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Bicycle Seat Technology: How to Choose a Bike Saddle
Elements of a Comfortable Bicycle Seat ( as seen on www.koobi.com )
All cyclists are not alike, so it stands to reason that one bicycle seat will not feel comfortable for every body.
The search for a "perfect fit" takes into consideration:
One size doesn't fit all. The components of the well-designed bicycle seat will allow for variations in riders.
How to Choose a Bike Saddle Video Series
Introduction to Elements of Comfort for How to Choose a Bike Saddle:
Comfortable Bicycle Seat - Bike Saddle Design Elements
The following articles explain how each component of a bike seat contributes to overall comfort:
Cover Material - YouTube Video Explaining Koobi Saddle Bike Cover Material
Bicycle Saddle Cover Materials
The aesthetic impact of a bike seat comes from the look and feel of the cover material. From the sporty Lycra to textured leather, cover material may seem to be little more than personal preference. Buf if you consider the cover as an element of comfort, you'll understand that beauty is more than skin deep.
Leather Bicycle Saddles: Durability and Beauty
A leather bicycle saddle is resistant to wear and tear and the slightly tacky texture reduces slipping. Because leather is breathable, this fabric does a good job of managing a moderate amount of moisture. Koobi bicycle saddles are constructed with a heavy leather cover for the highest durability. Like a new leather shoe, the saddle feels firm to begin with, but after a few rides the softened leather customizes to the shape of the cyclist. It's hard to beat the luxurious feel of a quality leather saddle.
Kevlar Bicycle Saddles: Tear Resistant
Known for its durability, Kevlar is useful in protecting leather from inevitable damage. However, because of its rough texture, Kevlar is not comfortable as an overall bicycle saddle cover. As a solution, Koobie designed the Koobi AU Enduro and Koobi PRS Enduro bicycle saddles with Kevlar along the rear corners, where it extends the toughness of the saddle but with minimal contact with your anatomy.
Lycra Bicycle Saddles: Moisture Control
Lycra is the best choice for triathlons and other high moisture situations, and gives the cover a soft feel similar to gel. Even dense foam will feel softer when covered with Lycra. However, since it is susceptible to tears, Koobi reinforces Lycra seats with leather corners to maximize durability.
Foam Padding: The Function of Foam on Bicycle Saddles
Some cyclists and bike retailers believe that foam is the most important ingredient of a comfortable ride. Because its function is to provide a cushion barrier between cyclist and a hard plastic/carbon saddle base, it is undeniably a key element to comfort, yet a frequently misunderstood component.
How to Choose a Bike Saddle - Foam & Density --> Koobi You Tube Video
Koobi's History with FoamDuring Koobi’s first few years in business Koobi had their saddles manufactured in Taiwan, by the world’s largest volume saddle maker in the world. Phil personally toured several factories in Taiwan and China to view the technology and quality standards. Taiwan’s foam was like cake mix with a leaven added to get the mix to rise. It was poured into a saddle-shaped cake pan placed into an oven to cook. The density of the foam was based on the amount of leaven used. The recipe was unreliable, and even when we specified a certain density of foam for a saddle, a high percentage was out of spec. Koobi moved production to the Selle Italia factory in Italy. Koobi has found Selle Italia to offer superior foam technology, injecting a precise amount of air and “cake mix” into an airtight mold. The precision guarantees a higher quality foam that is very consistent.
Bicycle saddles are made with closed cell foam, a form of rubber with trapped air bubbles. The density of the foam is determined by the ratio of air bubbles to rubber. More air bubbles and less rubber makes foam feel softer initially, but as the foam compresses, the lower volume of rubber loses its support. The rate of foam collapse depends on the following variables:
In other words, the original density of the foam + length of ride + rider’s weight + age of the bicycle saddle, determine the rate of collapse.
Foam Density and Rider ConditioningIt is generally believed that softness equals comfort, but this is true only as long as the foam maintains a cushion between the rider and the hard base. Firm density foam will hold up longest before collapsing. The longer the ride, the firmer the foam should be. If you are a distance rider, the conditioning of your “sit-bones” also increases, and a firm seat will feel most comfortable. The casual and infrequent rider will prefer softer foam, since their sit-bones are not yet conditioned.
Koobi offers a simple firmness/cycling scale to help you make the right choice.
Softly Padded Saddle: Cycling less than 3 hours per week
Medium Padded Saddle: Cycling 3 - 6 hours per week
Firmly Padded Saddle: Cycling greater than 6 hours per week
There is room for personal adjustment within this scale. If you weigh less than 150 lbs then you may be more comfortable on a softer saddle. If you weigh more than 200 lbs then you may be more comfortable on a firmer saddle, no matter how much you ride.
Gel has been used extensively in bike seats for about the last 10 years. Gel has a soft touch and thus does very well in the thumb test and the parking lot test. It has a trampoline type effect, spreading the pressure over the seat. One of the complaints about gel is that it weighs more and many cyclists don’t feel the added comfort compensates for the additional weight. Another complaint is that some gels can harden over time and feel like a piece of car tire in the saddle.
Bicycle Saddle Base
The base of the bicycle saddle is the foundation on which all of the other elements are built. You can shape it a hundred different ways, make it big or small, long or short, wide or narrow, and in carbon, but it is still the base. There are four fundamental attributes of the base that contribute to Koobi comfort.
1.) Base dimensions and width
2.) Base shape and contours, including the nose
3.) Base relative flexibility
4.) Base relief area
Base Saddle Dimensions
In recent years, saddle width has been promoted as the "key to comfort". In reality, width is only one of numerous elements of comfort.
The bony part of your pelvis that you feel when you sit on a hard chair is called the Ischial Tuberosity. The Ischial Tuberosity is referred to as the "sit bones" These bone protrusions are your point of connection with your bicycle seat. Sit bone widths vary by individual, and by gender. For people of the same height, a woman's sit bones are typically wider than a man's. Choosing your perfect fit will take into account your anatomy and accommodate to changes your riding position throughout your ride.
Choosing Your Bicycle Saddle Width
If a saddle is too narrow, your sit bones won't be supporting your weight and you'll feel like you are straddling a horizontal pipe. If the saddle is too wide, it will chafe your thighs.
Keep in mind that ideal saddle width is a range, rather than an exact dimension. Koobi saddles are designed with a fairly wide platform and narrow nose, which is comfortable for the vast majority of riders. To give you a general guideline, if your waist measures 33", Koobi will fit you with a 146mm saddle; a waistline of 36 would use a 155mm saddle.
Bicycle Seat Length
Over the past 100 years, saddle length has seen a lot of change. (Remember the banana seat on the 1970's Sting Ray?) In the past 20 years, conventional seat length has settled into an average of 27cm. The length of the saddle can vary slightly for specific applications, such as triathlon saddles or women's saddles, but still stays close to the average.
Bicycle Saddle Base Shape
The primary objective of a bicycle saddle is to support your weight throughout your ride.
Moving Around on Your Bike Saddle
Cycling is a dynamic activity; your position on the bicycle saddle changes constantly as you take curves, climb, or sit back and take in the view. In fact, movement is essential, since staying in the same position eventually reduces blood circulation to that area. Make sure your saddle design can handle the moving about in weight distribution and move with you.
A Bike Saddle Designed for Movement
A well designed bicycle saddle has contours that promote movement. If you look at a saddle from behind, you should see a relatively flat profile rather than a domed shape. The same is true when you view the saddle from the side. Koobi has found that flat top and side-to-side profiles are best for both promoting movement and for supporting your sit bones during the various phases of a ride.