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Tag Archive: wilderness trail bikes

Product Review: WTB Freedom Aon Saddle

Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB for short) is a respected brand among mountain bikers – particularly in the realm of tires and saddles (aka seats). They’re now bringing that experience to bear on commuter-oriented products: WTB’s Freedom line of products is geared at bikes commuters are more likely to ride and aims to provide comfortable, functional gear at a reasonable price point. I’ve been testing their Aon saddle on my (newly resurrected!) road singlespeed, and it’s time to share some impressions.


As mentioned, one of the key components is value. At $39.99, the Aon (which is available in both men’s and women’s versions) certainly does that – it’s more comfortable than many more expensive saddles I’ve tested out. It is labeled as being for road bikes, and that’s precisely how it should be used – it is more comfortable when leaning forward than it is when sitting up straighter. I don’t have to be in the drops for it to be comfortable, but I wouldn’t want it on a cruiser! For bikes with a more upright position, Freedom offers several other saddles – if they’re as comfortable as the Aon, they may be worth checking out as well. Although we don’t have any more saddles on test, WTB provided us several products in this lineup for review, so look for more commentary on some Freedom grips and tires in the future!

WTB SST Saddle Returns for 2009

If you spend a lot of time riding your bike, you may come to value a particular saddle that works for you. Several years ago, I discovered the Wilderness Trail Bikes “SST” saddle (in my case, the SST.X “Flash” model) and I pretty much fell in love with it. Trouble was, WTB no longer made this saddle, and NIB/NOS examples can be hard to find on the auction market.

So, I was GREATLY excited when I heard during Interbike 2008 that WTB was going to be re-releasing the saddle for 2009. No word on when, exactly, they were going to bring it onto the market, and as of today they still don’t have it on their website… BUT, thanks to my pals in California and our friends at KHS Bicycles, I received a lovely Christmas gift of a pair of brand-new 2009 SST saddles to add to my fleet.

Here’s the new saddle:
sst

WTB kept the overall shape and construction of the original SST saddle…the flat back, abrasion-resistant corner panels and the distinctive dropped nose and dipped center area. Here’s a picture showing both saddles together — you can see just how similar the two are in shape:

old and new

What’s new with the saddle are subtle refinements in the construction and shape…the back portion of the saddle is a few millimeters wider and a bit flatter, catering to folks with slightly wide-set “sit bones” or anyone who prefers flat-backed saddles to sloping ones. A new feature, to me at least, is the inclusion of WTB’s “Comfort Zone”, which serves the same purpose as a saddle cutout but without a hole. Basically, it is an oval gap cut into the nylon shell of the saddle’s underside that is filled with a plug of softer material before the saddle’s cover is glued and stapled on. It works in preventing crotch numbness, that’s for sure…but to be honest, the original saddle works just fine at that, too.

comfort zone

Although the saddle is designed for mountain bike cross-country and all-mountain disciplines, it works very well on the road, too. It is narrow enough not to look out of place on a skinny-tired machine and comfortable enough for long miles. The saddle rails have enough fore-aft adjustability in them to suit just about any application, and the saddle appears to be very well constructed.

I neglected to weigh the saddles before installing them on my bikes, but I can say they’re not lightweights. I’d guess they push the scales around 280-290 grams. These particular saddles came with chromoly rails, but I suspect that WTB will also offer a titanium-railed version at some point (this is only conjecture). WTB, if you’re reading this: PLEASE bring back glitter vinyl, even if you do it in limited-editions. I’ll stand in line to buy some more Bootsy Collins bling!

I’ll be riding with these over the next few months and I’ll let you know how they turn out. Since I got them for Christmas, I’ve already put about 150 miles on them — and they feel just like my trusty old saddle!

flatback