Ritchey Streem Saddle and 1-Bolt Seatpost

IMG_0431One of these days, I’m going to interview Tom Ritchey. When I do, I intend to ask him where he gets his ideas for new products. I don’t know that I’ll get an answer—I might as well ask Dave Matthews where he gets his song ideas—but I intend to ask him nonetheless.

For me, Ritchey Logic products have been shorthand for strong, lightweight and well-engineered solutions to essential parts and problems since before I became a cyclist. Over the years I’ve owned stems, seatposts, pedals and mini tools. I’ve reviewed probably a dozen bikes that spec’d Richey products for OEM sales. I can’t count the number of times that a Ritchey product at the time of its release was the lightest on the market.

That said, I purchased a WCS Carbon Post 18 months ago or so. While it has performed admirably, I don’t care for the two-bolt design. It is a frustration to adjust and changing saddles—which I do from time to time for the purpose of reviews—is a slow and time-consuming process.

IMG_0427Which brings me to the WCS Carbon 1-Bolt Post. The last time a seatpost impressed me was the Specialized Pavé seatpost and that was in 2003. There are plenty of 1-bolt posts out there. What makes the WCS Carbon 1-Bolt Post different is the nature of the clamp. Most of you won’t change saddles very often, so ease-of-installation probably won’t impress you much. Regardless, I’ve never experienced a seatpost on which saddle installation was quicker. But here’s a real selling point: As you tighten the seat clamp, there is no drift; wherever you place the saddle is where it stays. For purposes of fitting, I found this to be a notable benefit. Admittedly, once the saddle position is established, this stops being a selling point, but it impressed me for its ease.

My favorite feature of the seatpost isn’t specific to this one post, but rather Ritchey’s line of posts. Between the different iterations, Ritchey seatposts come in four diameters (27.0, 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm), four lengths (280, 300, 350 and 400mm) and four setbacks (0, 20, 30 and a whopping 45mm). The 1-Bolt post is available in three of those diameters (27.2, 30.9 and 31.6mm), two lengths (300 and 350mm) and two setbacks (0 and 30mm). The proliferation of production-sized carbon fiber frames shouldn’t mean a reduction in the ability to fit and its nice to see a company so dedicated to offering a wide variety in seatposts without resorting to a wonky solution—shims anyone?

IMG_0433It’s also lightweight. The post I reviewed weighed a bantam 172 grams. Naturally, the next question is what this lightweight post retails for either $214.95 or $224.95, depending on the seatposts diameter. Those who think it unreasonable to spend that much on a seatpost can save more than $125 and pick up the alloy version (which comes in all the same diameters and lengths as the carbon version

The clamp kit is available after market for $16.95 and comes in several different versions: 8 x 8.5mm (for Ritchey and Selle Italia carbon rail saddles) and 7 x 9.6mm (for Fi:zi’k carbon rail saddles). Different clamp kits exist for the carbon and alloy versions of the 1-bolt seatpost.

IMG_0432


Waxing rhapsodic about a seatpost is about as silly as analyzing the stylistic underpinnings of Kelly Clarkson. That said, as a matter of minimalist industrial design, the 1-Bolt seatpost is elegant in its simplicity, both in ease of use and svelte appearance. Torque spec for either clamp is 12 Newton/meters, something I would encourage Ritchey to print on the packaging for the seatpost and the seat clamp; laser-etched on the clamp itself or printed on the seatpost wouldn’t be a bad idea.

IMG_0426The Streem saddle is Ritchey’s answer to the traditional saddle for those who would prefer their saddles not resemble toilet seats. The folks at Ritchey say it resembles an SLR, and while the bird’s-eye view sees the logic in this comparison, my last experience with the SLR was unpleasant enough (the saddle was upper-lip stiff) that I wouldn’t be eager to try one again.

The key to the saddle might be its patented “wing” design that suspends the shell of the saddle above the rails in order to cushion the rider from road vibration and shock. Or it may be that they are simply using a thinner shell, resulting in a more flexible base.

I’ve got fairly broad hips; in the Specialized Toupé I ride the 143mm-wide edition. I suspect that riders with narrower hips than I will find this saddle especially to their liking. For me it was rather minimal, but still worked. Anyone with hips wider than mine might find it akin to sitting on the top tube due to their sit bones falling at the edges of the saddle shell.

Amazingly, the saddle is available in four different configurations. Each shares the same shape and debossed leather look; what changes is the type of leather and the rail material.

IMG_0435The Aston Martin of the bunch is the 144g, real leather-covered, carbon railed Streem, available in Model T black or PRO white. It retails for $179.95. The Lexus features real leather, CrN/Ti rails (which are essentially Ti rails with a chromium-nitride coating which, from what I’ve read, helps when shaping the rails, making them less brittle) and available in black or white as well. Mine weighed 200g. Retail is a less-stratospheric $99.95.

Anyone offended by the high-end offerings can choose from Chrome-Moly rail, synthetic leather edition for $61.95 (said to weigh only 210g) or a steel rail, vinyl-covered version (250g claimed) for only $36.95. It’s refreshing to see a company meet consumers at such a variety of price points.

In riding both the carbon and Ti rail versions of this saddle, I had the impression that the carbon version did cut road vibration perceptibly, though slightly. Bump impact wasn’t cut at all, but then I wasn’t expecting a suspension post effect.

IMG_0430I’m not here to pass judgment on whether someone wants to build up a 13-pound bike. I can understand the desire to have an unsurpassably cool bike. I can also understand the urge to say, “Enough is enough.” That said, if you covet the carbon saddle (and believe me, I can understand why you might), make sure you purchase the 1-Bolt Clamp Kit, otherwise the 12Nm torque applied to too-small clamps will crush the carbon rails like teeth in celery.

Great saddles can be argued about ad nauseum; there’s no right answer. But this 1-Bolt seatpost is a thing of beauty; it truly epitomizes what Ritchey has always stood for in my mind—simple, lightweight and easy-to-adjust designs, the very meaning of elegant.

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3 comments

  1. Doug

    I have a question..do the grooved surfaces pictured indicate the saddle position is not infinitely adjustable..I.E. ‘notched’ ?? I have a problem with that, as my preferred position seems to be between the grooves, leading to the ‘too high or too low’ syndrome, for example on my FSA SLK carbon post.
    In this case grooved is definitely not ‘groovy!’.


  2. Author
    Padraig

    Doug: I should probably have included the shot I took of just the post without the cradle. The carbon fiber is smooth and the serrations on the clamp kit are, I think, strictly for grip. So your concern, and one of my greatest frustrations with some seatposts—that lack of infinite adjustability—is addressed with this post.

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