Fizik and Carbon Release Custom 3D Printed Bike Saddles

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Bike saddles have been a huge success for 3D printing. High-end racing bikes have featured various models for years now. Selle Italia, Specialized, Prologo, and others have put lattice-based saddles on the market. These saddles allow for more airflow, are lighter, and can have different lattices for different parts of the saddle. The saddles cost around $300 and have received good reviews and market acceptance. There hasn’t been any huge marketing around these saddles, and they are improving, so more growth is expected. This is good news for Carbon, on whose technology most of these saddles are based. Their performance and look make them ideally suited for this application, and they have managed to fight off EOS and HP in this arena.

Now, Carbon, along with pioneer Fizik, aims to one-up the competition. The logical endpoint for 3D-printed saddles has always been unique, customized saddles, and this is what the duo aims to achieve now. Under the One-to-One label, they plan to create more comfortable saddles based on the dynamic pressures you put on the saddle as you ride. Working with GebioMized they created functional zones in the saddles which can be given different structures which give different cushioning.

“We know that a good, accurate fit depends on many factors: bike geometry, intended use, saddle shape, and position. But most importantly every cyclist is unique: experience, sensitivity, history of injuries, body shape, riding goals. All of this can affect the way we sit on the saddle. It’s clear that a traditional one-to-many saddle design can only provide an approximate solution to very specific problems. With One-to-One today we achieve what every saddle manufacturer has always dreamed of: bringing to life customized support available to every cyclist,” Giovanni Fogal, Fizik´s Brand Manager, stated.

The GebioMized pressure sensor mat measures at 64 different points and is placed over a saddle as a cyclist rides in their regular style and position on their own bike. By measuring the forces dynamically, the companies aim to identify the actual movement of the body and optimize the saddle. Additional sensors pick up pressure on handlebars and supplement a questionnaire. The resulting scan records “pressure across the saddle, the front and rear and left and right saddle pressure comparisons, the maximum pressure values and their locations on the saddle, the center of movement and pelvic tracking pattern, and the gross angle of pelvic hemisphere alignment.”

Depending on the above measurements, a matching saddle design is selected. Another test sees the rider use that shape of saddle; from these tests, the padding placement and level are determined. Carbon’s Carbon Design Engine then creates the appropriate lattice structure, which is 3D printed, joined to a rail of your choice, and shipped to you. After receiving the saddle, riders can return to their bike shop to recapture the data on their new 3D printed saddle.

I completely adore this. To me, a similar workflow and outcome should exist for shoes, handles for golf clubs and tennis rackets, handles for professional tools and power tools, and a myriad of other items. Almost anything that touches you for a long time and whose performance is important can offer better comfort if it is custom 3D printed. Here, Carbon and Fizik have rolled out a solid solution that is end-to-end, managing the data from scan to design and production.

The logic behind Carbon’s Design Engine and the firm’s focus on software really comes to the fore here. Given that regular 3D printed saddles are already over $300, these custom ones should be very pricey. Everyone could buy them, but for now, few probably will. However, if the professional peloton switches to custom saddles en masse, or if a winning rider endorses them as providing more comfort and enabling victory, a switch could happen much sooner. Considering the absurd amounts of money people are spending on bikes now, more expensive saddles seem logical. Saddle pain and discomfort are real problems for pro riders and people who spend a lot of time on their bikes. Additionally, many people likely sit incorrectly on their bikes, leading to pains that impede riding. I think this is a wonderful solution that points to a bright future for custom 3D-printed components in helmets, gloves, and many other sports products.

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