Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why ISM?
ISM was created for your comfort and health. Traditional bike seats are uncomfortable, and reduce blood flow to your most important body parts. Check out our research page to read the articles and peer-reviewed studies, along with our own test results showing the superior performance of ISM seats.
How do we do it? ISM seats are nose-less; literally missing the front 2-7cm (1-3 inches) of seat. Along with a patented, proprietary shape and design, the rider rests his or her weight on the sit bones (ischial tuberosities) and pubic rami bones of the pelvis – instead of soft tissue areas. The result is no numbness, maximum blood flow, and of course – comfort!
All of this adds up to a product that allows you to concentrate on riding, instead of your seat. Whether you’re gunning for the World Championship or just out for a Sunday stroll, ISM will make your ride safer, faster, and more enjoyable.
2. Which ISM seat is right for me?
This is perhaps the most common question we get. The first choice is between our Comfort and Performance lines. If you’re riding an upright hybrid, beach cruiser, or other casual bike, you’re likely best with a Comfort seat. They are made for riding with or without bike shorts, and are truly made for a couch-like experience. If you’re riding a road, triathlon, cyclocross, or other performance-oriented bike, choose from our Performance line.
For more information on which specific seat to choose, please visit our Saddle Selector page.
3. How do I properly set up my ISM seat?
ISM saddles are clearly different than traditional seats, and must be set up differently for maximum comfort. As mentioned in question 1, ISM seats are about 2-7cm (1-3 inches) shorter in the front compared to other seats. It you put your ISM seat in the exact same position as your old seat, it will be much too far forward.
For a good rule of thumb on setup, use our “5 and 5 Rule”. When installing your ISM seat, place it 5 centimeters (2 inches) further back and 5 millimeters (1/4 inch) lower than your old seat. This will get you in the ballpark, and you can make small adjustments from there to get it dialed in perfectly.
Do not forget to lower your ISM; because you ride on your bone structure instead of soft tissue with our saddles, you effectively ride up a little bit higher. Lowering the seat keeps your body in the same position as on your old saddle. Also don’t forget – you’re lowering the seat relative to the ground or the center of the bottom bracket. Do not simply lower the seatpost by 5mm without measuring the bike and saddle. Not all seats are the same height from rail-to-top.
4. I heard that ISM saddles are wider than other brands – is it true?
This is a fairly common question that is largely due to improper setup. In the vast majority of cases, people who say that their ISM seat is too wide have it positioned too far forward, and too high. Some folks may have even placed their ISM seat in the same position as their old seat, which is incorrect (see question #3 above). In other situations, some people just don’t believe that ISM seats need to be setup that much differently than other seats. Bicycling is full of tradition, and some people that are shocked when they must make a 2 millimeter change in their seat position, let alone 2 inches.
ISM seats really are missing the nose, and really must be positioned differently. We assist with bike setup all the time, and have seen countless instances where proper setup turns an ISM changes from ‘uncomfortable’ to the ‘best seat I’ve ever ridden’ in a matter of seconds. The ISM width is by-design for your health, safety, and comfort.
A final note - we do offer many different models of seat to accommodate different rider preferences. Our Performance Narrow line includes the Attack, PN 1.1, and PN 2.0 - our narrowest seat offerings. Folks who desire more thigh/hamstring clearance are recommended to choose from Performance Narrow, which is also part of our Demo program (for information on Demos, see #8 below).
5. Are your seats for road bikes? Triathlon bikes? Hybrid bikes? Mountain bikes?
The short answer is – Yes! We make seats for all types of bicycles. For more information, see question #2 above (Which ISM seat is right for me?).
6. Are your seats for men or women?
Our seats are not gender-specific – they’re human-specific. All of our models are unisex.
We’re often asked, “Don’t men and women have different anatomy?” Their reproductive organs are indeed different, but both men and women are much more comfortable when they’re not riding on soft tissue – regardless of what that soft tissue looks like. Both have the same arteries and nerves that lead to the genitals, which are compressed when riding traditional bike seats.
7. My sit bones were measured to be exactly 134.799mm wide. Do you make a seat to match my sit bones?
The topic of sit bone width in cycling is rising in popularity. Simply put, it is not a concern with ISM seats due to their unique design.
Traditional bike seats are often very wide in the rear. This is an attempt to reduce pressure on the nose of the seat, by better supporting the rear. ISM seats eliminate the uncomfortable area altogether – there is no nose. Therefore, a wide rear section is not necessary.
Any cycling coach will tell you that it is advantageous to roll the hips forward for better power output and performance. ISM seats allow you to do this, and many riders report improved power to us. With traditional seats, the tendency is to do the opposite – roll the hips back, to slightly reduce soft tissue pressure and support the sit bones. Especially with low time trial and triathlon bike positions, it’s simply not possible to sit on your ‘sit bones’. Other seats force you on to the nose of the saddle (and your soft tissue); ISM lets you ride on your pubic rami bones, eliminating pressure and numbness.
8. Do you offer demo saddles for customers to try?
Yes! We do offer a demo program to our dealers. The demo kit includes the Racing II, Road, Time Trial, Breakaway, and Attack. All demo seats are a distinct black-and-green color scheme. Most dealers will allow you to borrow a seat and take a deposit that can be A) returned to you, or B) put towards the purchase of your very own ISM. Visit our dealer locator to find the store nearest you.
9. I just went for my first ride and I’m sore – why?
There is a conditioning period with ISM seats. They remove pressure from soft tissue, but that pressure must go somewhere – to your bone structure. It’s not uncommon to feel tender for the first few rides on ISM. We recommend keeping your first several rides short (NOT 70-80-100 miles!).
We also offer many different padding options for those that simply wish to ride a softer seat. For example, if you’re on the Podium and it feels too firm, consider the Breakaway or Prologue – which are built on the same chassis as the Podium, but feature additional padding.
Finally, we occasionally hear that a rider has more pressure on one side than the other. This can be due to the issue covered below (question 10), or due to a rider not being accustomed to sitting square on the saddle. If you’re been riding on traditional seats for 30 years, you’ve likely become accustomed to sitting off to one side, due to the saddle’s convex shape. It may take some time to get used to sitting straight and square on ISM – stick with it! Once your body adapts, you’ll never go back.
10. One of the saddle ‘front arms’ appears higher than the other – is that how it’s supposed to be?
The most common cause of this ‘crooked saddle syndrome’ is seatpost design or saddle installation. Please loosen your seat binder bolt almost all the way, rock your saddle firmly side to side (think airplane pilot rocking the wings of a plane). This should re-seat your saddle firmly into place. Retighten your bolt and check the saddle.
11. I see you that there are some custom colors and designs offered from time to time. Will you make a seat with my favorite color, picture, or country flag?
While we do occasionally make special edition seats, we do not offer custom colors or one-off saddles for individual customers.
12. Are your seats UCI compliant?
The following ISM saddles are UCI compliant:
Racing II, Road, Time Trial, Podium, Breakaway, Prologue, Attack, Century, PN 1.1, PN 2.0, PR 1.0, PR 2.0, Cruise
13. What materials are your seat rails made from?
Our products feature three rail materials – titanium, chomoly, and satin steel. Titanium is the lightest and most expensive, satin steel is the heaviest and least expensive, and chromoly is in-between.
Titanium: Attack, Podium, Breakaway, Racing, Time Trial
Chromoly: Prologue, Road, PN 2.0, Peak
Satin Steel: PN 1.1, PR 1.0, PR 2.0, Typhoon, Century, Touring, Sport, Urbaine, Berkley, Cruise.
14. What does ISM stand for?
Quite simply – INNOVATIVE SADDLEMAKER
15. What is Adamo?
Adamo is Latin for ‘To fall in love with’. Adamo is part of our branding, but not the name of the company, or any individual product. All of our Performance seats (Racing II, Road, Time Trial, Podium, Breakaway, Prologue, Attack) include Adamo as part of the name.
16. Where is ISM based? Who created ISM’s products?
ISM is located in Tampa, Florida. Our products were invented, created, designed, and patented by Steve Toll. All patents are owned by Steve Toll and Tampa Bay Recreation, LLC. For more information, click HERE.