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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 06-19-12, 05:47 PM   #1
Medic Zero
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best saddle rail material?

So, both my girlfriend and I bend saddle rails (Athena & Clyde respectively) and unfortunately the threads on the differences in rail materials aren't exactly helpful. Any advice? Specifically titanium vs manganese?
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Old 06-19-12, 07:46 PM   #2
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I think the manganese (steel?) would be a better choice, but i have never used ti. If you are bending rails it might be that your sitting through the rough stuff.
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Old 06-19-12, 07:49 PM   #3
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Well I have to admit, I've never tried either. But I have had other parts made of both. So, FWIW...
  • Titanium will have a small flex, but then stop. Not good in pedals. Ask me how I know In a saddle, I'm thinking it should be good.
  • Manganese I tried in a Pinarello frame once. Very stiff ride. The bike was solid and didn't seem to flex at all. I never tried it long distance, so I can't say if it was a harsh ride. I didn't end up buying it for different reasons. I don't know how it would fare in a saddle.

I'm also a clyde at 260#. I use a Selle Italia Turbomatic saddle with carbon fiber rails. I have over 8,000 miles on it and have had no problems whatsoever. I had tried a Fizik Arione saddle in the past with steel rails. I broke the saddle shell itself 2 years in a row, warranty'd them, and finally broke the rails. Then I went to the Selle Italia.
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Old 06-19-12, 08:22 PM   #4
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Probably the manganese. As the diameter of rails is fairly constrained, there is no opportunity to increase the volume of titanium used in order for it provide strength equal to that of steel.

Of what material where the rails that you and you're girlfriend bent? Were they hollow?
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Old 06-19-12, 08:29 PM   #5
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Selle italia appear to still make the Turbo with steel rails. I have several originals that haven't bent at 250-300lbs onroad and mtb. Selle Italia's manganese rails all appear to be hollow/tubes. I'm sure there are plenty of clydes who use them without issue. But, if absolute durability is your concern look for something with solid steel rails.
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Old 06-19-12, 10:54 PM   #6
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I have several saddles with steel rails, including a Brooks, and a Brooks Swift with Ti rails. The Swift is a great saddle, but can I tell the difference between the steel and Ti versions? No.

Last edited by chasm54; 06-20-12 at 12:47 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-19-12, 11:51 PM   #7
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I've been using ti rails since 2005 with no issues, 230-260 lbs. Gina used a Specialized saddle with cromo rails and broke it ha ha! I weigh a lot more than she does, since then, I haven't stressed about this rail vs that rail debates.
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Old 06-20-12, 03:05 AM   #8
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Probably the manganese. As the diameter of rails is fairly constrained, there is no opportunity to increase the volume of titanium used in order for it provide strength equal to that of steel.

Of what material where the rails that you and you're girlfriend bent? Were they hollow?
I don't know what materials hers were, she did that mountain biking before we got together. I'll ask tomorrow when she gets home from work.
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Old 06-20-12, 03:06 AM   #9
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I have been riding Brooks saddles with steel rails for many years without problems. My current weight is 265. When I was racing and weighed a slim 210 I tried an aluminum railed saddle. I raced it once and by the time I crossed the finish line, it had failed both rails. Classic fatigue failures on both in just over 45 minutes.
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Old 06-20-12, 03:08 AM   #10
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I've been using ti rails since 2005 with no issues, 230-260 lbs. Gina used a Specialized saddle with cromo rails and broke it ha ha! I weigh a lot more than she does, since then, I haven't stressed about this rail vs that rail debates.
Well we're in the market for a saddle for her, and maybe another for me, I had come across a women's specific saddle that was offering both ti and manganese rails and since she said she had bent rails in the past (more than one saddle IIRC) I thought I'd ask the collective wisdom of the forum which would material would be more likely to resist this in the future.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 06-20-12 at 03:08 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-20-12, 05:43 AM   #11
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The Beanz's experience aside, I rode much of last year at betweeen 250 and 230 pounds on cro-mo rails on a Bontrager saddle and never bent a rail. Now I'm still around 215 and riding a Specialized saddle on my touring bike, also with cro-mo and no problems. The one set of rails I did bend were stock steel (read cheap) on an old Trek that was a bit too small for me so the seat was all the way back on a post that had a fairly limited clamping area. Both of my bikes now have setback posts with wide clamping areas that allow me to clamp the saddle nearer to the center of the rails.
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Old 06-20-12, 05:46 AM   #12
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I used the standard saddle on a 2009 Specialized Rockhopper Comp when I was slightly the wrong side of 280 without issues. At the time I hadn't ridden in more years that I cared to count so had precisely no finesse when it came to cycling efficiently, I just fell back on brute force and using my weight where it seemed to help.
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Old 06-20-12, 12:44 PM   #13
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Myosmith hits on the important point of clamp design. A good wide clamp, top and bottom, certainly helps.
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Old 06-20-12, 01:04 PM   #14
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I'm going to try a saddle with carbon rails. It may or may not be a comfier ride. But it'll (1) take as much as 100 grams off my bike, and (2) let me get rid of the torture device on my commuter bike.
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Old 06-20-12, 01:26 PM   #15
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Probably the manganese. As the diameter of rails is fairly constrained, there is no opportunity to increase the volume of titanium used in order for it provide strength equal to that of steel.
Carbon rails are usually oval shaped and taller than steel rails.

With beam stiffness proportional to the cube of height that re-shaping should work well for titanium too.
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Old 06-20-12, 01:29 PM   #16
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?.. it'll take as much as 100 grams off my bike...
As much as 100 grams? Good investment...
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Old 06-20-12, 01:43 PM   #17
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I was once working on getting a new bike dialed in fit-wise. As I figured out that the saddle was too far to the back, I shoved it all the way to the front. That improved the fit enough that the next step was to replace the setback seatpost with a zero-setback unit. What I did not realize was how much the flexing of the horizontal portion of the rails (Ti) contributed to riding comfort. Omigawd! It was like I'd gone to solid rubber tires. Every bump in the road slammed the saddle into my butt.
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Old 06-20-12, 02:18 PM   #18
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Pig iron.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 06-20-12, 02:34 PM   #19
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Carbon rails are usually oval shaped and taller than steel rails.
And that means they can't be used with just any seatpost.

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As much as 100 grams? Good investment...
For $129! The saddle on my commuter is awful, and it needs to go. I like the saddle on my nice road bike, but it's going on the commuter, and that means I'm getting a new one for the fancy bike. My Fizik is 259 grams, but comfy, and it'll be nice on the commuter; I'm going to demo two saddles from Williams, at 149 and 184 g, and my butt will tell me which one to get.

Some ti skewers might remove another 80 grams for $60, and I need a set because I broke one in my trunk. All in all, my bike is going on a diet.
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Old 06-20-12, 02:49 PM   #20
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As much as 100 grams? Good investment...
That's a bit over 4 ounces.

Just thought you'd want to know.

:shrug:
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Old 06-20-12, 03:06 PM   #21
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Ounces aren't a very useful way to measure weights, can you convert it for me me into hydrogen nuclei?

I need a saddle anyway for my other bike, this one is very light and costs less than the one I have and like now, and it'll remove some weight from the bike. A hundred grams from the saddle and eighty more in the skewers, and that's almost half a pound. In stuff I have to replace either way. I need a new cassette pretty soon, and that'll get me to three quarters of a pound. If I had to replace one more part, the bike might not be legal in UCI races!
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Old 06-20-12, 03:30 PM   #22
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All in all, my bike is going on a diet.
It is so much more effective, and cheaper, to put the motor on a diet.
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Old 06-20-12, 03:58 PM   #23
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You say that like a person has to choose one or the other...

I lost a bunch of weight compared to the point when I worked 12+ hours a day at a job I hated. I'm actually pretty small for a Clyde. And I ride the hell out of my bike, up big mountains with more relief than can be found in Colorado. (Our one fourteener starts at sea level.) I enjoy having a light bike. And I know that the 75 to 110 grams the bike loses with a new saddle won't come back when the bike goes on a junk food binge.
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