Gear Review: Counterpoint to 'A More Comfortable Race-ISM?'

author : marmadaddy
comments : 0

Introduction

Blackwell Research is a cutting edge innovator specializing in all things faster, lighter, and more comfortable. By-and-large, the company is successful, making and distributing some of the lightest and fastest products in the industry.

The Problem

It’s personal, it’s hard to talk about, and it’s one part of cycling that some men find more frightening than the idea of a crash at 20 mph: male numbness. It’s caused by sitting on a bicycle seat and having the pressure put not on your sit bones, but on the pudendal nerve (editor’s note: careful if you click that link. It has some technical terminology and anatomical diagrams for your, um, soft bits). Most new male cyclists can’t predict the problem is going to happen with a specific saddle because, being new, they don’t know what a good fit on a saddle is supposed to feel like. This was the case with me when I upgraded from a hybrid to a road bike.

After a while on my first longish ride, I noticed that I was getting numb. It’s scary. “Will feeling return?” is the first thing that comes to mind. The second thing is, “This bike cost us the price of a really nice vacation. How am I going to explain this to my wife?” Fortunately, feeling does return a bit after getting off the bike, but there’s some evidence that this damage can be cumulative.

The Solution
 

If the problem is pressure on a nerve, just create a saddle that gets the pressure off. Simple, right? Maybe, but this is cycling we’re talking about. In some ways this sport is more bound to traditional styles than a civil war re-enactment club, and minor variations to traditional styles don’t do the job. Enter the visionary folks at Blackwell Research. With a preliminary design by Steve Toll, they threw convention out the window and started working around function before even thinking about form. The result was the Adamo, the answer to my problem.

The Product

ISM Adamo Racing Saddle

 

The Maker

Blackwell Research
blackwellresearch.com

The Price

$149.00

The Rating

     (4.2/5)

The Skinny

Writebrained told me of his experience with the ISM Adamo and I immediately knew I had to try it. I’d been getting numb on my bike and was looking for a remedy. I decided to give this saddle a try and I’m glad I did. If you regularly experience male numbness when riding, this could be answer to your prayers.

The Review

“It’s ugly” was the first thing that went through my head when I saw it. And if you’re used to the sleek, greyhound inspired traditional seats, yes it’s ugly to look at. It’s stubby and forked and unusual.

I mounted it on my bike according to the directions (unlike some people I know), sat down on it, and immediately knew I had found my saddle. Not just a good saddle, not just one that I could use, but MY saddle. My backside made contact and my weight was resting on two points that it’d never been on before while on a bicycle: my sit bones. There was no pressure anywhere else. For once, I knew what sitting on a road bike was supposed to feel like.

I took it out for a short spin and it was great. My original impressions were confirmed. No numbness and, as a bonus, pure comfort. My first long rides with this saddle were occasions for joy.

There is a bit of a trade-off, which is handling. Due to the shortened nose of the saddle, the cyclist has less surface area to make contact with and may have to slightly modify their cornering and steering technique. I was surprised to find out how much I used my thighs to control the bike, particularly when in the aerobars. It wasn’t a huge adjustment, but I won’t be riding no-hands on a bike with this saddle.

If you’re going numb when riding, it is not, repeat, not a normal condition. What’s more, you don’t have to choose between cycling and numbness. The answer may be a new saddle, and that saddle may be the ISM Adamo. Then again, it may not. I loaned mine to a friend who wasn’t able to get comfortable with it.

I agree with Writebrained that $149.00 for a saddle is a lot of money, but some things are beyond price. Being able to ride with comfort and without worry that you’re doing permanent damage to your sex life is one of those things.

 

 

Blackwell Research
ISM Adamo Racing Saddle


Category

Score

Notes

Value

 

Expensive. And worth it.

Appearance

 

Irrelevant. It works.

Construction

 

Solid.

Ride

 

Comfortable, but some control is sacrificed

Customer Service

 

Solid

Overall  If you regularly experience male numbness when riding, this could be answer to your prayers.

Technical Data

  • Padded with Gel inserts

  • 280 grams

  • Titanium Rails

  • 130 mm at widest point

  • Available in four colors (Yellow, Blue, Red, Dark Gray)



A Note on the Author: Mike Mullane (aka. marmadaddy) is incredibly slow at half Iron distance triathlons and marginally less slow at short distance races. He generally tries to avoid publicly disagreeing with state troopers, but in this instance his appreciation for the product over-rode his better judgment. He enjoys his family, doughnuts, and pretending he can swim.  He is the Customer Service rep at BeginnerTriathlete.com.

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date: October 1, 2006

Author


marmadaddy

In order of importance: my wife and kids, my own health and well-being, being of use to triathletes via this website, playing music (bass guitar mostly).

Author

avatarmarmadaddy

In order of importance: my wife and kids, my own health and well-being, being of use to triathletes via this website, playing music (bass guitar mostly).

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