My Triathlon Bike Saddle Evolution


On the back half of the bike course on the 2012 Mont Tremblant Ironman.
On the second lap, I hit a personal cycling speed record of 92 kph.

A bike seat is a very personal choice. You spend a lot of time on one of the five contact points between you and your bike. If it isn’t working for you, there will be a lot of pain and discomfort during all those hours spent training and racing. Also, if you aren’t comfortable, you’ll lose efficiency and by inference speed which equals time on your bike split.

For the record, I’m riding a blue, black and white 2006 Cervelo P2C. It was bought new for a friend, but after just a few months she decided that it was too aggressive for her and I purchased the essentially brand new bike about two months before the 2006 Florida Ironman and rode it in my first Ironman distance race.

Over the years I’ve been riding tri bikes, I haven’t been completely happy with my saddles. So, I’ve been on the epic quest to find the seat that’s perfect for me. It’s an expensive quest and you can only judge success by having a happy butt after using a product for a significant number of hours and miles.

I’ve been hearing fellow Ironheads and other Triathletes rave about Adamo seats for the last few years.  I’ve also seen a growing number of them at various races (the 2014 Muskoka half Ironman specifically – I volunteered at bike check in).  To my eye, they aren’t pretty but the IM isn’t about pretty, it’s about using what works.

As a side note, Adamo had the largest number of aftermarket seats at the 2014 Ironman Championships Hawaii. Those kinds of numbers and personal endorsements speak loudly, so it was worth looking into. In other words, people are putting their money where their behinds are (rather than their mouths – that would be just all kinds of wrong).


The original Stella Italia seat that came with the bike.

Severe numbness of my wobbly parts and chaffing after completing my second IM put an end to this saddle. Note the surface abrasions on the nose from my thighs.


An aftermarket demo Stella Italia seat, narrower, with a perineum cut out.
Cost: $180 CA

It helped with the chafing but my naughty bits still got numb (not half as bad as the original saddle, but it was still an issue) and with so little padding, it was hard on my sit bones. I did three more IMs on this one and it was a big improvement over the original saddle but it was a bike-bum interface that I put up with rather than enjoyed. Due to a number of health issues, I couldn’t participate in any triathlon races of any distance, so I didn’t ride the bike for almost two years. Getting back in that saddle after the extended hiatus made me wonder how the heck I ever thought it was optimal. Yeah, after a ride of only 75 km, my neither regions were not happy at all.


The brand new Adamo Time Trial seat installed on my P2C. Cost: $250.00 CA

After a first ride, it’s not perfect, but it’s a noticeably better. It took a few adjustments during the ride to get even contact pressure across the seat, but I experienced no numbness or pain in the critical areas during the ride. There will be some adjustment to the different areas where the seat contacts my undercarriage, but it does feel like an improvement in aero position comfort. I’m not under any illusion that this is a “silver bullet”. This is something that only time and miles on the new saddle will tell if it works. I’ll have give it some time to break in both the saddle and my butt, but after only one ride 60 km ride I’m even thinking about swapping out the stock seat on my year old Cervelo S2 road bike.


A look at the seat angle relative to horizontal

I found that this was the most comfortable seat angle for me during today’s ride. On my old seat, the nose was only off horizontal by a few degrees. Note that the seat rail is just a little bit off horizontal and the part of the seat that you are in contact with is also just a little off level as well.  The raised back and sloped off nose of the seat give the impression that it’s tipped forward a lot, but in fact I think that according to the seat rail position, online documentation and reviews that I’ve got it just about right.  At least this trial ride seems to indicate that.

The manufacturer indicates that the seating position for the Adamo seats is different than your standard bike saddle design.  You sit more forward, on what would be the nose of the seat for a normal design. It does take a bit of getting used to.  It was about 30 minutes and a few adjustments with a couple of Allen wrenches before I found a comfortable position and it started to feel “normal”.

By Mark G. Collis
November 2, 2014