Seeing the need for a more versatile saddle in the triathlon and road market, Cobb Cycling has introduced the Fifty-Five JOF (Just Off Front). For those of you who aren’t familiar with John Cobb’s work in aerodynamics, just know that he’s been a respected member of the cycling community for years, because of his extensive research and innovative designs. Based on the theory that a comfortable rider is a fast rider, the Fifty-Five JOF allows the user to be fast AND comfortable in a number of different positions.
The nose of the JOF is designed to allow the rider to hang ‘just off the front’ for increased airflow and reduction of numbness in those very sensitive areas. It’s hard to ignore the fact that the design is reminiscent of the Adamo, and I had personal concerns right away on that account. One of the main complaints I’ve heard about the Adamo design, is the width of the nose at 60mm, (by my own measurement). However, the tip of the nose isn’t necessarily the problem. Among some riders (mostly female, or small framed men), the split rails progressively get much wider as it comes to the back of the saddle. This angle can put pressure on the inside of the leg, usually where the Gracilis meets the pubic bone, causing chronic groin pulls and hot spots. While some cannot use the Adamo for this reason, others have found that pulling the nose rails together with a zip-tie, can fix the problem. My initial concern with the Fifty-Five JOF design, was that the nose design doesn’t allow for this jimmy-rigged adjustment. Fortunately, the JOF begins slightly more narrow at the tip of the nose (55mm) and has a much more gradual angle, leaving the saddle more narrow than the Adamo when it reaches the critical groin area. The comparison photos below aren’t exactly the same scale, but you get the idea of the difference. After a week of riding with no issues, I was convinced that John may have solved this problem. It also helps that the rails feel like they have more cushion on the JOF, and the open ventilation channel was plenty long for good airflow.
So much about bike saddles seems to be preference, that’s the only reason I didn’t give it the full five stars, but there are some that seem to be more versatile across the board, and after weeks of testing the Fifty-Five JOF, I’m convinced that this is one of those designs. While some riders prefer to find one position and stick with it for the long haul, I liked that there is more than on comfortable position. My least favorite part about testing new saddles is the adjustment period, but it didn’t take long for me to get accustomed. More than other saddles I’ve tested, small teaks with the positioning seem to make a big difference. I would recommend slight tweaks on the height and angle until you find the perfect fit. Super aggressive, carbon-obsessed riders will balk slightly at the weight (330 grams) but for those who feel that comfort is king, I don’t think they’ll mind a little extra weight.
As with all Cobb saddles, there is information on the website for mounting the saddle as well as seat and positioning videos. Cobb also has excellent customer support if you get stuck. The Fifty-Five JOF comes in four colors and retails for $199.99. It also includes a rear mount for a quick exit from T1, that is also compatible with their new rear mount hydration system. In addition, Cobb offers a 90 day comfort guarantee; you’ll be hard pressed to find that with other saddles.