When it comes to bike gear, I am a magpie. I love trying new stuff, and I have a garage full of junk to prove it. Always on the quest to make my bike lighter, faster, stronger and more comfortable — that’s not too much to ask, is it? — I have swapped out handlebars, seatposts, cranks, forks, wheels, tires, pedals shoes, and grips…all pretty much on a whim.
But, in the past 11 years, there is one thing I have not changed. One thing I have had on every single bike I own, whether it be geared, singlespeed, or fixed. Whether it be for road, track or mountain.
I have ridden a Selle Italia Flite Genuine Gel ever since I discovered it. This is the saddle that, more than a decade ago, I found I could sit on for more than ten hours without getting uncomfortable. I could sit on it for twenty hours without being miserable (Or, more truthfully, my butt wouldn’t be miserable — certainly other parts of me will be miserable after I’ve been on a bike for twenty hours).
You should not, however, misinterpret the above paragraph as a recommendation. While this saddle fits me just perfectly, it may not fit you at all.
Saddles are the one thing most experienced (i.e., know-it-all) cyclists clam up about when asked what to buy. We know what works for us, but also know that the way we found out was strictly through trial and error.
I think other long-time cyclists will agree with me: once you’ve found your saddle, you stick with it. Forever. Hey, it’s your main contact point with your bike; you don’t go getting all capricious about something like that.
Except I just did.
The New Thing
I don’t know why, but a couple weeks ago I bought a new saddle for my mountain bike. The Selle Italia SLR. Behold:
I don’t know why I did it. No, that’s not true. I know why: weight. Specifically, this new saddle weighs three ounces less than my old saddle.
And also, I love how shockingly tiny-looking the thing is. Scroll up and look at my old saddle and you’ll see what I mean.
Why I Waited to Announce I’m Riding a New Saddle
I actually bought an SLR for the Weapon of Choice (my geared Fisher Paragon 29er, which I’ll be riding at Leadville next month) as part of a desperate bid toward making my bike as light as possible.
Numerically, at least, I’ve succeeded: The Weapon of Choice now weighs 21.2 pounds. There’s not much else I could do to make the bike lighter without setting myself up for a serious reliability problem (i.e., a busticated bicycle). I will show it off once I’ve cleaned it up a bit (i.e., probably never).
But I actually felt embarrassed about buying a new saddle. Genuinely ashamed, like I had made a serious rookie mistake by switching saddles when I have a proven track record — eleven years, for crying out loud! — with the Flite.
So I decided not to say anything until I had ridden it a bit.
You know what? I made a good call. The SLR fits me great. Maybe it’s because it’s from the same company and Selle Italia always designs for the same sitbones. I dunno. But I’ve been comfortable enough riding this saddle on my (fully rigid) mountain bike that I went ahead and got one for my road bike, too (which means, yes, that my road bike now weighs 15.0 pounds, when it’s clean — or 15.5 pounds right now).
So, yes: after 11 years, I have switched saddles. It’s a big move. A bold move.
I. Am. So. Brave.