If there is something that is sure to ruin a relationship, it’s pain or discomfort every time you jump aboard your beloved. And so it was with me recently, when even an hour on the trails started to result in an unpleasant feeling in my nether regions. As I have gotten older, my riding position has become more upright to relieve pressure from my back. I’m only talking millimetres of movement each year, but it seemed that I had finally reached the tipping point where that pressure was manifesting somewhere else. I tried and retried options from the seemingly bottomless bin of old, and previously comfortable, saddles in my shed without success. It was time to spend some money.
It was timely then to read the article on Chainslap in September about the WTB Saddle Fit System. I had never been ‘fitted’ to a saddle in 29 years of mountain biking, and I had always assumed those ‘systems’ were bollocks. But my privates needed some major relief, so my bike and I headed to our LBS (On Yer Bike in Wellington) to give it a go.
And how simple it was! A triangular plastic shell topped with pressure-sensitive film slips easily over your existing saddle, so you are tested in your actual riding position. Then all you do is sit down, stand up and measure the results. The pressure sensitive film shows where your sit bones are contacting the saddle when you are riding, and most importantly, how far apart they are at that point. In my case, the results combined with my preference for a semi-curved shape combined to indicate that a 135mm-wide Volt saddle should be my starting point for real-world testing, with a 142 Volt as my next option. Another pleasing part of this WTB system is a wide array of test saddles, meaning that you can be sure before you buy.So I hit the trails, and within minutes I had forgotten that I was testing a saddle. I rode for 90 minutes without pain, and no pain developed post-ride either. This was good! So good, in fact, that I tried it again the next evening, with the same result. The pleasing shape meant that my sit bones took all the pressure (which is what they are for, after all), while the cut-out eliminated discomfort from my problem region. Note that the latest version of the Volt has upholstery covering the cut-out. But flip the saddle over and you can see that the hard shell is still cut away in the vital area.
To be sure, I then tried the 142mm-wide Volt, and the change in width was immediately noticeable. I persevered for an hour, but then returned to the LBS and borrowed the 135 Volt one last time.Just for giggles, I tried it on my cyclocross bike, for a four-hour ride over tarmac, steep gravel climbs, and Grade 2 and 3 MTB trails. This was a revelation, with no pain or discomfort at all. As you have probably guessed by now, I like the WTB Saddle Fit System and the result that it gave me. I have now ordered two 135mm Volt saddles – one for MTB and one for CX.