It’s been a little while since we first reported on the ISM Adamo Century Seat from Ideal Saddle Modification. We finished our initial review back in May and have been busy testing this seat since then. As we mentioned in our first review, this seat is such a serious departure from your standard cycling seat that it’s taken us a bit of time to get used to the new sensations and fit. Before we get into the details, here is a bit of background on ISM and the Century seat from our initial review. The ISM Adamo Century Seat is available at most cycling stores, online, and directly from ISM for an MSRP of $129.95.
Background on ISM:
Steve Toll, ISM’s founder, first conceptualized the Adamo seat in 1997 and received a patent for the design in 1999. Though the design is a bit complex, the idea is simple: Steve experienced quite a bit of discomfort using standard seats because the nose of the seat hits most people in the perineal area, that is, soft tissue. The ISM Adamo seats get rid of the nose and allow your body to rest on your sit bones.
Though unique, the ISM product line is becoming more and more popular: according to ISM, in 2008 alone 11 IM winners, 2 Olympic Silver Medals, 1 World Duathlon Champ and 1 Lifetime Fitness Series Overall winner used the ISM seats.
Testing the ISM Adamo Century Seat:
In our initial review, we discussed the first two rides we completed with the Century seat. We detailed the fitting process and the minor adjustments and tweaks we made before we were pleased with the fit. Actually, when we wrapped up our initial review, we weren’t completely pleased with the fit, though we felt we were on the right track. Even before getting the fit exactly right, we noticed a decrease in pressure and discomfort while using the ISM Century seat.
Since our initial review, we’ve put over 700 additional miles on the saddle and we’re very comfortable discussing our testing outcomes and findings.
First, and we can’t stress this enough, you have to start fresh when installing this seat. Everything you knew and liked about your old seat position is wrong. Level out your seatpost, install the ISM seat, and bring your tools with you on the first rides.
Some of our initial problems and failure to get the seat perfect stemmed from not having our seat post completely level. Thought comfortable with our old seat, the slight upward angle of our post caused some discomfort with the ISM seat. After flattening out our post, all discomfort and pressure totally disappeared.
You won’t get the seat positioned correctly on the first or second try. This seat radically changes your geometry, so don’t get upset or frustrated when it does not fit perfectly on the first or second try. Though we had most of the big issues worked out by the second ride, we continued to tweak the settings and adjustments for the first half dozen rides or so. This is normal.
Ultimately, we have the seat almost completely level and it’s very comfortable. We even found the seat comfortable when slightly off-level, with the nose pointing down, but your exact position will vary.
Once you get this seat set correctly, you’ll know it right away. Most, if not all, of the pain and pressure you associate with riding disappears. Though not consistent, at times we have experienced back pain on our old seat. This hasn’t been an issue in the 800+ miles we’ve clocked on the ISM Century. We noticed the greatest improvements when riding two days in a row. Though we might be a bit sore on the second day, the soreness was noticeably less serious than with our standard seat.
As mentioned above, we’ve used this saddle for over 800 miles total. In that time we’ve done some time trials, numerous 1-2.5 hour rides, and a few 4+ hour rides. We’ve used this seat when riding on the brake hoods with other cyclists and in the aero position on our own. We’ve ridden three or four days in a row at times with limited soreness and pain.
The ISM Century seat is a totally different beast from your standard cycling saddle. The short nose and forked seat can be off-putting to some cyclists. We’ve met cyclists and triathletes that swear by this design and a few that didn’t like the product at all. Our experience was excellent.
We found that the ISM Century Seat absolutely decreased pressure, soreness, stiffness and fatigue when riding. The decrease in perineal pressure was noticeable. Other cyclists reported, though we didn’t experience firsthand, that standard seats caused bloodflow issues that impacted them sexually. These cyclists, though not part of our test, report that the ISM style seat has decreased or eliminated these issues.
After months and miles of using this seat as we train for our first Iron Distance Race, we’re pleased to report that the ISM Century seat performs as advertised. It reduces pain, increases endurance, and provides a very comfortable ride. We’re pleased to recommend this seat to our readers.