ISM Adamo Saddle: Oh What a Feeling!

Note: This article makes mention of male gonads. Please close this page if you are offended by male gonads.

Many of my fellow male readers who ride regularly will attest that, while cycling is a beautiful sport, it isn't exactly the most gonad-friendly activity. Picture this scenario, played out every day by hapless testes the world over:

RIGHT TESTICLE: "Hey little brother, I got bad news."

LEFT TESTICLE: "Oh no, please don't tell me he's putting his bike shorts on?"

RIGHT TESTICLE:  "Yup. Here we go again. Another 100kms of getting repeatedly smashed between the pelvis and that bloody bike seat..."


Yep, it's a tough life being a cyclist's balls. Next time you think you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, spare a thought for these hardy little fellas, trying to maintain their critical status as fertile contributors to the continued propagation of humankind whilst getting royally pounded under highly claustrophobic conditions on a daily basis.

Where's the Love?

Cycling technology has been pretty slow to accommodate the needs of the male anatomy. The first pedal-powered bicycle appeared in the mid-19th century, and since then there's been a measly total of just two innovations aimed at making life easier for the male reproductive glands. The first was cycling shorts (knicks) that included padding in the crotch area; the second was the introduction of "anatomic" saddles that featured a groove or split in the middle. Anatomic saddles definitely make life easier on the perineum, but they still have that godamn nose that fights for space with your boys...and inevitably wins.

So while cycling technology had made some effort to accommodate the perineum, it seemed it had pretty much forgotten el cojones.

But then ... the skies cleared, the sun started shining again, the birds sang, the clouds parted, and out from the heavens came...

[Trumpets please]

Fellas, this is the tune your crotch will be playing after riding on the ISM Adamo.

...the ISM Adamo!

Thank God You're Here!

I’ve used all manner of anatomic saddles over the years, but there’s no getting around it: They all still feature that goddamn Pinocchio-like nose that sticks itself right where it’s not wanted. After finally being served notice from the Union Cojones Internationale (UCI) about the inhumane riding conditions I was subjecting my boys to, I had to take action. I briefly flirted with the idea of ordering a Selle SMP saddle, but then I saw it…

…the ISM Adamo.

I bought one, eagerly waited for it to make its way Down Under, then threw it on my bike the minute it arrived. The very first ride I knew I’d stumbled across something special. Let’s just say my boys were really, really happy with their owner and immediately withdrew their UCI complaint.

If you've checked out the picture above, you'll have instantly noticed the Adamo doesn't look like your typical bike seat. While most saddles have a single long nose, the Adamo has two short ones. I can't believe it took 150 years for someone to come up with this simple but brilliant modification to the standard saddle design.

The blurb sums it up perfectly: "ISM, or Ideal Saddle Modification, is possibly the only saddle company that really gets it. Sure, most all saddle companies understand that the correct way to sit on a bicycle saddle is with the sit-bones, but ISM is the only company to completely delete the nose of the saddle, forcing the rider to be supported by the sit-bones. The ISM Adamo Road saddle makes lofty claims in the comfort department, and so far, they've held up."

Anthony's European Bright Vacation

After affixing the Adamo to my main rig, I only managed to squeeze in a couple of 90-minute rides before packing up my bike and heading off to my old stomping ground: Melbourne, the city of olive-skinned hotties, trams, and all-day traffic jams. On the same Sunday as the Australian Grand Prix, I took advantage of the quieter roads and went for a spin from Reservoir to Kinglake. After being on the bike a few hours, I got back home and noticed absolutely none of the "Geezus, why do you do this to us? Aren't we good to you? What have we done to deserve this?" pissing and moaning I'd normally be subject to from my nethermost regions after a long ride.

But the real test came when I threw the bike back in the car and headed up to Bright, which features what must be Australia's best riding; Mount Hotham, Mount Beauty, and Mount Buffalo are all within riding distance, and I did all three climbs in the space of a week. And once again, there was nary a whisper of protest from down south.

My experience to date is with the "Road" version (the bad boy in the picture above), but the Adamo is available in several variants, including MTB and touring versions. I've been so impressed I've already bought four more Adamos, including two of the Racing2 versions (a little lighter and reportedly slightly firmer than the Road).

About the only fault I can pick with the Adamo is that, at 300g for the Road and 270g for the Racing2, it isn't exactly the lightest saddle around. But heck, I'm more than happy to trade a 150g weight saving for a pair of jewels that, instead of dreading the next ride, bounce out of bed each morning with a big smile on their face singing "zippededoodah, zippedeeday!"

Okay, okay, a little reality check is probably in order at this point. I've been gushing on about the Adamo like it's the greatest thing since Nutella, but I've been toying around with bikes long enough to know that bike fit, including saddle compatibility, can be a highly individual thing. This ain't no ordinary saddle, and it may not work perfectly right off the bat (although that's pretty much how things transpired for me). Its shape and proportions are quite different to a typical saddle, and you may well need to play around with seat height and forward/rear positioning before you get it right. Here's a helpful video discussing Adamo set-up:

One thing's for sure - if you can get this saddle to work for you, it will work in a big way. If standard saddles make your little fellas all hot and bothered, then the pressure relief endowed by the ISM Adamo might just make make your millennium.

One of the more common complaints about the Adamo is that the two-pronged nose section is too wide for some folks. If that's the case, then there's always the narrower Cobb V-Flow, designed by John Cobb, the same innovative genius who played a big role in the Adamo design (from what I understand, Cobb is no longer associated with ISM and has since started his own company). Here's an informative video comparing the Adamo Podium and V-Flow Max:

Before I sign off, a quick nod to all my female readers who may be feeling a little neglected by the male-centric focus of this article. Obviously, I can't personally vouch for the potential female-friendliness of the Adamo, but here's a review I came across from someone who can.

To grab yourself a reasonably priced Adamo Road saddle, and read reviews by other users, click here (Update Sept 29, 2013: Before purchasing an ISM or any other anatomic saddle, I highly recommend reading my recent review of the Cobb V-Flow Plus saddle).

Since this review was originally posted, fake Adamo saddles have appeared on the market. Here's a video explaining how to spot a cheap fake:

Competing interests: The author owns a set of cojones. The author has no relationship with ISM or John Cobb and has received no remuneration from them for this review.

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Cobb V-Flow Plus Saddle Review: Better than the ISM Adamo?

Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of The Fat Loss Bible and The Great Cholesterol Con. For more information, visit or

Copyright © Anthony Colpo.

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