The announcement of the new Kris Holm Seat and Stiffener plate combination really caught my attention.
The XC GUNI handlebar I’ve been working on for several months mounts of the four front bumper bolts. On the older KH plastic seat there was way too much flex – the XC bars behave more like suspension handle bars. My solution was to use a Carbon Fibre seat base which works exceptionally well with the handle bar – stiff and light – but it’s also expensive and problematic, especially if you mess up the location of all the holes which you must drill yourself.
The new improved saddle along with the new stiffener plate accessory couldn’t have come along at a better time for the bar project – provided they works as described.
Details of the new seat according to Kris Holm:
This was a major, expensive, 2-year project involving new injection molds for the saddle frame and rear bumper. Big thanks to Scott Wallis for completing the model drawings and frame stress model analysis. The frame is re-shaped to be stronger, stiffer, more comfortable, and easier to grab. It’s slightly wider through the back to better fit sit bones without interfering with pulling the seat out front. The rear bumper is rounded and reshaped to eliminate thigh irritation at the side corners of the bumper during seat-in-front riding. Front handle is unchanged. All 10 mm dome nuts are gone, replaced with 4 mm allen (hex) bolts that screw into inserts in the frame. The Freeride saddle has a deeper 30 mm cutaway that increases comfort; the top fabric is replaced with stretch-nylon that better conforms to the cutaway. The Street version has a similar foam & fabric to the existing saddle but with the new frame and bumper. The frame & bumper were also licensed to Nimbus for their Nimbus Gel saddle; otherwise no other saddles will have this frame. Both the frame and bumper are recyclable polypropylene and have the correct recycling symbol.
Sounds good, how does it shape up?
My interest in saddle mounted handlebars meant there was only one thing to do – pull the new saddle apart and check it out!
Initial impressions looking at the saddle is that it’s an evolution not a revolution which makes sense given how well regarded the outgoing saddle is. The stretched nylon material on the cover looks good and most importantly feels comfortable when riding. Weight-wise there’s not much in it – the new saddle weighs ~830grams, within a couple of grams as the older saddle.
The underside of the seats gives a better idea of some of the work that has been done in the redesigning and retooling process.
The underside of the new saddle is very slick and tidy. Great to see the carriage bolts replaced with Hex – now one hex multi tool is all that needs to be taken on ride. The plastic ridges and channels on the underside of the seat are thankfully gone making a nice flat work area, ideal for alternative use of the front four bolts e.g. handle bar mount (as KH has also released).
The center channel to accommodate seat post bolts is also a nice touch, much better than having the bolts eat into the plastic or carbon fibre base.
It’s a small detail but lacing seemed to be all over the place with the older Freeride saddles, sometimes threaded to tie at the back, sometimes at the front. The laces are now contained under the rear bumper – very tidy. The new lacing pattern however may mean the fit of the cover, especially through the narrower part of the seat, isn’t as adjustable as the previous one.
The cutaway groove is much deeper swooping down to a depth of ~30mm vs ~10mm vs the older model.
The feel of the foam on the new saddle is also much firmer. Combined with the reshaping, deeper cutaway and new saddle material – very nice, junk happy!
An optional stiffener plate neatly attaches to the saddle making the combination a viable alternative to Carbon Fibre seat bases for anyone with concerns re saddle stiffness, use of saddle mounted bars etc (See Kris Holm 2009 Stiffener Plate post)
The One Week Verdict
After a week of riding on the new saddle my junk is smiling. Increased comfort combined with the many design improvements make the 2009 saddle a must have for anyone spending long hours on the trails and/or anyone interested in exploring saddle mounted handlebars.