Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Randonneuring Bicycle, Part 6: Saddle

Above is a pic of my Berthoud saddle on a rare sunny Seattle day.

Recently, my Physical Therapist was watching my pedal stroke, and from behind he noted that the right side of my saddle was noticeably higher than the left. This reminded me how my lower right back had been hurting.

We postulated about why the right side was higher. Had I broken the saddle in that way? Seemed unlikely even though on my old Fuji I used to have the seatpost twist in the seat tube so the saddle was splayed to the side and no longer centered. Was the saddle defective? We couldn't figure it out.

I went home and unscrewed the leather so as to inspect the frame. I noticed that in fact the frame was tweaked so that it was twisted: higher on the right but essentially torqued like a screw. Not as dramatically as depicted below, but twisted nonetheless.

Again, I deliberately tweaked the frame to demonstrate, but even this out-of-focus shot captures the idea.

Below, it is aligned more neutrally.


What I discovered was that the twist was locked in from tightening the saddle onto the seatpost. I had to loosen it up to change the twist. Relocking the saddle in place with no twist assures that both sides are at the same height. Now I'm sure I'm not the first to discover this locking in of the twist, but I hadn't seen it noted elsewhere. And it never occurred to me.

On the whole, and with this new observation in mind, I really like the Berthoud saddle. Well constructed, suits me tender parts well, and stylish (though that wouldn't in the end influence my choice of this crucial component). I did have one of the screws fall out, which really bummed me. It was just after I purchased another Berthoud saddle for my indoor trainer bicycle (one of the ugly-to-my-eye cork models) that was offered to me on sale because that color wasn't selling well. I removed one of the screws from this saddle to put into my Pereira saddle only to realize that the screw head was not Allen-keyed but starred like an automobile headlight screw. So now I have all Allen-keyed but one. Grrrr.

I do like the Klik-Fit system of fastening the under-saddle Berthoud bag you see in the top photo.

Keep it well supported on a symmetrically aligned frame,