Jordan Rapp was born on July 28th, 1980. Three weeks later, he went for his first open water swim (sort of) in the waters of Lost Lake in Brewster, NY. Eighteen years later, he took first strokes of a different kind - in a rowing shell - on Princeton University's Lake Carnegie. After a high school career focused on squash and lacrosse, he began training for endurance athletics on a Concept II ergometer in the winter of 1998/99. Millions of meters and millions of strokes later, he was injured for the first time in his rowing career while training to make the U.S. National Team. And so, in April of 2003, he clipped a pair of aerobars onto his road bike, bought a pair of race wheels with the first tax return of his post-graduate career, and never looked back except to occasionally take a peek at the competition.
Favorite Specialized product: S-Works shoes & TT02. The first Specialized products I ever used are still my favorite. Especially the TT02. Even with all the aero helmets out there, this one still gets people's attention, especially when it goes flying by them on the road.
|Born||July 28, 1980|
|Home||Thousand Oaks, CA & Penticton, BC|
|Family||Wife Jill Savege and Son Quentin Thomas Rapp (born Jun 21, 2011)|
|2011 ITU Long Distance World Champion|
|2011 & 2009 Ironman Canada Champion|
|2011 Leadman Epic 250 Las Vegas Champion|
|2009 Ironman Arizona Champion|
Swapping Saddles (A Brief Primer)February 10, 2010
In my last piece - The Importance of What's Between Your Legs - I talked about the importance of the saddle as a point of contact on the bike. And I encouraged all of you to push forward in your quest to find the correct saddle. But I realized that - in some ways - that was an incomplete task that I had saddled you all with. I hadn't given you much insight into HOW to choose a new saddle. If you have a new saddle - or saddles - to test, how do you go about doing that. Well obviously you need to ride them. But it's what goes on before all that happens that is what I'm concerned with here.
When you position a saddle on your bike, you have three primary measurements you need to concern yourself with - saddle setback from the bottom bracket, saddle height, and saddle pitch. Unfortunately, all three measurements are intertwined, so it's hard to set one and then move onto the next. It's more of an iterative process. If you have a bike with a round post, you should also center the saddle (it's okay to tilt it very slightly left or right, but again, do this cautiously, if at all). Check the bike from the front (looking backwards) to make sure the saddle is in line with the stem. You can buy a laser-line level (I have one) if you are really particular (I am), but it's amazing how accurate your eyeballs are. If you have a TT bike - or road bike - with dedicated aero seatpost, you should still check this. Make sure the clamp hardware is inline with the frame - if it's not, you should speak with your bike shop about that. And also check the saddle - if the saddle does not sit inline, you may need a new saddle, as rails are not always perfectly straight either. But most modern bikes are built quite well, and most - if not all - of you should have no problems here. Once that is done, we can move onto the actually positioning of the saddle.
Saddle pitch should be set first, since it is unaffected by height and setback, but it does influence them. I use a digital level. You can buy one from Sears, but for those of you with an iPhone or iPod Touch or an Android phone, there are numerous applications you can buy that take advantage of the built in inclinometer in each device. These apps a few dollars, which beats the $50 or so that it costs for a dedicated digital level. I use a hardcover book to span the length of the saddle, and then I rest my level on top of that. For road saddles, I span the full length of the saddle, and set that perfectly level (or even ever so slightly nose up). I just put a Romin SL - a "swoopy" saddle - on my road bike, and this is how I set it up. This is how saddles are designed to be ridden (in most cases), because this is what keeps weight off your hands and on your seat. If you get numb hands when you ride, check your saddle pitch. A saddle that is properly leveled can fix all kinds of hand, back, and neck pain, because it rests your weight where it's nice to sit - on your butt.
Axiom #1: If you can't get comfortable on a saddle when it's level, throw it away (or trade it to a friend). It's not right for you.
For tribikes, you can level the first 2/3 of the saddle, because that is where people sit. I am currently test riding a Toupe on my Transition, and I set the first 2/3 of this saddle level (it's got a very slight hammock due to the shell flex). This makes it easier to roll your pelvis when you are sitting where you actually sit when you ride a TT bike, which is nowhere near the rear of the saddle.
Axiom #2: if you sit on the back of the saddle when riding your TT bike, throw it (your saddle) away. It's not right for you.
Once you get your saddle pitch set, now it's time to adjust height and setback. You may need to double check pitch again at the end, because you will be loosening and tightening the bolts that hold the saddle in place. Figuring you know about where on the seatpost your old saddle was, first check the setback. You can use a plumb bob for this, but I usually just measure from the steam clamp to the saddle nose. If you have a saddle with a very long nose or no nose at all, this can change all that. In those cases, it's a tougher job to set it up, and I'd recommend evaluating these saddles by comparing the saddles rails to a "normal" saddle to evaluate where the nose *should* (or *would*) be and measuring setback to that point (or simply add or subtract to your measurement of the nose). Adjust your new saddle until it's about the same as your old saddle, which brings up another axiom.
Axiom #3: have a record of your saddle height and setback that you can repeatably recreate. Don't just copy down what a fitter or bike shop sent you. Have a record of how YOU measure these things. And know where it is. I carry it around on my wallet, but I keep a copy in "the cloud" on Slowtwitch.com, where you can archive your fit coordinates for free if you are a registered forum member (also free).
Once you have the setback set, check the height. I always measure through the same point on the seatpost. I do not try to measure through the center of the saddle because this changes. On something like the Specialized post, I just measure through the center of the single binder bolt. It's easy and repeatable, and that is what matters. You can balance a quarter on top of the saddle to help make sure you are checking height by looking across the saddle rather than slightly up or slightly down on it. Practice this a few times before you take your old saddle off. Using the quarter trick, you should be able to see the side of the quarter, but not the face. If you see the face, you are looking down. And if you don't see the full side, you are looking up at it. It makes sense when you do it, I promise. Once you set the height, double check the setback. You'll probably need to tweak and repeat this cycle a few times to make sure you have both of them dialed in. If you are working with a bike with a round post, also check the saddle rotation at the end, since often you need to twist the post to move it up or down.
Once everything is set, get out your torque wrench. Using your torque wrench, tighten everything to the appropriate degree. You are now ready to properly evaluate your new saddle.
Axiom #4: buy a torque wrench and know how to use it and know what the torque specs for the bolts on your bike are.
Good luck! I know some stuff in here may seem confusing, so you can always get in touch with me via my other blog - http://blog.rappstar.com and the contact form on there.
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