Selle Anatomica Titanico: The best bike touring saddle?
I had read somewhere that Selle Anatomica’s Titanico is the cadillac of long-distance saddles…The king of comfort. So before going on our Central American bumpy road odyssey I thought I’d give it a shot, for my ass’s sake. Here is my 6,000 kilometer review.
Most cycle tourists swear by the tried-and-true Brooks B17. I tried the B17 Imperial and the Flyer. The B17 was just OK. I put a significant amount of miles on it, worked it with Proofide and tried hard to allow it time to break in. It was acceptable, just not comfortable. That’s when I started looking around and discovered the Titanico.
Selle Anatomica has been manufacturing their uniquely slotted leather saddles since 2007. Their flagship Titanico has that classic riveted bike touring saddle look with several benefits over other popular models, most notably the anatomical slot cut out, which allows each side of the saddle to move independently and relieve pressure on the ‘soft tissue’. This design seemed odd to me at first. I thought it may not be sturdy enough for the long haul. But after 6,000 kilometers of pretty rugged riding I am convinced that their construction technique—a laminate layer that shores up the leather skin coupled with chromoly rails—makes the saddle fairly bomb-proof.
Another major benefit is that the extended length of the saddle rails allows for much more fore and aft adjustment than a Brooks. This had previously been a significant issue for me, and i don’t really like having to rely on an offset seatpost to appreciate the fit and geometry of the frame.
Their ‘WaterShed’ leather is weather sealed with a top layer so it doesn’t require a rain cover to preserve the leather skin. Although the company doesn’t recommend leaving it out in the rain, it doesn’t matter if you happen to ride through a storm. Also, you can use the company’s Saddle Sauce to help restore and protect the leather even further.
I bought my Titanico in the summer of 2012 and put a few hundred miles on it before the big trip. My undercarriage has formally thanked me for the purchase (don’t ask for any details). I was shockingly comfortable from the get-go. On tour I had packed one pair of padded underwear and two pairs of wool boxer briefs. The Titanico is comfortable enough that I ditched the padded manderoos early on in the trip.
One issue I did have, at first, was a slight rubbing on my inner thighs. The side of the saddle kind of fans out, and does not fall down and with the side of your leg as it does on the Brooks. I quickly got used to this, and after a week on the road, I no longer felt it. I have heard of a couple of people getting a slight pinching in the middle, or “taint”, but this never happened to me, in all of the 6,000 kilometers I have ridden it.
My only complaint about the saddle is the amount the leather stretched. A lot of folks seem to like letting the saddle get very ‘hammock-like’. I tend to prefer it slightly taught. After tightening the adjustment screw several times over the course of our tour, I’ve used about 2/3 of it’s adjustability. The stretching could level out, but I am guessing it will need a new skin (which they offer) at around 10 or 12 thousand kilometers. This is just a guess though, and I’d be interested to hear stories from others who’ve used the Titanico on a long tour.
Fortunately, Selle Anatomica has since released a new variation of the saddle, the Titanico X, which uses a second laminate layer to help lessen stretching. Also, their new TruLeather option is even more stiff but, evidently, requires a break-in period.
All-in-all, I would highly recommend the Titanico to those who are not quite at home on your current saddle or are planning on spending some significant time on a bike. Selle Anatomica saddles aren’t the cheapest, but you only have one ass, so it may be worth the investment. As an added bonus, they’re made in the ‘ole USA.
- Extra Long saddle rails for adjustability
- Extremely comfortable… right out of the box
- Weather sealed
- Stretching and overall life – although I think this has improved
- ‘Gun metal’ rivets have rusted a little (this is just a con with my particular saddle – they also offer copper rivets)
- Fairly expensive, but worth it – $159 w/TruLeather; $139 w/WaterShed
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