I'm in need of replacing my saddle and having a hard time deciding what to buy. I see saddles in various widths and I've noticed that most of the more costly saddles tend to be more narrow. Obviously this is at least partially due to reducing weight. I'm not a small man, 6'3" 185lbs so I worry about dropping $$ on a narrow saddle only to find it terribly uncomfortable but I've also found the wider Specialized saddles to be really uncomfortable. I'm not sure if that was the brand or the width. I love my WTB mountain bike saddle so I wonder if a WTB may be the way to go... My budget is $100.
I'm with Andrew. The Arionne makes a nice peddlin' perch and has survived some pretty badly botched landings over the years without bending or breaking. Being able to shift fore and aft is also a great feature in cross.
For the amount of time you spend in the saddle for a 'cross race, numbness probably won't be an issue. However, if you are going to use the bike as a double-duty commuter/century ride/road bike, you might check out the WTB Devo, or the Terry Zero. I've got both, they feel really similar and are pretty comfy. Both have a pretty flat, wide shape, and are reasonably light.
I've just spent a bunch of time looking in to this same question. I've been using Fizik Gobi saddles on all my bikes for several years and have been pretty happy with them. The general concensus is that the saddle is one of the last places you should be trying to cut corners. If your WTB mountain bike saddle works for you and it's under $100, stick with it for your 'cross bike. Andy B. loves his WTB. He weighs around 140 lbs and has virtually no body fat. I point that out because he is more likely to feel subtle changes in saddles more than I do (weighing in at around 180 lbs and overweight, or "well padded"). I'm going to be trying out a new saddle with a very narrow nose. It's the Selle San Marco Zoncolan. It's gotten good reviews, weighs around 190 grams, and can be bought online from some retailers for under $100. I think Backcountry.com might have some on the cheap right now. The nice thing about the nose is that it reduces the likelihood of rub on the inner aspect of the thighs, which, up until now, I thought was something that occurred with every saddle. I've read some good reviews and spoken with one rider who uses it on his mountain bikes, road bike, and fixed gear bike.
I share your frustration. Saddles are such a personal preference kind of component...
Being a rider that normally puts in 10-30 hrs on the bike throughout the entire season, saddle choice for me has always been important. For cross I have ridden both the fizik arione, aliente, and pave as well as a selle italia SLR, selle san marco concor and apside, and finally a prologo saddle (similar to that of lars boom).
Origionally the arione was a favorite of mine as thats the saddle I have always ended up going back to, but I soon realized that for any race requiring you to get on and off the bike a lot the back point of the saddle isn't too chamoise friendly when your crosseyed 40 minutes into an Elite UCI race. Soome of the others (SLR and Apside) prove a bit too "rough" in terms of over bumpy terrain. Fine for the road, but a little less desirable off road for my tastes. Finally, I have found that a move to the Prologo, Aliente, or Concor is the best fit for me personally. The contoured shape keeps me in place on the saddle, and give a nice contour for my leg to follow when remounting (without the hanging up possibility of the arione. Also, all three offer a bit more padding and from what I have seen a little bit more durability as I am not moving around on them as much. Currently my "A" bike holds the concor and I am absolutely in love with this saddle, and my pit big holds a similarly shaped aliente gamma.
In the end, the BEST fit is what works for YOUR physical build. What may be comfortable for some may not be AT ALL for you. Thats the un-fun thing about sponsorship for me. If it fits AWESOME, if it doesn't, well, I wont ride it and sponsors get a little angry. If you have concerns with this look at competative cyclist.com. They have a saddle demo kit you can order and once you decide what you are looking for they will pro-rate your purchase price with what you payed for the kit. Also, fizik is really pushing for their "demo kits" at there retailers. My team has had a chance to ride all of them and it really helps. Check out your local fizik dealer and ask them about it. They should hook you up wioth a sweet orange test saddle of your choice. Give them a try. They have a saddle type for any preference!
I'm a big fan of Selle Italia. Currently have a Selle Italia SLR gel flow. Though I find the standard SLR comfortable as well. I've tried a couple of the fizik models and I find them a little narrow, at least on longer rides with lots of saddle time.
But if you're happy with WTB, is there a dealer in your area with their Test Ride kit? Would give you the opportunity to try a bunch of saddles before you buy.
Man, thanks for the advice everyone. Sadly, all of the bike shops around me seem to only sell Specialized saddles. The competitive cyclist.com test option seems pretty good, I think I'll give that a try. It would be nice to have a selection of saddles to try out.