Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review! Cobb Cycling HC170

I've been doing more training and racing than ever on my road bike since my "return." There were a lot of things that took some time to re-adjust myself to... some old "creaking" and some new "aches" that you'd expect from a return to endurance training. However, there was one thing I didn't have to worry about, and that was my nether bits. That's because I still had my trusty HC170.

Minimalistic doesn't mean uncomfortable

Again, full disclosure is that I'm a Cobb Mobb athlete. That said, I'm not required to do reviews, and as a rule I only do reviews on things I have tried and liked, but as always, use your own judgement to determine what you believe on the internet!

With that out of the way let's talk about this saddle. First, it's intended for roadies, not triathletes / time trialists (to my dismay, it's just a little bit off working. The SHC is a good saddle as well for those purposes though!) although it's been serviceable for me in that capacity when I've "rigged" my road bike up for short sprint races. That said, even I think it would be fairly spartan to try to ride on it in an aggressive aero position for long distances.

A short course tri setup is fine for the HC170, I would just avoid the longer stuff
Of course, as I said above, this is a roadies saddle, not a triathletes. And in that respect it excels. Feeling the saddle in your hands it's hard to imagine that it's comfortable to sit on, there is nothing there! And that's the beauty of the HC170... it just disappears. Admittedly, I'm generally against the modern trend in saddles to be much "fleshier." I have never been a big fan of super soft saddles, and I am especially not a fan of wider saddles. No worries here!

The HC stands for Hard Core, and the 170 is the weight. Even the (old) Cobb Website (the HC170 seems to have been discontinued unfortunately) warned that this saddle was for lightweight MEN who were competitive racers, not long distance tourers. I can't comment on the saddle for women, but I've logged over 6 hours on it, a couple of times on a trainer. If you've never done something as stupid crazy fun as ride on a trainer for six hours, take my word for it, you'll find out just how good or bad your saddle is for long rides. I can happy exclaim that after many of these long rides (and with no chamois cream might I add) I am still saddle sore free. It's easy to forget that despite being a minimalist design, this is still a V-flow saddle at heart. The cutout does an excellent job of relieving some pressure even with no nose padding.

The "disclaimer" to this review (and the saddle) is that it likely is only a solid solution to a certain group of people.  If you are a bigger rider or have wider sit bones, it's easy to imagine this saddle not working for you. Pretty much the truth of every saddle (and every saddle review you read) is that it will be very tough to find your perfect saddle off of someone else's experience. Most of my friends (that log pretty heavy miles) would not recommend the HC170. Of course, I can't think of any of them that have actually tried it. Most give it a look, see it's fairly minimal design and say "not for me." I'm guilty of not trying a lot of saddles myself based on looks (keep all the stub nosed short split saddles away!) and it could very well be keeping all of us from trying our perfect saddle! (I tried the Randee not so long ago and loved it on my tt bike, despite it not looking my style!)

So, if you are a racer or rider who stays in a fairly aggressive road position (I've found this saddle really shines when I'm in the drops or the Sphinx position, which generally means slid pretty forward on it) looking for a less bulky, lightweight saddle, this is an excellent choice. I would also suggest the SHC (review of it here) as another fairly minimalist choice from Cobb (the SHC does have more padding) or, use the new Cobb Cycling website Saddle Finder.

The HC170 strapped to the trainer ready for some mileage

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

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