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Tighten That Leather

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Tighten That Leather

Old 05-25-13, 03:30 PM
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DOS
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Tighten That Leather

So, as I have mentioned in other recent posts, I will be getting my 87 Paramount painted in the next few months. I started today evaluating which parts currently on the bike I want to keep, and which I will replace when I rebuild the bike after painting. I know I want to keep the leather saddle I currently have; it's not a Brooks or Ideale, it's a Japanese knockoff of a Brooks that came off an 80s Raleigh, but it is quality leather and has a worn patena that I want to keep (if I wanted all new, I'd just buy a new bike). But the saddle has looked kinda saggy since I have owned it, but I never bothered tinkering with the stretcher nut until today. Holy cow what a difference that made in the ride quality of the bike

My Paramount since I have owned it, has seemed more rigid than another steel bike I have generally, and had delivered a harsher ride, with more road buzz. I mostly attributed this to fact that the Columbus SP down tube of the Paramount is thicker than the Tange Prestige tubes of my other frame, but thought perhaps some of this was due to combination of the old Campy seat post absorbing less buzz than the new Thomson elite post on the other bike and leather seat being less comfy than moden fizik seat on the other bike. Well I got on the Paramount today after doing nothing more than tightening up leather of the saddle to point that all the old sag was removed. Its like riding a different bike; I haven't gone far yet but my Paramount just feels like a new bike, riding on a cloud, road buzz almost totally eliminated. I don't often use this bike for my usual Sunday morning 40 milers, but I will tomorrow to really test it out. Why didn't I stretch the leather years ago?
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Old 05-25-13, 03:50 PM
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Yup, though a little goes a long way, so don't over tighten. Also, tying the sides can help keep older sagging saddles in shape. I rescued a nice Ideale that way.
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Old 05-25-13, 03:51 PM
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Tension saddles depend on their static tension adjustment to effect the right amount of leverage on the flexing rails.

A sagging saddle won't flex the rails, but will just sag and feel rigid.
It may not immediately seem obvious that a tensioned (i.e. flat on top) saddle will be more cushy over bumps, but you found this out.

I have to tension this saddle carefully so that the hidden tension springs at the rear mounting will activate under the loading of road shock.
The tension struts (chains/cabling attached to the rear mounting) force the springs to activate before the saddle sags.
It's used almost exclusively for cyclocross racing, so bump absorbtion is important, not to mention that tension keeps the saddle from swaying, both in response to pedaling and to steering input.
I broke a few saddle springs (even the frame a couple of times) using it for MTB racing back in the 90's.




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Old 05-25-13, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jeirvine View Post
Yup, though a little goes a long way, so don't over tighten. Also, tying the sides can help keep older sagging saddles in shape. I rescued a nice Ideale that way.
I was worried about overtightening, so I did not just dial out the nut in the noste of the saddle. On this particular saddle, the rails attach to the back of the saddle by two nuts, so I can completely remove the rails from the saddle, which is what I did. I then dialed out the stretcher nut just to the point where when I attached the pin to the nose of the saddle, I could just stretch the saddle enough to still reattached the rails to the back of the saddle. My first attempt, I could not get the rails to reach the bolts at the back, so I figured too tight and dialed the nut back a couple of turns, got the rails reattached, seems like good tension now.
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Old 05-26-13, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by DOS View Post
I don't often use this bike for my usual Sunday morning 40 milers, but I will tomorrow to really test it out. Why didn't I stretch the leather years ago?
I did 40 miles today and my initial impressions were born out. I had a great comfortable ride. I can't get over what a difference a few turns of a nut made not just in the comfort of the saddle but in the overall ride quality of the bike.
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Old 05-26-13, 11:01 AM
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Many riders might be loathe to tighten their saddle tension because of how long it sometimes takes to break one in.

Perhaps just after the saddle starts to get comfortable would be a good time to start tensioning one, but I've heard cautionary notes about over-tightening a leather saddle.

In addition to the variations in saddle leather, there is also a lot of variation in rider weight, riding conditions and saddle treatments, so Brooks owners might be best advised to keep an eye on things regularly, and adjust tension using their best judgement.
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