One Man's Preferred Perch - the WTB Deva
This Man Loves a Women's Saddle
Well, we drank whiskey and rode all night,
Behind Niterider helmet lights,
We took a break and sat down by a tree,
He said, "dude won't you try this seat? You'll see!"
Well, I'm not the world's most particular guy,
But when I gave it a try,
Well I had to go buy a Deva,
De de de de Deva, de de de de Deva
(With apologies to The Kinks)
"So incredibly comfortable that even the manliest men are able to look past the women’s-specific label." - WTB
Years ago, in one of the bike shops I worked for, I knew three riders who absolutely swore by the WTB Deva saddle. A women's-specific designed perch intended "to suit the female form, without the presence of flowers or pink butterflies."
One of them was a ripping female rider. Two of them were men. One of whom used to sharpie out the logo - which in those days was more prominent than it is now.
The basic platform has remained the same. A thin but comfortable and supportive layer of padding which is exactly where it needs to be; a stub nose that makes setting fore-aft tilt a more involved process than most other saddles; and, a pair of Ti rails as well as some flex engineered into the base which combine to provide a little extra comfort in the days of ultra-stiff frames with inflexible dropper posts.
I like the look of the geometric finish on the micro-fiber cover as well.
I will lay my comfort credentials on the table. My go to saddle, my perennial perineal favourite, is the Chromag Moon.
I now find that comfortable dig-deep traction position on the nose of the saddle is rendered obsolete by the steep seat tube angles of the modern mountain bike position. Otherwise, the cradle between the tail and 'bump' is a perfectly powerful and pleasant pedaling position.
I've also been very happy with Specialized's Romin (143mm) and Fizik's Gobi XM. I've ridden a ton of different saddles, like the Volt and Fabric Scoop, that were good. But not 'open my wallet' great. In other words, I generally prefer a pedestal on the narrow end of the spectrum.
The Deva is more forgiving than the Moon but not so soft to transmit weirdly wallowing waterbed sensations. It's firm yet sensitive. Like a modern dad. That forgiveness is comparing two saddles with Ti rails so it is coming from some combination of WTB's 'DNA' padding, flex engineered into the base, or the variations in shape.
The Deva Difference
By the numbers the Deva is not significantly different than the WTB Volt. It's a good comparison as the Volt is a commonly spec'd OE saddle. The numbers are so similar, and the fit so different, what makes the Deva special is definitely the shape.
For the record, the Deva has a 142mm width where I've ridden the Volt in both 135mm and 142mm. I definitely prefer the 142mm Volt. The Deva is a short saddle at 257mm but the Volt isn't very long in its own right at 265mm. The Volt also has an angled nose which is unused real estate except for the steepest climbs.
WTB Deva Setup
The Deva is a very short saddle. I'd guess the shortest I've ever ridden on a mountain bike. But in subtracting the nose perch from the Moon, the area I sit in is actually very similar in size and feel. As I mentioned, with the steep seat angles on most bikes positioning me right over the pedals I don't miss the additional on-the-rivet position riding current machines.
I tilt the nose up so that it is slightly higher than level with the tail. With a zero set back post I run the saddle almost as far rearward as possible on its rails.
I don't want to make it sound like the Deva is a man's saddle neatly packaged as a women's specific product. I know a lot of women who ride it and say good things about it. I know of four men who think it's totally awesome. That total includes my friend Brad and I.
I think, as Anna coined in her MSB comment, it comes down to huge variations in preference and physiology and really it's a conversation about human-specific design. Saddles are the most personal component on a bike and from timeless Brooks to crazy Tioga Spyders it behooves riders to figure out what works best for them.
"YES! I love women's saddles too!" - My friend Brad on noticing my WTB Deva saddle.
It is crazy how many male riders have jumped on my bike for a ride around the parking lot and come back either with no feedback about the saddle or very positive comments.
The WTB Deva is definitely worth checking out for any riders who love the Moon and have steep seat angles. It is also a great option for men or women who haven't found other saddles that work for them. Dudes, if you can't get conformable on your bike, give it a try.
It's on the very short list of - the two - saddles I'll happily buy for myself.
You can grab the Deva Team model, with Ti Rails, tested here for $130 (USD). WTB Deva saddles start at $60 (USD).