Choosing a new bike or frame is a piece of cake compared to picking out a new saddle.* Sometimes it can take several hours in a new seat before you know it will be comfortable. Besides, shopping for a new saddle is not nearly as exciting as researching frames, test riding new bikes, and finally buying that new piece of carbon art (or whatever frame material floats your boat), and admiring it for weeks on end. Shopping for a seat is usually just one of those necessary evils.
I had to find a new seat couple of years ago, as the model I’d been using had been discontinued for some time and had simply started to wear out. What a pain in the ass (no pun intended) it was finding a suitable replacement. I must have purchased and exchanged at least 10 saddles before finally finding “the one.” It certainly would have saved a bunch of time and frustration if I could have picked out a dozen different seats, brought them all home at one time, and tested each one without having to run back and forth to the bike shops.
Well, there is now just such a service called the Saddle Demo Program offered by online retailer Competitive Cyclist. For $75, which includes the round trip shipping costs, they will send you eleven models made by three different companies - Fi’Zi:k, Selle Italia, and Selle San Marco. You get one week to try them out, and should you purchase one of the tested seats within 30 days, they will credit back $35 of the demo cost.
I can’t think of a better way to shop for your next saddle, although it would be nice if Competitive Cyclist gave you two weeks, instead of just one, to find your perfect perch.
Here is the link with the model selections: Demo Gallery
And here is the one describing the program details: About the Demo Program
Also worth noting is their Demo Program for bikes (BMC, Cervelo, Colnago, Pinarello, and Ridley) and wheels (Mavic, Zipp, and a couple Power Tap options).
*On a proper road bike there really is no such thing as a “seat;” they are called saddles. A recumbent bike has a seat, and so does the Schwinn pictured above (from the genus banana). Nonetheless, I use the terms interchangeably to avoid redundancy.
Photo credit: Wikipedia