Thursday, June 18, 2009

Clive's Saddle and Seatpost

In Part Two of our Series, we look at the saddle, and its means of attachment to the frame.

I got my first road bike (a Marinoni Special, no less) when I was in my second year of university. I rode it semi-seriously during my undergraduate years, and when I got to grad school finally met another cyclist. With him, I did my first "serious" ride: a crazy tour from LA to Eugene, Oregon on which we averaged about 160km/day (we were aiming for 220km/day, and Vancouver, BC).

I rode this tour with incredibly inappropriate equipment: a Marinoni racing bike with a bolt-on rack, all the weight on the rear, no fenders, awful battery-powered lights, etc. And though my friend encouraged me to at least buy a Flite, I rode the tour on an awful, cheap "Velo" saddle that hurt my bum the whole time. When I got home, the owner of my local bike store told me, "You should have used a Brooks."

Clive will take this advice.

I bought my first Brooks saddle a few years ago, drawn by their legendary comfort and gorgeous appearance. This first one was a black Professional, and it felt so perfect (even without breaking in) that my saddle experiments pretty much ended there. I did read various reports, however, about degradation of quality in post-Selle-Italia-acquisition Brooks products. Apparently they're not using the best leather these days, and the saddles tend to "sag" and wear out more quickly. While my own newly-made Pro was fine, I thought I would try to find a "NOS" Pro while I still could.

As it happens, I found two—both for less than the price of a new one. I've been using one made in 1999 for the past year, and have put many kilometers on it. The one photographed was made in 1989 (the serial numbers are pretty self-explanatory) and has small rivets, which is odd for Pros. But since this one isn't broken in, in all likelihood I'll put the 1999 saddle on Clive.

(The pictured saddle is the one I've been using on Niles. I tried out a Selle Italia Flite on Niles last weekend, just to make sure the 300 gram lighter Flite wasn't as comfortable as the Pro. And it's not.)

With the selection of seatposts, of course, there is much less at stake. My choice of a Campagnolo Nuovo Record 2-bolt post is based mostly on aesthetics and general "coolness" (if only I could use it still in its box!) But these posts do also work very well and never come loose. And this one's very short, which must mean it's fairly light.

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