Venerable brand manages to succeed where others have failed with monorail design
One of the age-old quandaries of the gram counting weight weenie is finding the lightest and most comfortable seatpost and saddle combination. With so many different posts and saddles on the market these days, the pairings can be almost limitless. For these weight conscious roadies and cross-country mountain biker types, comfort has always taken—pardon the pun—a backseat to weight.
For years, Tom Ritchey has dreamt of a saddle and seatpost combo that work together to not only reduce weight and improve ergonomics, but to deliver shock absorption and compliance for all-day rides as well. Because of the inherent limitations of traditional twin-rail system, this personal project of Ritchey’s hasn’t been feasible until recently.
Advances in carbon fiber and thermoplastic construction have enabled Ritchey to create the Vector Evo seatpost and saddle system—a monorail design that greatly reduces weight while improving compliance, stiffness, comfort and adjustability.
Unlike other monorail designs that have failed in the past, Ritchey spent a lot of development time combining the stiff, simple and low profile attributes of a monorail system with the load and shock dispersement capabilities of a twin-rail system. The result is a stiff, compliant, durable and comfortable seatpost and saddle combination that is ultra lightweight and can serve riding duties from strictly road to harsh, aggressive cross-country mountain biking.
At the core of this design concept is a single, carbon-reinforced thermoplastic saddle rail available on both the 225 gram Contrail and the 177 gram Streem models. The monorail does a wishbone split at the back of the saddle where a patented twin-rail Vector Wing suspension system helps distribute load and flex. It also enables the use of a traditional saddle bag—a feature omitted on most other monorail systems.
The Vector Evo rail was designed to work like a leaf spring, and relies on the monorail and Vector Wing for compliance. This enables the saddle body to be made stiffer, with a reverse hammock design to prevent shell sagging over time. A traditional titanium twin-rail system can’t provide the same shell stiffness and consistency that a monorail system provides, and twin carbon fiber rails are so stiff that they lack any saddle compliance.
The Vector Evo system is featured exclusively on both the Streem and Contrail saddles. The Streem is designed for aggressive cross-country riders who like to move around on the saddle a lot, while the Contrail is designed more for someone who likes to find the sweet spot of a saddle and stay put. The monorail system on both saddles also allows for greater fore-and-aft adjustment of 45 millimeters.