This may be caused by the rails rubbing in the seatpost clamp. Remove the saddle from the bike, lube the rails and also the seat post clamp cradle nut/bolt. The squeak may also come from the rails rubbing where they join the saddle base. This can be helped by removing the saddle, turning it upside down, and applying silicone lubricant to the rails so it can run into the holes that hold the rails. Please don't use a petroleum-based lubricant; it can damage the leather and the glue.
Our saddles are best cared for by washing with water and a good bar soap. Wipe it with a damp cloth and air dry it. Don't use any treatments or chemicals other than water and a bar soap. Many cleaners use petroleum that will cause the glue that holds the leather to the foam to soften and loosen. They can also cause the foam to expand and distort. Note -- if you own a Brooks saddle, DO NOT clean it with water and soap. Instead, use Brooks Proofide as recommended by the manufacturer.
This is a tough question to answer as there are so many variables - weight of rider, riding style, care given to equipment, climate in which equipment is used, where the saddle is mounted on the rail, if the rider wears cycling shorts or ? while riding and a host of other things.
With all that said, 5,000 miles is a reasonable amount of miles to expect from a saddle. 10,000-15,000 miles is at the high end of the scale. 15,000-20,000 is looking for rail or base failure. (All of these expectations can be severely reduced by an abusive riding style, extremes in temperature and one or more of the other things listed above.)
A saddle that is "broken in" should feel "softer" than a new saddle. The base hasn't been "seated" onto the rails; the foam hasn't contoured to the rider's sitting position; the leather is still stiff.
The saddle can continue to be ridden for many more miles if:
* the cover isn't torn
* the edges of the leather cover aren't showing signs of wear through
* the foam under the leather doesn't have any "soft" spots indicating foam breakdown
* the edges around the soft tissue area aren't breaking down
The only other thing that might happen is a rail breaking due to a stress riser caused by the seat post cradle. That is something that you can't predict as it won't show up until the rail breaks. Some brands of seat post cradles break rails more quickly than others -- Syncros, early Control Techs and American Classics all used "straight cut" sharp edge seat cradles that create stress risers. These stress risers can be reduced by rounding the edge of the cradle with a file where the rail exits the cradle -- top/bottom and front/rear.
You can make several adjustments to make sure your saddle is adjusted properly.
Set the height of the saddle so that theres a slight bend in the knee of the leg thats at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If the saddles too high, your pelvis will rock from side to side; too low, and you wont get the best use of your leg power. Knees can take a beating from an improper saddle height as well.
The saddle should be level. Viewed from the side, the saddle shouldnt appear to be nose up or nose down. If the nose is tipped up, youll feel a crunch in the wrong spot of your anatomy! Tipped down, and youll be forever sliding toward the handlebars and bearing a lot of unnecessary weight on your arms.
Fore to aft saddle position should be set so that when a plumb line is dropped from the front of the knee of the fowardmost leg (with the crankarms in a horizontal position), it intersects the pedal spindle. This will give you the most biomechanical bang for your buck.
Your position on the bike is as important as the position of the saddle. If the bike doesnt fit properly, you may never find a truly comfortable saddle. The most common complaint we hear is that the nose of the saddle still places an undue amount of pressure on the rider, even if the saddle is adjusted properly as discussed above. If the riders reach to the handlebars is too far, the pelvis can tip forward enough to put pressure on sensitive bits. By shortening/raising the handlebar to bring the rider into a more upright position, the pelvis will rotate back enough to move the riders weight onto other areas.
If youve done all of the above, it still doesnt mean the saddle will be comfortable. (What?!?!) No kidding -- that old expression, One mans junk is another mans treasure applies to saddles, too. It might take some experimenting to find the perfect saddle. Rules are meant to be broken, so dont feel bound to any of the starting points above or to a saddle that everyone else thinks is great. Its your comfort, after all!
We use "Goop" on some saddle covers but it requires clamping the leather with clamps until it dries - usually about 12 - 16 hours. The problem with "Goop" is that the finished product isn't very clean - it is actually "goopy".
The other glue we use is a "Lokweld H20" glue that is applied to the loose leather then left to dry for a day. Once the glue is dry, we fold the leather around the saddle base and clamp with light clamps for several hours. This gluing method leaves a better finished product but it takes more time and fuss.
None of the materials have a rider weight limit! They will all work extremely well used in a normal course of riding.
Most riders have problems with bending or breaking a rail:
a) when impacting the saddle during landing after becoming airborne! The earth won't move or give so the saddle must.
This usually happens during aggressive MTB riding when the bike gets airborne, the riders foot slips off the pedal, the rider loses balance and the rider impacts the seat when the bike hits the ground.
Bent rails can even happen when road bikers "jump" a pot hole..curb..railroad tracks..and don't time the jump correctly impacting the saddle.
b) Stress riser caused by the seat post cradle: the sharp edge of the seat post cradle creates a stress riser which will eventually cause the rail to break.
As with most things that can bend or break (stems handlebars/rims/seat rails), the riders riding technique or riding circumstance when it bends or breaks has more to do with durability than the product material.
The advantages of Titanium are it is lighter and it flexes more than other materials. The advantages of Cr/Mo and/or Manganese are they are lighter and flex more than steel.
Other manufacturers do make bicycles with fairly short top tubes using 26 wheels. Whats the trick to avoiding toe-clip overlap? First, use a steeper seat angle (75+ degrees). The steeper the seat angle, the shorter the top tube. The problem with this? Youll be too far forward of the pedals, unable to establish the proper relationship between your knee and the pedal spindle. You wont be as efficient a rider. Second, use a shallower head angle (71- degrees) and more rake (6.5+cm). The problem here is the bike will have rather sluggish handling.
Neither of these is a solution because it limits the design. Head angles, rake, and seat angles should lead a design, not follow it. Head angle and rake are chosen to achieve the desired handling of the bicycle: is it for racing, touring, or criteriums? Seat angle should be chosen to give the rider the best position on the bicycle. The 24 front wheel lets us build a bike that fits without compromise. It would be unfair to our customers to offer anything less.
Some women specific design bicycles use 26 (650) wheels front and rear, but we use 24 in the front and 700C in the rear. A 26 wheel offers some advantages, but not the way its used by other manufacturers.
Everyone has the same goal when making a smaller bicycle for the smaller rider: make the top tube short enough! If you use a 700C front wheel, you can only shorten the top tube so much (to about 53 cm or 21 before the front wheel overlaps with the pedal, the dreaded toe-clip overlap. A 26 road tire is about 2cm smaller in radius than a 700C tire, so you can shorten the top tube just about as much (to 51cm) before there is overlap. A 24 road tire is about 5cm smaller in radius than a 700C tire, so the top tube can be as short as 48cm with no overlap. We use 24 in the front on our smaller road bikes (48.3cm and under) so we can have more latitude for good design. The 700C rear wheel gives you equivalent gearing.
A womans body is not proportioned like mans. Not only is the length of her limbs different, so is the amount of muscle and the distribution of body mass. In fact, anthropomorphic studies show women to have roughly half the upper body strength that men do as a result of our shorter torso, fewer and smaller muscles fibers and additional body fat. What that translates to is a lower ratio of strength to weight and a disadvantage when it comes to comfort and performance - most bikes have top tube lengths that are appropriate for men but require a woman to sustain more force in her shoulders. For a man and woman of the same height, she will be more comfortable on a bicycle with a shorter top tube.
The handling shouldn't feel too fast as long as the bike is designed properly. The handling of a bike is affected as much by wheel size as by fork rake and by the head angle of the bicycle. If you put a 24" wheel on a bike designed for a 700C wheel, the handling would feel funny. Our bikes are designed for neutral steering; i.e., not too fast, not too slow.
Another way of looking at this is to realize that wheel size is not hallowed. What if the average woman was 1" tall instead of 5' 4" tall? Her bike would be very small, with a tiny wheel, but would it handle differently?
If you've ridden a bike that's too big for a while and then you ride a bike that fits properly, it may feel quick in
comparison. This sensation will disappear as you ride more.
Proper clearance over the top tube is the most important aspect of fit, and the one measurement thats vital for determining your size is your inseam. Measure the distance from the floor to your crotch with your cycling shoes on. Stand straight, with your feet about six inches apart. Its a difficult measurement to take by yourself, so enlist a friends help. Youll want to clear the top tube on road bikes by 3/4 to 1 1/4 and by 2 to 4 on hybrid or mountain bikes. Compare your inseam measurement to our published standover heights to find your size. The standover height is the distance from the floor to the top of the bicycless top tube.
First, the type of bike you want -- road or hybrid; then, your height and your inseam (measured floor to crotch). We'll make sure your legs and your upper body are proportioned correctly for our bikes. The question about clearance over the top tube will give you a guideline to the proper size Terry. Your height will tell us if the stem length on our bikes is appropriate or if you'll need something different.
It shouldn't. Bike handling is determined by the size of the front wheel, the fork rake, and the head angle of the bicycle. If you put a 24" wheel on a bike designed for a 700C wheel, you'll probably feel the handling change. Our bikes are designed for neutral steering.
Another way of looking at this is to realize that wheel size is not hallowed. What if the average woman were only 1" tall? She'd be riding a very small bike with a very tiny wheel. But there's no reason her bike would handle any differently than ours.
If you've ridden a bike that's too large for you for a long time and you start riding a bike that fits properly, it may feel funny at first. Chances are this feeling will go away and your old bike will feel awkward when you ride it again. It's not the front wheel.