A Thing or Two from Interbike 2016

Meld is a bicycle saddle manufacturer that makes custom saddles based on individual cyclists’ anatomies. We had a booth at the recent Interbike 2016, and it was great talking to a whole bunch of cycling folks. We thought we’d try and summarize some of the discussions and common questions asked.

Bike/Saddle fit

As part of the anatomy geometry capturing process, we have the cyclist sit on a piece of foam (also called a ‘crush box’). The foam deforms from the pressure exerted on it, and is subsequently scanned and used to create a saddle model.

The imprints captured always show an asymmetry between the left and right sides, i.e. they are not mirror images of each other. Accordingly, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether the saddle should be made asymmetric based on the imprint to provide a better fit. The answer appears to be ‘No’, for almost everyone.

Capturing sitting posture on foam

A question that comes up fairly often is the need to adopt the same cycling posture when sitting on the imprint foam. Since we utilize software to help shape the saddle, the question becomes the level of contribution humans should make towards the shape. Based on multiple trials, the answer quickly became ‘as little as possible’, because:

Time needed to get a saddle made

Depending on how far you are from California, shipping can take anywhere between 1–3 days in the US, so 2–6 days for the imprint kit shipping to and from you. For the saddle manufacturing, it depends on the size of the queue. In the best case, we take at most 2 weeks to make each saddle, 1 week if everything goes well.

To provide a better sense of the time involved, the estimated time-to-completion is shown in the payment page (accessed via the ‘$’ icon in the dashboard). It’s definitely not 100% accurate since it’s influenced by factors sometimes outside of our control, but hopefully it helps in some way.

Can you adjust a particular dimension, say saddle length?

We started out allowing for significant user control over minute details of the saddle. Nose width and saddle length were two of them. The problem is that people weren’t sure what numbers to use. Our initial response was to start from or use the lengths corresponding to their current saddle, but there’s always the nagging feeling that they’re missing out on something if the saddle length isn’t set precisely to 27.38491 cm.

The other concern with enormous user control over saddle shape is the increased likelihood of creating a less comfortable saddle. It is difficult to get a complete picture / know all the facts necessary to create a good saddle shape (we have a blog article on this, which we call the Fog of War). As far as possible, the input parameters available impact functionality (e.g. movement fore/aft) and aesthetics (e.g. graphics), not comfort. The only parameter that affects comfort is the availability of a channel or cutout, and that’s because we cannot detect all cases where one is needed (e.g. medical/nerve damage situations).

Found this article useful? Check out other cycling-related stuff at meld3d.com/blog.

We create comfortable, performance saddles based on your anatomy and inputs, at meld3d.com.

We create comfortable, performance saddles based on your anatomy and inputs, at meld3d.com.