Friday, April 12, 2013

Equipment - Search For Titanio Replacement

"Titanio" is a misnomer, really - it basically means "titanium". But San Marco called a particular saddle the Titanio and it's a favorite of mine. I tried the Arione for a bit as it came on my Cannondale. I also tried, briefly, an SLR.

The problem with the Titanio is that I don't remember seeing it produced after about the year 2000. Some places had it in stock for another couple years. I didn't realize San Marco stopped production so I panicked and went looking for spare saddles. When I got my last new one I cleaned out one distributor's stock, all one of them.

A friend of mine remembered I used the saddles so he gave me three that he had. Apparently they no longer worked for him. I'm pretty sure one broke almost immediately; the other two were relegated to spare use and, eventually, to the track bike and the tandem. I could tell the saddles he gave me because he wore the sides out - being as he's more of a cyclist's build than me (aka he's not as heavy) I can only theorize that training a lot wears out the sides of these saddles.

Along with one desperate purchase, a plastic railed (not carbon, it's plastic, like regular plastic) version, I had two titanium saddles and the one plastic one.

Since then I've bought one used and a friend bought one used for me. The latter was sort of funny. Said friend emailed me to let me know that there was a Titanio up for grabs on eBay. I looked, it was reasonable, it was $35, and I thought, well, I should probably get it. A few hours later I decided that, yes, I'll get it. I went to my Watchlist and, yep, it was gone.

I emailed my friend.

"Dude, someone bought the saddle. I'm totally bummed."
"I bought the saddle because I didn't want you to miss out on it."
"Oh. Haha. Okay."
"I'll ship it to you."
"Okay, thanks."

I broke one of my precious saddles, leaving me with a total of three titanium and one plastic railed Titanio. When I built up my red Tsunami 1.1 I had the plastic one on the black bike, a ti railed one on the track bike, a ti rail one on the tandem, and I installed another ti railed one on the red bike.

I had just one spare.

I started to worry. I could steal the saddle off the tandem, fine, that bike is almost like a spare parts holder with its new shifters and ti railed Titanio. Okay, so it has two spares on it.

But after that... I didn't have much in the way of options. My sporadic checks on eBay didn't turn up much. Plus I wanted to find a current saddle that would work. This way I could build up stock, just like I did with the Titanio saddles.

The other thing weighing on my mind was the weight. The Titanios were about 220 grams, which isn't bad but it isn't great. I am conscious of a part's weight but I don't go out and get the lightest stuff on purpose. If it's light and it works I'll get it.

As an example my Cannondale SI SRM cranks are power meter cranks, fine. But they're also just 675 grams for the cranks, rings, and bottom bracket. In comparison the Campy cranks I had before were closer to 1000 grams, about 300 grams or 2/3 of a pound heavier. They didn't measure power, they were more flexible, and they required a proprietary fifth chainring bolt.

My SRM cranks are lighter, stiffer, and they measure power, and, based on everything that it came with (because it came as a bike I got a Cannondale SystemSix frameset, Campy Record build kit, Arione saddle... I sold off the wheels and bars and gave away the stem), they were relatively inexpensive.

When I buy these kinds of non-wear items, like cranks, saddles, pedals, bars, stems, seatposts, etc, I want to optimize the weight factor. I won't buy stupid light stuff, nor will I spend $300 on a post to save 20 grams. I will take a slightly heavier-than-lightest part that is durable and works well.

The new FSA Compact bar I want to adopt falls under those requirements. They cost little, about $50 at the local shop, they weigh within 30-50 grams of the lighter carbon bars (especially since I cut 30 grams worth of excess bar off, bringing them close to 200g actual weight), they're durable, and they work as long as I have a longer stem. I think anyway.

The Titanio saddles are durable, work well, but they're not optimal in terms of weight. If I could find a newer lighter saddle that worked as well I'd be in business.

I remembered the SLR saddle. I couldn't remember what I didn't like about them. I knew that the Ariones were a bit wide in the middle and flat fore and aft. I started looking at saddle profiles. I figured if anyone would have a similar saddle to the Titanio it would be the folks that made the Titanio, San Marco.

Someone somewhere mentioned that we don't sit on our sit bones, we sit on the inside edges of our pelvic cradles. I think the actual bone is the ramus of ischium. That makes sense to me because when I consciously sit on my sit bones I'm totally upright, an unnatural position for me on the bike. When I'm sitting "normal" my pelvis is tilted forward.  Until I read that comment on where we sit I couldn't visualize where it is that we sat, I just knew that the sides of the saddle sort of supported my pelvis.

With the idea of the ramus of ischium in my head I realized that it's not the tail of the saddle that counts - that's where I'd be sitting upright. It's the curve in the middle 2/3 of the saddle, how it flares outward.

The Arione was too wide there, hence it felt wide.

The Titanio is a bit more triangular.

I needed another "more triangular" saddle.

Selle Italia makes the SLR, a minimalist lightweight saddle. I had one before. I either sold it or gave it away but I'm not sure why. I decided that I'd give the SLR a shot again.

And then I checked the prices of the SLRs out there.

They were a bit much. I mean, okay, $100 is about the market price for a somewhat minimum saddle. But $300 for a saddle is a bit much for me.

I checked Slowtwitch and sure enough someone was selling a high end SLR for $125. I snapped it up. A few days later it showed up at the house.

Carbon rails and all that.

Note the flared shape. This is similar to the Titanio. Many new saddles are much narrower in the middle, flaring aggressively at the tail. I was looking for something less aggressively flared, like this thing.

Titanio saddle profile from above.

I didn't want a cut out either - I don't feel the need for one so I'm skipping that for now.

Weight of my (hopefully) new standard saddle.

The one I took off the bike.

You can see the wear starting on the side of the nose.

The weight difference is about 75 grams or a bit more than a tenth of a pound. Every 45 grams is a tenth of a pound (454 grams is a pound).

Of course I'm 7 pounds heavier than I was in late January after I did 33 hours of riding. After February, when I did 8 hours, I was 10 pounds heavier. A tenth of a pound is... an incremental gain at best. It will only count if I'm 15-20 lbs lighter than I am now, when each pound becomes more important, more significant. For now just makes the bike easier to put on the roof rack.

My spare. Odd, it's heavier.

When I checked the production dates on the saddles my original one was made in 1991 (based on the "91" stamped on the underside of the saddle). The newer/heavy one was made in 1999.

The important part is how the SLR worked. I went for a ride on Thursday with the saddle after I installed it. I had to raise the post a full centimeter as the saddle sat much lower.

The shape worked for me. I was in shorts so that meant thin material. I slid around on the saddle a bit more than normal - I don't know if there's some upholstery Son-of-a-Gun type stuff on it but I hope it gets a bit more tacky. I need to move the saddle up and forward a touch - I found myself sitting further back trying to get proper leg extension so the saddle is a bit low right now.

Currently my bikes are at 66 cm BB->Saddle (black bike with 175 mm cranks) and 66.5 cm BB->Saddle (red bike with 170 mm cranks). I think my normal height was 67 cm so I think I'm 0.5 cm too low. This would explain me pushing all the way back on the saddle trying to get enough leg extension.

I took the opportunity to install the ti bolts I accidentally bought for the Thomson post.

Speaking of incremental gains these are really incremental, almost microscopic...

The regular bolts.

The accidental ones, less than 10 grams lighter.

It was kind of a dumb purchase. I bought everything in my cart thinking I'd deleted these and I didn't realize I bought them until the package showed up. If they last then that's great. If they don't... well then I was dumb to buy them.

Let's put it this way - I didn't buy more of them.

I'll see how the SLR works for the next couple months. If you start seeing more SLRs on my bikes you'll know that they're working out.

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