Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review! Cobb SHC170 Saddle

Locked and loaded on the Cervelo ready for miles.
I'm a Cobb Mobbster. (here's your plug... check out what's up on Facebook) Therefore, I'm not going to blame you to immediately judge me and this review as "propaganda." It's human nature to be suspicious. When it comes to believing what you read about "gear" that goes on your bike, you had D@%$# well better be suspicious... there's plenty of people/companies out there trying to get your hard earned cash... at any cost. (the best puns are the easy ones)

Nonetheless, you'd be wrong if you were one of these judgmental fellows. There are plenty of things you could "fake" a review on. A saddle that you actually use is NOT one of those things. Immediately moving to my point about companies after your dollar... Cobb Cycling is hands down the fairest company in the saddle business. Ninety (~3 months - 90 days - 2,160 hours - 129,600 minutes - a...lot... of seconds) day guarantee and free shipping to your door (if you don't have an LBS selling Cobb products) so you don't have to trust me or anyone else, you've got time to find the solution yourself.

Of course, if you wanted to see some name dropping on fast people who ride this saddle... how about one of the guys who had a lot of input on it.

Rappstar is a fast dude with a slick saddle choice :)

So, now that we've got that out of the way, lets' get to the actual review of the saddle.


Everyone has some specific needs addressed when it comes to their body and saddle fit. For me, the issue has always been the width of the nose and the length of the saddle/rails. I've always pedaled with my knees very close to the top tube, so my inner thighs do not comply with a wide nosed saddle. The original Blackwell Adamo I had required the "zip tie" mod to keep me from leaving the trainer with bloody thighs. Eventually I settled on the Arione Tri2, as it was readily available and long/narrow enough to cause me no issues, as well as firm. (I can't stand a soft squishy saddle on any bike.) And so, as the apathetic among you can relate, I thought my hunt for saddles was done. I was able to put in long mileage on a Tri2, so why continue the search? And so time passed.

Enter the demo phase.

I want it all and I want it now!

It started innocuously enough. I went to my LBS to pick up a road bike saddle. (The HC170) While I was there we got to talking about Cobb saddles and they told me they had some demo's in the back. So, after some elimination process at the store (they wouldn't let me take ALL of them.) I settled on trying the Gen2 and the SHC. (The other demo's available were the V-Flow + and Max and the JOF... from my eyeball test they all seemed less likely to fit my style than the other two.)

After a few days on the Gen2 (which ended up being right on the cusp of too wide at the nose) I mounted up the SHC.

Here's the spec rundown for SHC
202grams total weight (a little less than half a pound)
35mm wide at the nose (I actually measured just a tad narrower)
260mm long
75mm of saddle rail

Mounted up for the maiden voyage
If you listen to people talk about searching for the right saddle, you will often hear about one just clicking. The "right" saddle. I had personally thought that was a bunch of hogwash... a bunch of nancy boys (and girls) whining that their saddle didn't feel like sitting on air when they were crunched down in an aero position. I'm not saying my Arione was a painful ride, but it felt like I thought a saddle should in an aggressive position... tolerable.

That first ride was an eye opener. One thing I like to do when I'm trying out a saddle is give it an hour ride in "race mode." That is, tri shorts with very minimal chamois and little/no Butt'r. I do that because I believe most saddles can be made tolerable if you are wearing good bike shorts/bibs and enough cream. However, tri shorts are usually very thin and I've never actually pre-applied cream before a swim... I always figured it'd be pointless. After an hour of 5x5 sets, I came to a conclusion... this saddle is SICK. Pretty much it was all the things I liked about my Arione, but with more attention to the details of making the saddle work for a long time in an aero position... which is something that is really noticeable on the trainer. (where you don't get micro breaks for adjustment like you do on the road.) The cutout and memory foam were both especially welcome additions for comfort that didn't compromise the "raciness" of the SHC.

That's the good. The bad? I think you'd be hard pressed to find many dislikes from this saddle (if it's the right saddle for you.) but if you had a gun to my head the one thing missing (from Cobb saddles in general) is a lighter weight option and a fairly limited number of colors. Of course on my Aluminum P3 the ~20 or so grams that could be saved by going to carbon are nil, (as is weight in general on a tri bike in my not quite humble opinion) but nonetheless it's an option many of the big saddle companies offer if for no other reason than "bling" factor. Likewise, the color options are limited, so making your ride perfectly match may be an issue. (Although with Black/White being available, you are still safe by "the rules.")

Besides that your only concern is whether you need (or want) a more aggressive saddle. Many very fast guys I know heavily prefer a more padded/supported saddle, and that's why it's important to try out a variety and pick the one that's right for YOU. I will say, if you are like me and have been content with something like the Arione (the San Marco and older Specialized tri saddle also come to mind) then I would suggest having a look, or better yet, a demo, of the SHC. You might find a new favorite seat.

That only leaves "the ugly..."

Just showing off the power between my legs...
(If your mind is in the gutter...well this is the blog for you I suppose...)

So I'll end the review there. This weekend is the Knoxville Half Marathon, my first race of the season. With any luck I won't embarrass myself and with a good amount of luck I'll be back next week with a race report about my PR. (Fingers crossed.)

As always, thank you all so much for delving into my thoughts, I really appreciate it.

- Christopher Morelock

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