Like many other cyclists, over the years I have ridden and experienced many different saddles on many different bicycles; sometimes connected to seat posts with varying degrees of setback, length, and stiffness. The vast variety of sensations these experiences created, allowed me to know the difference between what I consider to be a poor saddle, a good saddle, or even a great saddle.
I have been riding Brooks saddles with a great amount of success for quite a long run. Some time back, I purchased an outstanding B17 Select. This is an upgrade from the standard, featuring thicker leather and hand pounded rivets. Alas, the Salsa Fargo that it was affixed to was stolen, and that was that. When I built my Surly Ogre, I replaced it with an “identical” saddle, paying a full retail value of 200 bucks for another B17 Select. At first glance, this baby seemed exact. A week later, after maybe 200 miles, the saddle looked as tho it had been mounted to the bike for thirty years, and was soft like an old pair of work gloves. Brookes gave me an RA number, but the thought of going through the hassle was more than I could bear; I put the saddle on another commuter, and began looking for a non Brooks alternative…
…Enter Rivet Cycle Works. While at the bike shop, wrenching away one fine afternoon, Debra Banks, owner and proprietor of said company, and I, struck up a conversation. Debra was there to show some of her new saddles to John Boyer/Edible Pedal. After hearing of my Brooks woes, she handed me her solution in the form of the Rivet Pearl Saddle. It featured leather that one dreams about on a saddle, thick and uncompromising, yet with the ability to become a supple pillow for one’s arse over time. It also features a cutout on the top to allow pressure to be alleviated from said anatomy. The sides of the unit, unlike a Brooks, are folded under the saddle, and riveted in place to a nice stainless plate that you can see through the saddle’s cut out. This prevents the saddle from “splaying” outward. The thought behind this is that a splayed saddle will eventually chaffe the legs and groin. A nice feature I believe. However, the riveted underbelly, and it’s ensuing cause and effect, make this saddle seem a bit narrower than something fairly wide like, say the B17 or a Velo Orange touring saddle. This gives the saddle a nice, slim, low profile feeling that most will enjoy. Honestly, it felt a bit like a Brooks Pro, but more comfortable. Furthermore, it also features Ti rails that are much longer, and therefore have more adjustability than a Brooks, A VO, or a Cardiff.
The saddle is light too; at 460 grams for the Ti version, The Pearl is light enough to go on any bike where comfort is king. Rivet also makes a chromoly version for less money and more weight. The saddle I have is an Au Natural- plain leather. It is a look that I desire, and it is starting to turn a nice deep color that is an indication of the saddle approaching it’s sweet spot in regards to being broke-in. Apparently, these saddles also come in black, burgundy, and white. Rivet claims that the colored models need no leather treatment, as the dying process waterproofs them adequately. They recommend treating the Au Natural version, but, personally, I have never been fan of treating saddles. I am however, a fan of fenders and saddle covers for riding in the rain.
After 600 miles of riding on the Rivet Pearl, I can now say this: It is light, medium feeling in width, firm, yet supple feeling, and made with the best looking leather I have seen on a saddle in years. If you are looking for a durable, yet comfortable saddle alternative to the usual suspects, the Rivet is definitely worth a look. You can see and test one in person at Edible Pedal in Sacramento.