If you are a long time reader of Aerogeeks you know that we are big fans of Cobb saddles. At any given time there is at least one Cobb on our test bikes, and at least one of our editors tends to prefer them come race day. So it should come as no surprise that we were excited to see Cobb get into the noseless saddle game with their JOF (Just Off Front) designs beginning in 2013 with the Fifty-Five. Since then, Cobb has added a second JOF design, the Randee. Though it’s designed more for century and gran fondo riders with a touch more upright position. The Fifty-Five remains the current JOF designed for more aggressive TT style riding.
Noseless versus Split Nosed
Before we jump into the Fifty-Five, we thought it would be helpful to clarify the difference between “noseless” and “split nose.” Noseless saddles allow a rider to hang off the front of the saddle (please don’t ask us to go into more detail on that). While this is typically associated with male athletes, even female athletes can find a more comfortable ride with a noseless design.
And while many think of split nose and noseless as one in the same, there actually is a difference. Cobb has been making saddles with a split for a while. We have reviewed both the Max and Gen2, both of which have a generous channel running down the center of the saddle—this is the split nose design. JOF actually lops off the front end completely, so that while your sit bones are firmly supported, your front is not. This can be offer added relief for athletes suffering from numbness, and it even aids in cooling as well.
So now that we’re clear on the difference between split nose and noseless, you may be asking which would best describe the Cobb. Well, the answer is both (aren’t you glad that we cleared this up?) With its short-nosed design and long channel, the Fifty-Five satisfies both definitions. And that’s not a bad thing.
The Cobb JOF Fifty-Five
It should come as no surprise that while this wasCobb’s first foray into the noseless design, they got it right on the first try. Cobb has been making great saddles for a long time and they went through a large number of design iterations before they settled on the Fifty-Five. The Fifty-Five itself measures 260mm long with the nose being 55mm wide (hence the name) and the rear being 135mm wide at its widest point. We weighed it in at 322g, which bests Cobb’s claim of 330g.
We found that the Fifty-Five tends to take the middle ground, landing between aggressive noseless saddles and more conservative ones. Offering a short front and longer rear, it allows you to get down low into your aero position (hanging just off the front) while remaining comfortable when you want to take a break and rest in your pursuits (by taking advantage of the wide channel running almost the full length of the saddle). Honestly, it reminds us of one of our favorite saddles, the ISM Podium. While similar, there are some differences in dimensions that could make all the difference to you. Specifically, the ISM is a touch wider just behind the nose (by just a few mm), which is something we suspect more than one reader will appreciate.
When looking at photos, you can’t help but notice that the Fifty-Five looks very padded, which could be concerning to some. But the good news is that looks can be a bit deceiving. Yes, it is padded, but not so much that we found it uncomfortable in the standard road bibs we wear on most of our rides. An in tri shorts, we found it to be just about perfect.
Riding the Fifty-Five
Like all of our saddle reviews, our time with the Fifty-Five started on the trainer. This gives us a chance to fine-tune the saddle’s position before we take it on the road. We knew we were going to like it right from the start.
Due its longer design, one of the benefits of the Fifty-Five is that you can comfortably use it whether in the aerobars or on the pursuits. You can get aggressive and stay up front on the saddle. Or you can choose to sit more upright and slide back a bit. If you are someone having trouble staying in the aerobars for an entire race, or if you are in a lot of group rides with rotating pace lines, a saddle like this is worth looking into. And just as an aside, we tend to drop the nose by a few degrees with these longer saddles, but that’s just our preference. Others may find it comfortable completely level.
We continued to enjoy the saddle on the road. We swapped it between multiple test bikes as we finished our time with one frame and moved on to another. Regardless of where we installed the Fifty-Five, we kept having positive results.
Saddle choice is always personal. What works for your best friend may not work for you, and vice versa. Therefore it’s always tough for us to say that one saddle is better than the rest. Although we do know a good saddle when we ride one, and the Cobb JOF Fifty-Five is one of those saddles. Comfortable for all manners of riding, we have already recommended it to at least one friend of the Aerogeeks who was looking for something that allowed him to ride from both positions that also offered a touch more leg room than his previous saddles. This is where the Fifty-Five truly excels – offering an option that shares traits with some of our favorite saddles out there, while offering a thinner profile that may cure what ails many a rider. If you are looking to try a saddle designed by one of the best, give the Fifty-Five a try. We think you won’t be disappointed.