Saddle Frustrations   Leave a comment

Broken SaddleWhen a cyclist refers to their position, they are referring to how they fit the bike–how high the saddle is, the length of the stem, where on the foot the pedal hits. It can have a major impact on performance, both in how much power you can get out of the bike, as well as how comfortable you are on a long ride.

I’m very picky about my position. Even small changes to one part can seem to impact the rest of the system. I wore my prior pair of bike shoes well past their prime, as I didn’t want to have to deal with resetting my position–only when set next to the new pair did I see the holes. Even then, I spent a couple weeks tweaking my saddle height, as the soles were a different thickness. If you look at pictures of my bike, you can see a bit of red tape where the seat post meets the frame, marking my preferred saddle height.

My bike had a tick for few weeks. I kept checking the pedals and cranks to see if that is where it is. No luck. Then, a few weeks ago, I was on a ride, flying down a descent, when I saw the road was blocked, with a detour to the right. I turned, and saw it was a climb. I jumped out of the saddle to get up the climb, then sat back on the saddle, and felt a poke. The rail on my saddle broke.

I rode home as carefully as I could. The saddle was beyond repair, but had around fifteen-thousand miles on it, so it was not an unreasonable service life. Unfortunately, they don’t make that particular model anymore–I knew I’d have to adapt to a new saddle. My wife knew this is one of those things were it was not an upgrade opportunity.

I got a replacement, and was pretty pleased with it. It was a different shape and dimensions as my old saddle. This meant there were several weeks where I was moving the saddle up a couple millimeters, then back down again. Or pushing it forward…then back. Each time, I had to loosen the seat post binder bolt, make the adjustment, and tighten down the bolt again. Then, one day, I noticed the saddle was creeping down. I tried to tighten the bolt, but it just spun. Another ride home, and I pulled out the bolt: the threads had worn away. I’d have to replace the bolt (not a big deal).

Unfortunately, the tape marking where the seat height was had been pushed way out of position. I had no clue where it belonged. Fortunately, there was a bit of adhesive left, so I could at least get in the neighborhood.

The next ride, I had to make a tweak. I tightened the bolt…then SNAP! The bolt broke. It shouldn’t have done that–I later returned the bolt.
Broken Seat Post Bolt

It was a Sunday morning. REI was open, and about as far from where I was as home. I rode up to them, only to discover they don’t have seat post binder bolts–only the more new-style collars which would not work with my bike. I went home, and drove to another bike store, where I got the replacement. One more ride was spent dialing it in.

Two more rides without pulling out my wrench, and I was satisfied things where where they needed to be. This time, not only did I put the piece of red tape, but also took photographs to document where it was.
Saddle Height

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Posted 2013-09-18 by Mr. Guilt in Cycling

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