Selle Anatomica Titanico: The best bike touring saddle?

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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.

Bicycle touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

The rivets have a layer of oxidation from spending time on the Pacific Coast. In hindsight I wish I had gone with copper.

Bicycle touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

The laminate layer helps strengthen the leather.

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.

Bicycle touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

A nice firm hammock shape.

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.

Bicycle touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

The WaterShed layer has held up very well, but it may be time for some Saddle Sauce.

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.

Bike touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

Just mounted on Gin’s Troll for her to try… I have heard several good reviews from women.

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.

Bicycle touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

About two-thirds of the way through the adjustment screw.

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.

Bike touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

ANother benefit is the low profile which makes a little more room for a large seat bag for Gin… her springy Flyer didn’t leave too much space between the tire.

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.

Pros

  • Extra Long saddle rails for adjustability
  • Extremely comfortable… right out of the box
  • Weather sealed

Cons

  • 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

Bike touring saddle - Selle Anatomica Titanico

Looking forward to many more kilometers.

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  • anna k

    How did the saddle work out for Gin? I’m contemplating one of these.

    Like you I have a Brooks (the one for girls, I forget it’s number/name) but I’m not really super comfortable and I’ve done a lot (like 30 000) of kilometres on it now. Thought maybe I would give the Selle Anatomica a go.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    She likes it quite a bit. She has taken it out on a few hour long rides and says it is comfortable. Nothing 5+ hours yet though. I will make a note to respond again once we have a couple of long days out; we are flying out next Friday to begin our South Africa tour, so that should be a good test.

  • anna k

    Cool. Hope you have a great trip to Africa and I look forward to hearing how the saddle works out.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Anna, I remembered your question here and thought I’d report that after about 1,200 KMs, Gin decided to ditch the saddle for a Specialized we found in Port Elizabeth, SA. It just wasn’t working for her and she had a bit of pain after long days. I am sorry to report because I still love mine, but it just wasn’t for her.

  • anna k

    Ah, well, I still might give it a go. (I reckon a bit of pain after a long day could just be inevitable.) And, after all, one out of two users…. ;- )

  • Scott Nelson

    I just rode for the first time with the new saddle. Omg. I have wasted 5 years of my riding life suffering with 10 different seats. Amazing

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Excellent… glad it works for you!

  • Brian Sims

    I was an avid fan of Selle An-Atomica for many years. I purchased my first Titanico in early 2008 and used it for about 4 years. In that time I did one 9 day tour, several doubles, numerous centuries, and tons of training rides. In fact I did my first double with only 75 miles on the saddle. It was comfortable right it if the box. I should add I also have a butchered B17 and found it almost immediately comfortable. I’m 170# for the record.

    A few years ago I needed to replace the SA saddle, as the expansion bolt was extended so far the bolt was starting to get bent skyward. I decided to get a white Titanico X. I installed this days before another double. Again no issues on a 13.5 hour ride. Awesome right? Well not so much. This saddle started stretching pretty quickly. Within a month or so I had burned through over half the expansion bolt. I don’t like a hammock like saddle. SA suggested the white saddles were prone to stretching more than other styles, not sure why. Not long after buying the X saddle I won a regular Titanico for liking SA on Facebook. This saddle too felt stretchy after a few rides. I decided to remove it to preserve resell.

    I ended up using a Selle SMP for a 6 day tour. This was an existing saddle from my carbon lightness bike and I like the saddle for long all day rides. But after 6 days in the saddle it has too much padding.

    I now have a Brooks C17 on one of my bikes, Rawland Drakkar. The shape is good but coming from leather saddles I’ve found the rubber didn’t breath enough. It was only after a few months and several really long days in the saddle before I began to notice a clamminess in a certain area where you don’t want clamminess. And this was with different bibs from different companies, so it wasn’t the chamois.

    I really wanted to try a Gilles Berthound saddle on the Rawland build but decided to save a few bucks and get the C17. Having tried most of the go to leather saddles I’m still very curious about the Berthound.

    I really just wish I could get an SA saddle that doesn’t stretch so much. That first one I had was an amazing saddle.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks for the insight. Mine seem to last about 5 months on tour before they get too stretched…

  • http://www.biketourings.com/ Rideon Biketourings

    Enjoying my Selle Saddles, got my first one in ’07 and recently picked us and NSX model for my mountain bike and I really like it as it doesn’t seem to be nearly as prone to stretching.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Good to hear… I was curious about the nsx…

  • daina & robin xxx

    Hola, had a Selle An-Atomica Titanico (watershed) sent to South America, hoping it would solve some Problems. It didn’t. Apart from poor workmanship (might have been bad luck) i had another problem with it (not Selle An-Atomicas fault).
    Many people, including myself, have their hips slightly off balance – without being aware of, as it doesn’t affect everyday life. But it does create a problem when riding saddles with a slot, as (after only two days of riding) the two sides of the saddle are on noticable different levels and made for bad friction which gets worse over time.
    So, if you’ve been riding a leather saddle (brooks b17 in my case) and you notice a ridge slightly off center after a few thousand k, that might be your problem too and a saddle with a slot won’t solve it.

  • http://nategines.com Nathan Gines

    I do a lot of long distance mountain biking and I live in a very rugged area. I often find myself in techy situations where I need to get off the back of the saddle. I am considering this saddle based on all the good reviews, but I am a bit worried about the width. Is it going to be too long wide for technical mountain biking? Anyone have any experience with this?

  • Jared Cole

    I love the comfort of these saddles but myself and several others I know have had the rails bend.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I have had three of them and none of the rails bent, but my wife’s bent in the first 2 weeks of riding it.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Sorry, missed this a while back. I think it is workable for technical mountain biking, although the sides are rather grabby, so baggy shorts may be an issue for some.

  • Jared Cole

    Yeah it’s so weird that their saddle quality is hit or mis. I recently bought another one, hopefully my rails don’t bend on this one.

  • Dylan

    Hey there,

    Doing the Pacific Coast this coming summer on 2″ tire 29er. Any suggestion of off-road deviations along the way?

  • Travis Heim

    I picked up a Selle for my trans-continental ride. However, I ran into some continuous rain at the beginning of the trip and couldn’t keep the saddle from getting wet as it did not come with a rain cover. During that time the tensioning bolt also backed off and caused the edges of the slot to rub together and created a ridge on one side. The ridge never sat flat again, even after re-tensioning and caused relentless discomfort and a saddle sore. Half-way through the trip I swapped it out for a Brooks and haven’t looked back.

  • Jason

    Hey Logan I just got a Selle Anatomica X series. I just put it on the bike today and I am trying to get the comfort figured out. Straight out of the box no matter how I adjusted it I could bear to sit on it. I tightened the tension screw 6 full turns and now it’s tolerable but I still wouldn’t call it comfortable. It feels like the steel that the leather is riveted onto is digging into my sit bones. Nose up feels a little better than nose down but marginal. Do I just need to tighten the leather more? Kinda nervous about getting it too tight from the git go.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Tough call Jason. I haven’t had to toghten mine when they are new; they usually work fine immediately. Unfortunately, one saddle that works for someone, may not be the best fit for somebody else. The good news is that the titanico sells easily on eBay.

  • Jason

    I’m gonna try it on a ride and see how it goes. I may sell it and try an NSX. The stiffer leather may be what I need. Thanks for the comment.

  • J1

    Old post I know, but which Specialized model?

  • 69fasty

    My rails bent after 14 months and 2000 miles of riding. They told me to always get off the saddle when going over bumps.

  • Jack Nolan

    I just got one of these over the winter holidays and I love it. I’m going to pick up one for my commuter too.

  • Rex Plunger

    Just read this.

    I have three Selle Xs, they are excellent saddles I have found, I am a recent convert from WTBs because and I have found that the Xs are very, very comfortable. But, as you have wondered, I have noticed that they are very wide – when getting behind the saddle I do scrape the saddle’s hips. So, for the steep stuff I have a slick little WTB saddle that’s not yet worn out. For the commute and cross country stuff, I use the Selle Xs.

  • Nick Kovacs

    I bought a new X saddle with copper rivets, hoping I’d find something kinder to my 62 year old butt. For years I rode a Brooks B17 and bought another new Brooks last year. Just getting through the break in period when I heard about Selle. Frankly, I hate it. I’m a bigger guy pushing the stated weight limit and this saddle just doesn’t have enough support. I’ve adjusted it every way possible and I’m getting rubbed raw. Sorry I sold the “new” Brooks but returning this Selle and ordering a Brooks C17

  • Mark Atwell

    Well, SA is discounting some colors on their website so I just bought one for a tour this summer… I’ll give it a review later.

  • Michael Ray

    I’ve just recently started riding again after a decade plus, discount my opinion if need be as I am an amateur, but this saddle has been fantastic. I tried many saddles from the local bike shop’s saddle lending program prior to buying the Selle Anatomica, this included the Brooks B17, the Brooks Cambium, a few Selle gel models, and some misc. other brands. The Selle Anatomica was ridiculously comfortable on the first ride no break-in needed. After dialing it in it’s like riding on air. As an out of shape beginner(I used to mountain bike but I’ve never toured nor have I engaged in long road rides) I began with my starting point of 5 miles a day, over the year(and through Winter) I am just pushing into 25-30 miles a day. The feel and comfort of the saddle has only gotten better in my case even as the rides have become longer. For the record the longest I’m likely to spend riding in a day is 2 1/2 hours on a old rebuilt 1991 Cannondale sm800 refitted with Shimano XT components and 1.5 inch slicks so I’m no elite road cyclist or touring guru. I can’t comment on longevity but mine has worn well for the first year. Is it worth the price? It will depend on how many years I can squeeze out of it but for now I am extremely happy with this saddle.

  • Dylan Selinger

    This saddle seemed well made until I used it. Did some extensive testing of it on the Tour Divide over 2700 miles and the seat just became more and more deformed. The leather is far more stretched on one side of the saddle and it causes the nose of the saddle to twist. The result became an increasingly uncomfortable ride that never got better even with tensioning the saddle from the nose. Furthermore customer support was rather rude about the issue insisting that the deformity is my fault and that its ‘normal’ for the saddle to be misshapen like this. I call BS on that. Lastly they refused to help at all, would not take it back, told me to try and sell it, then HUNG UP ON ME!! **Don’t buy this product**

  • Donnieboy

    A proper bike fitting (a retul fit by a good fitter) and what that entails might fix uneven hip rotations (when the short and longer legs try to meet in the middle/one overcompensates). It’s easy to call it the saddle, but not definitely true. The bike must be fit first, then adjusted with the new saddle by someone who has assessed your bio-mechanics. Only then can one know.

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