I think it was mainly weight. Even in the '70s the weight weenie existed, and spent $$ to save grams. Cutting saddle mass by 50% (around 250 grams/1/2 pound) was about as big a single savings one could achieve, if you already had a lightweight bike. Third party companies were bringing out Ti spindles, bolts, and other small fittings for Campy parts, Campy came out with weight-reduced Super Record parts conpared to NR, the Strada pedal gained an anodized aluminum cage, Hi-E and others came out with domestic tech weight-savings offerings, and of course, drillium.
Plus even back then some hated the initial hardness of a Brooks, as can be seen by the proliferation of gel and foam padded racy looking saddles on a plastic base, and feared the potential for rainstorm destruction.
As far as the "rest of us," many of the rest of us back then believed that what European racing found to be good, was good. Now we're maybe a little more sophisticated, but I think still on the same basic plan.
Once marketers see a buying trend, the hype moves in that direction, but I don't think hype can succeed if the message isn't in some way what the customers want.
As older bike freaks I think we now know there are tradeoffs when you try to maximize the benefit of one factor such as weight: reliability, durability (the "stupid light" concept), resale, transfer to another platform, and comfort.
Ken Freeman Ann Arbor, MI USA
On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 12:03 AM, Steve Whitting <email@example.com>wrote:
> Why did many bicycle brands abandon Brooks-style all-leather saddles for
> Unicanitor-style (leather cover over a plastic shell)? Was it cost or
> weight? Let's face it - the whole 1970s fewer-spoke/drillium fad was all
> about shaving-off a few precious ounces (possibly important to a
> pro-cyclist in a long climb but otherwise magrinally benificial to the rest
> of us).
> My personal opinion is that market "hype" is often a potent factor in many
> cycling "innovations". Some are truly worthwhile, but others you sometimes
> have to wonder about.
> Steve Whitting
> Prairieville, Louisiana USA