The bicycle saddle market bewilders me. Why do manufacturers ship bikes with shit saddles? Just as you shouldn’t skimp on your mattress, the bike saddle is the bit of the bike that spends many hours in contact with your arse. I admit to not really giving the Affinity 2 saddle that came with my Domane four-and-a-half much of a chance. It’s not even on the radar as far as Bontrager saddles you can buy in the shop. I already had the Charge Spoon, upon which I also hadn’t ridden out much. Nevertheless, I forked out €76 for the Fizik (it came from Germany, very efficiently). The back story to this is that I figured that a saddle designed for an inflexible person would suit me, because I’m hardly Olga Korbut.
Short version: not. Longer version: I tried it for half a dozen rides, hoping I’d get used to it, but never found it comfortable. I think I actually move around on the saddle more than a “Bull” would, so (giving Fizik the benefit of the doubt), it probably wasn’t the right one for me.
But here’s the thing. The only way to try a saddle is to install it and spend quite a lot of time on it. You can’t look at it in a shop and know whether it’s any good. You can’t sniff it, scratch it, rub it, touch it, weigh it in your hands. The only way to test a saddle is to use it until it becomes second hand. Which now my Fizik is. Half a dozen rides in, it’s going on eBay.
I considered putting the Affinity back on, but went for the Charge Spoon (£20). It immediately felt more comfortable (£50 cheaper hurts a bit, though). I did stop to shift it forward a couple of cm, but the saddle itself feels miles better than the Fizik on my backside.
I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got the right saddle, but – as with the damn shoes – you could spend a fortune trying to work this problem through.
2. Chapeau Pave Bib Shorts (green pad)
These are available with three different pads – the colour is on the inside, so the outside of the shorts are just black-on-black. I got these as part of an offer – free with a jersey (review to follow). When I ordered, the choice was green (upright position) or red (on the drops). So depending on how you do most of your riding, you choose. Now they appear to be available with a blue pad for the *cough*heavier*cough* rider (me), which I wish I could have ordered instead.
Anyway, these are okay. Chapeau are in the same part of the market as Rapha and Café du Cycliste, priced somewhere between the two. Not as up their own arses as Rapha, perhaps. No zips on the shorts, so you just get into them. I’ve given in to the inevitable and I’ve decided to order extra large in everything. There are people fatter than me out there, and taller, and I don’t honestly know how they get on. I guess that’s why Fat Lad At The Back exists.
Anyway, these shorts are okay. They’re true to size, I guess, and comfortable to wear. They’re well padded, and seemed to indeed offer better padding in an upright position than standard bib shorts.
The Mistral jacket I ordered with these is for colder rides, so I didn’t wear it today (a balmy 16°C).
3. Panasonic Leather case (DMW-CGK28E-K) for Lumix GM1.
I’d be happier if this came in a colour other than black, but it’s a neat leather case to hold your dinky GM1 in, and protect it from the kind of scratches it might take if stuffed in a pocket with your keys. You get: case, strap, and lanyard.
On the plus side, it’s well made, and doesn’t add too much weight to the camera. I used my own (wider) Couch strap, but it was comfortable to carry around for a day. It protects the camera which fits snugly. It looks great, like one of those traditional leather cases.
On the minus side, well. The lanyard is hopeless for use as a lanyard. Instead, you just fit it around the strap (but not a wide strap), so the camera is secure around your neck. I haven’t tried this, and I don’t think I like the idea – especially if it means abandoning my Couch strap. Also, while I like the retro vibe of a snug fitting case, you ought to be able to flip the front down and operate the camera while it’s in the case. That’s how these cases are meant to work, but this one doesn’t. You have to take the whole camera out – maybe that’s because you’re having to use the touch screen as a viewfinder, but it’s not very elegant. So it ends up being a bit fiddly, and you start second-guessing yourself. Am I going to take another photo in a minute? Do I put it back in the case? Or do I keep it handy?
The other other minus side is that this is a perfect fit with the original kit lens – but not for any other. So it really is a case only for the person who is probably not going to get another lens.
It looks nice but it’s not very practical.