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The Case for a New Seat

March 26, 2010

Yesterday a lovely box o’ goodies arrived at my doorstep.  Brad forwarded my Ritchey parts I ordered to complete my single speed 69’er build, which I am excited to begin.  Thanks to Team Carbo Rocket sponsor Ritchey Components for making this possible!  Next week I’ll post some photos of my progress.   I thought today I would discuss a commonly negelected part on your bicycle that I used to never give a second thought about: the saddle.  As long as the profile was comfortable and a good fit for me, I always saved money by being a cheapo.  Although they are beautiful engineering works of art, I just don’t have it in me to spend big money on carbon fiber shells and titanium rails (I tend to be that way about helmets also).  At least until I raced downhill for the first time last season.  Coming off a drop and leaning into a steeply banked berm on my first of two timed runs, my seat shell popped off, leaving me with two sharp, chromoly rails pointed directly at my tenders (I use the word “seat” here, because you must spend over $19.00 before it earns the title of “saddle”).  With nothing to lean against, I crashed, my left grip punching me in the ribs.  I stood up and hopped back on, deciding to abort as visions of four-inch eviscerations to my buttocks (or worse!) flashed before me.  How could this happen?  I bought it on sale at Performance Bicycle for at least $9.00 and it lasted only ten years?  Indeed I had a revelation:  components wear out over time.  Luckily I brought a spare in my car (this one a Nashbar-branded seat only six years old).  I attached it to my seatpost and waited for the shuttle back up for the second run.  (By “shuttle” I mean U-haul truck pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with downhillers trying not to fall off the back.  An adventure all its own!)  I noticed my ribs felt pretty tender.  Curious.  Anyway, I made the second run successfully in the “low-travel” division, flatting at the very end, but crossed the finish line with my 1998 Specialized FSR Enduro with its cheap seat still attached.

Upon returning home I had my ribs looked at after I noticed that laughing, sneezing, and coughing had become extremely painful.  Three cracked ribs taught me that perhaps a “saddle” was a worthy investment.  I keep this standing on my bookcase as a reminder that cheaper is not always better:

Not so comfy!

Wisely, this was one of the things I ordered from Ritchey:

Solid!

It also matches my trick red, white, and black scheme.  The moral to the story:  It doesn’t pay to be too cheap when spending on the component that supports all of your weight, connecting you to the bicycle.  Replace yours more frequently than once each decade!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa S permalink
    March 29, 2010 11:35 am

    Awesome post – I can relate, my father is a long time cyclist, and still rides a bike with a 1″ steerer tube, and a 10 year old front fork (with cantilever breaks) because it works fine!

  2. Brett Ringger permalink
    March 29, 2010 12:56 pm

    (Ugh) Lisa, you’re making me feel old! 😉

  3. Jen permalink
    April 1, 2010 8:47 am

    I’ve been rocking a dual suspension 69er for about a year and really like it. I am interested to see how you like yours. I haven’t really given a full 29er a go yet so I don’t have a lot of other benchmarks. Although I’m thinking an Ibis Mojo is in my future. 🙂

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