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You know, you make everyhting right, when get such feedback:


Despite being brought up in a church with solid oak pews and a minister who’s lengthy sermons displayed a wanton disregard for those sitting uncomfortably, I have been blessed with the sort of bony backside that means I am traditionally in severe discomfort at about the 35 mile mark on any ride. As someone who likes to do upwards of 50 miles at a time, this is naturally not comfortable at all.
I’ve tried all the usual remedies, expensive bib shorts, lowering the saddle, moving it forward, raising the saddle, more chamoix cream, nothing has seemed to work.
Two years ago I entered the Paris to Roubaix amateur ride. For those not in the know, the ride is 172km through the French countryside, punctuated by some 60km of cobbles, which vary (easy to hard) from grade 2 to 5. To be frank, I hadn’t really trained for this one, and the ride took some 10 hours, meaning I missed the legendary cycle round the velo track at the end. Also, the 172km distance meant it was a living hell for about the last 70k!
So back to 2017. This year, since Christmas, I’ve been putting some serious distances down and also managing to do a mixture of running and using the rolling road in the conservatory. I was, though, still dreading the customary murderous post 80km mark in the saddle, knowing that the pain would slowly build, seriously hampering performance and enjoyment of the ride. Coupled with the cobbles, this was causing me a little nervousness..
A few weeks ago I spotted a Facebook add for a kick-starter campaign for the Rinsten Spring. The picture and video attached were intriguing. The Rinsten spring is a v-shaped apparatus which sits between your saddle and your seat post. The spring is adjustable in so far as you can position the mount points nearer the apex or nearer the ends in order to produce more or less ‘dampening’ of road forces directly onto your backside.



‘Perfect’, I thought. So I contacted Rinsten to tell them I was doing the Roubaix and offering to test the spring on this harshest of challenges. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any sort of response but after a couple of hours, and a few messages later (one of them telling me the spring REALLY REALLY hadn’t been tested on this sort of ride and REALLY REALLY wasn’t designed for this sort of thing) one was winging its way in the post to my home.
On arrival, I think first impressions were that it was the simplest of things. The springs match the seat post perfectly at the bottom, and at the top the seat rails can be attached with a very simple metal plate. The worst case scenario for me was that the spring broke or snapped at some point under the immense vibrations that the cobbles were going to cause. The nice people at Rinsten recommended that I mount the spring nearest the apex, as a wider mounting would probably cause too much bounce and therefore I would lose some power on the pedals (this setting for the leisure cyclist then…). So this picture shows how the Rinsten spring was fixed onto my bike. You can see an immediate problem if you want to use one of the standard saddle bags, in that the plastic mounting that came with mine isn’t long enough to fit in the spring and still allow me to clip on the saddle bag. I understand though that there are plans to create an adaptor for this side of things, so all good there. But a bit of nifty work with an old lanyard did the trick (this would need a couple more adjustments later on but it did make it to the end of the ride).

So now it just remained to get on with the ride. The first 5 or so kilometres are on road, with no cobbles, so this seemed a perfect way to see if the spring would iron out those creases in the roads to begin with. Because the setting was so near the apex, I have to admit I didn’t really notice much movement, but where those small potholes exist, the spring evened out the ride on the saddle very nicely indeed.
And the first set of cobbles proved to be an easy match. The spring responded well, absorbing the major shocks of the cobbles with ease. I was able to stay on the saddle, rest my weight in full, the spring acting as a good shock absorber. If only there was a similar this for the stem my arms wouldn’t have also felt like they were being shaken out of their sockets.
This proved true for all sections of the cobbles, even the grade 5 cobbles were coped with remarkably well. I think the wider setting on the spring would actually have caused more issues, and the tighter setting allowed it to flex with each 6” cobble easily.
In short, the ride was really very much improved for me by the spring, I didn’t get the inevitable, very painful sit bones, and the vicar could have probably carried on for hours with little painful effect (other than perhaps on my ability to concentrate!). The one and only downside I think most riders would find would be the weight, it really is (at least in its prototype stage – which was the model I was sent) a little too heavy for perhaps good amateurs or club cyclists to consider, but for this amateur it really didn’t make a difference.
And the finish? I made it to the Velo, went round the track, raised my arms like a pro over the finish line and got the medal in a (frankly astonishing to me) 7hrs and 2mins moving time. A fantastic day, made easier by a much more comfortable ride, with the help of an amazing shock absorber.

Rinsten haven’t asked for it back yet, I’m kind of hoping they won’t……

David Birkinshaw

14th April 2017"

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