Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Selle AnAtomica Titanico, New Version

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
Last year I posted a review of the Selle AnAtomica Titanico saddle, just as the manufacturer was revamping their product. They have since sent me the new version of this saddle to try, and I am ready to post an update. I got the saddle in black, with copper rivets. I opted for the slotted version, to make it an equal comparison to the previous saddle I owned. 

Francesco Moser 2.0
I installed the new saddle on my roadbike and used it for about 450 miles over the winter. The longest single ride I've gone on over that time has been 55 miles. 

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
For detailed information about the manufacturer, please see my original review. But to briefly recap, Selle AnAtomica is an American producer of leather saddles, known for their classic look, their "anatomic" cut-outs, their "watershed" (waterproof) leather, and the generous adjustable range of their rails. The saddles are available in a number of colours and there are separate models for heavier and lighter riders. There is also a non-cutout version available, though the cutout is said to be a crucial feature - allowing the two sides of the saddle to move independently, relieving pressure on soft tissue.

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
All of these features have remained the same in the newer Selle AnAtomica models, and visually they look identical to the older ones. But there are two key differences. First, the rails are now made of cromoly steel (I take it they were made of hi-ten previously), which makes the saddles lighter.  Second, the standard Titanico model is now made of the heavier duty leather that was previously used on the Clydesdale model. This was no doubt in response to complaints of the saddles sagging prematurely.

The previous SA saddle I owned did sag over the first 200 miles, but after we tightened the tension it did not seem to be sagging again - or possibly it was, but very slowly. The newer version has shown very little, if any, sagging in the 450 miles I've ridden on it so far and has not required tension adjustment.

Testing a Selle Anatomica Titanico, New Version
In my review of the older model, I described the Selle Anatomica saddle as being the most comfortable saddle I've ridden, except when it wasn't. Most of the time the slotted design worked really well, with a wonderful hammocking effect. But once in a while, seemingly spontaneously, one of the sides of the cutout slot would decide to pinch my crotch and that did not feel good at all. The SA representative thought that the stiffer leather of the new model would resolve the issue, but the same thing happened this time around. Just as with the previous saddle, there was no break-in period and it felt perfect from the start, and I mean purrrrfect - no pressure on the sitbones, no pain, just pure comfort... until suddenly, in the midst of a 40 mile ride, the right side of the slot began to dig into my female tidbits in a most unwelcome manner. I'd try to adjust my position on the saddle this way and that, but to no avail. It would pinch pretty badly, until, just as suddenly as it started, the pinching would stop and the saddle would feel perfect again. To be fair, this has happened less frequently with the new saddle than with the older model, but it still happened.

I think Selle AnAtomica is onto something with their unique design, because I cannot stress how comfortable the saddles are when the mysterious slot-pinch is not happening. The waterproof feature is also quite handy - especially for someone like me who always forgets or loses saddle covers. All of that is very cool, and I am glad that they appear to have resolved the sagging issue with the new models. Maybe the slot cutout can be optimised or customised somehow, I don't know. As it stands, I cannot trust the saddle on super-long rides in case the cut-out starts pinching again. But it is also the only saddle I can trust to be comfortable out of the box, with no break-in period. Whether the version without the cut-out resolves the pinching problem without detracting from the saddle's overall comfort would require further experimentation. 

49 comments:

  1. One wonders if this design was adequately tested by women riders--that "slot pinch" should just never happen. That you experienced that pinch more than once means the cutout needs to be reshaped, pronto.

    The thing even looks like a cross between a bear trap and Chinese handcuffs . . .

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    1. Bear trap : ))

      I don't think it's so much about women, as about individual anatomy.

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  2. Unless they made the rails thinner cromoly rails should weigh the same as hi-ten. The rails are probably the same, but stronger.

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  3. I have the original style and have yet to feel the "pinch", sounds like no fun.

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    1. I think the bike you have it on is more or less upright, right? On an upright bike the positioning is not as leaned forward and should not be a problem.

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  4. I've been waiting for this review, as I will need to pick a long distance saddle for the custom road bike I am having built. I was hopeful about the selle anitomica, but now not so much. I might just transfer my broken in B17--not purrrfect, but we know each other well. What saddle will you be riding on your century out west?

    Mona

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  5. Can you estimate (or even weigh) how much lighter this version is?

    I got the previous version (with carbon steel rails) but with larger laminate (since I am heavier than 170lbs):
    http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2011/12/holey-saddle.html

    I wonder about the issue you noticed with two different Titanicos. This is really weird since the slot seems to be pretty wide. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance yet to ride on my Titanico long enough to tell if my saddle has the same issue.

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    1. No idea re the weight difference, sorry. The slot is only wide in the middle, but pretty narrow toward the rear. Though oddly I am not even sure of where exactly the pinching/digging sensation is coming from.

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    2. hi maybe try tightening the tension.... wil make it firmer and you wont be sagging into the seat that could be the problem...

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  6. I wonder if getting the Legacy instead of the Tictanio would help.
    I got the Tictanio a little a while ago but had to sell it as I could never feel comfortable on it -- I'm right at the weight cut-off between the Tictanio and Legacy.

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    1. The version I had last time is like what the legacy is now, so it seems to be unrelated.

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  7. I've had my SA for two years. My tension screw is almost fully tightened now. I found that the saddle sides flared a bit causing some discomfort to my inner thighs. I fixed the problem by punching two 1/8" holes about an inch apart on each side of the saddle in the embossed logo area, then zip tying between the holes to pull the sides in. Works great.

    I've had no issues with the "slot pinch" issue, but maybe that's because I'm a guy.

    I ride only leather saddles, mostly Brooks, but the SA is my choice for my very long ride bike.

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  8. Hope you weren't riding the Pesky Pincher on your long ride today!

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  9. I think the old ones (not the clydes version) are way too soft and will stretch even with a 100lb rider. I would avoid. The new (clydes?) one looks awesome though.

    I think Robert is being too harsh. Maybe it feels like a pinch, but my guess is that maybe it's skin pressing against the sharp side of the slot. There's not really enough leather to start cutting/widening, and at some point it will be counter-productive. I think the top edge of the opening needs to be chamfered instead, not necessarily (or at all) enlarged. I think that beveling the slot would also reduce the potential for pinching in case I am wrong and it's a pinch between two edges after all. Or--who knows--maybe they tried it and it doesn't work any better.

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  10. When the saddle is not pinching, how does the comfort compare to Brooks and Berthoud?

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    1. It is more comfortable than either. There is no break-in period and the width is pretty much perfect for me.

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  11. I have 27,500+ on my Brooks B-17 special. I never tightened it because I never needed to, and it still feels like it did after that first 1000 miles. And me with 200+ lbs. That is a good saddle.

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    1. Brooks saddles are great. Unless their rails break. I was close to ordering an SA as a replacement but too many people warned me of the sagging issue. Good to hear that at least for Velouria this doesn't appear to be a problem (yet?).

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  12. Funny....I've had issues with every saddle I've ever owned. Nothing seems exactly right, but I miss each previous saddle when I move on to the new one. So far, though, leather saddles have proven the best for everyday and long distance cycling.

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    1. That sounds like me. Still experimenting after 3 years.

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  13. After four years and about 8K miles on my Heron the Titanico Watershed has stretched out to the limit of the adjustment screw. The saddle had been very comfortable on long rides....but even with that I have decided to return to the Brooks Champion Special that was on the bike for the previous 6K miles. At 210 lbs I will probably do the same to another Selle AnAtomica.. Lets see....loose weight or go back to the Brooks.....I remember the Brooks being pretty comfy as well..

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  14. Whoah. I almost bought the previous model thinking, obviously wrongly, that the name "Titanico" meant the rails were titanium. Obviously it's up to the buyer to beware, but it's a bit of sly moniker I reckon. b

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    1. Agree with you there, at first I assumed all their saddles had ti rails.

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  15. After buying a few different styles of Brooks seats the Selle AnAtomica has won out. I needed the longer rails. I haven't had the pinching on the Clydesdale and now I am going to try a Titanico X. The Clydesdale was comfortable from the beginning. This seat is worth a try for those who can't get a Brooks seat set back enough.

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  16. I just got mine about a month ago and love it. I too experience the pinch, but I'd rather put up with that than the pain on my seat bones.
    What I noticed with mine is that my weight (I'm quite the Athena) pushes the two halves together and they touch, even after I'm off the saddle. Don't think there is much I can do about it.

    There is a huge discussion about this saddle at the Clyde and Athena forums at bikeforums if you're interested in hearing from the heavy folks :D

    I adore this saddle and I'd love to know if there is a European distributor. I ordered mine from America and had to pay another 50 in VAT and Customs on top of the shipping and regular price of the saddle. If I could purchase another in the EU, I certainly would!

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    1. The tension screw at the front of the saddle is designed to "open" the slot so it no longer touches or pinches. Leather, being a natural product, stretches a little and the tension bolt in the nose of the saddle will correct that stretch so the shape of the slot remains properly functional.

      Your dealer can order the saddle from USED, the distributor in the EU. You can check the Selle AnAtomica website (bottom right of the landing page) for contact information.

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    2. Cool Meredith, Thank you for the info about USED. :D

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  17. I am curious whether anyone has tried the no-slot version?

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  18. So why would they not do the following? Cut the saddle, with the strain-relief holes at the ends to prevent tearing. Then put some holes for lacing both in the edge of the cut slot, and in some of the traditional saddle edge, and then rather than cutting away leather to make the slot more open (exposing bitey edges), instead lace each of the edges down towards the traditional saddle edge. No more exposed edges, and happy parts.

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    1. The saddle is not mine; they want it back (or I can buy it). If I do buy it, I will proceed to disfigure it as necessary.

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    2. That's a neat idea. I wonder if over time two lips would form with fairly thin folded strips of leather.

      I wonder if it's possible to find out where the pinching occurs for each person.

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    3. Probably that would result in a saddle that flexes differently (and presumably less). If that's a good or bad thing would remain to be seen.

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  19. My Titanico is on its way and now I fear for my naughty bits. If I may stray off topic, I noticed your toe straps. I have spent the last several months trying to find a solution - toe cages, Candy2 and Shimano clipless pedals and finally Spank Spike platforms - that would highten my forward motion w/o causing the reawakening of plantars fasciitis in my left heel. How are you liking your road bike toe straps?

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  20. Francesco is looking Magnifico! Why would you want a different Road bike than this Gorgeous Italian steed?

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    1. It is wonderful with the exception that I have trouble cornering on it at high speeds. It also needs some components replaced (cassette and possibly shifters are worn now, and cranks are too long - crazy pedal strike), so it was a matter of deciding whether a full overhaul with new components was worth it given that handling issue. More details here.

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  21. The major flaw in this saddle is metal-on-metal contacts. The resulting squeaks make long rides a CIA-worthy torture. It's truly a sonic nightmare. The nylon gasket the company provides is not a fix. Gobs of lube and teflon tape also don't help. I've tried two new saddles and have been driven close to nuts by both with the squeaking. There is a design flaw here.

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    1. I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd chime in. This commenter is absolutely right, the metal is the problem with these saddles. They squeak and knock horribly, and the rails on mine are bending after two weeks (I'm 158 lbs). I fixed the squeak by inserting a small piece of rubber between the two layers of metal at the nose, but the knocking and bending persist.
      These saddles are comfy, but the noise!

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  22. I have about 7000 miles combined on an old first gen Titanico (which DID have titanium rails) and a second generation Titanico (this is not the newest model). Both saddles were ruses on the same bike, a 2011 Salsa Vaya, and were ridden for both long distance touring and endurance gravel racing. My longest ride on each was about 200 miles in one day. The first gen squeaked, stretched out too far too soon, and ultimately the titanium rails gave out to my 240+ pounds in a B-level maintenance road, the nose was bent to point straight towards the ground. I bent it back up and finished my ride, then had it replaced by my LBS with the newer model which I have adjusted once in 4000 miles, and no squeaks. It has been a dream to ride and I am actually going out today to buy a new one for my Fargo. These are great saddles, but it sounds like not for everyone.

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  23. I love the titanico. Wife does NOT like it.

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  24. I bought the Titanico five years ago. The leather did stretch, especially during the first 400 miles of use. I had read that it would stretch over time, and that I'd have to adjust the tension screw. The tension screw is now almost out as far as it will go, but I think I only adjusted it once all of last year. As far as comfort, I've found it to be very comfortable, especially when the tension screw is set to keep the leather very taut. I've had no issues with chafing, pinching or squeaking. I'd purchase another one, if I needed to replace the one I have, and I've actually considered purchasing a second one, just in case they stop making them. That's kind of crazy, but for twenty years, I've wished I had bought multiple pairs of a running shoe that fit better than any running shoe I've ever had. This seat reminds me of those shoes. When I ride 50+ mile rides, my feet hurt, my lower back hurts, and that spot between the shoulder blades hurts so much I can't hardly think. But, my seat never hurts. It might not be the perfect seat for everyone, but it is THE seat for me.

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  25. why do you say the cr-mo rails are lighter?

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  26. Way to late to this party, I found I got a pinch. So I got off the bike and leaned my hand, and then my full weight on the saddle. The two sides of the slot were flexing inwards together, adn then raising in the middle to form an uncomfortable peak, and at times, a pinch. Remedy was to use a sharp blade, trim the slot wider so that it wouldn't touch when fully weighter, and sand the edges smooth and round. No more issue. Maybe less waterproof now? Still comfy.

    I had squeak too, from the leather onto the metal nose piece, adding grease between the leather and metal nose piece with the 3 rivets fixed it for me.

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  27. I bought a Titanico X about 500 km ago. Took a few K to break in but was pretty comfortable from the start. I am a big rider, 6'4" and 300 lbs. Rails bent in half at 500km. Realize this is above the 250 lbs weight limit the manufacturer posts but was still disappointed as this was a great looking and riding saddle. Lots of comfort and performance. Sadly, I'll be switching to a beefier Brooks to handle my bulk.

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  28. Hmmm. Maybe Brooks should offer an "upgrade" of the Selle to their frame.

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  29. I've been swapping around a Titanico, a Titanico X, and a B17 on my road and commuter bikes for a couple years.

    I had the B17 on the commuter for abour 4 months and upgraded to SA. The Titanico X on the commuter actually took a little time to break in, because the thicker leather is pretty stiff, but it was pretty comfortable out of the box. After 4 months it was super comfortable, and after 6 months it felt like Lady Godiva would sit easy on it (I am not Lady Godiva, I'm 6-1, weigh 230 lbs).

    The older Titanico on the road bike was super comfortable right out of the box. I swapped in the B17 after a year just to see how comfortable it would be on the roadie once the B17 was broken in, and the B17 got pretty comfortble after a year, but does not measure up in comfort to the SA, which I am swapping back in. Step aside Brooks!

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  30. I was very interested in this saddle until I read about the dreaded lobster pinch! I'm a shorty - 5ft 2in at 120lbs. Was thinking of the Titanico but now I'm nervous! I have an urban century ride coming up in about 2 weeks - anyone have any super comfortable saddle suggestions for my Trek 1.5?

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  31. As a thin guy (i.e. limited natural padding), I'm one of those people that has endless troubles with uncomfortable saddles. Pretty much everything I tried hurt, from a Brooks I spend more than a year trying to break in, to a host of others. Until I found this one. At first it felt a little off to me, but once it broke it (much quicker than the Brooks) it's been amazing. Almost like floating. I've had one Selle Anatomica saddle stolen, lost another when the whole bike got taken, but I keep going back. Haven't experienced anything major with the pinch, but I have felt it on occasion. Still, so worth a pinch every now and then.

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  32. Hi, Velouria -
    Speaking of women's saddles - One that I ride on almost all of my bikes is the Selle SMP Trek (Trk). I ride both women's and men's versions and both work well. Ridiculously big cutout, but no pressure, no pinching, good cover, last a long, long time. There is one on 7 out of my 10 bikes. If you need a nice cutout saddle that won't break the bank, this is a good one to try.

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  33. I have the original Titanico on my touring bike and the NSX without the cutout and newer design on my mountain bike.
    I never had any squeaking or creaking noise from the saddle on touring bike but the NSX is pretty noisy. I heard about the nylon washer fix. Although I've had the older Titanico for almost ten years now the adjusting screw still has plenty of room for tension. I haven't had any issues at all with center pinching but had some chafing on inner thighs. Used sand paper to smooth edges of saddle and worked great. Good information here, thanks for sharing. Cheers!

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