The Bike List

Adamo Road £110 & Peak £90 saddles

Tested by Oliver Laverack, tester for The Bike List

With just four years in the business, Ideal Saddle Modification or ISM is a relative newcomer to the bicycle trade. The company claims that they make the world’s most comfortable bike seat and that in their relatively short existence their saddles have become the perch of choice for Olympians, Ironmen Triathlon athletes and Pro European bike racers. Having experienced major discomfort and sometimes numbness on many of the saddles I’ve used, especially on longer rides, I was keen to test ISM’s bold claims and put their unusual looking design to the test.

Even with the best padding in my shorts I’ve come to expect that a long ride will mean some level of discomfort and sometimes even numbness in the trouser department. At the end of last year I mentioned my problem to a friend who had experienced something similar. I was shocked to hear that the consequences of continuing to ride for him had contributed to irreversible health problems. Having spoken to a number of other cycling friends I was surprised to find there are plenty of people suffering in silence, after all if you ride 100 miles then you expect a certain amount of hurt and discomfort – it’s just part of cycling that far and that hard, isn’t it? Yes, but continuing to suffer until the point of numbness with an uncomfortable saddle is unacceptable if you plan on having a family.

Here’s where ISM’s unique design comes in. The basic shape isn’t that different to a more traditionally shaped saddle but the key difference is the front, where the nose would normally be. Instead there are two prongs with a gap between them which results in an overall shorter but wider front section. On a traditional saddle a cyclist’s weight will press down on the sit bones and groin (perineum). This can compress the nerves and arteries around the groin which can result in discomfort, numbness and potentially worse if you spend plenty of time in the saddle. If you have an aggressive riding position then the amount of compressions is likely to increase. The no-nose ISM design means that the majority of your weight is placed on your sit bones, reducing the pressure on your groin which allows the blood to flow more freely and helps prevent discomfort, and more importantly numbness.

So with the science bit out of the way the more important question is, ‘Does the design work?’ Before I answer that question it’s useful to know that ISM saddles need setting up slightly differently compared to a standard saddle. There’s a video that explain the process on ISM’s website which tells you everything you need to know. In summary the advice is as follows:

1. Measure your current saddle position and height so that you know where you normally sit in relation to the bike so that you end up in exactly the same position.

2. Compare the Adamo saddle height to the height of your current saddle. The Adamo is taller than most standard saddles so adjust the seat post height accordingly if needed.

3. Set the Adamo saddle up so that there are around 1.5 to 2 inches of saddle sticking out behind you. You don’t want to be sitting all the way back on the saddle. The nose will be around 2 inches further back than a standard saddle and the rails will be in about the same position as they were on your other saddle.

4. Using a spirit level ensure that the rails of the saddle are level. Try riding with the saddle in this position and if you slide forward adjust the saddle up by one, two or three degrees until it feels right.

I’ve been using both the Adamo Road and Adamo Peak (off-road) saddles for around 6 months now and have switched them over from one bike to another several times. Once you get a feel for how the saddle performs best it’s relatively straightforward to fit to your bike quickly and correctly. That wasn’t the case initially though as it took me a while to get used to the slightly different seating position and wider feel of the saddle. As the set up video suggests it can take a little while for the different muscle groups to adjust to the different pressure points. Once your bum and groin get used to the new position, which for me took longer than ISM suggested, the saddle definitely delivers in terms of comfort. Since having used both road and off-road versions of the Adamo I haven’t had any numbness problems or discomfort around the groin area. On long rides where comfort is especially important the Adamo has made a huge difference. Looking at the sloping design you might think that you’d slide down the saddle but once you’ve got the saddle set up just right that slope and the gap between the prongs ensures that you don’t put excess pressure on your undercarriage and it really works. The extra width of the Adamo saddles has meant that on really long rides I’ve noticed some rubbing on the inside of my thighs but this discomfort is relatively minor when compared to the problems I was facing before and is easily solved with some anti-friction gel.

This saddle has been a huge success on both my road and mountain bike. A fellow Bike List reviewer who also experienced discomfort on most traditional saddles found them to be a revelation and after testing them went out and bought one for each of his bikes.

Perhaps the biggest confirmation of the Adamo’s worth was when I recently tackled a total of 28.8km of gruelling cobblestone sections on the 138km Paris-Roubaix Challenge. At the end of last year I would probably not have been able to take part for fear of being unable to finish the ride. The cobblestones managed to vibrate the bike so much that both the headset and rear wheel axle were juddered loose just on that one ride but the seat was never an issue. Being comfortable also means that performance isn’t compromised all of which adds up on longer rides.

The Adamo saddle won’t make all the discomfort of 100 mile ride go away but it will allow blood to flow in vital areas that shouldn’t be squashed for those lengths of time. With the high cost of many top end saddles it can be difficult to try lots of different design but if you’re having any comfort or numbness problems then this saddle should be at the top of you list of saddles to try. I’m pleased to report that both saddles have been very durable so far and the prongs have stayed true to their original shape and position. For me the Adamo Road and Adamo Peak have been the most comfortable saddle designs that I’ve been lucky enough to park my derierre on. They’re not cheap costing £110 for the Adamo Road and £90 for the Adamo Peak but their value in terms of comfort, performance and good health in my mind makes them worth every penny.

Adamo says:

Adamo Peak: Conquer the mountains. The Peak is the product of hundreds of hours spent on the trail with several different prototypes.  We decided on a shape that had a more rounded rear and a graduated slope.  We know that trail riding is completely different than road riding.  The Peak allows a rider to climb more forward to reduce wheel slippage and ride off the back of the seat for those tricky descents and get back on without catching your shorts!  Uses gel and foam padding and cr-mo rails for.  The sides are reinforced with Kevlar.  255mm long and 135mm wide. Available in black and white.

Adamo Road: Same winning design as the Adamo Racing, but with more gel, more foam padding and a slightly wider cutout between the front arms which increases  pudendal artery blood flow.  Several athletes prefer this model for 70.3 and Ironman distance competition.  The additional padding also lends itself for riding in and out of the aero bars.  Designed for 0*-90* hip angle positions.  Cr-mo rails.  245mm long and 135mm wide. Available in black, blue, white, red and grey.

Find out more www.ismseat.com

At a glance

Verdict A forward thinking, comfortable, durable saddle perfect for anyone who has ever suffered from excessive soreness or numbness.
Value
Performance