Selle Anatomica C-Series Composite Saddle

Regular readers may recall that back in March of 2015 Debbie and I threw caution to the wind and made the 400 mile drive up to Louisville, Kentucky, for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) less than 24 hours after a blizzard had shut down the very same I-65 interstate that we’d need to take to get there: the full account of the trip is here.

During our visit we stopped by the Sella Anatomica booth to check out their saddles, noting that Debbie had been using them with pretty good success for the past few years. On display along side their current production model saddles as a prototype of a nearly all-composite saddle.  To say it was intriguing was an understatement.  At the time they had two variations on display and looking at the photo below you can see (a) the composite saddle cover with a composite leaf spring foundation and aluminum rails and (b) the same composite saddle cover attached to their standard metal frame.

Six days after NAHBS Selle Anatomica launched a crowd-funding project for their composite saddle development program.  For $199 a supporter could secure one of the saddles which they expected to retail in the $300 – $400 range.  As an added inducement it also enabled supporters to purchase any of their current saddles for $100, about a 30% discount off of retail.  The development program would be complete and the backer saddles would purportedly be shipped by September 2015.

We signed-on and patiently awaited news on when we’d actually receive our saddle. In the back of my mind and having worked in aerospace for 30+ years I was pretty sure they’d miss their targeted release date by several months: it’s just the way it seems to work: double it and add two.  So, if it was six months let’s just say 14 months would probably be closer to the mark… so perhaps May 2016?

Well, the saddle finally arrived on 1 September; it was s thing of beauty to look at:

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The edges were all nicely rounded, the aluminum rails were replaced by a composite rail assembly that was bonded and screwed to the leaf spring and as originally predicted the saddle weighed in around 195 grams.

The only significant issue that I see with the Selle Anatomica saddle design — noting the C-Series composite saddle cover has the same shape and dimensions as their leather saddle — is the overall width of the cover.  I’ve always used a more narrow saddle since becoming a semi-serious cyclist 42 years ago and the C-Series cover is much wider through the thighs than what I’m used to.

I installed it on our Calfee tandem for the initial test ride on 10 September. Installation proved to be a bit of a technical challenge in that the Thomson seat posts we have on the Calfee had the right style and size clamp, but the spacing across the rail clamps was a bit more narrow than the carbon rail placement.  I seem to recall this condition existed on our steel rails as well, but steel rails easily conform to subtle differences.  Not so with the composite, so I pulled a Easton EC90 seat post from the parts bin and the clamp was a much better fit.

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The saddle felt much more compliant than I expected, but still much less cushioned than a traditional leather over foam or all-leather saddle cover.  I was very aware that I was sitting on my sit bones from start to finish.  The wider cross-section through the things was also very obvious, more so when I would slide back on the saddle while climbing.

About 1/2 way through the ride I started to hear a “clicking sound” coming from the saddle.  Debbie finally solved the mystery when she said it was the saddle’s back edge coming in contact with her computer.  Hmmm… funny that it wasn’t doing that when we started out.  I tilted her computer back a bit to eliminate the contact between the saddle and the computer.  Imagine my surprise when a few miles later it was doing it again.  I ignored it and assumed I’d just need to sort it out when I got home but, at least for the time being, the new saddle was feeling pretty good.

Once we returned home I discovered that the saddle rails had moved reward a good inch on the seat post during the ride, so that would explain how the saddle and the computer were coming in contact.  It also explained why I was more comfortable on the saddle towards the middle and end of the ride, in that I’d solved the wide saddle problem by effectively moving that wide section further back.

I expected my sit bones to be more sensitive than they were after the ride and can say, 24 hours later, that they’re really not all that tender today.  I’ve repositioned the saddle and tightened the seat rail clamp so that the tandem is ready to go again for the second ride, unfortunately Miss Debbie says she’s not going to be able to ride today so it will be next weekend before I know how it feels on the second encounter.

I guess I’d sum up my first impressions as mostly positive.  I’d prefer a more narrow mid-section and that dimension will probably the one that determines if I’ll be able to use the Selle Anatomica saddles long-term.  Definitely willing to give it a second chance and I’m also anxious to let Debbie give it a try. She’s already familiar with the shape of the Selle Anatomica saddles and the composite saddle’s rounded edges may solve an issue that she’s been having ever since moving to the Selle Anatomica saddles with chaffing.  So, we’ll see how things progress from here.

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Full Cycle: A Great Read

FULLCYCLEA while back I received a very nice note from Christopher Blunt wherein he thanked us for our long-standing on-line tandem cycling advocacy and information sharing vis-a-via our websites, blog and participation in various tandem cycling discussion forums.  Moreover, as a token of his appreciation, he wanted to send me a copy of his most recent novel, Full Cycle.  It goes without saying, we were humbled by the kind words and willingly excepted the offer of his novel.

It took me a while to find a large enough block of free time when I could read the novel as a novel should be read which, at least for me, is front to back in just a few readings over a few days.  That opportunity finally arrived a couple weeks ago when Debbie and I flew up to visit my parents in Pennsylvania.

While I’m not usually one to pick up a novel — biographies and history are more my taste — Full Cycle struck me as being a very compelling, life’s lessons story of believable proportions.  In other words, all of the characters seemed very credible and real.  I suspect the latter may be because there’s apparently a lot of Christopher Blunt’s life experiences captured in the story and its characters.

For tandem enthusiasts, yes… a tandem bicycle is very central to the story and the account of the main characters introduction to and riding experiences on the tandem was something that will resonate with all tandem riders, large and small.  And, small is the key to this story: it’s ultimately about a father and 12-year old son pairing up and taking on the annual Seattle to Portland (STP) ride.  The story offers a great perspective on how a tandem can build on strong family relationships between parents and their children as well as how cycling can play an important role in the modern family.

In many respects, the novel could easily be converted into a screenplay for a made-for-tv movie.  In fact, as I read it I was reminded of the weekly anthology Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color as the story would have fit nicely in that format as a week-over-week mini-series.  Or, even a feature-length Disney movie back in the 60’s or perhaps even into the 70’s.  It’s just a great story that moves quickly through time and only tries to capture a little over a year’s time with this family, albeit with a few flashbacks to help with the backstory.

Definitely worth a read IMHO.  Our thanks to Christopher once again for his kind words and sharing the novel.

Posted in Analysis, Tandem Folks | 2 Comments

A Perfect Shift Every Time…

20160807_111122Well, after several months and perhaps 2,000 miles of riding the Calfee since installing the Shimano Ultegra 6700/6703 shifters and an old M950 XTR rear derailleur from the 90’s plus all new cables and housings I’ve got to say I’m pretty impressed.  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to adapt to anything other than my beloved Campy Ergo shifters but I’ve really come to appreciate the well-engineered the Shimano Ultegra shifters.

Shimano-Ultegra-Schalt-Bremsgriffe-STI-ST-6700-ST-8a4c5cc8afe04e6adf35e344789c65b9I think it was about five minutes before I took our ubiquitous mid-tandem ride selfie that I realized I was now taking smooth shifting for granted.  That’s saying something when you consider that I’m still running what is a mish-mash collection of components that are not designed to work together:  New Ultra 10 speed shifters with a 26 year old 8/9 speed Shimano XTR off-road derailleur, a Campy Record triple front derailleur with FSA chain rings and a Shimano 11x34t 10 speed cassette and KMC SL chain.

Yes, there are moments when I miss having that little thumb paddle on the Campy Ergo’s that I can flick with my pinky fingers without taking my hands off the bars while descending at speed, but those moments are far and few between.

Anyway, just thought I’d share my moment of cycling zen.

 

 

 

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Over at Riding Two-Up

Version 2The new division of blog posting practices is probably best described as still a work in progress. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the “weekly diaries” off The TandemGeek’s Blog which while reducing the number of blog postings, does ensure the ones that do get posted (except this periodic summary) are definitely tandem-cycling related.  Of course, this now means that the folks who were more interested in motorcycles are getting the lion’s share of the “noise”.  While traffic is a bit down on that blog because of it, there was never all that much traffic anyway. After all, while there are only a handful of tandem-cycling related web sites and blogs on the internet, there are million’s of motorcycling-related blogs.

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Want to Race Your Off-Road Tandem near D.C.?

Phil Troutman, race director for the Dirty BikenetiCrit being held in Haymarket, Virginia, just west of Washington, D.C., on August 27th, wrote to let us know that they’ve included a tandem class in their off-road event.
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7th Annual Florida Tandem Rally

FLORIDA TANDEM RALLY 2016
October 21-23, 2016

Central Florida is a great location for tandem riding and the location for the 7th Annual Florida Tandem Rally held in… ‘Florida’s Friendliest Home Town’…The Villages, FL. The Waterfront Inn will be your host for the weekend and a rate of $109 will be available for those attending the rally. Check out their website atwww.waterfrontinnvillages.com to make your reservations or call 352-753-7535 and mention the Florida Tandem Rally for this special group rate. Please make your reservations early to get your choice of rooms and to make the cut-off date of September 15, 2016.

This year, we were awarded the John Rohan Recreation Center as the host for our banquet on Saturday evening. The banquet will be held in the Colony Cottage room and catered by La Hacienda Catering. This is the newest center in The Villages and it is named after our Recreation Director, John Rohan. If you are into exercising there are a number of stations for your workout located along the running path adjacent to the main building.

The Rides
All routes will start and end at the Waterfront Inn and will pass by convenience stores for rest stops.

Friday’s Rides
During the FTR2015 we had 31 teams who arrived early and ready to ride. This year the rides on Friday will be a minimum of 20 miles and you are invited to begin your day riding with tandem couples who arrive early. All rides will begin at 8:30am across from the Waterfront Inn and will be led by teams who now live in The Villages. Riding speed and distances will be tailored to meet all who attend. If you arrive later, route sheets will be available and you can start your ride at any time during the day.

Friday’s Social
All who register will be invited to attend an ice cream social at the Waterfront Inn on Friday evening. This cost is included as part of your registration.

Saturday’s Rides
Multiple rides from 36, 47 and 60 miles will be available for Saturday with an end-of-route lunch at RJ Gators Restaurant at Sumter Landing. This lunch is included as part of your registration.

Saturday Evening Banquet
This will be a buffet dinner held at John Rohan Recreation Center, which is located approximately 7.2 miles south, from the Waterfront Inn. The banquet is included as part of your registration.

Sunday’s Rides
Routes for Sunday will be 32 or 43 miles in length.

Extend Your Stay
We have over twenty (20) tandem teams living and riding in The Villages…and you are invited to spend the week before or after FTR2016 to ride with us. In addition, route sheets will be available for out-and-back overnight rides to Brooksville, FL [49 miles each day] and Palatka, FL [70 miles each day]. Arrangements have been made with motels that are located within short walking distances of excellent restaurants. You are assured to have good roads, routes and PANTHERS to ride with daily.

Application
The Application for the Florida Tandem Rally 2016 is now posted on our PANTHERS website. If you enjoy riding with tandem friends from the Southeast and Central Florida, make your plans now to attend.

For more information go to http://www.floridatandemclub.org/

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Georgia Tandem Club Rides

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 7.43.18 PMWell, despite the best of intentions, we’ve missed the past two Tandem Club of Georgia monthly rides and will likely miss the one for August as well. However, just because we didn’t attend doesn’t mean our readers have to miss out on the post ride photos & ride reports!

Here is a link to the report on the June ride held in Taylorsville, Georgia, hosted by Eve Kofsky & Roger Strauss.

Here is a link to the report on the July ride held in Madison, Georgia, hosted by Jose & Sheri Rodriguez.

As to why we missed those rides? Well, it’s pretty simple actually: we’d rather ride our tandem right from the house on our local roads and be done in two hours instead of getting up an hour earlier so we can spend two hours or more driving to / from the ride start location where we’ll ride for about two hours.

Of course, that also means we miss-out on the social aspects of cycling with other folks who have a shared interest in cycling and other things which kind of sucks. However, I guess the honest-to-goodness truth is we seem to have fewer shared interests in “other things” as many  friends who used to frequent these rides have also been pulled away by other interests. There’s still a core group of friends who spend several weekends a month cycling and socializing together and they are the mainstay of the club and monthly tandem rides… so that’s goodness.

Who knows, perhaps after Debbie and or I retire we’ll be able to make the social aspects of cycling a higher priority. In the meantime, we’ll just settle for getting out by ourselves once or twice each weekend on the road and/or off-road tandem, the occasional monthly tandem club ride and a couple of tandem rallies each year.

 

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