Gear Review: Selle Anatomica Saddle 18


“You got a Brooks?”

“Nope, it’s a Selle Anatomica.”

“Didn’t they buy Brooks?”

“Nope, Selle Italia bought Brooks.”

“Isn’t that the same company?”

“Nope.”

For a saddle that has a huge underground following, the Selle Anatomica is a very confusing brand when I first revealed it to my cycling friends. This would be my latest addition to the Salsa Vaya in an effort to constantly improve the comfort of the ride. What convinced me to buy it was a tour leader from Adventure Cycling had told me that this was the only saddle he put on all his bikes because there wasn’t any break-in time. Then when I came home from Oregon, another friend of mine, Errin Vasquez, was sporting it on his J. Bryant and swears by it. He also confessed that it was the only saddle that he outfits on all his bikes. That was all the social proof that I needed to justify pulling the trigger on this purchase. I ordered their popular “X” Series saddle on November 18th and received it on November 20th. Pretty fast service delivery!

Before we jump into the saddle review, I wanted to give a quick overview of what Selle Anatomica is all about as some of you may have never heard of them.

Tom Milton, Founder

Tom Milton, Founder (Image from Selle Anatomica Site)

History of the Saddle

The company was founded in 2007 by an engineer and cycling enthusiast Tom Milton, who was known to ride plenty of double centuries in his lifetime (that’s 200 miles in one ride). In fact, he was in the middle of his 52nd double century in Northern California called the Devil Mountain Double Century before he passed away in April 2010 during an uphill segment. Milton applied for a patent for his saddle in 2005 and was finally awarded the patent in 2008. Ever since then, his saddles have been very popular amongst all cyclists, and not just cycle tourists. It is one of the lighter leather saddles out there. Again, it was touted as the most comfortable leather saddle one could buy without needing a break-in period.

The big question now is, did it live up to all the hype?

With only 3 months and 533 miles spent on this saddle, it may be premature to make any strong claims, but this might be a good time to get my first impressions out for you.

On the Salsa Vaya

What I Like

First of all, the saddle looks fantastic! I picked the Mahogany color, which is a dark brown leather. It goes very well with my Brooks leather bar tape. Besides the “X” Series, they have the “T” Series for lighter riders and the NSX Series, which is a stiffer version of the saddle. I will be talking specifically about the “X” Series in this review. There are 8 different colors to fit your fancy. The leather is fastened down onto the rails using copper rivets and the “Selle Anatomica” badge is prominently displayed at the back of the seat. There is a cut in the center of the seat which helps with the independent flexibility of both the left and right side, so when you’re shifting on your seat, it is much more comfortable. The adjustment to tension the seat can be accessed at the nose of the seat using an Allen wrench.

There is only one word to describe the first time I sat on the “X” Series and that is – WOW! Yes, it is true! The Selle Anatomica was the most comfortable seat I had the pleasure of sitting on. From Day 1 to the end of the 533 miles, I never felt saddle sores. It was like sitting on a similar leather seat that was molded to your personal fit. The hype is true.

The fact that this thing is sourced and made in the US brings on a sense of pride, especially when the quality is very good. Just know that if you decide to buy this saddle, you are supporting our local economy (if that matters to you).

Selle Anatomica & Brooks

Left: Brooks B-17 . Right: Selle Anatomica X-Series.

The Snags

Unfortunately, there were a few things that posed a minor issue or discomfort. The saddle is known to lose it’s tension through prolonged usage or more stressful conditions like off-road riding. Both of which I have done. About 300 miles into usage, I started to feel the saddle sagging and the sides of the seat started to flare out. This in turn poked at my thighs more and made the ride awkward at times. In addition to that, the slit in the middle of the seat started to pinch at my bottom. Not good. These problems were easily remedied as I adjusted the tension again. No more flaring and no more pinching.

I have heard that many issues with this saddle has to do with the sagging. People who weigh over 215 lbs have returned the saddle because the rails of the seat started to bend even though it is rated for 250 lbs. Hopefully, Selle Anatomica resolves this issue soon. I personally will never have this problem as I weigh 100 lbs less than the maximum.

One other issue I’ve experienced is that the “Selle Anatomica” plate at the back of the seat was slightly bent after my bike accidentally fell down. I tried to bend it back into place, but that did not work very well, so on rare occasions, my shorts would get caught on this plate while riding. My concern is that this prolonged usage can separate the seams of my shorts. I have taken a pair of pliers to it and flattened the badge down. Unfortunately, that scratched the plate a fair bit.

Selle Anatomica Sticker

Should You Get One?

Even though I’ve only owned this saddle for a short time, I highly suggest that you pick one up for yourself. Of course, if you weigh over 215 lbs, I would check in with the company and make sure they’ve resolved the rail issues. The fact that it is so comfortable makes it a worthwhile purchase. Just remember to tension the seat every few months and be aware of the sagging.

Click to buy direct from Selle Anatomica.

The only thing I haven’t done with this saddle is ride it out in the rain. I have heard promising things about this as the saddle is waterproof to some extent. I also haven’t had to put leather treatment on it yet. I will most likely do that after I’ve gone through an extensive rain ride or two.

I will do another review after putting on a few thousands miles and let you know how this saddle fairs through normal wear and tear and extensive saddle time. For now, I am really happy with this purchase.

Response from Selle Anatomica (EDIT: April 5, 2016)

I had emailed Selle Anatomica after this article was published and they responded with the following points.

Love your article. You got most things right, but a couple things to point
out.

#1 – your saddle needs tensioning. The reason you were getting pinched is
the narrowest part of the rear slot should always have about 6-7mm or 1/4″
of opening. Those two sides of the slot should never touch AND you have a
bit too much hammock or sg.
#2 – don’t ride this saddle in the pouring rain. Although the top of your
saddles are watershed leather, the underside is not, and as we all know,
when riding, water comes up from the road to get the saddle wet, not down
from the sky. I’ll send you a bottle of waterproofing for you to apply
particularly to the raw edges and underside of your saddle. Send me your
current address.
#3 – our saddle is rated to 250lbs, but riders at that weight must be VERY
careful on the bumps. Because our rails are so long and afford so much
fore/aft adjustability, and because bigger riders tend to set the saddle way
back on a setback seatpost, the bigger riders are creating a situation where
there is significant weight behind the center of gravity. They hit the
saddle hard going over a bump, and the rails bend. We are exploring
hardening the rails for future iterations.
#4 – our return rate for premature leather stretch and bent rails is less
than .5% of sales, so although this is something people write about, it is
not a significant issue. We do replace rails and leather one time within a
12-month period under our warranty if either fails.
#5 – if you want to send yours back for a repair of the nameplate, we’ll be
happy to do that for you.

Thanks for the review. Much appreciated. If you’re ever in San Diego,
please stop by.

Carol Hosmer
Owner

Selle Anatomica Inc.
Proudly Made in USA

Talk about great customer service. I am certainly going to stop by when I am in the San Diego area to meet the folks behind this great saddle.


Selle Anatomica X-Series SaddleSelle Anatomica X-Series SaddleSelle Anatomica X-Series SaddleSelle Anatomica X-Series SaddleSelle Anatomica X-Series SaddleSelle Anatomica X-Series Saddle


About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.


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18 thoughts on “Gear Review: Selle Anatomica Saddle

  • Francine

    I’ve been interested in purchasing a SA for a while but not sure if I should go with the X Series or the T Series. I’m a female, 5’4, 109lbs, and I ride less than 50 miles per week, but I plan to start cycling longer distances/tours (50+ miles). I know the T Series is a softer saddle, which sounds really nice, and says it’s for people who weigh less than 150lbs (me), and ride less than 50miles per week (me currently). The X-Series is a harder saddle that is intended for touring. Any suggestions? 🙂

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      @Francine Because you’re so light I really think the T Series would be a good fit. If possible, see if you can try it out at a bike shop. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with the T or X. Of course, I haven’t had any experience with the T Series so take it with a grain of salt. Perhaps someone on here can chime in. All I know is the X Series is their flagship saddle. I hope that helps.

      Cheers,
      Johnny

    • steve moore

      Francine,
      I’m at 135lbs and have the T-Series. It has changed my 35 years of cycling totally. I never have to be concerned about “how far can I ride today due to butt pain?” I never even think about that any longer. At my age (65) I do often think about my elbow, my bad finger, my knee.. but never does my saddle even cross my mind any more. I trust you’ll have the same experience. However, DO spend the time necessary to get it dialed in perfectly to fit you and your bike. Good luck!

  • Rick

    My sit bone distance was measured at the shop at 128mm. I tried a 138 and 148mm Bontrager seat but still having issues with butt pain at 10-15 miles in spite of seat adjustments. Riding a Domane Endurance bike. Age 63 and 211lbs. Been tempted to try a leather seat like the Selle Anatomica but it comes in a single width. In this case, does your ischial width matter with a leather saddle such as this.

      • Rick

        Thanks for your response. I did order one, got it yesterday, and noticed a difference immediately. Only used it for a few 3-4 mile rides while setting it up.
        Big improvement in comfort. Only problem has been that they suggest having the nose 1/8-1/4 inch higher than neutral. This caused very significant pressure on “front” parts when on hoods or low bar in spite of moving seat forward or back from kneecap-pedal axle position. I lowered the nose below level and there was significant improvement on ” front” parts while rear continued to be super comfy. Will go for 30-40 mile ride tomorrow and will see how it goes. Very optimistic that this saddle will be the one!,,,,

        • Rick

          Follow up:
          Did 32 miles this morning. Amazing!! No discomfort in my butt whatsoever. Finished the ride and felt just like when I started.
          A little bit of pressure on front parts relieved when I sat farther back in the saddle. May do some fine adjustments to fix this. Maybe move saddle a little forward and level? I am sure it can be fixed. Very happy with purchase! May buy a spare just in case!!!

          • Johnny Lam Post author

            @Rick – Glad to hear that it’s working out so far. I know it took me awhile to get there but it’s great not ever worrying about my rear end while traveling.

  • Dylan Selinger

    This saddle seemed well made until I used it. Did some extensive testing of it on the Tour Divide over 2700 miles and the seat just became more and more deformed. The leather is far more stretched on one side of the saddle and it causes the nose of the saddle to twist. The result became an increasingly uncomfortable ride that never got better even with tensioning the saddle from the nose. Furthermore customer support was rather rude about the issue insisting that the deformity is my fault and that its ‘normal’ for the saddle to be misshapen like this. I call BS on that. Lastly they refused to help at all, would not take it back, told me to try and sell it, then HUNG UP ON ME!! **Don’t buy this product**

    • Johnny Lam Post author

      @Dylan – Sorry to hear about your negative experience with the saddle. Although my mileage on it isn’t close to what you’ve recorded, I’m still enjoying the saddle. The type of riding you do compared to what I do is also very different so that would explain the difference in experience. Can’t speak too much about the customer service as I haven’t had to use it. Hopefully, others aren’t having similar issues. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mark G

      Dylan – I have had a white SA X-series for a couple years now and generally still like it. Very comfortable, but the adjustment screw is about at it’s maximum and I will be likely needing another saddle soon. I probably have about 4K miles on it now. I read in another forum that the white saddles were prone to excessive stretching for some reason, so I’m not sure if other colors would stretch less.

      As for their customer service, I’m not surprised they were rude. I had a negative experience with the company myself, and it’s one of the reasons I have been looking at other options. Saying that, the saddle itself has worked well for me, and is comfortable.

      • Scott

        I know this is almost a year later, but I too have a poor customer service experience to report. I’ll qualify my remarks by saying I own 3 SA saddles. They’re generally mounted on my ‘long ride’ bikes. I’d been happy with their comfort (I’ve got brooks, fizik, wtb and others as comparisons over 40+yrs of regular adult riding) and happy enough with durability. One of my saddles (X) had the rails bend recently, something that is at least a semi-regular occurrence reading rants online and on the SA site (they have or are considering using stronger steel in the rails?). As this was on my do everything bike (jones plus) and had been on a bikepack trip and some mountain biking I understood repairing the bent rails would be at my cost. Per the SA instructions, I paid for the new frame service online and paid to mail the unit in to them. Upon getting the saddle back, the rivets in the nose of the saddle were ‘loose’–that is, not seated into the leather whatsoever as in the rear of the saddle and like any other riveted saddle I own. A single ride confirmed my concern–as I shift about on the saddle my riding shorts would intermittently get hung up on the rivets. Not ride ending or anything like that, but annoying. Upon calling SA, the women indicated they had a problem with their rivet machine last month and saddles went out with poor riveting as they chose to get things back to the customer rather than delay shipping (apparently it never occurred to them to contact the customer and see what they may prefer?). Acknowledging the problem, she apologized and said they would redo it upon receipt of the saddle as their rivet machine had since been repaired. An uncomfortable conversation ensued about who was responsible for paying to return the saddle back to them again (recall, I had paid once to ship the saddle to them for a new rail install (paying for the rail install too). I got the “USA company, small-family owned” etc.,.. I appreciate all of that–part of the reason for a purchase of my SA saddles in the first place. But it just didn’t sit right that I should pay AGAIN to send a saddle in for the proper repair I had already paid for just a couple weeks ago and that they admitted wasn’t done correctly in the first place… I again clarified–“so you want me to pay AGAIN to send the saddle to you that you admit wasn’t repaired properly in the first place?”…to which the woman responded with a treatise on the challenges of being a small business and that Brooks has been in business forever and have all of their equipment long since amortized yada yada yada… I ended with something to the affect that I have to question the staying power of an organization with these decisions around quality (knowingly sending out poorly riveted product) and what I perceive as poor customer service and encouraged her review this situation and how they may respond to similar issues in the future. I also said I’d struggle to be an advocate for these saddles anymore. So here I am. Writing a review on the interweb. I’ve never had to return a saddle before–including a half-dozen Brooks that my wife and I have had in service going back 30+yrs) so I can’t compare customer service of saddle makers. The SA saddles are unlike any other on the market that I’m aware of and can be extremely comfortable. As for me–I’ll be shuffling my SA saddles to commuter bikes or taking them out of service. I’m fortunate the bent rail didn’t occur on a multi-day bikepack trip or a marathon day in the saddle mountain biking.

    • hawkrider88

      Wow. Would love to see some pics of your saddle. Are you on the heavier side…say 180 or above? Even if you are I would think the saddle could handle that or that these folks would offer to give your money back, assuming there is not something you really did wrong. Although I can’t imagine what that would be other than super tensioning the bolt early in the process thereby stretching the leather to the point where it couldn’t support you. Sorry for your experience…it is just the opposite from what I’ve experienced.