Reviewing a saddle is a difficult task, since it really comes down to personal preference. Everyone has a different physiology, fit, and riding style, all of which play an important role in determining which saddle will work best for you. Given all of that, I still think that it might be useful to share my recent saddle shopping experiences (not like anybody reads this stuff anyway, right?)
Early in my cycling career, I had some issues with numbness. My first “real” bike came with a narrow, flexy saddle that gave me lots of discomfort. For a while, I just thought that it was just the way cycling works and that my body would eventually get used to it. When that didn't happen I started doing some reading.
After some research, I sort of ended up on the extreme end of saddle discomfort solutions: ISM. A local shop had a demo program for ISM saddles and I gave it a try. I ended up purchasing a Racing model. It was quite firm, relative to what I was used to, but the support and shape resolved my numbness.
That saddle served me well for over three years when I started thinking about making a change. I am constantly tinkering with my fit and position so I was looking for something new. ISM had released a new ‘road inspired’ model, in contrast to my more ‘tri’ orientated model that looked interesting. By now, I was riding road almost exclusively, so I was curious to see the differences (obviously, these are just labels. If you have a saddle that works for you, then ride it, be it a mountain, road, or tri saddle)
The Attack received much praise so I went into riding it with high hopes. Many people declared ti to be the best ISM saddle shape yet. Unfortunately I didn't have the same experience.
Initially, I didn't think that the Attack was that it wasn't a whole lot different than the Racing that I was used to. While it is longer, to allow for moving around on the saddle, I discovered that I don't really move around all that much anyway. In addition, after a few longer rides on the Attack, I found the wider waist to rub on my inner thighs (isn't that a sad sentence to have to write, grin). To top it all off, it is priced close to $300 locally. I didn't like the prospect of spending more for a worse experience.
Still searching, I wanted to give a “traditional” shaped saddle another shot. This opens up a huge range of possibilities. It seems that almost all of the major saddle manufacturers have some sort of fitting system or metric to help you choose which saddle is right for you. Most parameters revolve around: flexibility, sit bones, and riding style, which then put you into a specific category of saddle.
To begin, I measured my sit bone width (A quick google search should bring up how to do this at home. All you need is some cardboard and a pencil). Next came assessing my flexibility and riding style. An important part of this assessment, if you are doing it yourself, is being honest with yourself and your aspirations. I try to do a lot of stretching on my hips and lower back, so I have decent flexibility for someone my size, but at the same time I am far a yoga master. So I felt that a model that is in the middle of the range in terms of a flat or rounded shape would be best.
Given my previous numbness issues, I felt that having a cutout was important. At 205 pounds, there is more weight per sq. inch of saddle than many riders on the road. In terms of riding style, I tend to find one position and stay there, (which may a habit learned from my time on the Racing, as there wasn’t much saddle to move around on). This includes climbs where I tend to sit and spin. All of these characteristics point towards a saddle with a bit of a curved shape or upturned tail, rather than flat.
I have always admired the classic style of the Selle Italia saddles, so I was interested in something from them. Going through their selection process didn't really select a saddle as much as narrow the choices. Ultimately, it was the SLR Superflow that caught my eye. It definitely had the cut-out thing covered (grin).
Fizik makes some of the most popular saddles out there. My experience test riding bikes tells me that the Arione in one of my least favorite saddles. Which makes sense, given that it is flat and narrow. Alternatively, I have had good experience with comfort on a Aliante, but it was almost too soft. Would the Antares provide me with the happy medium?
Finally, I looked at Prologo. I admittedly had very little experience riding their saddles, but they appeared to offer a great product at a decent price. This is especially true when cross shopping with Fizik. The model selection process was pretty straight forward, with little overlap (something I found a little frustrating with the Selle Italia process). The Nago Evo Pas checked all of my boxes, plus it was the cheapest of the bunch. What more do you need? Oh yeah, I like how it looks too!
After a few thousand kilometers on this saddle, I am very happy with my purchase. It is a traditionally shaped saddle with modern touches and a great price. I have had no issues with numbness. It may be on the firm side for some people, but it is spot on for my needs. Perhaps the SLR or Antares would have been just as good (or better!) but I am not yet ready to find out. Maybe, in a couple of years, I will feel the need to go searching for a new saddle yet again.