Dash Cycles’ products are objects of lust for nearly everyone in the tri community. From their astoundingly gorgeous TT.9 (read our review here) to the artwork that is a Gretchen 25, it seems like Dash produces items for show-quality bikes. However, not everyone can afford a custom-made saddle. Of course we all want the features that come along with them, but the price tags that custom saddles understandably command can leave them out of reach for many of us. So for those of us watching out budgets, we could only gaze longingly at Dash products. Until now.
The “Basic” line from Dash has brought their two most successful saddles, the Stage.9 and Strike.9, down to a price that those of us who are not independently wealthy can afford: $299. Yes, that’s still expensive for a saddle, with the Adamo Attack checking in at $249, but consider that the Dash offerings are fully carbon fiber affairs. In that, they have more in common with the Bontrager Hilo XXX Carbon Tri (279), which is a stone’s throw away in terms of price. When you consider that, and the fact that you’re getting virtually the same saddle as the fully priced option, the Basic line from Dash begins to sound more like a bargain than first glance at the price tag might suggest.
The unit we have in for review is a Basic Stage, in the standard width. “Standard,” you say? Yep. Even on their budget saddle, Dash is still offering you the ability to choose if you would like the narrow, standard, or wide option from the high-end saddles. Not sure which one is for you? Check out their fit guide. Basic models also come with the 4-layer padding option, something we highly recommend even if you’re going for the high end option, and you can choose any color you like, so long as it’s black with white stitching. The claimed weight is 135g, our scale actually recorded 128g. That isn’t just light; that’s ridiculously light. Less than half the weight of an Adamo Attack light.
For those who have never ridden a saddle like a Dash, where the cutout runs the full length of the saddle, it is a rather different experience. With a number of the cutout saddles out there, you are still supporting some fraction of your weight on your soft tissues instead of your rami bones, especially as a ride goes on and your position migrates rearward. Not so with the Strike; the channel is generous and the sit points are relatively narrow and remains that way for much of the length of the saddle. Even more so than the Adamo line, Dash Stage positions you very forward on the saddle itself, so even as you migrate rearward, the profile of your sit position doesn’t change appreciably. We are big Adamo fans, favoring the Attack and Podium in particular, and we still found ourselves noticing that we were focusing more of our weight onto our rami bones versus the more spread-out distribution of our normal saddles. There is a trade-off between having a more “locked in” position with the Adamo line versus the greater “useable” saddle length for the Basic Stage, and while the decision of which works better for you is a personal one, we found that the Dash quickly became a favorite in the Aerogeeks garage because of it.
The Basic Stage is comfortable, and since it comes in widths ranging from 2mm wider than an Adamo Road down to 55mm, the same width as triathlete-favorite Adamo Attack, there is bound to be a configuration that works for you, as well. On long rides, we had no perceptible fatigue or numbness, no chafing on the thighs, and no problems transitioning in and out of the extensions. In the world of triathlon, “we have no complaints,” is high praise, as normally products offer a trade-off, generally speed vs comfort. The Dash brings both to the table and wonders aloud why nobody thought of this beforehand.
If you handed us a Stage.9 configured like a Basic Stage, we’re not sure we could tell you which was which, if we’re honest about it. Effectively, that’s the draw. For those who want a Dash saddle, and don’t care about the color, this is absolutely the way to go. It rides like its big brother, it looks like its big brother, but it costs more than a third less than the Stage.9. From every angle, that’s a huge win for triathletes. If you’ve been staring at a Dash but couldn’t stomach the price tag, this is your ticket. The saddle market just got a whole lot more competitive, and more interesting. We couldn’t be more pleased about that.