A couple of years ago I was having trouble with all the saddles I owned and tried a few new ones, the San Marco Rolls and San Marco Regal. Both saddles fixed my saddle sore problems and the Regal provided a decent level of comfort. This year something seemed to change. I’m not sure if it was me or the Regal but I wasn’t able to get comfortable on it, especially in a more aggressive position. I began researching saddles the Specialized model called the Romin kept coming up. My Dad was doing the same thing so we decided to drive to a far away bike shop that had a wide selection of specialized saddles and check them out.
I’ll give you a complete rundown on the saddle I bought later when I’ve got more miles on it, but I’d like to document the saddle shoping experience at the bike shop which will go unnamed. First off I’m automatically skeptical of most bike shop employees, I’ve been told a lot of nonsense in a completely matter of fact way by guys who may ride a few hundred miles a year. A good rule of thumb to follow, if they act like they have all the answers they probably don’t have any answers. I tried to keep an open mind though for this trip.
Specialized uses an impressively small amount of materials to package their saddles, basically just a plastic card so that you can get a good look at the saddle from every side. After spending several minutes taking in all the sizes and variations we asked salesman #1 a question about the Romin and sizing. He looked me over and said it was a great saddle, everyone was riding it. They come in 3 widths and he was riding the widest a 155, I should probably be too. When I asked about the Specialized butt-o-meter thing he told me to sit on it. I did and he glanced at it, “Yeah 155.” My BS detector was going off. The guy had barely looked at it, and even then I don’t think there were any marks to measure.
Salesman #1 walked off and came back a few minutes later, he looked almost kind of let down we were still standing there looking at saddles. I told him I was really interested in the saddle but scared to pay over a 100 dollars for a saddle I had never tested. He told me again that it was a good saddle. I asked if there was a bike in the shop with one on it so I could at least sit on one. He said no, no bike in the shop had that saddle, and then he lumbered off with a bored expression on his face.
It took me about 30 seconds to spot a Specialized Tarmac with that saddle mounted. I sat on the bike and immediately thought the saddle had a good fit, if I could have mounted the bike in a trainer or took it for a little spin I would have been super happy. Salesman #2 came out of hiding and asked if I needed any help. I told him I was interested in the saddle on this bike, and like #1 he said, it’s a good saddle we’re all riding it. I started asking about size and he said, almost everyone rides a 143, the middle size. We went to the butt-o-meter and he spent several minutes showing us how to sit on it and how to measure the marks. My measurements came out near 143, my dad’s closer to 155.
My Dad went on to ask salesman #2 about bikes and frame sizes #2 was much more interested in talking bikes or at least didn’t act bored and wander off from us in the middle of a question. He was one of those master frame size fitters whose so good he can size you up from a quick glance. He told my Dad he was riding a way to large bike, he should be on a size 54cm Most people around 6 foot ride a 58, or maybe a 56, or 60 depending on their inseam, but a 54 is probably way to small. The guy was absolute about it though.
I spent several minutes walking around the store looking at incredibly overpriced merchandise. Carbon wheel sets that cost more than twice what a new bike costs, 25 dollar tubes of chamois cream, and clothing that I couldn’t even begin to afford. If the only option for me to purchase bike stuff was a LBS, I’d have nothing or be broke.
Finally as we were about to purchase our saddles we encountered salesman #3 who come flying into the sales floor from the back like a hurricane, this guy reached out for an enthusiastic handshake and asked we he could help us with. He acted like we were old buddies and treated us with the utmost friendship. I could tell he was a racer from his lack of body fat and buldging leg muscles. We asked about the Romin and he told us he was racing one and loving it, could hardly tell he was sitting on anything until 80-90 miles. We talked components and he proved to be very knowledgeable. We talked about Cannondales, of which he had unbridled enthusiasm; he was a die hard fan. During our conversation at no time did he act bored or talk down to us. This is what a bike shop salesman should be like.
I bought the 120 dollar Specialized Romin expert in a size 143 and my dad got the Comp in 155. When I got home and tried to explain to my wife why I needed a 120 dollar saddle I ran into wall. I talked my way over it when I explained how to saddle was designed to maximize blood flow to the neither regions.