As part of his Do-It-All bike project, Josh has been looking at saddles, this time it’s the turn of the Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon FX.
The Bontrager Paradigm XXX saddle was a fantastic piece of kit, but there are so many choices out there, I’ve decided to discuss a couple of different companies who sit firmly in the premium saddle market.
While Bontrager and by extension Trek, are American through and through, Selle San Marco is equally as Italian. In an interesting turn of fate, though, these two companies actually share a bit of history. It’s not something I planned, but I’d say it just goes to show that the best in a small industry tend to know each other. Selle San Marco is not a new company, it’s been around since the 30s, and it brings to the table a rich history of quality bike saddles.
Looking at the history of Selle San Marco is like looking back at the history book of the greatest races in the world. They’ve been the saddle of too many champions to list here and they have continued to innovate all along the way. In the 90s, Sella San Marco was among the first to introduce carbon into cycling saddles and it was around this same time that Keith Bontrager lent his design expertise to help them build a better saddle for the mountain bike community.
All the history aside, though, Selle San Marco is still a world leader when it comes to cycling saddles. If you want the best, you can’t go wrong by looking at their product line.
When I looked at the Sella San Marco lineup, I had a good idea of what I wanted. But if you don’t know what you want, they have a couple of different tools to help you narrow it down. It’s a slightly different way of doing things than the Bontrager approach and I actually prefer it.
The first thing you do is take a look at the Dima selector on the Selle San Marco website. (They even have an app for it in the Google Play store.) By answering a series of questions with the Dima selector, you will be given a saddle suggestion. In talking with the company reps, they were careful to emphasize that this is just a suggestion.
I think it’s more to do with the fact that the answers you give are what determine the suggestion rather than anything that might be inaccurate about the website. With only five questions, each one has quite a bit of influence on the outcome. If you aren’t totally honest with yourself, then you’ll likely end up with something that isn’t perfect. No problem, though, the Dima selector is only the start.
Once you’ve had it make a suggestion, then you can walk into a Dima test centre. This is where I really appreciate the way Sella San Marco handles things. You put down a deposit of $25 and the test center will give you a sample saddle to ride with for a week. They aren’t the ultra high-end carbon models and they are black and white with an indication they are test saddles, but you’ll get to try it out. That $25 doesn’t disappear either, it can be applied towards whatever saddle you end up eventually purchasing.
I really like the approach because it speaks to my inherent anxiety about making these kinds of decisions. These kinds of things are exactly the kind of ridiculous decisions that keep me up at night. I’m always wondering if I made the right choice. Sure, the one I chose is comfortable, but maybe the other one would have been more comfortable. Instead, I can try out all the saddles, with no remorse about returning a perfectly good saddle and ultimately pick the one that I like the best.
In my case, I went with the Aspide Carbon FX in the wide size. It’s not what was suggested through the Dima selector, but I absolutely love it. It’s incredibly comfortable as well as being really well made. Compared to the Serfas saddle, I feel like it supports my sit bones better when I’m more upright and is lighter. Compared to the Bontrager, it’s cheaper and lighter.
As with the Bontrager saddle, there is some protection on the edges of the Aspide. Again, I’m not going to test if it works, but it’s nice that it’s there.
The bottom line is that if you have a Dima test center near you, there isn’t going to be a better solution for people, like me, who get a bit queasy at the thought of choosing a saddle without trying all the options. Selle San Marco, Bontrager and Serfas will all take care of you after the sale if you’ve made a wrong choice.
What’s unique about Sella San Marco, though, is the many options they have to choose from and the many ways they have to make sure you choose correctly. They also happen to be lighter and cheaper than the Bontrager with a rich cycling history instilled into every piece they make.
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