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Local bike shop offers library card for saddles

Posted by on December 4th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Gladys Bikes bike shop-10

Saddle selection at Gladys Bikes.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Remember Gladys Bikes? The small shop on N Williams Ave opened back in October with an aim to cater specifically to women. When we visited the shop one of the things that stuck out was that owner Leah Benson stocked a relatively huge selection of saddles. Now it turns out she’s even more serious about getting people the right-fitting saddle than we imagined.

Benson has unveiled a nifty program called the “Saddle Library” Here’s how it works (via the Gladys Bikes website):

  • Step 1: Come into the shop and talk with our knowledgeable staff about your saddle needs and concerns. We’ll make recommendations about which saddle(s) might be a good match for you.
  • Step 2: For $25 you get a Library Card, which gives you access to check out any of the saddles in our loaning library. For each saddle you check out you get one week try it out on your bike.
  • Step 3: Take the saddle home with you. Go on a typical ride. Then go on another one. Maybe one more for good measure. How does it feel? Decide if it’s the saddle of your dreams.
  • Step 4: Dream saddle? Bring the test saddle back in and we’ll trade it out for a brand new one. Not a love match? We’ll get you set up on a different saddle for you to take home and try out.

Seems like a great way to make sure folks get the saddle that’s just right for them. And for good measure, if you do decide to buy one, Gladys Bikes will put your $25 library card towards the purchase.

The current selection includes 21 different models from brands like Planet Bike, Brooks, Fizik, Selle Italia, and Terry.

Learn more at

UPDATE: As someone pointed out below, Western Bike Works (NW 17th and Lovejoy) has a similar saddle demo program. $10 to try any saddle for a week, then have that amount applied to purchase. Full details here.

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  • ChamoisKreme December 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    What an AWESOMWE idea!

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  • boneshaker December 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Brilliant, I have been wishing someone would do this.

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  • Michael December 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    I’ve been trying to sell this idea to shops for years. They could do the same with stems or have an adjustable stem they loan out with a giant deposit placed on it.

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    • John Lascurettes December 4, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Heck. I’ve hesitated experimenting with different sweeps on my handlebars because it’s a big investment to keep trying for the right ones. I’d love it for that too.

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  • Burk December 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Go ahead and take my money!

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  • ashenmann December 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Western Bikeworks has a similar program.

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  • JCV December 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    I like the idea, but don’t buy leather. How many of the saddles are non-leather?

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    • BIKELEPTIC December 5, 2013 at 1:48 am

      The only one mentioned of the five brands up there – Brooks does leather primarily. Fizik, Selle Italia, etc all do nylon/man-made materials.

      If you’re really worried if your saddle isn’t vegan fabric you can just ride without one, though.

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  • John Lascurettes December 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Shared it with my XX chromosomes colleagues that ride to work!

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  • Doug M. December 5, 2013 at 8:12 am

    As part of a fit session, my fiancée did the thing where you sit on a memory foam pillow and measure the sit bone width. Like many women, she has sit bones that are wider than most saddles, but Specialized makes a few that go into the high 50-60mm range. Don’t give up, there’s a right saddle for everyone (with a butt)!

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  • Emily December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

    This is Brilliant!! i had a friend a few years ago who tried about 6 different saddles but had to buy and return them from different stores- not the honest thing to do – but she finally ended up with a saddle that was perfect for her!! i like when businesses think of how best to serve their customers!!

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  • whyat December 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I’m doing the Western Bike Works program right now. A great idea.

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  • A.K. December 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

    FWIW when I was looking for a new saddle a few years ago, Athlete’s Lounge let me borrow the one I wanted to try for a week for free to test it out. Not sure if they still do that or not.

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  • Nathan December 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for this post! It is good to know where to recommend people go to try saddles when they are dissatisfied with what they’re ridin’ on!

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  • nuovorecord December 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    There have been a couple or more online retailers that have similar programs, and I’m glad to see more LBS stepping up to offer this service. A saddle is arguably THE most difficult component to get right. You can’t really know if one works for your anatomy or not until you spent an hour or two on it.

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  • 100th Monkey December 7, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Brooks now has a non-leather saddle, of natural rubber vulcanized to organic cotton canvas. Hopefully Leah gets some of these in as they are IDEAL for our climate here; less maintenance than leather too.

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    • 100th Monkey December 7, 2013 at 8:57 am

      forgot the link for the Brooks Cambium;

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    • Jane December 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Leather doesn’t mind getting wet, you just have to dry it out when you’re done. Personally I’d rather have a nice leather saddle that lasts than something that is either uncomfortable or will rip in a couple thousand miles. Taking five minutes every thousand miles to apply a leather conditioner isn’t exactly what I would call a lot of work.

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  • Bill December 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Many bike shops in Portland offer test saddles at no charge (not to take away from the original story, the library card idea is good and best of luck to that cool new, local shop). I’m merely saying this because of the additional comments regarding Western Bike Works.

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