In terms of aerodynamics, integration is nearly always the optimal solution; be it brakes, hydration or tool carriers, the manufacturer nearly always has a better grasp on how to make it slicker in the wind tunnel than we do. To that end, when considering rear hydration for your bike the choices for an integrated product, your choices are woefully slim. Luckily, one company appears to have done it right: Dash Cycles and their TT9 saddle.
The TT9 starts out with the dimensions of the Tri.7 saddle and extends off the back with a slim wedge of carbon fiber that dips down at the back and has a pair of cage mount screws that hang down in a near-horizontal plane that accepts any cage you should like to stick back there. We tried an X-Labs Torpedo, and then an X-Labs Gorilla XT, but more on that later. Like the Tri.7, the TT9 is an all carbon fiber affair including the rails, and features some of the most minimalistic padding we have seen, even after opting for the triple layer thickness option. Included are a pair of titanium bottle cage screws, which are cut to the specific length required for the bosses, which is incredibly important, as using incorrect length screws runs the risk of damaging the saddle by pushing up the carbon fiber at the rear. All of the parts are color customizable and come in an array of hues that will allow you to match it to nearly any bike’s paint scheme you can come up with.
What really stands out on the TT9 are two things; the weight and the rear mount. Dash claims the weight at a svelte 105g in the review trim we selected; triple layer padding coming in at 99g and the “heavy rider” reinforcement adding another 6 grams to the total and is so light one feels ginger with it at first, until you realize exactly how stiff this saddle is. Then you stop thinking about it altogether, other than to marvel at how mind-boggling it is that Dash have made the equivalent of a carbon fiber tank.
The rear mount, however, is somewhat more sensitive to choice of bottle and of cage. With a Camelbak 24oz Insulated bottle and a Torpedo cage mounted to the rear we experienced a bottle launch on the first major bump encountered on a century ride and took it very careful for the rest of the day, going so far as to reach back and hold the bottle in the cage over anything but the smoothest tarmac. When we swapped out for a cage with a little (lot) more grip, a Gorilla XT, the same Camelbak was secure until a descent equivalent to about a half mile of cobblestones, and only then launched right near the end of the run.
In full disclosure, Dash had warned us about the saddle having a tendency to launch bottles if not properly seated and the need to use a monster grip cage. We just wanted to see what that meant to the rider. It would seem that the answer is this: buy a Gorilla XT cage with the saddle, and invest in a roll of friction tape for those bike courses that look more like the surface of a forbidden planet than a sheet of glass. We certainly do not hold Dash accountable for our choice to be cavalier with respect to properly securing a bottle in the rear mount we’d been warned about, but at the same time feel that our readers should know what they’re getting into, as well. Our recommendation is simple: include the Gorilla XT into the price of the TT9, because anything else will only double as a James Bond-esque gadget to dissuade anyone thinking about drafting your rear wheel.
Finally, in mentioning price, it must be said that the TT9 is nowhere close to cheap. At $575, it is the most expensive saddle we’ve ever tested and certainly more than we’d considered for our bikes before, but don’t let the price drive you away. Our short time with the TT9 has left us very impressed, and if an inability to follow directions is the biggest gripe we have with it so far, we call that a win on behalf of Dash Cycles. The TT9 is a high-end piece of kit; but it is incredibly well thought-out and the build quality is immaculate. We do wish we had gone for the thicker padding, but given that an Adamo is our standard equipment, it is difficult to lay blame anywhere but on our sit bones for feeling a little sore. We look forward to the remainder of our time with the TT9 and can’t wait to ride it, and race it, in the coming weeks.