles having a more sloping nose. Once I got a awareness of the shape of this one into muscle memory, it was an infrequent problem at best.

Somehow, at the end of the 2007 Paris-Brest-Paris, I ended up with one of Tom's cool 2007 PBP Selle An-Atomica pins. I kept it because it is cool, but I always felt a bit of a poser, or poseur if you will, since I didn't actually have one on that ride, though now I wish I had. Well, now I do, so I'm only a partial poser. I'll have to do PBP 2011 on the An-Atomica to make up for that.

Thanks for reading. Now go but one of these saddles dammit!