The bicycle seat, also known as a bicycle saddle, supports the riders weight. The seat is attached to the bike by the seat post. Its height can be adjusted by telescoping in and out of the seat tube, which is part of the bicycle frame. Seats come in a variety of shapes to best fit the rider's needs. There are hundreds of different seat designs broken into eight general categories: race, mountain bike, gel, suspension, cutaway, wide/cushion, all-leather, and alternative. Generally, narrower seats are used for racing because they allow for a high pedal rpm. In contrast, wider seats are used for more casual riding because more weight is placed on the seat when in an upright position.
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How it works
Bicycle seats are usually composed of a hard shell, foam, a seat cover, and a metal rod attaching the seat to the frame. In order to connect the seat to the metal rod, two smaller metal rods called rails are bent and pressed into holes in the shell, which is usually made of plastic. The seat post clamps to the rails. These rails allow the seat to be moved foreward and back. Bikes can differ in how the seat is adjusted, but one way involves a sandwich of metal plates. The rods are held in place by these plates pressing on them. Then to separate the plates enough to move the rails, a bolt holding the plates together must be loosened with an Allen wrench. After the correct position is found, the bolt must be tightened again.
The bicycle seat is held in place vertically by the seat collar. The collar surrounds the seat post and hugs it tightly to keep it from sliding. The seat can be adjusted by using an Allen wrench to unscrew the bolt in the seat collar. This in turn loosens the collar and releases its grip on the post. Once the seat is positioned to a proper level, the bolt can be tightened again.
Race seats are lightweight, have minimal padding, and have a narrower shape. Mountain bike seats are also fairly narrow and lightweight, but they have a little more padding than a race seat. They are also designed to allow the rider to move downward on the nose or backward on the rear easily. A gel seat is a more comfortable alternative to the seats that come with bikes at purchase because it provides extra cushion, conforms to the rider's shape, and usually has a wider base. However, it sacrifices weight. Suspension can be built into the underside of the seat, usually by adding rubber bumpers between the seat and the rails. Cutaway seats, as the name suggests, have material cut out from the top to relieve pressure. For riders whose main concern is comfort and not speed, the wide/cushion type seat is the best. These seats are wide, have ample padding, and sometimes even have springs attached to the underside of the rear. However, they are the heaviest kind of bicycle seat. For riders concerned with aesthetics, leather is a nice alternative. Although it takes time to break in and needs to be maintained, it keeps the rider cool because it absorbs body heat and lasts a long time. Finally, there are alternative seat designs that vary greatly. They have a lot of padding, but they may be hard to find and difficult to attach. Just like the cushioned seats mentioned previously, alternative seats are heavy as well.
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Evolution of the seat
In 1817, a German named Baron von Drais invented a walking machine which he called the Draisienne. The Draisienne also known as a hobby horse later would evolve into the bicycle. This walking machine was made of wood, had two wheels, handle bars, a saddle-like seat, and no pedals. This is the reason why seats are sometimes referred to as saddles.
In 1870, a high wheel bicycle appeared. One type of seat introduced with it was a "hammock" saddle. The hammock saddle, just as it suggests, was stretched between a front and rear seat spring like a hammock.
In 1963, Schwinn introduced the Sting-Ray, the first bike with high-rise handlebars and a "banana" seat. The banana seat gets its name from its shape. The back end of the seat is supported by a "sissy" bar which is a long upside-down "u" shaped brace. Sometimes suspension is built into the "sissy" bar.
Traditionally, bicycle seats were made of thick molded pieces of leather. Leather seats need to be broken in to fit the shape of the rider, but they last a long time. Today there are many types of bicycle seats, some convential and some not. Seats are chosen for individual fit and comfort as described in the above section.
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The Developmental Stages of the Bicycle Seat
Technology and new ideas have modified the design of the bicycle seat. To see examples of its development click Stages of Seat Design Throughout History
|Part #||Part Name||# Req'd||CAD File||Image|
|2||Seat Post||1||Seat Post|
|3||Seat Post Bracket||1||Seat Post Bracket|
|4||Seat Collar||1||Seat Collar|
|5||Seat Collar Bolt||1||Seat Collar Bolt|
|6||Seat Collar Washer||1||Seat Washer|
|7||Seat Collar Nut||1||Seat Collar Nut|
|8||Seat Collar Assembly||1||Seat Collar Assembly|
|9||Seat Assembly||1||Seat Assembly|
|10||Seat & Frame Assembly||1||Seat & Frame Assembly|
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