I have said that I am not trying to produce a tutorial on how to tour and what to build for yourself. Nowhere is that more true than in the choice of a seat. The variations in physiology, preferences, materials, padding make this one of the most difficult and personal decisions that you will need to make. There are riders that still change saddles frequently looking for that “perfect” one. There are other riders who have found one that they love so much they have begun hoarding a stash of them in fear that they will go out of production. Then there are those “weird” seats, Google best bicycle seat and you will get a lot of interesting designs.
I have come to realize that as a bigger guy there are certain unavoidable laws of physics at work here. X number of pounds resting on Y number of square inches of crotch only gets so good. My favorite seat of all time up to this build was a very modern mountain bike saddle from Wilderness Trail Bike their Speed V model.
It is inexpensive at around $40.00 and I had no problems with it , even at 325#.
I turned to history for this build in choosing a Brooks. Their saddles have been around a long time and they are still being bought today, that means something. The model I decided on was the Flyer Special. It is a traditional looking saddle and has the suspension springs at the back. This is a great choice for my retro look and I really wanted to see what the appeal of these legendary seats was. If I didn’t like it I could always just swap the Speed V on and be done.
From the Brooks site…
The Flyers are classically sprung saddles for long distance trekking and touring. It is directly descending from the B66 Champion, first featured in the 1927 catalogue. Sharing the same leather tops of the B17 models, they combine the comfort of these popular models with the extra suspension granted by two rear springs. They are available with tubular steel rivets or with hand hammered copper rivets…
Before I pushed off on the 2012 tour I did not break the Brooks in. This is not recommended by anyone, and I agree with that, I just did not have the time between the end of the build and the start of the tour. I had the WTB saddle in a box all packed and waiting to be shipped overnight to me if I needed it, I never did. I was very sore for about two weeks, but I expected that anyway after all I was spending 6+ hours on the bike 6 days a week after doing day rides a few days a week with an occasional long day. The long days were not training days per se, they were more to calm my nerves and reassure me that I could do 60-70 miles and/or 6+ hours at a time.
Fast forward to around Iowa. I would not trade my Brooks for anything. After weeks of touring the saddle was perfect and has stayed that way. I know it’s not for everyone but for me it’s the best I’ve found yet, and I have stopped looking.
Seat post choice is often a matter of taking whatever is in stock at the right diameter. I found a wonderful Nitto 83 seat post in my research. It has an elegant look to it and it has a very nice mounting interface with the rails of the saddle. This model does not use a single clamping bolt to sandwich the rails between the two halves of the top of the post. The model 83 has two clamping bolts. I know your thinking so what if this “goes to eleven”. The beauty of this is that it is designed to give extremely precise adjustment of the saddle tilt. The bolts not only clamp the rails in place but also locate the front and back of the mounting plate. If your saddle is a wee bit nose high, loosen the front bolt a half tun and the re-tighten the rear bolt a half turn. This adjustment is very useful in getting it *exactly* where you want it. It is also useful if you have a pressure point or are sore and want to temporarily alter the angle, just remember how many turns you moved it and you can return it to the original position without starting all over .
This was not inexpensive however , I found it in stock at Harris Cyclery, (of Sheldon Brown fame) and it was priced at $115.95 .
In keeping with the retro look , a silver Salsa seat post binder was added. I did worry about the whole assembly “going missing” when the bike was locked up so I modified my pannier lock to reach up through the saddle rails. There is a lot more on the security cables I built in the accessories section. If you want ultra lightweight , medium security for your stuff it’s worth a read.
I have to admit the ride to Harris Cyclery took on the feel of a pilgrimage, something that I felt I needed to do, such is the reverence and respect I have for the man. I feel better for having been there and seen it. If you are here in the area , and know of Sheldon’s amazing work and life, stop by.