I am admittedly a bit more anal about certain things than many of my peers on a broad range of subjects; cycling equipment is one of them. Not so much the training, fitness or racing stuff…; I’m truly an equipment freak. The same was true when I was actively involved in alpine skiing (I travelled with a tool box, waxes, iron, ski vices, files, etc), speed skating (sharpening jig, files, wet stones, oils) and, well, you get the idea.
So, when we travel to cycling events it should not come as a surprise that I bring along a work stand, a well-stocked tool box, a spare & replacement parts box, battery-powered drill, Dremmel tool and various bolt extractors, drill bits and cut-off tools, mud guards and a spare wheel set. Interestingly enough, the majority of my time spent fixing bikes at rallies has been on other folks bikes, not ours.
However, one of the most important things that I keep in my tool box is a diagram of our tandem that includes most of the key dimensions needed to make sure our riding positions can be accurately replicated if a saddle, seat post, stem or other key component needs to come off the bike, or if we need have an opportunity to ride another bike and want to make sure a poor bike fit doesn’t take away from the riding experience. The three dimensions along the bottom are the stoker set-ups for our triplet which I updated just before the recent Southern Tandem Rally in Columbus, Georgia.
It was this second set of fitting dimensions and Debbie’s saddle nose to handlebar distance that caught my attention this past week. I’d pulled out the dimensioned drawing of the tandem for another project and noticed the discrepancy in the saddle nose to handlebar on the original tandem image and the more recent update I made when preparing to move Debbie’s saddle from the Calfee tandem to our triplet at STR.
After thinking about it for a minute and thinking back to some of my observations about the new Selle Anatomica Titanico saddle it dawned on me that Debbie’s Titanico truly had gotten longer over the past two years: 2 cm longer. It was one of those “you’re an idiot” moments when it finally dawned on me that the old and new Titanico saddles were exactly the same length… when new! However, as you begin to extend the saddle nose bolt to tighten-up the leather saddle cover as it stretches the saddle nose moves closer to the handlebars and, in effect, the saddle becomes longer. I confirmed this when I pulled the new old stock (NOS) Titanico that a member of the tandem community sent to me after reading my quandary in an earlier blog entry about the Selle Anatomica redesigned rails.
Speaking of the Selle Anatomica redesign, for those who didn’t follow the comments that followed that blog entry, the folks at Selle are aware of the limitation on fore/aft saddle adjustably that their 2014 saddle rail design change created and they will be making another change in 2015 that will correct that. I also checked and confirmed that while the saddle we purchased will not work for Debbie on our tandem or triplet, it will work for me… noting that I’m under the 160# threshold for the need to move to the X-model. So, the saddle may not go on the block as I’ve always wanted to give it a shot. If it fits well I may put the Titanico on the triplet and get an X-model for the tandem just so I get a bit more life out of the cover.
Anyway, my take-away here is… I’ve found that it’s a good idea to keep your bike fitting dimensions written down somewhere for all of your bikes. In addition to making it easy to get your bike fit sorted out if the saddle or other key components get moved and something doesn’t feel right, and can also be used to see how much you’ve changed things over time… remembering that as we continue to age or change our riding habits bike fit can also change. And, in case anyone has bikes with different crank lengths, I always recommend using the pedal axle to saddle top dimension for setting saddle height vs. crank axle. It’s amazing how uncomfortable a sudden 5mm +/- in saddle height change can feel.