This past winter I put a Planet Bike A.R.S. Standard Saddle on my new Surly Necromancer and liked it so much I ended up buying two more for my other mountain bikes. At the time I had no intention of putting this saddle on my road bikes because I thought it weighed too much (about 470 grams). However, after riding all winter with the Planet Bike A.R.S. Standard Saddle I tried to get back on the beautiful Italian racing saddles I have on my road bikes and decided those saddles just weren’t that great after all—even though they seemed comfortable last year. After talking with the good folks at Planet Bike they sent me a Planet Bike A.R.S. Competition Saddle to review and it works perfectly for my road bikes.
Like the Standard A.R.S. (Anatomic Relief Saddle), the main feature of the Competition saddle is the full length center recess that provides anatomic relief for the perineum. It also has comfortable gel pads in the area of your sit-bones. The exterior materials for the Competition saddle are of a slightly higher quality than the Standard saddle (and a bit smoother). This saddle has steel rails and a waterproof cover. After riding on muddy days I sometimes use a water hose to clean off my bikes and this saddle cleans up great! This waterproof cover is very slick which means it is great at reducing friction (the longer you ride the more you will appreciate this feature).
The only complaint I’ve heard about the Standard saddle is that it was too wide for some cyclists. The good news is that the Competition saddle is narrower, but still extremely comfortable. I have logged many rides of over 50 miles with both saddles without any problem. I think the highest compliment I can give these saddles is this: after a 50 or 60 mile ride I can go into a restaurant and sit on a hard chair without thinking about the ride!
If you are ready for a new saddle and can’t decide between the Standard and the Competition model, I would suggest you start with the Standard and if it is too wide for you switch to the Competition. However, if you want a narrower saddle I would start with the Competition saddle.
A special note to Weight Weenies: At 405 grams (about 14 ounces) I know this is not the lightest saddle on the market. However, with this saddle I find that I am not constantly changing positions like I do with most other saddles. Any time I am moving around trying to find a more comfortable position it usually means I am slowing down a bit as well. If you are only riding 20 or 30 miles at a time you can get by with just about any saddle. However, the longer you ride the more important it is to be comfortable as you ride.
The Planet Bike ARS Competition Saddle retails for $55, and is available in two sizes. The men’s saddle (SKU #5022) is 6″ wide x 11.75″ long and weighs 405g. The women’s saddle (SKU #5023) is 6.5″ wide x 11″ long.
When the folks at Planet Bike sent the Competition saddle for review they also included the updated versions of the Planet Bike Aquilo Windproof Cycling Glove and the Planet Bike Orion Full Finger Cycling Glove (click on these links for the product reviews I did last year). These gloves have not changed much since last year’s model. The Orion glove is designed for cool weather—they are the first gloves I turn to when I need something warmer than my summer gloves. The Aquilo glove is not much warmer than the Orion, but it is far better for use on windy days. Both of these gloves can be purchased at your local bike shop or the Planet Bike Website.