3 West Design will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of an innovative new saddle designed to reduce soft tissue pressure and pain in the regions where none of us want to experience that.Â That seems like quite the challenge given the fact that this is an area in near-constant contact with the saddle.Â Angie thinks her research and testing has resulted in a saddle that can tackle this challenge.
Here is our interview with her.Â Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter launch September 16th.Â The first 200 backers will get the saddle at nearly half of the anticipated retail.Â Thatâ€™s quite a deal!
-Alex (Steak Sauce)
Angie, can you give us a little personal background about how you first came up with the concept of the Reprieve saddle.
First off thanks for the opportunity!Â My hubby thought up the idea after riding a ton of different saddles with no real relief.Â He would tell me the sit bones need to be broken in, but was never happy with pain associated in the perineum and genital areas.
What was the point where you finally decided to start moving from concept to production?Â What inspired you to take the leap?
I and some of our cycling friends always thought it was a great idea.Â So as a stay at home mom, I wanted to start my own business and this was the perfect opportunity.Â Itâ€™s proven to be a great saddle for people whoâ€™ve tried it. Â Â I simply needed a way to get it to market.Â When I heard more about Kickstarter I was sold!
How did you come up with the name of your company 3 West Design?
LOL, it was our old apartment when we first started dating in St. Louis.Â We loved that place!
Obviously there are a lot of biomechanics involved when designing saddle geometry.Â Tell us about the research that is behind your unique shaping and who you worked with to come up with the design.
You bet.Â We worked with a CAD designer to build our saddle.Â It takes the best of the â€œmechanicsâ€ we liked but inputs the important parts of our patient and design.Â Thereâ€™s also a ton of input from other cyclists (at all levels) on what they like and donâ€™t like.Â We also studied the mechanics of the entire pelvic region, the nerves, arteries etc – which is very important to understand the big picture.Â
Tell us a little more about the â€œActive Surfaceâ€ design.
Itâ€™s one of the most important keys of our saddle (the other main is the Â¾â€ drop).Â First off, itâ€™s an air bladder. AÂ medical grade RF Welded bladder, so itâ€™s very durable.Â They use the same material in helicopter seats and the tires for Baja 1000.Â It stretches from the middle of the saddle (perineum), to the end of the nose.Â
We call it the Active Surface, because it becomes unstable when you pedal.Â That gives it a huge advantage as the movement helps in not developing a â€˜hot spotâ€™ for the perineum and genitals.Â
How many saddles do you have being tested now?
We only have two prototypes; they get around quite a bit!Â However, we just signed an agreement to have the Frisco Cycling Team test our saddles (if they get made) on nearly every discipline.Â Weâ€™re very excited about that relationship!
Tell us some of the rider feedback you are receiving.
Everyone who rides it gets the idea right off the bat.Â Most everyone whoâ€™s ridden it loves the idea, and usually feels a bit weird not to have something pressing on your perineal area â€“ as well as something hard up against your genitals.Â Then after they ride they love it.
Weâ€™ve had one or two folks say they prefer the traditional shape, so we canâ€™t be perfect for everyone.Â I had a booth at the Hotter than Hell Hundred last weekend, one guy let out a very loud audible â€œAhhhhhh!Â Thatâ€™s exactly what Iâ€™m talking aboutâ€!Â So replies like that are great!
Tell us more about what makes the current crop of saddles inadequate and how the Reprieve addresses these issues.
Two things we see today:Â First, a very minimal flat surface from front to back.Â It simply has never made sense!Â Think of where your anatomy contacts the saddle, is there anything flat there?Â Does anything in that neighborhood need to be pressed against something hard, like a piece of hard plastic covered with a little bit of closed cell foam, covered in leather?Â Itâ€™s insane.Â I would argue that those areas are some of the most sensitive parts on the body and they should meet an equally soft surface.Â Thatâ€™s what our saddle is all about.Â Itâ€™s firm in the sit bone area, for performance, soft in the middle to nose area.Â Ultimately that area meets your soft parts.Â
The second is some saddles drop that area out entirely.Â I would think blood would pool at the area where the body drops over the saddle.Â However, I must say if it works for people then more power to them.Â I sincerely believe that all of us making a saddle do it for the good of the cycling community, and if that idea works for someone then thatâ€™s great. Â The mission is met!Â
Even without specific pain at the moment, do you see this as a saddle with long term benefits to all riders?Â Please explain.
We feel thereâ€™s going to be a number of folks that will benefit from the saddle.Â Think about how a non-cyclist would look at a road bike today – when they see the seat?Â They know how much itâ€™s going to hurt to get on what they see as a tiny saddle thatâ€™s painful right in the middle area.Â Â Thatâ€™s where weâ€™re trying to help.Â We sincerely believe this will help so many people in the cycling community.Â
Will there be different sizing options for the saddle and/or gender specific saddles?
Yes.Â The first will be a normal size around 130mm, the second will be a womenâ€™s model geared to meet a slightly wider sit bone area (on average only 9% wider) and the Active Surface will be a bit wider to help the wider area of the infra pubic angle.Â Â Long term we would like to infuse this technology in a wide range of saddles.Â
Do you see this as a saddle great for all riders from casual cruisers to racers?
Itâ€™s more performance related, so you probably wonâ€™t ride it on a cruiser, but weâ€™d love to design one to fit a cruiser!Â
When will the Kickstarter launch?Â Can you give us a preview of what will be offered and the costs?Â What is your funding goal?
Weâ€™re launching on September 16th.Â We have a goal of $25,000.Â We plan to offer the saddle at a retail price of $185 – $195, depending on our final development costs.Â However, we plan to offer the saddle on Kickstarter for $100 (for the first 200).Â Weâ€™ll also offer things like a PBA-free water bottle, a really soft t-shirt with a cool graphic on the back and some other stuff that weâ€™re still kicking around.Â
Again, thank you for your time.Â I personally know someone who is a prime candidate for these saddles and who is dealing with some discomfort issues right now.Â Iâ€™ll be keeping an eye out for the Kickstarter.Â I wish you much success.Â Happy (and comfortable) riding!
Thank you very, very much!Â Send your candidate our way!Â I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to tell the story.Â
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