Clever split

Many triathlon professionals now ride saddles with split noses on their tri bikes, such as the PN 3.0 from ISM. A closer look at this popular split-nose model.

| September 26, 2018 | GEAR

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

For triathletes, a bike with a split-nose saddle has become the new norm. ISM has long been a leader in this category of saddles and many top stars in the sport rely on the company for their saddle needs.

The background behind the split-nose saddle concept is simple: the extra space at the front reduces the pressure on the perineum, which allows for more blood flow to the area and reduces numbness and discomfort in the area. But for it all to work a bit of adjustment is required: ISM recommends the "5-and-5 rule" during set up: the saddle is placed about five inches further back and, at the same time, five millimeters lower than a "normal" saddle with a long, one-piece nose. When it comes to the slope of the saddle, ISM doesn't have any specific recommendations -  that tends to change from person to person. Of course you might have to make some more adjustments once you're out on the road.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

In terms of comfort and setting options, the latest ISM model, the PN 3.0, improves on the previous models in the PN (Performance Narrow) line, 1.0 or the 2.1. The rear of the seat is a bit wider, but the split nose on the PN 3.0 is few mm narrower and a bit longer. As a result, the inside of the thighs are less likely to touch the saddle, which gives bike fitters more room to find the optimal sitting position in which comfort, aerodynamics and stability are perfectly balanced.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

This increased scope greatly facilitates the search for the "sweet spot" when it comes to bike fit. Once you finally find that spot, you shouldn't find yourself slipping on the saddle, which should enhance your performance.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

Like all split-nose saddles, the ISM PN 3.0 is designed for riding in the aero position, so it's not as comfortable for the more upright position utilized on a road bike. The goal of a good tri fit, though, is to allow you to maintain the aero position for as long as possible, and the ISM PN 3.0 can be an excellent piece of equipment to make that happen.

Photo >Nils Flieshardt

The saddle is available with either a black or white cover and with different shell colors. There are also a few different versions: the 3.0 is equipped with stainless steel rails, the 3.0 C is a lighter version made with carbon rails and the 3.1 has almost the same shape, but has a thicker pad compared than the other 3 Series models. The price is 224.95 euros (US$224.88) for the 3.0. The carbon version sells for 449.95 euros ($US399.88).