Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bicycle saddle

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A modern, inexpensive plastic saddle with spring suspension.

An older design of leather saddle with spring suspension.
A bicycle saddle is one of three contact points on an upright bicycle, the others being the pedals and the handlebars. The bicycle saddle has been known as such since the bicycle evolved from a device which looked like a wooden horse on wheels. It performs a similar role as a horse's saddle, not bearing all the weight of the rider as the other contact points also take some of the load.
A bicycle saddle is commonly attached to the seatpost and the height of the saddle can usually be adjusted by the seat post telescoping in and out of the seat tube.
1 Components
1.1 Shell
1.1.1 Hard shell
1.1.2 Leather
1.2 Cover
1.3 Rails
1.4 Suspension
2 Adjustment
2.1 Height
2.2 Tilt
2.3 Fore and aft
3 Sizes
4 Crotch pressure
5 Erectile dysfunction and genital numbness
5.1 No-nose saddles
6 Gallery of saddle types
7 References
8 External links
Typical saddles are composed of a few identifiable components.
The shell creates the shape of the saddle. The nose of the saddle is the forward most part. It is usually rounded. The shell can be made from several materials.
Hard shell
Most modern bicycles have a saddle that has a shell made from a moulded piece of plastic, such as nylon. Carbon fiber may also be used. [1]
Leather saddles do not have a hard shell. Instead a moulded piece of thick leather is stretched, like a taut hammock, between the front and rear ends of the rails. Traditional leather saddles such as those made by Brooks have been used for many years. Such a saddle is generally more comfortable after a break-in period during which it conforms to the shape of the rider, so long as the basic shape is right to start with.[2]
There is usually, but not always, some form of padding on top of the hard shell, often closed cell foam or gel, and then a fabric, such as lycra, vinyl, artificial leather, or leather cover.
Some saddles, especially those designed for hard use e.g. mountain bike or BMX style riding, will have a tougher material, such as kevlar, to withstand abrasion on the nose and the widest parts of the rear.
The rails of a saddle are the connection point to the rest of the bike. They run along the underside of the saddle from the nose to the rear. Most saddles have two parallel rails that the seatpost clamps to. They provide fore and aft adjustment of the saddle, usually an inch or so (2.5cm). Rails can be made of steel, titanium, magnesium, or carbon fiber. Rails may be solid or hollow.
While many interface standards on bicycles continue to evolve (seatpost diameter, crankarm spline, etc.) the seat rail size and spacing has remained constant so far. Nearly any saddle can be mounted to any seatpost. A recent innovation, used with carbon shells and rails, is for the rails to be integrated into the shell for their entire length. Another is an interface called pivotal. Pivotal seatposts are common on BMX bikes. They have a concave semicircle of ridges at their top that matches the convex semicircle of ridges on the bottom of a pivotal saddle. The two semicircles are held together with a bolt to attach the saddle to the seatpost.
A saddle may contain suspension components, such as springs or elastomers between the rails and the shell, to help absorb vibrations transmitted by the frame and seatpost.
By using interchangeable elastomers with variable densities the suspension saddle can be tuned to the rider's weight and riding style. [3]
The position of the saddle should be adjusted relative to the bottom bracket, not to the ground or handlebars. For example, if the reach to the handlebars is too far, it is better to get a shorter stem than to move the saddle forward of its ideal location.[4] More accurately, saddle height should be adjusted relative to the position of the pedals as fitting different pedals or different length cranks would also mean the saddle needs to be re-adjusted. In practice, the distance from the top of the saddle to the centre of the bottom bracket is used as the saddle height, e.g., setting up a new bicycle using measurements from another, as this is easier to measure. Other methods and calculations are used for determining seat height, such as LeMond's formula.
The saddle height should be set so that when pedalling, the legs have a slight bend even when the pedals are at their furthest distance. This means that if the saddle height is properly adjusted the rider cannot place both feet flat on the ground when seated on the saddle. If he can do so, his saddle is too low.
...(and so on)

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