BIKERUMOR REVIEW: Over the last 12 years, I’ve put in some time on a number of different road saddles.Â Some I liked, some I didn’t, but most had at least some good points.
Prior to the Romin, I was rotating through saddles and riding different review bikes with an alarming frequency, all the while talking to friends to see what they’re sitting on.Â It seems virtually every cyclist that rides a Specialized saddle loves it…but no one had ridden the new Romin saddles yet.Â One quick call to Specialized later and my butt’s on the Romin SL, a new saddle for 2010 that’s also supporting the butts of Team Saxobank (check out the interview from their training camp and first thoughts on this saddle).
First thoughts?Â Best road saddle I’ve ever ridden.Â Why?Â Read on…
What’s In The Box?
I’ve seen some Specialized saddles at retail that come with bar tape, so if you’re in the market, it’s worth double checking the seats for any bonus goodies stuck to the back of the packaging.Â Basically, here’s what you get: Saddle, piece of plasticky packaging with information about Speciaized’s Body Geometry science.
The Romin and Romin SL Saddles come in three widths: 130mm, 143mm and 155mm.Â Specialized dealers have (or should have) BG sit tests that you sit on to measure the width of your sit bones, then buy the appropriate saddle.Â I went to Cycles de Oro to do it and, despite being 6’2″ and of normal proportions (ie. not super skinny, hips-like-a-10-year-old-boy), the gadget suggested I’d fit the narrowest 130mm saddle.Â From what I can tell over the last few months, it didn’t lie.
Claimed weight on Specialized’s website for the Romin SL 130: 204g.Â Actual weight on our Park Tools scale: 204g. Nice.
Claimed weights for the other sizes are 208g (143mm) and 215g (155mm).Â The Romin (non-SL) has claimed weights of 229g, 230g and 236g respectively.Â The length on all models is 270mm.Â Retail is $110 for the Romin, $150 for the Romin SL.
The only difference between the Romin and Romin SL are the rails.Â The SL gets lighter hollow Ti rails and the regular version gets hollow chromoly rails.Â Otherwise, they’re the same with a one-piece carbon-reinforced shell, “medium” rated padding and a water resistant Micromatrix cover.Â They’re both available in black and white (tested), and the SL adds a white/red version that swaps the black shell for a red one.
The Romin has a wide channel that runs almost the entire length of the shell.Â The shell is a carbon reinforced plastic that’s tough enough for offroad use (which is good, because that’s where this saddle is headed next since we already have another new road saddle in to test…and Specialized’s marketing guy Nic says he’s running one on his mountain bike, too).
What makes the Romin different from any other saddle Specialized makes is the kicked up tail.Â They say it provides just enough of a bumper to push against, which is helpful on climbs and harder seated efforts.
How’s It Ride?
Installed, the tail’s rise isn’t quite as dramatic.Â Speaking of installation, because the seat isn’t flat, getting it level, as most fitters recommend, takes a little fine tuning as there’s really no good way to set a level on it as you’re making adjustments.Â That said, from the very first ride, the Romin has been extremely comfortable, but even after several months of riding, I’m still tinkering with the angle now and then.
If you’re used to a perfectly flat saddle, the Romin may at first seem to be pushing you forward.Â Even now, on some rides, I feel like I’m sliding forward a bit, but as you can see above, it’s sorta angled forward a bit anyway…which is why I’m still tweaking the settings occasionally.Â It’s worth noting that the Micromatrix cover material does a good job of keeping you in place…it’s grippy enough to keep you from sliding around, but smooth enough to allow quick maneuvering.
These orangish-brown marks on the sides appeared after the very first ride, which is odd because my shorts were clean and the chamois was not orange (or even tan) colored.Â They haven’t gone away, either, despite hopes and wishes and absolutely no other efforts to clean it.
From the pics above and below, you’ll notice that a) the nose of the saddle is a bit wider than some, and b) the center relief channel actually continues it’s groove all the way through the nose.Â The width of the nose never felt awkward or intrusive, though.
Here’s one of the best things about this saddle:Â Never, not even once for a tiny bit, did I experience any numbness while on this saddle.Â Even before I got it dialed in.Â Even on long, 2.5+ hour rides in 40Âº or lower temps.Â Even on hour-long trainer rides where I’m seated for the duration.Â Perhaps that last bit is the most telling proof that the Body Geometry system works…on a trainer, it never feels like you’re putting the same force on your body as when outside, and thus is always seems like more pressure is on the sit bones (for me, anyway).Â While it didn’t make trainer riding any more enjoyable (but this, this and this have), it was always comfortable.
The Specialized Romin SL is the first saddle I’ve ever put on my bike that’s just felt right from day one.Â Yeah, I’m still tweaking the angle on it, but every ride’s been more enjoyable.Â It’s amazing how an uncomfortable saddle can ruin even the best of rides, and finding one that works for you is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you can upgrade with regards to your enjoyment of your bike.Â And, as Team Saxobank illustrates, you don’t need to trade comfort for performance…the Romin delivers both in spades.Â I’d highly recommend it.
Editor’s Note: Why not a full Five Thumbs up?Â The color rub on the side really detracts from the cosmetics of the saddle, and it doesn’t appear to be caused by my shorts…we’ve run into this issue with other white saddles we’ve ridden.Â If they could make it so it stays white, it’d be money.Â For all practical purposes, though, this saddle is perfect.Â If you’re a fan of perfectly flat seats, I’d recommend checking out one of Specialized’s other saddles just based on the Romin’s comfort and the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard from many, many other riders.