As our mountain bikes become increasingly advanced in design and technology, various ride fine tuning innovations are popping up everywhere. Aenomaly Constructs is a small company based out of British Columbia that saw a problem in bike design and set about creating a solution which they call the SwitchGrade. The SwitchGrade is a component that replaces the traditional clamps that attach your saddle to your seatpost and allows for an adjustable saddle angle. The goal here is to optimise your saddle angle for climbing, descending, and riding on neutral terrain.
I am often fiddling with my saddle angle trying to get the balance right between offering support on steep climbs but not having too much negative tilt that it gets in the way on descents or becomes uncomfortable on the flats. It is something I am very particular about and I often wonder how other people live with slack saddle angles on their bikes. To not have the nose of the saddle tilted down for climbing just makes me feel like I’m sliding off the back and can’t get power down effectively. Have a look at your saddle angle and see if you notice a positive change on the climbs when you tilt the nose down a bit. At the end of the day, no matter which way you go there is going to be compromise and that is what Aenomaly’s SwitchGrade looks to eliminate. It is a really smart idea and they’re not the first to think of something like this.
Specialized had the “Command Post WU” in 2019 that automatically tilted the nose of the saddle up when you lowered the dropper post. This wasn’t too popular in its time but from the reviews we’ve seen Aenomoly’s SwitchGrade has been praised for being robust, easy to operate and it hits the mark on saddle tilt at -10° for climbing and 12° for descending. Adjusting the saddle angle is done by clicking a small lever on the mechanism under the saddle that can be mounted forwards or backwards to preference.
By tilting the saddle back in the descending position you get more effective drop from you dropper seatpost and a friendlier saddle position if you bump against it while riding downhill. This will also make a notable difference if you do not have a dropper post, something I think could be quite popular on gravel bikes. When climbing you get increased support on steep pitches which can be a literal game changer as you can read from the medical professional quoted below.
“As a doctor of physical therapy who regularly treats individuals with back pain, and a lifelong mountain biker, I’m digging the concept of the SwitchGrade. A nose down saddle position increases what is called anterior pelvic tilt. This promotes optimal lumbar spine alignment which can help prevent or alleviate lower back pain in many cases. I can also see the obvious performance benefits that could be had on long, steep climbs in the saddle.” – Dr. Josh Harris DPT, Dip Osteopractic, MTBer
The anterior tilt mentioned here rings a bell from performance coach John Wakefield’s notes on the 2022 Science and Cycling conference. He shared some insight from Dr. Wendy Holliday’s work on bike fit biomechanics: “hamstring flexibility has a huge impact on how you can sit on a bike. High flexibility allows you to stretch the leg more easily and helps your pelvis tilt forward (anterior rotation). This helps prevent injury and lets you go faster and be more comfy on the bike for free“. So the science seems to back it up!
The only real downsides we can see are the price (284 USD will be a bit aggressive on the wallet for some, and that is before import duties), and the “another thing to fail” concern, though it sounds like the SwitchGrade is holding up to plenty of abuse even in wet and muddy conditions. As for weight, the SwitchGrade clocks in at 170 grams so it will be a net gain of 70-120 grams depending on the current hardware you have holding your saddle on.
Riders who do a lot of climbing, especially on steep gradients and or desire a comfortable saddle angle for descending without compromising on the saddle position for pedalling would benefit from the Aenomoly SwitchGrade. I see a potential use case on gravel bikes as mentioned earlier, especially for those prone to tackling steep passes and sketchy single tracks! XCO riders may find that the process of adjusting the saddle in the heat of racing is too cumbersome for the gains but on a marathon style ride or race with big elevation changes it may also find a home.
If you like the idea of the Aenomoly SwitchGrade, you can see more about their product and look at purchasing them here: www.aenomalyconstructs.com
They also have a page on their site to help determine compatibility of your current seatpost with one of their 4 product variations.