Web spring saddle

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Chuckabutty, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. Chuckabutty

    Chuckabutty Member

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    I'm looking for a new saddle. When I was young, my bike had a wonderfully comfortable saddle, with an array of coil springs supporting the cover. I presume this was a web spring saddle.

    Recently, I bought what I would call a web spring saddle. The moment I got on it, I was in cyclist heaven. Four miles later I was in cyclist hell. It was very cheap, but I knew what I was getting was likely not going to last long. My purpose was in trying a web spring before I bought a better one. I'm showing a photo of the saddle I bought (sans cover) web spring.jpg , so someone could confirm that this is what a web spring saddle is.

    I suspect that the coil springs in my photo are lousy springs because for the first two miles it was great, but soon I began to feel the bar at the back of the saddle digging into my butt. I figured that the springs didn't maintain their tension and allowed the top to collapse enough to make the back of the frame prominent.

    When I was young I weighed around 120 lb. Today I'm 189 lb. Perhaps web spring saddles are not meant to hold my weight. I don't want to buy a good one and find that the springs will also not support my weight.

    Another question: I've seen some people say stay away from gel saddles. What is wrong with them? I'm not a performance cyclist, just cruising around on a fat bike and a hybrid bike. Both bikes have the identical saddle, yet the fat bike one is great and the hybrid one is uncomfortable. Both are set for close to upright riding.
     
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  2. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    A couple of things …

    If you did not remove the cover for the picture, then it is missing

    My vintage, 1970 GITANE came with a San Marco COEUR saddle (which I very much wish I still had) BECAUSE the saddle had a similarly sprung frame (but, was a non-touring width similar to a BROOKS B17 Narrow) with an indestructible some-sort-of-rubber cover …

    I consider the San Marco COEUR saddle to have been exceptionally comfortable, and would have been better ONLY IF it had a leather cover (more for aesthetic reasons) …

    The San Marco COEUR's downside was the stamped steel rails which mimicked the alloy rails on a high-zoot IDEALE saddle … so, the San Marco COEUR saddle could not be used with a "regular" alloy seatpost. AND I was not clever enough at the time to figure out that I could just use longer bolts to secure the saddle (on an old Campy seatpost … or, one longer bolt for most other seatposts). ​

    AFTER a BROOKS-type saddle is broken in so that it is NOT hard-as-a-rock & level and so there is some contour in the leather, then it is almost as comfortable …
    The first iteration of the San Marco CONCOR had a 'duck tail' … and, IMO, that is essentially the same as the YOKE on all of the pre-plastic saddles as far as where one should situate one's butt ...​

    Regardless, it is MY observation that most people do NOT sit on their saddles in the best way possible BECAUSE they sit too far forward on the saddle which makes how they sit on the saddle akin to straddling a 2x4, and that is why they find most saddles to be uncomfortable AND why the "chamois" on bike shorts has gone from absorbing/controlling sweat to being padding …

    upload_2019-4-3_7-31-9.png

    IMO, if your sit bones are roughly where the X'd circles are, then you are sitting in the wrong place regardless of the saddle type …

    IMO, THAT sit bone placement (where the circles are) for one's butt is OK if your butt is only a few inches above your knees when the pedals are at 12 o'clock OR you are riding on a pre-War/-style motorcycle (e.g., Harley Fat Boy).​

    If you were fortunate (?!?) enough to sit in pew when you were a kid and had the occasion to slouch when using the kneeler, then you may recall that you butt rested against the front edge of the pew with the sit bones just above the edge …

    THAT edge is, IMO, can be considered to be the same as the YOKE which holds the springs AND SO your sit bones should be situated accordingly …

    In other words, when viewed by someone behind you, the top of the rear edge of the saddle will NOT be visible.

     

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  3. Chuckabutty

    Chuckabutty Member

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    I removed the cover because the saddle is worthless. I took the photo of the supporting springs for someone to confirm that it is, indeed, a web spring. I'd not heard of this, before, even though I had such a saddle when I was young. If I order a decent web spring saddle, I want to make sure I'm ordering the right thing. Websites show photos of the tops of the saddles but not the underside. And descriptions don't always match the item.
    I had a new Brooks leather saddle, rode it for 500 miles and it was still like sitting on a brick, so I sold it.​
    I know where my sitbones are supposed to be on the saddle. I don't sit too far forward. I've tried moving a tad forward and a tad backward but it doesn't work. I have no problem with where I sit on a memory foam saddle on my fat bike, but the same saddle on my hybrid isn't as comfortable. A 20-mile ride on it gets to be painful, but a 20-mile ride on the fatty doesn't bother me. Hard to figure that out being that my riding stance is about the same on both bikes.
    That would be how it is when I'm on the saddle. Positioning isn't my problem. With over 6,000 miles on the fatty, and 3,600 on the hybrid, I'm sure my positioning is right. All I wanted to know is if I understood the "web spring" design. Also, what's wrong with a gel saddle? I'm considering both types but would prefer the web spring if it's suitable to carry 189 lb.


     
  4. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    I cannot speak directly to the problem with Gel saddles ... my understanding is that the problem is that the rider's sit bones sink down to the underlying platform and then the gel which is not compressed ends up pressing against the person's crotch ...

    if you are inclined, you can probably buy a Gel cover for your current saddle(s).​

    As far as your "web spring" saddle nomenclature, I am not sure if there is any specific name because it was not an uncommon design in the 50s ... and, probably before then.

    Of course, you can/should ask the seller(s) what the underside of their saddles look like ...

    Although your saddle's frame & springs appear to be very good condition, I doubt that (m)any contemporary saddles have the array of coiled springs ...
    I presume that there was a horsehair layer between the leather and the springs on your saddle ...

    Whether or not you still have that horsehair matting, if you still have it AND are a DIYer, then you can buy a similarly sized LEATHER ("hairpin"/-type) saddle from China for under $30 (if your timing is right) ... and, remove the leather from the frame & re-rivet onto your frame (again, the appearance looks to be in exceptionally good condition) ... over-priced Copper rivets are available at Tandy Leather shops ... you get about 10x as many for only 2x the price from places that sell equestrian supplies ... it's possible that you'll botch the first couple of installations unless you have used them before because you'll want to hammer the edges flush with the saddle's leather rather than letting them sit like atop the leather like a nailhead, so having more is better than the exact amount.

    If you go the DIY route, then you will want some sort of batting between the leather and the springs ... the original horsehair (or equivalent) would be the best option.​



     
  5. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    There are a couple (maybe more than two!) problems with BROOKS/-type saddles ...

    The first is that the distance between the rails & the top of the saddle is GREATER, and if a person has managed to get a "perfect" bike fit with a "plastic" saddle, then the Brooks saddle will be 1/16"+ too high UNLESS the seatpost is lowered ...

    The second (as you know) is the rock hard leather which will be "flat" until it is broken in.

    Third (?!?) is the shape of the rails limits the fore-aft adjustment which may preclude getting the saddle in the proper relative location to the BB/crank/pedals.



     
  6. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Imagine walking barefoot in sand. Soft and comfy for the first hundreds of yards, as the foot sinks in and the whole surface gets supported. But keep walking and pretty soon the arch of your foot will begin to feel sore as it’s not used to be a load-bearing surface.
    This is pretty much what happens to your butt and crotch on gel saddles, the sit bones sink in and the padding starts putting pressure on the soft surfaces inbetween.
    The trick is to find a saddle whose surface is just the right shape and hardness to make contact with a large enough patch at each sit bone as not to overload the skin.
     
  7. Chuckabutty

    Chuckabutty Member

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    I did, and they sent me a photo by email, today. Their saddle is definitely a web spring like I showed in my photo.
    There are a few. I've bookmarked one of them. The one where the dealer sent me a photo of the underside, on looking at their website photo, again, I believe it's a bit wide; made for a cruiser. I have my eye on another one but it's like black with silver flames. I'm not keen on that. Price, just under $60. I'll keep looking a while longer.

    No, just a pseudo leather with its own integral thin padding. This saddle was $14.97 and that included shipping. That's why I said I knew I wouldn't be getting much, but I thought I'd try it to see how it feels. Great, at first, then horrible as the springs sank down and the frame across the back intruded into the space needed for the rest of my butt. It just wasn't made to take my weight. Great, though, for a youngster of 100 lb or less.

    I'm looking at this one (in black and silver). It's a bit wide but I've ridden an 11" wide saddle, before, with no problems.

    https://www.bikebarn.com/product/sunlite-web-spring-saddle-67021-1.htm


     
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