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New saddle selected: ISM Breakaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


In yesterday’s blog I wrote about how my current main road bike saddle, which has more than 20,000 miles on it, is falling apart. Quite honestly my current saddle (the Max Flite Gel Flow) really should have been replaced long ago: it’s an excellent saddle, but it’s not a great match for my riding style and body type.

The Max Flite is not an inexpensive saddle, and so I reasoned it was “good enough”–saddle sores and aching ass be damned. Now that the saddle is quite literally coming apart and I have a metal rod pressing into my butt (the past few rides have been very uncomfortable, to put it mildly), I can no longer put off selecting a new saddle.

Over the past year I’ve researched quite a few saddles, and there’s certainly no shortage of different brands, styles, sizes and designs. It can be a little overwhelming, actually. Added to that, almost everyone I know has a favorite saddle, and those opinions are extremely varied. That makes sense, though, as ideal saddle fit and comfort will obviously vary considerably from one cyclist to the next.

I’ve always heard excellent things about ISM saddles, all of which sport a very non-traditional design. All ISM saddles are “…nose-less, and designed to remove pressure from soft tissue, ensuring maximum blood flow, no genital numbness, and a healthier, more enjoyable ride.”

Because ISM saddles are designed so differently from traditional saddles, they do require an adjustment period. From ISM’s web site:

There is a conditioning period with ISM seats. They remove pressure from soft tissue, but that pressure must go somewhere – to your bone structure. It’s not uncommon to feel tender for the first few rides on ISM. We recommend keeping your first several rides short (NOT 70-80-90 miles!).

We also offer many different padding options for those that simply wish to ride a softer seat. For example, if you’re on the Podium and it feels too firm, consider the Breakaway or Prologue – which are built on the same chassis as the Podium, but feature additional padding.

Finally, we occasionally hear that a rider has more pressure on one side than the other. This can be due to the issue covered below (question 10), or due to a rider not being accustomed to sitting square on the saddle. If you’re been riding on traditional seats for 30 years, you’ve likely become accustomed to sitting off to one side, due to the saddle’s convex shape. It may take some time to get used to sitting straight and square on ISM – stick with it! Once your body adapts, you’ll never go back.

In addition to the adjustment period, ISM saddles must be set up differently than traditional saddles–typically lower and further back.

As most of you know, I ride every day and spend about 13,000 miles per year in the saddle. With that much time on the bike, I obviously want to be as comfortable as possible. I’ve decided to go with ISM for my new saddle.

Almost everyone I know who has tried an ISM saddle loves it. I think proper setup and getting through the initial soreness are they keys to enjoying ISM saddles, so I don’t expect to get the full benefits of the saddle for a few weeks.

ISM has a large selection of saddles, and I was having trouble selecting the right one for me. I decided to give them a call, and I’m glad that I did.

I spoke with a very friendly gentleman named Dave. Dave took a lot of time with me, asking me about everything from my physical characteristics to my riding style and more. At the end of our fairly lengthy conversation, Dave recommended their Breakaway Saddle, which is part of their “Performance Long” line:

The ISM Breakaway saddle.

The ISM Breakaway saddle.


Dave said the Breakaway Saddle will provide excellent comfort for long stretches in the aero position (my preferred riding position), but will also give me the freedom to roll my hips back when climbing.

I’m very optimistic that this saddle will work well for me. If I can eliminate the saddle pain and occasional saddle sores that I’ve been dealing with for the past couple of years, I’m going to be one happy cyclist.

Expect more reports over the next week or two.

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