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It’s late in the season and we’ve likely seen all the new tech we’re going to see until after Interbike. But the 2018 Colorado Classic still managed to reveal a growing trend: truncated (or snub-nose) saddles. A growing number of pro riders are ditching more traditional saddle shapes for a shorter, wider platform. The question is, what’s the benefit?
EF Education First-Drapac’s Joe Dombrowski, who wore the orange most aggressive rider jersey before stage 4 of the 2018 Colorado Classic in Denver, was riding a Prologo Dimension Nack saddle on his Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod. This shortened saddle fits neatly into the growing category with a shape similar to Pro’s Stealth saddle and Specialized’s Power saddle.
“Last year I was on a longer saddle, but I don’t know that you actually spend that much time on the nose of the saddle,” Dombrowski said. “My setback went further back, but only because the nose is shorter. It’s kind of taken off because people don’t actually sit there on the nose.”
So it’s an easy argument to make that manufacturers are simply slicing off the part of the saddle that riders use the least. 303 Project’s Maxx Chance agrees with Dombrowski that the forward tip of the saddle isn’t exactly a useful platform, and can actually pose a problem when you’re trying to get in as aggressive of a position as possible.
“When you’re trying to go hard on longer saddles, you’re often fighting the tip of the saddle,” Chance said. “But that’s you trying to get off the saddle to lean more. These [short saddles] allow you to lean without noticing. It’s comfortable while you’re low and aggressive.”
It’s important to note that the shortened length isn’t the only feature that sets these saddles apart. Generally, the nose of the saddle is wider than traditional saddles, providing another platform for sitting when the rider wants to scoot forward to add power on climbs. The overall short length of the saddle encourages a more forward sitting position without placing undue pressure on sensitive tissues.
UnitedHealthcare’s Travis McCabe won stage 4 of the 2018 Colorado Classic on an Orbea Orca Aero outfitted with a Prologo Dimension Nack saddle.
“A lot of people are going more toward that TT saddle because we can get our sit bones right here [toward the back of the saddle], and once we’re in that position, we don’t move, “McCabe said. “With longer saddles, there’s more pressure on the nose, and we find that we don’t need [that position]. So the shorter one is comfortable, I don’t have any back pain with it, I don’t have any down-under issues.”
Looking at many of these snub-nose saddles from the side reveals other subtle surprises: wide cut-outs and a mostly flat profile. The flat shape allows the rider to move around the wide, short length more smoothly to find the best position. Yet the riders we spoke to for this article noted quite the opposite. They all felt more planted on the seat and moved around less than they would on a longer, curved-top saddle. This proved advantageous, according to the riders, because it encouraged stability and better weight distribution.
“I move a little bit forward coming up into climbs,” McCabe said. “I’ll slide up to get more leverage in the quads, but I’m trying to spend more time with my sit bones firmly planted on the saddle further back. When you’re sitting back a little further and have your sit bones on the saddle, that’s where your weight is. As long as you have a strong core, your weight is distributed evenly throughout the whole bike, you don’t have as much weight on your handlebars. You’re putting more weight on your skeletal system rather than your musculature.”
Of course, snub-nose saddles aren’t the only non-traditional seating option. Rally Cycling’s Abby Mickey runs a Selle SMP Dynamic saddle, which has a more traditional length, but the nose turns downward. In fact, in profile, the saddle top has an S-shape that also lilts upward at the rear. And the cutout extends the entire length of the saddle. It’s almost the complete opposite of a snub-nose saddle, which raises the obvious issue: Different body shapes call for different saddle shapes.
“I really like the divot in it because it angles my hips how they should be to get full power out of my pedal stroke,” Mickey said. “Once I’ve found the right place on the saddle, the curve of the saddle means that I can’t move around. It cradles everything quite nicely. I found this one two years ago and haven’t used anything since.”
Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman also runs a non-traditional setup that takes the snub-nose concept to an entirely different level: He opted for an ISM Adamo TT saddle with a split nose, even during the road race stages, at the Colorado Classic. His reasoning was similar to those riders using truncated saddles, which isn’t surprising given the Adamo’s similar length and shape. “It’s more comfortable because of the shape of it,” he said before the start of stage 4. “I’m able to ride a lower position and not have that soft tissue pressure. With how short the saddle is, I don’t move back and forth a lot. You’re able to roll forward and still have a lot of comfort and power.”
The rise of the shortened saddle essentially addresses perhaps the longest-standing complaint among riders everywhere: discomfort. By eliminating parts of the saddle that are problematic when searching for a power position, and refining other parts of the saddle that provide sit bone support in the positions riders are likely to spend the most time in, the truncated saddle builds on the comfort concept that began with cutouts only a few years ago.