By Ed Pavelka
For a gel saddle, the 2003 Comp is quite an achievement — relatively light, sleek and not squishy. In fact, it’s about the firmest gel saddle we’ve tried.
Fred got the white version and rode it about 20 hours. He prefers to be sitting on it rather than looking at it. The color reminds him of his 4-year-old niece’s patent leather purse.
I got the black one and rode it 14 hours. I removed it after developing a saddle sore bad enough to require antibiotics.
Fred and I had similar riding impressions, which means maybe you can put at least a little stock in this review. Saddles are so personal that you’re smart to be dubious of anyone’s thumb up or down.
We thought the Comp felt okay for a few minutes during initial rides, Then it seemed too hard. The gel sections are thin and the foam is relatively dense. Our sit bones felt no cushion after settling in.
Also, the top is perfectly flat from nose to tail (no slight dip). This made us feel more like we were perched on the saddle rather than fitting with it.
Our longest rides on the Comp were three hours. Although we more or less adapted to it, we found that it never “disappeared” beneath us, which a really good saddle can do (much of the time).
The Comp is made in Italy with a leather top over hollow manganese rails. It looks right at home on a fine road bike.
But that could be said about lots of saddles. The added advantage of this seat, as part of Specialized’s Body Geometry line, is supposed to be less crotch contact resulting in less risk of potentially injurious pressure.
One of us experienced occasional brief numbness. It wasn’t, however, caused by the type of crotch compression that plagues most gel saddles. Sit bones can’t sink into a plush cushion to make the center press upwards against nerves and blood vessels. The Comp’s gel is too thin to allow that, and it’s isolated in two pockets.
The original Comp had thicker padding (just foam) and a deep V-wedge from tail to nose. It wasn’t an ugly saddle, but it was unconventional — for good reason. Since then, the stylists have made each succeeding Comp version (this is the fourth) look sleeker. For ’03, the wedge isn’t much more than a half-length design element.
The Comp is wide enough across the tail for good sit-bones support. That’s essential for reducing pressure on the crotch’s soft tissue. But, again, it’s something that lots of saddles offer.
The first words in Specialized’s website description of the Comp are “beautifully styled.” That seems to have become the fate of a saddle that was originally designed by a doctor for anatomical benefits.
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