The bicycle component with probably the greatest impact on comfort is the saddle, since a large part of the body weight is on a relatively small saddle surface. This high load in combination with the very sensitive sitting area of the body can quickly lead to numbness, sitting complaints and discomfort when using an ergonomically unsuitable saddle, regardless of gender. A good solution is a saddle shape tailored to the individual anatomy. This allows the pressure to be absorbed and distributed specifically on the less sensitive, bones-supported tissue areas. For this purpose, an optimal pressure distribution on the saddle is determined in a bike-fitting process, together with the customers on their own mountain bike, in consideration of posture, individual seating position as well as saddle adjustment. For ambitious sporty mountain bikers, lightweight design often takes precedence over comfort. This conflict of goals is to be resolved in a joint research project of bike ahead composites, a renowned manufacturer of high-end lightweight bicycle components made in Germany, and Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe, a research institution with over 30 years of process technology and design expertise. Together with bike-fitting experts and physiotherapists for ergonomics a saddle is being developed, using carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics (CFRP), which, despite the focus on comfort through individualization, achieves a very high level of lightweight design and durability.
The saddle is individualized, based on ergonomic parameters from an individual pressure distribution measurement. A Python tool captures the data from the pressure measurement and adapts a parameterized saddle model to the measurement data, considering additional information, such as body weight. Thus, this individualized saddle shape with an adapted pliability is a unique component that can only be produced economically with a highly flexible process technology. Such a flexibility can be achieved by combining the classic prepreg autoclave process with modern 3D printing technology. First of all, a preform close to the final contour with local reinforcements is produced from pre-impregnated fibers, called tapes, in a robot-assisted lay-up process. To reproduce the individual saddle shape, 3D printing is used to generate individual mold inserts that give the the saddle top layer its final shape in the autoclave. The development of a lightweight CFRP saddle rail completes the Hypersaddle, which is ready to set new standards with its combination of ergonomics and lightweight design.
The project ”Hypersaddle - Personalised high-performance bicycle saddle in hybrid design“ is funded by the federal ministry of economics and energy within the framework of the “central innovation program for SMEs” (funding reference ZF4052331RF9).
M.Sc. Tim Schmidt
Institut für Verbundwerstoffe GmbH
Impregnation & Preform Technologies
Phone: +49 631 2017 469