Friday, August 22, 2014

Buyer Beware: Selle AnAtomica Review

I bought a Selle AnAtomica Titanico X saddle this winter when they had a half off sale. I was looking for something less hard and slippery than my Brooks B17N, but still with the bag loops and traditional leather saddle appearance. I didn't ride much this winter, and my early review of the SA wasn't exactly glowing: I thought it flared out too much at the skirts, and the way those raw edges rubbed my thighs was annoying and made me avoid the saddle for longer rides.

I continued to not ride the saddle much over the spring and summer, but this month I finally decided to contact SA while my warranty was still in effect.

If you noted the title of this post, you can guess their response wasn't all I hoped it would be.

Their immediate reaction was to blame me and indicate that I had overtensioned the saddle (despite the very few miles I've put on it). After some further email exchanges, the rep realized my saddle was still under warranty and asked for my information so he could issue a call tag to get it picked up for (presumably) repair or replacement. That was fine by me and I was a content customer.

The next day, Carol from SA called and said (paraphrasing here), "sorry, you overtightened it, no warranty for you," reneging on their previous promise. She went on to explain that they get regular complaints from former (and likely, future) Brooks riders who have overtensioned their saddles. She pointed to their owner's manual that cautions against overtightening. Here is that portion of the OM in its entirity:

"Be careful not to over-tension the leather."

I asked her repeatedly to quantify how tight is too tight. Her response was:

"If you buy tires and overinflate them and they burst, will you be covered?  If you purchase a car, put too much oil in it and the engine blows up, will you be covered?  If you purchase a pair of pants and tear the knee because you fell down, can you return them?  If you buy a shirt that is too small and stretch it out with multiple wearings, can you return it? "

Of course, her own examples work against her, since tires clearly state their max pressure, shirts state their size, and the car owner's manual will tell you the engine oil capacity. But "too tight?" It's a mystery. Like art, they expect you to know this when you see it. Perhaps if anyone ever bought multiple Selle AnAtomica saddles--I'm not sure why anyone would do such a thing--they might learn the proper tension on their third or fourth saddle. In my case, given the limited resources they provided, I worked with what I had: I measured the saddle sag shown in the owner's manual and scaled that up to actual size. The results are:

Owner's manual indicated sag: 10mm

My actual saddle indicated sag: 6mm

Apparently, 6mm is too much but 10mm is just right.

SA offered to lace my saddle up, if I would ship it back to them. That's a band aid fix for a poorly produced saddle, and one I can do on my own, thank you. I may try lacing it myself, or stuffing it with seat foam as shown in the Riv Reader a while back. Or just let is sag, as apparently SA intended it to work. Perhaps it's a good saddle for all of those Dursley Pedersen admirers out there:

The real question for my regular blog reader(s) at this point is surely, "do I regret giving out my Worst Product of the Year Award" already? The answer is no. While the Selle SagAtomica is a poorly designed product backed up by irrational customer service, at least it does function to the extent that it keeps my rear off the seat post. The Oury grips, on the other hand, couldn't even keep my hands in the vicinity of the bars.

Perhaps this could be a new motto for SA: "Better Than Sitting On Your Seat Post."


  1. Eric, that's a bummer. I seem to recall that Selle Anatomica's founder and first owner died an untimely death a few years ago. It could be one of these situations when a company goes downhill after the original owner is out of the picture. Like Apple in the 90's.

    For my part, I love my Brooks B17 and Flyer and never felt I needed the slit in the middle. And I geek out on the fact that Brooks has been building them the same way (more or less) since the safety bicycle was brand new.

  2. Perfect but one fatal flaw. My first series X bled through to my shorts. Big brown stain. They were my full time biking shorts, thats fine, my second X saddle , same thing... well i cant have that, i want to ride with normal shorts sometimes now and i dont want to wreck them with a brown stain on the ass. they would not refund or exchange when i explained this to them. Its good but it bleeds and you cant return so beware. BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

    1. That's funny, that's about the one problem I didn't have with mine. Sagging, chaffing, flaring... yes, but the color seemed to hold OK.


Clem Again

Regular reader(s) may recall that I journeyed up to Ann Arbor to buy a Rivendell Clem Smith Jr last summer. That particular bike ride didn&#...