Stages of Seat Design Throughout History
The bicycle seat is a somewhat simple, yet essential component of a bicycle. It is the main support of the riders weight, and therefore it must be strong and reasonably comfortable. Through the years, the design of the bicycle seat has changed as new materials and ideas help to improve the seat. Each new design makes changes in order to enhance comfort and durability. There are hundreds of different designs for the bicycle seat. Listed below are four different examples of seats that evolved as the bicycle changed.
Early Ingenuity: The Velocipede
The first true bicycle with foot petal cranks was created in 1866 by a man named Pierre Lallement. The seat on his bike, though primative, was one the first seat ever to offer a type of cushion to the ride. Its "leaf spring" design broke the direct connection between the road and the rider in the seated position. Lallement's suspended seat design opened the door for many of the modern suspension technologies we see today.
Christy Type Bicycle Seat
The Christy bicycle seat was developed in 1895 by A. G. Spalding & Bros. The base of the seat was made of aluminum to provide a lightweight and durable base material. The Christy has a steel sping to provide movement when the bike hits bumps on the road, in order to lessen the impact of the bump on the rider. The cusioning was upholstered with fine curled hair. The basic design of the seat is copied even today, providing two cusions for the pelvis and a narrow front to allow motion. During the late 1890s the Christy seat type was equiped on the bicycles of many of the leading manufacturers of the day.
Stingray and the Introduction of the Banana Seat
In the early sixties the rebelious era of children were pulling off their training wheels and looking to cruise the streets just as the overwhelming rage of biker gangs at the time. Schwinn recognized the need for a new inovative style to the bicycle and came out with the Stingray in 1963. it was the first bike that had ever been purpose built to handle the abusive recreational riding of children. It was equpped with a revolutionary banana seat that emulated the low rider chopper style of motorcyles that children idolized in the sixties and was an instant success.
Koobi PRS - Alpha 1030
The Koobi PRS - Alpha 1030 is one of the leading bicycle seats sold today. It provides a comfortable seat without forfeiting weight or movement. The Alpha 1030 is extremely light, only weighing 298 grams. The seat incorporates new technology with its tuneable suspension, which allows riders to adjust the seat's suspension to their comfort. Underneath the leather cover and padding are the movable suspensions, that allow the rider to choose their suspension settings depending on weight and preference. It is different from older seat models because it does not use foam padding, which can compress with time, putting stress on the body and ultimatly leading to health issues for avid riders.
These four examples shown above show the changes in the bicycle seat. The main forces driving new designs are to provide a lightweight seat that maximized comfort with designs that took stress off of the rider, while at the same time not restricting the riders movement. There have been countless designs for the seat, however most have the same concept of providing a narrow seat that will not restrict the rider. Large changes have been made in the material used and in the suspension to give the rider a more comfortable ride.