One of the most overlooked parts of the bicycle is the bike seat or the saddle. Most people don’t take into consideration knowing this part because it is basically just the part of the bicycle on which the rider sits while operating the machine. But believe it or not, the saddle plays a large role in a rider’s performance.
Typically, saddles are made out of hard plastic, covered with a thin layer of foam and a seat cover. Almost all saddles are shaped the same due to a conventional and ergonomic design that has been used ever since the first bikes were manufactured.
This saddle shape is what manufacturers refer to as a single platform seat, a one-piece curved seat with a bulge in the center, mounted on a single shaft or post. This design can be seen on most bicycles nowadays.
The bike seat is a simple part to manufacture as it only contains dew components such as the shell, bumpers, screws, bolts, rods, and the covering fabric. We will be tackling how Cyclenatics manufactures premium-grade bike seats in providing every rider comfortability and an enjoyable ride.
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History of the Bicycle Seat
Before we get to know the processes a bike saddle goes through, it goes with saying that knowing the history of how it became the saddle we know today is important as well.
The history of the bicycle seat is tied with the development of the overall bicycle in terms of efficiency and comfort. In the early 1800s, when the draisine came out (the first bicycle), the seat was evidently simple and unsophisticated. It is made up of just a single, wooden plank that looks very uncomfortable to ride on.
Later on, the penny-farthing bicycle, or the high-wheel bicycle with a small wheel in the back, had an uncomfortable seat as the rider put all of the weight on the seat and had to pedal with more effort to move the bicycle forward.
During the 1890s, bicycles with the same size of wheels were extremely popular because the riders did not risk falling over the large wheel of the high wheeler. With more people using the bicycle, manufacturers started to consider designing more comfortable bike seats.
By the early 2000s, bicycle seats were refurbished to have a more comfortable design. This includes the addition of padding on the convex saddle to offer more. These changes gave a jumpstart for the betterment of biking as a sport and as a recreational activity.
Conventional bicycle seats are typically made of three to four materials such as metals for the bolts, nylon-based plastic for the shell, and foam padding.
Nylon-based plastic is used to form a molded rigid seat that is then covered by padding, usually a closed-cell foam. Closed-cell foam is a form of latex foam with a blowing agent incorporated to force gas to escape during vulcanization. The release of the gases forms small closed cells, rendering a foam that is nonabsorbent and durable.
The plastic shell and foam are then covered with a waterproof fabric, such as vinyl, leather, fabric, kevlar, rubber, and nylon. Spray adhesives glue the fabric together to cover the foam.
Some saddles are constructed with hollow metal tubing that may easily be attached to the bicycle frame. The metals used in these rods are either stainless steel or titanium, a lightweight, high-strength metal.
The Manufacturing Process
Traditional bicycle seats are made up of a hard shell, foam, a seat cover, and a metal rod that attaches to a bicycle frame. Here’s how we manufacture these components.
The shell is the component that gives the saddle its shape. It starts with a machine that injects molten plastic resin inside a cooled metal mold that is already designed with a variety of configurations, depending on the demand.
After further cooling, the resin solidifies in the mold and is unclamped. The molded plastic shell is then ejected out of the mold with the assistance of an ejector such as a pin.
Several moldings can be produced per minute by the machine. Runners that attach parts of the plastic injection molded pieces may be knocked off, gathered, and melted down for later use.
The densely-packed foam that provides additional comfort to the riders is called padding. It is cut by using sharp blades along the contours of the shell that moves down and around the edges of the shell.
These foam seats are manually applied to the shell by hand, one seat at a time. The shaped foam sheets are then attached to the plastic shell using a spray adhesive using an air compressor and spray gun.
The adhesive application operator ensures that the spray adhesive is applied evenly at all sides and parts underneath the seat to guarantee that the cover properly adheres.
The topsheet refers to the outer fabric that covers the plastic shell and the foam. It can either be made of vinyl, leather, nylon, and any other thick fabrics. Due to its thickness, the fabric is cut out by using industrial-grade machines.
Topsheet cutouts are secured to the foam-covered shells. This process involves wrapping the cover down over the seat, around the sides, and fastening it to the bottom of the seat. The topsheet is carefully glued by hand using a spray adhesive.
Wrapped edges are rolled tight to provide a good fit and prevent separation from the shell. After the topsheet is attached to the base using the glue, it is also stapled to the base to ensure a more secure, smooth fit.
Plastic bumpers are then screwed onto the front, the back, and the underside of the seat. These bumpers cover the gluing and stapling of the topsheet to the base, giving the seat a finished look. These bumpers are manually attached by using a hand-held automatic screw gun.
4. Metal Rod
Most bicycle seats come with a hollow metal rod so that the seat may be affixed into a bicycle frame using the attached rod.
The rods are heated and then cut into smaller sections using a heavy machine saw, and the sections are bent into the desired configuration using molds. These configured rods are then put into a tumbler that tumbles the rod using polished rocks in an enclosed cylinder. This process is used to round off the edges of pebbles and give them a smooth shine as well.
The shell and the rods are put into a machine that applies pressure with the assistance of the operator, forcing the rod into the seat using this pressure. The rails will then pop into the seat foundation.
The saddle is now complete and ready for attachment, packing, and shipping.
The sudden surge of bicycle demands this past few years has allowed us to provide people with top-grade bicycles with safety, efficiency, and comfortability in mind. Bike saddles are as important as the other components of a bicycle because a well-performing bicycle is not worth it if it will just give the rider discomfort.
If you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to keep in touch with our online support team via email: email@example.com.