The Essax Shark saddle tops our list of most-read articles in 2015... but why?
You may quite sensibly guess that the most-read article on the Cycling Weekly website for the whole of the year so far is a famous rider interview, an astounding video clip of an angry van driver or a fancy carbon-fibre bike test, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s a saddle review.
You could fill the entire London 2012 Olympic Stadium and some with the number of people who have now read our review of the uniquely-shaped Essax Shark saddle (RRP £79.99) after just two days of it being online.
The saddle steers from the norm by featuring a fin at the back. This, according to the manufacturer, is there to aid even distribution of weight between your sit bones and ensure correct alignment of your legs.
We’ve been scratching our heads as to why it has generated so much interest, and the reason may be less obvious than it seems.
Firstly, there’s the novelty factor of a bicycle perch not quite named after an English county that has a shark-fin shaped profusion that… well, quite honestly looks like it pokes up between your cheeks and could be uncomfortable, particularly for gentlemen.
Whilst other manufacturers have gone in the opposite direction, cutting saddles away here there and everywhere, Spanish brand Essax look like they’ve collected up the offcuts and put them to good use.
Needless to say, social media has been alight with witty comments, including gems such as “that should divide the peloton”, “crack keel”, “guaranteed to improve your out of the saddle climbing”, “is it a cure for piles?”and so on.
Putting aside the jibes, our reviewer, Henry Robertshaw, found the saddle “defied appearances to offer a fairly comfortable ride and a decent level of performance”.
What we really suspect, though – apart from the saddle’s appeal as a butt of people’s jokes – is that very few of us cyclists have actually ever found a saddle that we are truly happy with. Any new saddle design, however odd, is worthy of investigation in the quest for cycling comfort.
And to that end, in a sea of samey saddles, Essax must be applauded for trying something different.