10 May 2015

10th May 2015 Saddled with a Cambium 2! :ø(

Sunday 10th  50-56F, 10-13C, gales from W-NW, heavy cloud clearing. It was decidedly chilly for my hour's walk. Everything is still on its way to turning fluorescent green but there are still plenty of slackers. As usual, at this time of year, I can still hear the birds but they are now invisible amongst the fresh new leaves. The forecast is cloud clearing to heavy sunshine but with 30mph gusts.

Despite the wind already roaring in the trees I'd better make an effort after tipping the Cambium "mock Tudor oak beam" up at the nose. Another desperate attempt to undo Selle-r-Brooks's best efforts at making their "pretend rubber" saddle hideously unridable! Comfortable right out of the box? What about sales hype, false advertising claims and Selle?  It's no wonder they [Cambiums]  bleach in the sunshine. The unhappy owners have never wanted to present their bums for a second torture session!

I put on my best padded bibs and headed off to the coast on the Cambium + Junior saddlebag sans rack. It was blowing a gale but somehow I managed to avoid a direct headwind until the last leg. The C17 caused the usual hard saddle, deep leg thrombosis, aches at first but eventually I went through a numb period. After that I spent the next few miles doing the hop, skid and shuffle desperately trying to find a sweet spot which just wasn't there.

The C17 felt better with the bibs than with the Wiggle DHB shorts but why should it even be necessary? The hype says comfortable from new! I invested a lot of optimism in the Cambium and was badly lied to. The damned thing is not remotely comfortable! Its a brick on a stick. The rubber is just a red herring to advertising hype. It is the structural fabric which is doing all the harm. I spent only 23 miles on it yesterday and then sat there with sore sit bones in the evening on my comfy computer chair. I could have chosen any saddle from my pile of rejects and done 22 miles with less damage!

Quite what I should do now I have no idea. The Cambium is a hopeless waste of money despite my desperately wanting it to work. It isn't even remotely light enough to warrant  further suffering. The present B17 'Special' has passed its sag-by date already despite re-tensioning and tying the skirts. It is already uncomfortable for longer rides. I could put my next, brand new B17 'Special' onto the trike. That means I still have a thousand miles of discomfort breaking it in.

My wife suggest I should swap saddles on a daily basis but it seems like a lot of hassle. They each have to be set up at the right height, correctly positioned for and aft plus the right degree of tilt. I'd need notes for setting up each saddle. 26 miles.

Never one to give up easily I set off again after letting my lunch go down. Just another 5 mile loop to see how much damage I had done this morning. Which was much the same as I feared. I kept moving back and forth but couldn't get comfortable despite the 1/2 of foam padding in the bibs.

So that's that then. The Cambium is pretty. And heavy, and hard, and very uncomfortable and completely unforgiving. It's only relationship with a leather B17 is the name and with a brand new one out of the box. The C17 is as uncomfortable as a boulder chosen at random from a roadside, dry stone wall. While a brand new B17 is a shiny, polished rock picked up from a beach. I find the B17 is only comfortable for a short period between just broken in and just broken. Perhaps it's just me? I have no padding over my sit bones. Just skin and bone. To add insult to injury the C17 was digging into the backs of my thighs/buttocks. I have never had that happen with any saddle before. It must be its round spoon-like shape. All my other saddles have belonged to the delta form.

A saddle should provide some suspension or it will be intolerable. It can have external springs. Or some designed-in "hammock" flexure in the rails. The carcase itself can flex.  Or sponge foam can be fitted under the cover. I have serious doubts about the degree of rail flexure of real world saddles. The usual clamp takes up a large range of the potential length which can flex. Brooks makes much of rail flexure but I am not convinced. Try riding a brand new Brooks B17! The leather carcase is still too stiff to flex much and the sit bone area has no give to it at all. It really is like riding on a polished rock despite it being exactly the same size and shape as a fully broken in saddle. So the rails aren't doing much flexing IMO. It is only the leather flexing which makes a Brooks comfortable and then only for a short while at some point in its expected life.

Rail flexure should be testable on a new leather saddle by fitting a hard spacer between the carcase and clamp. Later on this would stop the leather flexing so can't be tried. Much of the flexure of a leather saddle flares the skirts outwards. Tying the skirts keeps the spine stiff and makes the broken in saddle much harder. The sit bones are always very close to the cantle plate when  seated normally. Where there is precious little room for any give in the leather for the sit bones. Plastic based saddles rely mostly on thin sponge to soften the ride. My Vetta SL has quite deep sponge under the vinyl cover but still feels unpleasantly hard after a riding it for a while. The San Marco "Inquisition" twin tails feel quite flexible in the fingers off the trike but it rides like rock hard in practice. The nicely flexible tails are stiffened up by the Titanium rails as soon as it is clamped. 

I am very tempted to make up a jig to check actual flexure on saddles. Just to see what is really happening with the weight of a bod with normally spaced sit bones on board. Once aboard you can't see the saddle and poking around with your fingers under the saddle top while riding doesn't tell you much. Or it pinches your fingers between the skirts and rails hard enough to make you take them out very quickly! 

Anyway, I have now refitted the Vetta SL to the Trykit and given the B17 a further tension. Then applied a good dollop of Proofide inside and out. Carefully applying it in every nook and cranny with my bare fingers works best. I haven't done this for ages as I was trying to prolong its useful life before it went all soft on me. I also refitted the rack and Carradice Camper while I was there.

It is hardly 60F out there but baking hot in the late afternoon sunshine protected from the wind. And now a late result: Cambium 0 Chris 0 after extra time and penalties. Don't assume by this that I have the slightest interest in football. I must still have been at junior school when a fellow student told me that the star of the local football team came from another town. From that point on football has given me a very wide berth. And I it! 31 miles in total today. None of them remotely to the level of comfort to which I am accustomed. I do have [some] standards, you know! ;ø]

Click on any image for an enlargement.

No comments:

Post a Comment