Re: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered

Example: Framebuilders:Doug Fattic

From: Emilio Bozzi <>
To: <>, <>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 15:06:28 -0700
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered


I must admit, very well spoken. even though I raised my butt to ride on a Unica all these years, your thoughts certainty speak to me. thanks for the post.

Nels Cone Seattle WA
> From:
> Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 15:54:54 -0400
> To:
> Subject: Re: [CR] Leather saddles vs leather covered
> A couple years ago I read that UnicaNitor saddles made a rather
> flashy debut among the Pros in 1959 when the French teams
> including Anquetil and Derrigade suddenly adopted them for the
> TDF and the Giro. These had simple unpadded plastic tops, later
> modified to a dimpled finish to attempt to quell the slippery feel of
> the smooth plastic. But, in only a couple years the same teams
> had returned to the comfort of the alloy framed Ideale, although a
> bit heavier. Tom Simpson was claimed to have been the first to
> glue a leather top to his own plastic Unica, but by 1970 the factory
> was already rolling out saddles with leather covers and with some
> padding above the plastic shell as well.
> I rode with both Brooks (and Ideale) and Unicanitor saddles during
> the late 1960s through early 70s. The Cinelli Unicanitor was viewed
> then as the ultimate - just as we might view the latest high-tech San
> Marco or Selle Italia racing saddles today. They were noticeably
> lighter in weight than the old fashioned full leather, and were
> advertised (and endorsed by racers) as being designed for superior
> comfort... and since they were seen on the bikes of the Pros, they
> surely MUST be superior - Right?
> Well, the Unicas were NEVER comfortable for me. But, I naively
> assumed I was simply an anomaly and did not even consider that
> it could have been the fault of the unyielding plastic shell - especially
> since the padded saddle certainly seemed and felt to the touch
> like it should be a more comfortable seat than a hard leather top.
> By the early 1970s, I suspect even Brooks began to fear the growing
> popularity of the trendy "modern" racing saddles as more brands and
> models were being offered every year and were selling for substantially
> less than a top line Brooks model. They were definitely easier and
> cheaper, faster to manufacture. And, priced accordingly, they were
> quickly replacing leather as OEM saddles for new bike sales. The
> main hold-outs I remember were the mid-range French bikes which
> still were offered with lower tier stiff leather saddles (Did the Ideale
> model 39 saddles EVER break in before that UO-8 bike rusted away?).
> And, among my crowd, the olde leather was already being viewed
> as an obsolete relic of the racing past. High end bikes were still
> offered with a (suitably expensive) Brooks Pro as an alternative to
> the fancy Cinelli Unicanitor models (which were far more costly
> than most of the contemporary copies). Unicas were even offered
> with various leather top finishes. I had a padded black suede model
> - which I liked only because I never slid on it... but, it was never as
> comfy as my old Brooks Pros. The clear "CINELLI" imprint in silver
> at the rear of the saddles added an air of expense and race-proven
> respectability and mystique to the saddles so we all looked very
> serious about our bikes.
> Brooks eventually began to offer plastic based saddles, and during
> the early 1970s Ideale was already selling their 2001, 2002 etc.
> models, so they surely must have perceived a growing threat to
> their traditional model sales pretty early on and were already
> hedging their bets.
> I think the US became more weight obsessed than many countries
> as the novelty of race-looking bikes suddenly entered the American
> consciousness and became so popular during the early 1970s.
> Even less serious riders who never raced were attracted to any
> bike which looked lighter and faster then it really was - kind of like
> the bold "racing stripes" option so popular on Camaro and Mustang
> cars. Everyone with a 40 pound Schwinn Varsity wanted their
> campus bike to LOOK as racy as possible and a sleek modern
> looking saddle helped the illusion.
> I think this concern about the appearance of one's road bike has
> continued right up to today. Now every casual rider wants a too
> narrow and too uncomfortable saddle which looks cool... and then
> they complain and suffer or just know no better... and then ride
> their weekend bikes even less. Do 95% of modern riders really
> NEED a modern Dura-Ace or Ultegra group over a cheaper 105?
> My 250 pound 5'8" dentist has full Campy Record 10-speed
> components on his seldom used bike. I'm sure he has the latest
> 150 gram racing saddle, too.
> I have a modern saddle on my daily commuter bike... so I can leave
> it out in the rain or snow, and not even worry about the saddle being
> stolen.
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