Selle AnAtomica: My Impressions
[Edited to add: This review is of the older generation Selle Anatomica Titanico; the review of the current model can be found here.]
Some time ago I bought a red Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle, initially to go with a vintage bicycle I had at the time. But when I was loaned a Seven roadbike earlier this summer, the Selle Anatomica migrated onto it instead: It promised to be more comfortable than the bike's native racing saddle and was a perfect match for its red decals. This is how I had the saddle set up on the bike, and I put about 700 miles on it.
Founded in 2007 by the now deceased avid cyclist Tom Milton, Selle Anatomica is a small American manufacturer of leather saddles. The company is now run by the founder's sister, Meredith Milton Evans. Notably different from the other leather saddles on the market, Selle Anatomica offers several potentially attractive selling points. One is the long "anatomic" cut-out, which they claim allows the two sides of the saddle to move independently, thus relieving pressure on soft tissue. The other is the "watershed leather," which refers to the saddle's treatment with a waterproof top layer. The saddles are available in a variety of colours, and there are separate versions rated for heavier and lighter riders. You can read more about the design and specs here.
I purchased my saddle in Spring 2011 and since then a couple of changes have been made that I find somewhat confusing but will try to summarise. Selle Anatomica now advertises being made with cro-moly rails, so I am not sure what the rails on my saddle are made of. They also changed the weight criteria, so that what were formerly called the "Clydesdale" saddles and recommended for persons weighting over 180 lb have now become their regular saddles and are recommended for persons over 140 lb. If I understand these changes correctly, then what is now called the "Titanico" model is a slightly different product from the saddle I own, and the version I own is more comparable to what is now called the "Titanico Legacy." However, based on my conversations with the manufacturer I am not entirely certain of this, and I hope that she might clarify in the comments.
My impressions of the Selle Anatomica underwent several stages. Initially, the saddle felt so comfortable that I could hardly believe it. The tension of the leather was just right, there was no pressure anywhere, and the cut-out slot worked as advertised. The leather was softer, more pliable and more "hammock-like" than other leather saddles I'd tried and I could feel it moving with me, as opposed to my body moving against it. There was no chafing or soreness what so ever, and there was no breaking in period. It was almost too good to be true.
We assumed that tensioning the saddle would also solve the pinching problem, but the occasional pinching persisted. We tried bending the leather inward in the part of the slot where it pinched, but that did not help. After some investigation, it turned out that a few others reported this same problem with Selle Anatomica saddles, and the recommended solution was to use a knife to enlarge the slot in the spot where it pinched. Just as we were debating whether to do this, the pinching suddenly stopped on its own around mile 400. I kept waiting for it to return, knife at the ready, but it did not. With no explanation, the saddle suddenly felt as good again as on the day I got it. For the remaining 300 miles I rode on the saddle, there has been a gradual and slight loss of tension, but no further problems.
Overall, my impression of Selle Anatomica is a positive, but somewhat frustrated one. If the tension remains as it should and the slot does not pinch, it is the most comfortable saddle I have ridden on. If the watershed layer remains intact, it is the most maintenance-free leather saddle I have experienced. However, neither of these factors has been stable for me, and so I would describe the saddle as high maintenance and rather unpredictable. With its price on par with mid-range Brooks and less than Berthoud, personally I would buy Selle Anatomica again and would be willing to fuss with it just to achieve the level of comfort I know it is capable of giving me. But be aware that this is an unusual saddle, and that user experiences tend to be varied - even more so than with the other leather saddle manufacturers. I hope that Selle Anatomica remains in business and continues to streamline its product. With its unique design, it is a welcome alternative to the other saddles currently on the market.