A Quick Look @ Foam Imprints
We use custom foam blocks to capture each rider’s pressure map. Our foam has high resolution and can capture details such as chamois location with respect to the sitbones. However, before we can make use of the benefits afforded by usage of such foam, the imprint must first be correctly captured.
1. Correct imprint capture
Picture A shows an example of an acceptable imprint. It is usable by us, and is one that is
a. entirely captured by the foam,
b. not the result of the rider shifting around while sitting on it, and
c. captured with the rider sitting upright.
Once in a while, we are asked why we do not adopt the same posture sitting on the foam as we do while pedaling. When we first started, we relied on physical shaping of the foam to construct the saddle model. This included adopting the same posture as we would on the bike. But, it became clear to us very quickly that a) it is very easy to make mistakes and get it wrong (we only get one shot per foam), and b) it is impossible to capture the continuous range of postures and positions we adopt throughout a ride via physical shaping.
We then went the other direction: we decided on as little physical input as possible, and instead push almost all the effort needed to create the saddle model into software. This allows us to re-shape the model as many times as necessary digitally, while minimizing user effort in the physical world. This gives us the greatest flexibility, while significantly lowering the likelihood of user error.
Picture B shows an example of an imprint hat has ‘gone off the back’ and cannot be used by us.
The problem with sitting on the right spot is that it is difficult to ‘aim’: it isn’t clear where the middle of our butts will end up on the foam as we sit down. To help with the ‘aiming’ problem, we recommend using the front of our groin as a guide, aligning it with the front edge of the foam as we sit on the foam. This is illustrated in picture C. While the imprint may end up closer to the front in some cases, it is still usable while significantly reducing the likelihood of the imprint going off the back.
2. Using shorts with chamois
Every now and then someone asks if it is fine sitting on the foam with thin clothing as opposed to cycling shorts with chamois. The intended goal is a more accurate imprint. We do not allow this due to two main reasons:
a. The chamois covers sensitive parts of the anatomy that we must not capture for privacy reasons. Even if the rider is willing to divulge such information, we are not willing to process it.
b. The pressure map associated with the wearing of chamois-lined shorts is what our saddle encounters while riding. It is therefore more appropriate to use that to construct the saddle model.
3. Poorly fitting shorts
Lastly, our foam’s high resolution enables the capturing of chamois location with respect to the anatomy. Once in a while we encounter an imprint where the chamois isn’t overlapping with the sitbone locations. An example is shown in picture D, where the ball bearings indicate sitbone locations and the blue lines show the chamois edge. We found two main reasons for this:
a. The shorts were not pulled up fully before the foam was sat on.
b. The rider believes the pair of shorts fits well when it is otherwise.
Case (b) is potentially problematic as:
A. The chamois, being in front of where it should be, is most likely bunching up around the perineum region. This may result in additional and excessive pressure on the soft tissues.
B. (A) above may be intentional in order to provide additional padding if the rider typically sits too far forward on the saddle nose. This may in turn indicate that the rider’s overall bike geometry does not allow the saddle to be pushed further forward and provide sitbone support. For instance, the bike frame may be too large with the seat tube being too far from the head tube. As our saddles do not modify overall bike geometry, there is a significant likelihood that they cannot be installed and used as designed.
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