It's no secret that I'm absolutely bonkers about Dash Cycles. The carbonsmiths from Boulder, Colorado are making what I consider to be the absolute finest triathlon saddles around. Their first triathlon offering was the Tri.7, which basically nailed the split-nose concept and did it at an insanely low weight of 79 grams. Over time, they expanded the range not only with special-feature versions like the TT.9 and Stage.9, but also with a second overall shape, to fit riders with both wider and narrower sit bones. In my opinion, there's very little that they aren't doing to serve the market.
But now Dash is upping the ante a bit more by offering fully-customizable saddles. And it's a logical step. Every saddle mentioned above has a price tag north of $450, making them the most expensive seat you're ever likely to buy. But for that amount of cash, you get something truly special, which I've tried to explain in detail in the reviews linked above.
The Dash custom program allows discerning customers, for a small surcharge, to specify the color of your saddle cover, the color of the logo stitches, and even the color of the kevlar-wrapped carbon fiber saddle rails. I was really interested to see how much could be done, even with a single color. So I commissioned three saddles from Dash, all using orange accents in various permutations. The results are pictured in the gallery below, and they are quite stunning.
One important thing to note is that not every available option is shown on the Dash website. Some options, like the stunning orange cover shown here, are only available by getting in touch with Dash directly and asking for it. So if you have a hankering for something extra-special, don't hesitate to contact them. They'll take care of you.
I did all three of my saddles with burnt-orange kevlar on the rails. It's a subtle change from the standard blood-red, and just enough to indicate that these babies are TriRig originals. Dash can do them in several other colors as well, to match just about any bike out there. I rocked one with a white cover, one with black, and for good measure, did one up in bright orange. I couldn't be happier with how these things turned out, and they're going to be on my rigs for many years to come.
All three of these custom saddles are the Stage.9 model. You may recall that when I reviewed the Tri.7, I noted that its shorty length was actually perfect for triathlon use. It's short, but provides all the saddle you actually need when used properly. However, because its rail structure is so short, you don't get an enormous amount of adjustment range. I was using the saddle primarily on a Trek Speed Concept, which has a four-position seat post that goes out to 81 degrees. But not all bikes have that much range. What I find so useful about the Stage.9 is that, because it's so much longer than the Tri.7, its rail structure provides an extra bit of adjustment range. So, essentially, it means I can still use a Dash saddle on bikes whose seatposts don't provide enough of a steep angle. For example, if a bike's post only goes out to 77 degrees, I'll throw on a Stage.9 and still get exactly where I need to be.
This brings me to the other area of customization that is so awesome, and where Dash's customer service shines even brighter. The original Stage.9 saddle had fairly short rails, and left much of the rear of the saddle sitting above empty air. But based on customer feedback, Dash found that a lot of folks wanted additional adjustment range, so they lengthened the rail structure, standard. But I wanted to make sure I had the maximum range possible, so I also asked Dash to move the rails back relative to the saddle shell, so that I could essentially slam the saddle further forward on bikes with seatposts too shallow for my position. And Dash delivered. The three Stage.9 saddles I got all have an enormous range of adjustment, especially when compared to the original gem, the Tri.7.
Of course, given that the saddle is about 50% larger than its smaller sibling, you might expect it carries a weight penalty. And it does - just barely. The Stage.9, with full triple-layer padding, comes in at an other-worldly 99g. For those counting, that makes it a scant 20 grams heavier than the Tri.7, and still HUNDREDS of grams lighter than even the lightest saddle from most big-name brands.
Oh, and in case you're curious, the Dash guys haven't been resting on their laurels with regard to other products. They're doing some serious development, and will probably have some more goodies to show off in the near future. But for now, I have to say I really like what they've done with the tri saddle lineup. If you are considering a Dash saddle, and especially if the details of the custom program have caught your eye, you might want to get in line. It turns out that TriRig readers have been inundating Dash with so many orders that there's a bit of a backlog. You can get started right at the Dash Cycles, and if you talk to the Dash guys directly, be sure to tell them TriRig sent you.