This Barely There Bike Seat Might Be the Most Comfortable Ever
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because who wants to pedal with a sore butt?
By Robert Earle Howells
The Infinity Bike Seat looks like an artist’s incomplete rendering of a bike seat — a sketch, an outline. All perimeter and no middle, dispensing with the tradition of being something to sit on. I was skeptical at first, but a thousand miles later, I can honestly say I love this crazy seat. And I’ve seen my share of bike seats — I’m an avid cyclist and have been reviewing bikes and bike gear for more than three decades.
“Bring your bike and riding gear,” they suggested when I went to pick up my saddle in person. (The seat is primarily sold online, but I happen to live near the company office.) “They” is chiropractor Vince Marcel and his wife and marketing manager, Diane. Their El Segundo, California, office is set up with a number of bike trainers, devices that turn your road bike into an indoor ride. (The office also has something of a museum collection of god-awful bike seats from the past.) Marcel grabbed my bike, popped off the rear wheel, mounted the Model L2 and instructed me to climb aboard.
Marcel, a very fit triathlete, got into cycling 23 years ago to blow off stress during chiro school, and as a student of human anatomy, noticed that he was painfully uncomfortable. His coach’s words of wisdom? “Suck it up.” Which is pretty much standard advice for bicycle riders worldwide: Just keep riding; you’ll build calluses on your tush. “What — wait till it goes numb? That made no sense to me,” says Marcel.
The reason most bike seats are uncomfortable is because your ischial tuberosities — your butt bones — concentrate the weight of your body on a scrawny little seat and keep it there. Padded or not, most bike seats compress the nerves between the butt bones and the saddle. (Thick padding may help, but that detracts from smooth pedaling.) Pain happens, as do sundry indignities ranging from saddle sores to genital numbness and even impotence. Marcel’s solution: Do away with the center of the seat where the pressure takes place.
It’s the fatty part of the tush that contacts the saddle, not the delicate ischial tuberosities.
It’s not like you don’t feel the seat — you’ll sense its perimeter, which is flexible plastic with a whisker-thin bit of neoprene padding wrapped in leather. But it’s the fatty part of the tush that contacts the saddle, not the delicate ischial tuberosities. The saddle’s inherent flex feels a bit springy, and an upward swoop toward the back gives it a bit of leverage that contributes to an efficient spinning motion when pedaling. It weighs a mere 240 grams, laughably light for a bike seat.
Cyclists far more avid than I have embraced the Infinity. It’s become the darling of the RAAM (Race Across America) set — bike racers who spend up to 20 hours a day in the saddle in a grueling, 3,000-mile coast-to-coast bike race. More than a dozen RAAM riders, including two top-five finishers, used the Infinity in last year’s RAAM.
Still, the $297 Infinity isn’t for everyone. It’s probably best not to use it for mountain biking, for which you need to slide back for balance on bumpy downhills. On the road, criterium and stage racers need a stiffer saddle to negotiate turns and bends. The flexy Infinity is not for them.
But for anyone else who has endured discomfort or relegated their bikes to a back corner of the garage, the pressure-point-free Infinity is worth a spin.
- Robert Earle Howells, OZY AuthorContact Robert Earle Howells