So I am fully aware that saddles are probably the most personal part of the bike and subject to the greatest range of opinions, but here is my opinion: The saddle I recently purchased is awesome! I have found a new saddle and company with which each ride is causing me to become a loyal customer. The company is Cobb Cycling whose founder is John Cobb. Up front I will mention that I also have a few leather saddles and know why they (leather saddles) have such a loyal customer base. As a triathlete and a distance cyclist, I will hopefully bring to light why I like this new saddle.
I have been getting by with the cheapest triathlon specific saddle I could find on the interwebs for the past two seasons. I think I really just convinced myself that being in the aero position required a little discomfort (no pains no gains right?). After all, such a position doesn’t seem very natural for either gender’s anatomy. So during this season although my old saddle was just fine, I started doing research on a new saddle that I could eventually upgrade to. I spent time on blogs, forums, reviews, company websites, and ultimately narrowed it down to 4 different saddles. These were the ISM Adamo Attack, The Bontrager Hilo RXL, The Fizik Tritone, and the Cobb Fifty-Five JOF. Of all these companies I knew the least about Cobb. I read somewhere that the company was started by a man who helped Greg Lemond with his transition to the aero position way back when, but otherwise the company was new to me. So I did more research and eventually just ended up on the Cobb Cycling site. As I triathlete and a distance rider, I wondered why I hadn’t found his site and videos sooner. His site is a vast resource of knowledge. The thing I like the most about it is that he is giving most of his knowledge and information away for free in an easy to follow video format. My interest as a customer ramped upwards. I then did more research for reviews from those that had Cobb saddles, and could not find one negative review regarding customer service or overall comfort. Amidst other internet consumer research I had narrowed the field with the ISM Adamo Attack being the only other candidate for me. Then I noticed a saddle on the Cobb site that I hadn’t seen before named the JOF Randee. JOF stood for ‘Just Off Front’ and Randee is a clever shortened nomer for that difficult to say French word, “Randonneur”. Was this saddle developed to cover long distance triathlons as well as other types of long distance bike rides? Sure enough the description touted it as exactly that. With a billing like that, could this saddle possibly become my “one saddle to rule them all”? At the introductory rate, I saw the price being a deal less than the ISM Adamo Attack, so another plus. Having just enough money in my dedicated bike part bank account, I pulled the trigger and got the Randee on order. Maybe a slight gamble on a new product, but I felt I had done my due diligence in consumer research, and plastered big on each page of the Cobb site was a 90 day comfort guarantee. If my sit-bones rejected it they would do so faster than within 90 days.
After opening the box upon arrival, I immediately noticed the high quality in the Randee. I liked that from until looking at it up close, it might be mistaken for a traditional saddle without a cutout. It looked sleek and smooth and well made. One difference with this design and both the ISM Adamo Attack and the Fifty-Five JOF is the continuity of the nose transversely. Meaning the nose is one solid piece and not split in two down the middle as the other two are. The rails seemed to be of sufficient length which in my case is needed due to my road bike to aero postion conversion during tri-season. I don’t like how big the logo’s are, but I am a minimalist when it comes to logos and branding, and they won’t really be seen while in use, so not a deal breaker.
Without the split theoretically the front end would have less deflection, and to me I was concerned about actually being able to ride for an extended amount of time Just Off the Front due to this decreased ability to deflect. Pressing around with my fingers I noticed the nose also to be quite a deal harder than my old Tri-Saddle. This also gave me reason for concern. I pressed around the entirety of the saddle and noticed the areas that were soft and those that were not. Then I put it on my bike. During the beginning of the first ride I was worried that I would have to take them up on the 90 Day Guarantee. I could not find a comfortable spot the way I had ridden my old saddle. There in lied the problem. I was riding this saddle how I had learned to ride that saddle in its only comfortable position. That comfortable position was not comfortable on the Randee. When I realized this I stopped, adjusted the saddle more forward, and then began to vary positions to determine the comfortable zones. By sheer dumb luck, I think I found the only uncomfortable position for this saddle. All other sit positions I tried during that first ride were amazingly comfortable. So much so, that I ended up forgetting most of the time about the saddle and more on things like HR Zones and my training schedule for that workout. Awesome! Around ten rides in, and I am still in awe with how comfortable this saddle is in the aero position. When I switch to the hoods, I don’t notice it either. On the drops, it is just as comfortable as in the aero. I even took it through a 90 minute Zone 3 tempo ride and due to comfort alone I am confident in saying the faster speeds for that specific ride can be attributed to the saddle itself (2 KPH increase on the overall average). On comfort alone I would rate it a 5 out of 5.
Usability and Longevity
I was pleasantly surprised to find high quality tools included in the box with the saddle. They are nothing special, but it is nice to have right there when you open the box for immediate installation. I was also very pleased with the included tape measure with the seat height formula written on the backside. Very nice in the event you forget both your inseam and the 0.889 multiplying factor necessary to set your seat height. Little inclusions like that are small enough, but go a long way in affecting my satisfaction as a customer. Another positive making the saddle more useable were the added threaded holes for hydration system attachment. Of course you have to buy their bracket, but I like the integral design instead of clamping down a bracket onto the rails (ie. less parts). For overall usability, I would give the Randee a 4 out of 5. As per longevity, I cannot officially speak as of yet. I don’t think anyone can as it just came out, but I will update this post when I have over 1,000 kilometers on the saddle. By then I should have a really good idea where this saddle shines and where it doesn’t.