Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CX Bike Fit: Don’t Make Me Get All Norm Abram on You

My New Leaf Spring
A cross bike saddle is like a bean bag chair without the X-box.  No.  It’s more like a crossbow with the rails as the bow and the sit surface as the string.  Hmm.  Not quite.  A CX bike saddle is identical to a leaf spring on a 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser in Nairobi.  Yeah, and your remounting tookus is the rusty two ton truck pounding on it through a Serengeti Safari.  Think about that mid-race and all the pain will go away for at least a lap.

I skipped the first cross races, not intentionally.  I was on vacation in Park City, Utah.  While I was looking at the Uinta Mountains beyond Round Valley between my toes from our Canyon condo’s hot tub recovering from a 5 hour epic on the Mid Mountain Trail, I picked up my waterproof pen and paper and scribbled a short list of things I needed to do to my CX bike before the OVCX racing series kicks off this weekend in Kentucky.  Okay, so the Sharpie and paper weren’t so waterproof.  I might’ve missed something.

The Old White Saddle In Question
Oh yeah.  Mitch, my teammate and owner of BioWheels Bike Shop pointed out that my saddle looked too low at the cyclocross time trial the other day.  Like any crosser confronted by someone questioning my bike fit, I told him to f-off.  I’ve been doing this for 10 years.  A CX fit savant, I keep a tape measure and level in my middle jersey pocket every September.  The height from pedal centerline to the top of my saddle was perfect because I measured it 32 times…definitely 32 times.  Don’t make me break out the aged cryptic postie note with my measurements on it and get all Norm Abram on your ass.  For those that eschew PBS, Norm Abram is host of The New Yankee Workshop and can build an exquisite armoire quicker than you can make oatmeal.

Still Mitch is no dufus.  The fit question niggled at me.  How could my saddle be set up perfect yet appear too low?  Great googlie mooglie!  I got it!  Even though identical to the saddles on my road and mountain bikes, the white Fizik Aliante on my CX bike was purchased used about 4 years ago.  I suspected it had lost its loft.  Sure enough, if you look closely at the pictures, the old white saddle appears to have a little more curve through the top when compared to the new blue one.  While still measuring 92.7 cm from my pedal axle, the top of the saddle would sink down an extra centimeter when I sat on it.  Ah ha!  I emailed Mitch and took back every curse word.

Two Screws Were 3mm from Piercing My Taint
For the ultimate proof, you can see how the saddle has lost its leaf-spring capability by looking at the underside.  Those two holes were caused by the saddle coming in contact with the ends of the seatpost bolts.  Not the way you want to get a prostate exam.  The moral of the story is three fold: never buy a used saddle, measure your fit 32 times...definitely, and no matter how much it hurts your ego, always trust the advice of the bike-fit pro at your local shop.

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