Tuesday, June 28, 2005

WTB StreetSmart Ti Saddle Review

Well, it's been four months now that I've been riding the WTB StreetSmart Ti saddle. I thought I'd pass along some more of my experience with it to you all. First, a recap of the pertinent info! This saddle was designed with the commuter in mind. The idea being that some commuters like, or want a lightweight high performance saddle to commute on without all the gee-gaw embroidery, high-vis nameplates, and garish colors that alot of "racing" oriented saddles have. Something that might more closely match the shape and performance of such saddles, just on the down-low. Well, this is what they came up with. A leather covered, narrow, lightweight, kevlar bumpered saddle that weighs in at a feathery 195 grams!

The shape of the saddle was a little misleading to me at first. I thought it looked as though it was a little flatter than most recent WTB offerings of late. Most of their current lineup is indeed narrow to medium width, but feature a pronounced bucket area in the middle of the saddle. Kind of a depression, where you would normally put your sit bones. I thought this StreetSmart saddle looked a little flatter, kind of like a classic Flite Ti saddle, okay? But when I rode it a few times, and it started to break-in, I was surprised to see that it truly was a classic WTB bucket shaped saddle after all! The culprit turned out to be the "Comfort Zone" technology of the base. Underneath, you can see where the nylon-like base material is cut away in the middle part all the way up towards the front of the nose section. This voided area is filled in with a softer material that has alot of give to it. When I rode the saddle, this area would yeild, thus creating the infamous bucket, or depressed area in the middle section of the saddle. The overall width and length of the saddle was much like a Rocket Stealth model. (Also a WTB saddle, for those of you not familiar) Maybe a centimeter shorter than most racing saddles, and a little on the narrow side of racing type saddles as well. Just a little, not alot! I mention this because you can notice it by looking at it.

The construction of the saddle is top notch. Right up there with any Italian make as far as I have seen. Very nice seam work, and tidy looking underneath. Tubular titanium rails keep the weight down, but I was a little worried that it wouldn't support my rather clydesdale-esk physique! Kevlar material surrounded the back edge, and corners in a nice understated black. In fact, the whole look of the saddle is low key, retro-ish, and classy. I liked it. A refreshing change from the normal look at me! I'm a saddle! type of equipment.

As I've said, I've ridden this saddle consistently for four months now. Here are my impressions:
1. Commuting was great, but then I don't have a particularily long commute, so longer rides were called for. That said, the saddle saw rain, mud, snow, cold, hot, and just regular ridin' conditions during the commuting portion of the test. It shows no sign of wear at this point, other than the printed WTB logo on either side is a little faded.
2. Longer rides at first showed that at about 3 hours, the saddle became a little uncomfortable. I thought, perhaps, that it was a bit too narrow, but I made a slight heigth adjustment, and attitude adjustment to the saddle, which proved to be good. Further rides at this length proved to be more comfy! Just goes to show how important positioning on the bike can be!
3. Climbing up on the nose of the saddle was comfy, just like most WTB saddles. They have that nice rounded shape, and plenty of give there, although you wouldn't want to ride up there for very long!
4. The rails of the saddle are surprisingly strong! I thought for sure I'd bend them, but they will not yeild to me yet! I had to posistion the saddle all the way back on the rails, as I am using a zero offset post at this time. The rails are quite generously long, by the way! So far, no bendage!

Conclusion: A very fine saddle,(if you're into narrow saddles!) that out performs alot of high end racing saddles out there. If you like classic good looks, light weight, and very good performance in a bucket shaped, narrow-ish saddle, look no further. While it's true that no one will probably notice this saddle on your bike, do you really want them to? Hmmm.....I guess it's not for the flashy, matching guy, team kit dudes, but I aint one o those anywho! A good saddle! Buy one if yer so inclined!

Thanks to Chris Schierholtz at WTB for providing this saddle to test! Thanks buddy!

Wilderness Trail Bikes StreetSmart Ti Saddle
Guitar Ted Productions

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