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Review: ISM Adamo Attack Saddle

I've written quite a bit about saddles, and specifically about split-nose designs. Today's article is about one of the latest and greatest from split-nose pioneer ISM Saddles. This is the Adamo Attack, and it's easily the best saddle I've ever used from ISM. Moreover, I think it's the best place for any triathlete to start when searching for a good seat. Or, it would have been, had ISM not released a nearly identical but less expensive version of the saddle, called the PN 1.1 (stands for "Performance Narrow"). The PN 1.1 has the exact same shape as the Attack, but slightly more padding, and a heavier weight. But at just $149.99, it's a great way to explore the awesomeness of split-nose saddles without breaking the bank.

The Attack's profile is somewhat linear: that is, its width from front to back increases in a rather linear fashion, in contrast to the original Adamo whose width remains fairly constant for the first 10cm or so, then flares out rapidly. The Attack's more linear geometry has three significant benefits. First, and most important, it allows you to self-select the area of the saddle that is most comfortable for you. In most cases, this will be the portion of the saddle that matches the stance width of your own sit bones (ischial tuberosities). My theory is that people who have had bad experiences on saddles like the original Adamo dislike it specifically because it doesn't match the distance between their ischial tuberosities. And that's why you hear stories about people using zip ties to narrow the front of their Adamo, specifically to make it better match their bodies. No need to do that here, you just sit on the part of the saddle that's comfortable for you.

The Adamo Attack felt right at home on my Cervelo P2.
The second benefit of the linear width change in the Adamo Attack is that it provides additional clearance for your hamstrings during the second half of the pedal stroke. This is pretty straightforward, and though not everyone experiences hamstring rub with the wider-flared saddles, many do. The third benefit is related to the second; with a narrower rear half, the Adamo Attack is generally more comfortable to use in the upright position. That is, when you're riding in the base bar rather than in aero. In my experience, even a little bit of fore-aft movement can cause discomfort if the rear half of the saddle is way too wide for you. With the Adamo Attack, the linear width increase means you aren't suddenly going to be sitting on a saddle 30mm wider than you'd like it to be.

I loved this saddle from the very first ride. To be fair, its profile is quite similar to the Dash Stage.9 I've been riding most often, but has a little more plush padding. That meant I was able to position it almost identically to where my Dash saddle had been, and the extra padding would provide a little margin of error. If you're new to split-nose saddles, you'll need a little time to find the right fore-aft position (likely farther back than you think) and the right tilt (often a degree or two down can be really helpful). ISM has some great resources on their website to get you started.

The Attack is quite similar to my Dash Stage.9
My only real gripe with Adamo saddles is that on occasion, the two "prongs" of the split nose can settle on different heights. That is, one prong sticks up a little higher than the other, when they should be dead level. I once had a saddle where this difference was nearly a centimeter, even though the saddle was brand new. But in general, this problem is rare, and ISM had this to say about the issue:

This is something we hear about in customer service, and we address on our website. In 99% of cases, it is installation or seatpost-related. Many of the modern posts (especially aero posts) have two independent left and right sides where the rails of the seat rest. The mounting points can tilt up and down completely independent of one another. This makes it imperative that the user lines up those two opposite sides at the same angle before tightening the bolt or bolts... not doing so pulls on the rails and forces the front arms up or down as you tighten. The easy fix is to loosen the seatpost rail bolt about halfway and re-align the two halves of the saddle clamp mechanism. Then, simply re-tighten the bolt(s).

-Greg Kopecky, ISM Brand Commander
Regardless, I'm sure that if you had a problem with this, that ISM's excellent customer service would take care of you. The saddle is also not in the "ultralight" camp, at 314g on my scale, but unless you're looking to plunk down the cash for a Dash (an extra $200 for a little over 200g saved), that shouldn't worry you.

The bottom line is that Adamo saddles are straight up awesome, and the Attack is (in my opinion) their best offering yet. ISM's split-nose designs have permeated every facet of the tri world, inspiring similar designs from virtually every other saddle maker. Even riders at the highest levels of the Pro Tour have used Adamo saddles, bucking the pro peloton traditions that ordinarily prevent riders from trying new ideas or innovations. At any price, finding a comfortable saddle is a bargain. This is the first Adamo I've loved as much as my wicked (and wickedly expensive) Dash saddles. And with ISM introducing the identically-shaped PN 1.1 at $149.99 (the Attack shown here is $249.99), athletes can finally check out the benefits of this excellent design at a more reasonable price. If you haven't found your perfect saddle yet, and especially if you haven't given split-nose designs a chance, this is the place to start.