ISM Adamo Podium saddle review

A seat to beat numbness

Our rating 
2.5 out of 5 star rating 2.5
£133.53 RRP

Our review

Depending on what it's used for, this saddle has two very different personalities.
Skip to view product specifications

Adamo’s Podium is an excellent saddle for time trialing. It supports the sit bones extremely well and relieves all pressure on the soft tissue down there, so there’s nary a hint of numbness.

Advertisement

The problem is that the Podium is built and marketed for road bike use. After an initial week of constant tweaking and a second try at the end of the test period, we still could not find a comfortable position for it on a road bike.

We did notice, however, that the lower one’s torso and the closer the torso-to-leg angle to 90 degrees, the more bearable the saddle became. This is why we went ahead and switched it to a time trial bike where the design seems to excel.

The negative experience we had on the road bike centres on the width of the nose, which chafed our inner thighs, and the way the saddle’s design relieves pressure in the centre but focuses it directly on your sit bones, which we found quite uncomfortable.

For context, our favourite road seats have a traditional shape that bows in the centre and keeps you in the sweet spot, like Fizik’s Aliante, Prologo’s Scratch and the now discontinued Selle San Marco Strada.

Design and construction

The Podium is the newest addition to Adamo’s line of ‘medically superior seats’ and was designed by Steve Toll, an avid cyclist and swimmer. His ISM technology (Ideal Saddle Modification) was developed in 1997.

“I was sitting in my bathroom reading and I thought, ‘I’m more comfortable here than on the bike’,” said Toll of the inspiration for his design. He also said that because it supports the rider in a drastically different manner, some people would take longer to adjust to sitting on the saddle.

Toll patented the design in 1999 and it benefited from the results of a 2004 blood flow test by Dr Frank Sommer at the University of Cologne in Germany which found that, unlike some other perches, ISM saddles do not significantly reduce or obstruct blood flow in the perineal area. They are now marketed to those who have fit or comfort issues with standard saddles, and men worried that their bike seats may cause impotence.

The Podium is meant as a road saddle, but we had better luck with it on our time trial bike.
The podium is meant as a road saddle, but we had better luck with it on our time trial bike.: the podium is meant as a road saddle, but we had better luck with it on our time trial bike.
Matt Pacocha

The Podium model is the raciest in Adamo’s line, designed with feedback from Tour de France riders. Perceptive fans will note that an Adamo ISM Racing saddle appeared on Lance Armstrong’s Trek Speed Concept time trial bike this January.

The Podium is longer and narrower than the model Armstrong picked or any of the brand’s other saddles, and it’s also the most minimally padded. It measures 27cm long and 13cm wide, features titanium rails and weighs 319g.

The saddle’s construction is on par with most mid to high level saddles; nothing separates it negatively or exceptionally, which does make the US$199.95 price (UK price TBC) seem slightly high. During our testing, we had no issue with its durability.

Final thoughts

In our experience, the ISM technology works as advertised. That’s why we like the saddle so much on the time trial bike and also why it didn’t perform well on the road. It clearly redistributes your weight away from the perineal area, but that redistribution places weight elsewhere and seemingly more sharply. Then there’s the issue of the wide nose.

“I feel that I have a responsibility not to go narrower with the saddle, because I personally will go numb if its even 10mm narrower and if I do, then I know others will too,” said Toll in response to our criticism of the saddle’s wide nose.

Advertisement

Saddle shapes always divide opinion. Our final recommendation mirrors the advice we would give for any saddle – try before you buy. If you’ve had trouble with numbness and finding comfort on a traditional seat, it might be worth moving the Podium to the top of your list of saddles to try.

The rear of the saddle is just meant to make it UCI compliant, only the front is meant for sitting.
The rear of the saddle is just meant to make it uci compliant, only the front is meant for sitting.: the rear of the saddle is just meant to make it uci compliant, only the front is meant for sitting.
Matt Pacocha

Product Specifications

Product

Name Podium
Brand ISM Adamo

Description Anatomically designed saddle
Manufacturer's Description he ultimate road racing saddle. It took 5 years of development for the Adamo Podium to reach the finish line. And we pulled out all the stops. Our staff worked closely with real Tour de France racers designing the perfect shape and slope, based on their professional racing experiences. The result is a longer, narrower, and leaner performance saddle. Don't settle, get on the Podium. Uses foam and gel padding and titanium alloy rails. 270mm long and 130 mm wide.
Weight (g) 319
Colour Black/Grey
Available Colours White
Width (mm) 130
Road/Performance Compatibility Road
Anti Compression Channel Yes
Saddle Padding Gel
Ergonomic Saddle Features Assurance of Blood Flow to Sensitive Areas
Saddle Rails Titanium
Saddle Cover Material Synthetic Leather
Saddle Shell Material Nylon Reinforced
Saddle Shaping Split Base
Saddle Scuff Guards Yes
Riding Position Support Forward