We’ve all been there. The pain at the end of a long ride or trainer session. Not in your legs, but in your seat. Be honest, how many times have you heard your non cycling friends ask “how can you ride on such a small saddle?” You try to explain, but in the back of your mind you know… “You just gotta get use to it.”
We also all know the struggle of finding that perfect saddle. If you’ve found yours… Congrats! But you probably wouldn’t be reading this if that’s you. So I’m going to assume you are still looking for your perfect saddle.
I’m going to let you know right now, you can find that allusive perfect saddle, and I suggest you take a look at ISM.
ISM is the maker of the characteristic split nose saddle. In past years their lineup has been quite confusing to navigate. “Do I need the Racing saddle? Or the Time Trial?” The names were descriptive, but confusing if you liked the shape of one but wanted a bit more padding. They have since revamped their lineup into clear categories and model numbers. “PS 1.0” doesn’t sound as cool as “Time Trial,” but if I just want a little more padding in my saddle, I can easily figure out which saddle to get (PS 1.1 by the way).
Right now I’m riding the Time Trial mentioned above. I really like it and I want to share my thoughts with you guys and hopefully help you make a decision on where to start looking for the right saddle for you.
Better Blood Flow
This is the big selling point of the ISM saddles. They are built around the idea of supporting your “seat” in a way that doesn’t press on any blood vessels and keeps the pressure off your soft tissue. When I made the switch I noticed this was definitely the case.
The one point some people have made is that the two prongs can be a bit further apart than necessary for their anatomy and that causes chafing on the inner side of their thighs. The solution many people use is to simply zip-tie the points together so they aren’t as far apart. When I tried this I actually noticed that it began putting pressure on the soft tissue and… well… kinda defeats the purpose of the saddle. I would suggest checking one of their Performance Narrow models if that is a problem for you.
The other big selling point is that this saddle is a noseless design. This is great for triathletes and time trialists who spend a lot of time in the aero position. The shorter saddle allows you to rotate forward and not crush your abdomen so you can keep breathing. It also avoids any extra saddle length that would add to the numbness at the end of long rides.
Padding is another one of those personal choices.The Time Trial saddle I ride is obviously made for short intense efforts and therefore has a minimum amount of padding. I have managed 3 hour rides, but it definitely isn’t the best choice for a long course triathlete. I should probably switch to a different model with more padding, but… budgets…
Like I mentioned above, the Time Trial has been updated and is now called the PS 1.0 (Performance Short), so I would probably go with the PS 1.1 which is the same saddle with more padding. I would suggest any triathlete go for a version with extra padding since we don’t wear shorts with much to offer in that department.
The other major issue I have heard people have is with setup. I only experience a few minor points with this because I had a professional fit done right as I made the switch so I was fit to the saddle. The main thing to consider is that the ISM line is vastly different from traditional saddles, so don’t expect to just place it on a go. It usually has to be further back and lower than your traditional saddle.
I won’t go into too much detail because ISM has a whole page dedicated to setup. It includes pictures, text, videos, a FAQ section, and a downloadable PDF of instructions. I suggest you get the saddle installed, give it a few rides, and then go get a fitting. That will help you get use to the saddle before your fitting so that you know the fit is just right.
ISM makes great saddles. They have a vast lineup and you should be able to find your perfect fit here. However, I suggest not going out a buying one outright. Check out a demo first. Trisports has a great demo program where you can get a saddle sent you you to try for 2 weeks. They give you free shipping both ways, and if you buy a saddle from them within 30 days of returning your demo, they will credit the $50 you paid for the demo towards the saddle (up to $150, so that’s 3 demo’s worth). I would totally go this route. You can try a few and don’t feel like you are losing money on a saddle your don’t love. And you’ve already got a saddle you don’t love… so why hop from one un-loveable saddle to another?
Have you ridden any ISM saddles? Did you like them? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments or on twitter!