A beautiful fi’zi:k Vestashowed up at my doorstep a couple of weeks back. Quickly, I snapped some photos and then installed the saddle on my cyclocross bike. Since then it has been on my goto bike for long road rides, and my daily commute.
The very first feeling of the saddle is the firm, yet padded support. This is a good feeling as I don’t like a saddle that I sink into. If you sink too much into a saddle your sit bones are no longer holding you up and the soft tissues are left holding you up. This saddle hasn’t seen more than an hour and a half of consistent ride time so we can only tell how the padded feeling holds up.
The “pressure relief channel” seems to work so far. It isn’t a cut out so if I rock into the drops I can feel pressure on my soft tissue areas but to this point there has been no numbness or pain when this pressure happens for an extended amount of time.
Look & Design
The saddle is an eye catcher. Subtle enough, but if someone walks close enough to see the top of your saddle they will stop and ask, “WHAT?!” This exact story has happened to me with everyone that has seen the saddle. My only worry about the eye catching colors are they will bleed over time into my white bib shorts.
Sitting initially on this saddle I didn’t think “this is the one,” but that never has happened before with any of my favorite saddles. There are always fine tuning with the bike fit and trying different angles and fore/aft of the saddle. BUT I didn’t sit on this saddle and feel horrible pain, nor did I feel pain after 25 miles. The jury is still out on this saddle but I will check back with you as the fit is modified and more miles are logged.
For the past few years I have named the cut out or indention in the saddles for women “cooter holes.” No, it isn’t PC but neither are all the people making saddles for women with out even having a variety of women testing them prior to selling hundreds to unknowing souls.
fi’zi:k knows saddles. They are one of the top selling road saddles for guys that I’ve seen, among Selle Italia and such. They have one womens saddle that has been on the market for some years called the Vitesse. I tried riding this saddle for a while 2 years back, and suffered. My soft tissues needed a “cooter hole” or indention, or something that the Vitesse did not have. I quickly swapped saddles back and continued on with life.
Now there is a new saddle from fi’zi:k called Vesta. They are marketing this with a “pressure relief channel” or a cooter hole. That comfortable place to put your soft tissues out of pressure and harm. Other than this, the saddle is the same shape as the prior model I spoke about, the Vitesse. The base price is $129.99, within range of most all fi’zi:k saddles, and higher end Terry saddles as well.
I hope to land one of these in my hands during the long, boring and painful base miles to see how their “pressure relief channel” really holds up.
The question of “What is your favorite saddle?” is a very popular question in tweets, emails and in shop conversation. It is also probably one of the most user specific question around bike fit. My bits are not built like your bits, my seat bones are not the same width as your seat bones but I can give some generic feedback of my “go-to” saddles for women.
Pro advice: Make sure you check your saddle measurements prior to swapping out any of these seats! This includes height, and the distance of where your sit bones are most comfortable on the seat to the handlebars. Every seat will be different but these are good x/y starting points to measure off!
If you don’t know where to start with a new seat, start with this one.
When swapping out bike seat during a women’s bike fit this is normally the first seat I try. The channel through the middle section allows some relief on your girly parts and the wider sit bone area on the back of the seat keeps you well supported. This saddle was once on 100% of my bikes but as my handlebars went lower I had to switch to something with a flatter front to back profile and not a drop in the middle.
Tip: Make sure the area where your sit bones hit is level!
Specialized Ruby Pro
If your handlebar is lower than your saddle height than try out the Specialized Ruby. The relatively flat back area of the saddle and flexy middle section allow for a leaned over position. This saddle doesn’t have a ton of padding some if you are relatively upright it may be a bit too tough for your sit bones.
Tip: This saddle does come in different widths, so make sure to get your butt properly sized!
This seat is a bit narrow so if you are on a super upright hybrid or mountain bike the saddle may not support you properly. Saying that, this saddle has been a goto for cyclocross season for many years due gel inserts in the firm and pretty flat surface.
Tip: This saddle is not as tall as many others. You may need to move your seat up significantly.
(Yes, I like white saddles. It always makes a bike look faster in my humble opinion!)
With over 300 miles on the Airborne Goblin that I’m riding for the season the bike has been tested. I’ve ridden the bike to the limits and pushed it, then pushed it a bit more. Now it is time for a good and fair review for all of you holding your breath wondering if you should purchase one! During the 300 miles the Goblin has seen a little bit of everything, from commuting, local single track and a 24 hour race on its shoulders. I haven beaten and abused the bike to the best of my ability thus far and this is my review based on those elements.
This past Saturday I suited up for a 6 hour mountain bike race. I haven’t been able to get on the bike that often lately, especially the mountain bike. The course was found in Wilkesboro, NC, and was a rather hilly course. One thing to know about where I am from (Charlotte, NC) does not have hills, so this race was going to be the awakening.
When I suited up, I did something that I tell all customers not to do – I put on a brand new, never tried, pair of bib-shorts. The shorts were awesome, black and white, matching my team jersey perfectly. I was very wary of the brand new shorts, so I lubed up well with the DZ Nuts chamois creme.
I’ve now used the DZ Nuts a few times and can say it is doing its job. Reminding me a lot of the Assos creme, minus the build up of extra lube. The Assos seems to thick for women but DZ Nuts really does the job well.
4.75 out of 5 : Would of ranked higher if I could of sourced the DZ Bliss, womens specific type, but everyone was out of this.
It’s easy to say I have too many bikes but since leaving the industry full time and my amount of review bikes really rolling in I needed to slim down the stable. One of these targeted weight loss areas was my mountain bikes. Five months ago I had a 29er hardtail geared, singlespeed, 26″ full suspension (x2), 26″ single speed, 26″ hardtail geared and numerous frames not built. Back in the fall when I started riding again I knew I wanted to get back to riding a single speed mountain bike pretty exclusively, atleast for what personally I owned and abused.
Going with what I had in the garage I started with a Surly Karate Monkey frameset (MSRP: $465.) Next was wheels, I had found a good deal about two years ago on clearance Bontrager Rhythm wheels (my cost : $100.) The other details:
Frame : Surly Karate Monkey (heavy)
Bontrager Rhythm Wheelset
Bontrager XDX Tires (Take off customers bike who didn’t want them = $30)
The Surly Karate Monkey is a great frame to start your 29er life on, it can be single speed or geared, disc or v-brake. Plus, the price you can’t beat . Without breaking the bank I got this single speed 29er to 23.15 lbs. If I went tubeless and changed out some parts I’m sure I could get it closer to 21 lbs!
In no particular order these are things I have said over the years to friends, customers and myself. If you have more advice to add please join the conversation in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Research, learn and learn some more
You may find a great local shop, but unless there is an experience girl there, they won’t be able to tell you from their own experience. Boys are made differently, even their thinking is different, which makes for some things not to be comparable. (Saddles, shorts, clothing, etc.) Try to learn from as many people as possible, test ride, and ask a ton of questions. Don’t stop learning or asking!
fi:zik Vesta Saddle
Invest in a a good bike seat and bike fitting
You should not have any numbness or pain when you ride your bike normally. If you start training for Ride Across America or something like that, it may be different. A two hour ride should be fun and enjoyable, make it so.
Also, make sure your favorite bike shorts aren’t causing problems. With a seam or stitching in the wrong place, it can cause a ton of problems.
The wonderful woman behind Lovely Bicycles posted a great article that I could never do justice. Go read over there about bike saddles and the female anatomy.
Be careful shaving down there, especially the first few times before you ride
When you first start riding, purchase a new saddle or change your bike fit, it is very important to take note of these changes when you are shaving or trimming your crotch area. This goes for any area that is touching the bike saddle. In grown hairs, shaving burns and all those things can be heightened by cycling shorts and saddles rubbing up and down for many revolutions of your pedals.
Try some sort of butt and “cooter” lube
You may not realize you are chaffing or rubbing areas. Also, many have an anti-bacteria add in. My favorite is DZ Nuts “Bliss”.
Women’s Cycling Shorts, saddles and handle bar tape/grip wear out
The same as you look at your drive train and tires, keep a good look on these things before they cause you problems.
Photo Credit: Dirt Divas UK
Find other women to ride with
Even if it is once a month and you have to drive, do it. This spring I made a vow to do my best to ride with a local women’s ladies mountain bike group the Dirt Divas or atlas ride with some of them when time allows. The social aspect, the motivating factor, the “belonging” feeling and finally to motivate OTHERS, are all reasons to do it.
Women cyclist should ride with the boys
It will make you stronger and faster.
Become self reliant
Learn how to change your tire, clean your chain and the basic lingo so you can maintain your bike with your local bike shops help. You don’t need anyone else for those basic things, plus you’ll be safer when riding if you know these things.
“There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.” – Madeleine Albright
Try to remember the first time you went bike riding with a group, tried clipless pedals or entered your first race. Make sure to smile at the start line and encourage. Competition is healthy but women will be the back bone of making this sport a success, I can promise you that one.
You are a woman, you are an athlete and you should be proud of all these things together.