Thursday, November 21, 2013

Selle Anatomica Watershed Leather Saddle

Introducing the Selle Anatomica saddle! As there is an end of year sale for all Selle Anatomica (SA) saddles, it is now available at a good price of USD 99. After getting some feedback from other riders using this saddle, the positive reviews persuaded me to give it a go, and get one to try out.

The SA saddle comes in 2 distinct types of leather, the tougher and harder TruLeather, and the soft Watershed leather which does not need to be broken in. After hearing many painful stories of riders attempting to break in their Brooks saddle, this soft leather saddle seems to be friendlier for the butt.

There are also 3 types of Titanico saddle; The regular Titanico saddle rated for riders up to 160 pounds (73 kg), the tougher Titanico X saddle for riders between 160-250 pounds (73-114 kg) and the heavyweight type, NSX for riders above 250 pounds (114 kg). For me, it seems that the Titanico saddle will be the most suitable.

As referenced from the Selle Anatomica website. Different types of saddles for different weight and riding styles.

All black saddle with the large cutout in the middle

Regular Titanico saddle in Watershed leather

The first thing that struck me when I took the saddle out of the box was the weight! It is so heavy, and I was not expecting that. I immediately put it on the weighing scale to see how heavy it is...

At 479 grams, it is more than twice as heavy as the previous Bontrager Evoke RL saddle!

Oh well, since I have the saddle already, I might as well try it out. Instead of removing my current saddle from the seatpost and installing the new SA saddle, I decided to mount it on another seatpost instead. This will allow me to try it out first, without affecting the position of the current Bontrager saddle.

Before that, let us take a closer look at the saddle, and how to set up the saddle for optimum comfort.

One of the few saddles that comes with a manual...

The leather tension is adjustable, which is good for controlling the firmness of the saddle.

The underside of the saddle, with the heavy steel rails.

Tension adjustment knob, for adjusting the tension of the leather. 

The rough and raw edges of the leather. Potential problem if it cuts into the thigh while pedaling... 

As mounted on the Dahon Boardwalk!

Top down view of the saddle. Look how wide it is!

Started with the saddle nose slightly below level, as I found that the area above the adjustment bolt is too hard and presses on the soft bits...

Another picture showing the rough edges of the leather, which is at the area where it will press into the hamstrings.

Adjusting the tension bolt to increase the tension of the leather, as it is found to be quite slack.

Side by side comparison of the SA saddle and the Bontrager saddle. See how much wider it is, especially at the curved area under the thigh.

The cutout is a nice touch, relieving pressure in the centre, but the width seems to be too wide.

The best way to adjust the saddle properly is to go for test rides, with the necessary tools to make adjustments along the way. There are 2 tricky adjustments to make, which are mainly the tilt, and the fore-aft setting of the saddle.

For me, the tilt of the saddle is something which I cannot seem to get right. Tilting it downwards slightly relieves the pressure at the front, but I find myself sliding forward. Tilting it upwards is slightly more comfortable for the butt, as I will not slide forward. However, the hard tip of the saddle makes it really uncomfortable when I lean forward to grip the drop bar road shifters.

I have also adjusted the fore-aft setting, trying different permutations along with the tilt adjustments. The tension of the leather was also increased to prevent myself sinking too deep into the saddle. As some people have said, you sit "in" a leather saddle, as compared to sitting "on" a regular saddle.

However, there seems to be no sweet spot where the saddle is completely comfortable. Still, this is not the biggest issue that I have.

The biggest issue with this saddle is that it is too wide, at the curved area under the hamstrings. As the leather is wider than normal at that area, and the leather edges are not nicely rounded, this means that with every pedal stroke, the leather edge tends to cut into the hamstring.

I have tested this saddle for around 30 km, with various adjustments done. The tilt and fore-aft setting of the saddle is still manageable, and I can get a setting where the discomfort is minimised. However, no matter how I adjust the leather tension or try out different saddle positions, the leather-cutting-into-hamstring issue just cannot be eliminated.

This is probably a problem for those with bigger thighs/hamstrings or narrower hips. If only the saddle is made such that the side flaps are not so wide, it would be much better.

All I can say is that for bike saddles, please try before buying, as everyone's anatomy is very different. What may feel like a sofa to your friend might feel like a coconut shell to you, or vice versa. I am wondering if the harder Titanico X saddle might feel better instead, as the rider does not sink into the saddle so much.


  1. I've got 3. Before that must have tried at least 10 others. I find that these saddles conform best to my anatomy over time

  2. I have 2 Titanico X on my road bikes. They are the most comfortable saddles I have ever used. I'm 6ft2in and 195 lbs. I have done the Davis double century with it and had no pain.