Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bontrager Rhythm Pro Saddle

I received a Bontrager Rhythm Pro saddle as part of my schwag from the Trek Product Introduction out in Santa Cruz in April. I have since had it mounted to my Raleigh XXIX+G test sled and now have had a few longer rides on it.

First, let me give you some lowdown on the saddle itself. This is a new saddle line from Bontrager that is aimed at the "regular joe" trail riders out there that are not wanting the absolute lightest, carbon fiber, blingy, graphics laden bum prop out there. This is a no-nonsense, performance oriented saddle that is designed to take the abuses of normal trail riding. The Rhythm saddle line will incorporate a couple different levels. This one is the "Pro" model which sports hollow CroMoly rails to get a lighter saddle than the Rhythm Elite with it's solid rails. There are no other differences between the two saddles. This one weighed in at 230 grams on my digital scale. Not bad!

The looks of the saddle are rather subdued. A basic black, git-er-duuun! look. It has a generous wrapping of scuff resistant Kevlar type fabric around the back half of the saddle's edges. Nice touch. The remaining covering is a synthetic something or other that feels nice to the touch and is just slippery enough to allow for changes in position without hassle. A little red contrasting stitching and a teeny-tiny Rhythm Pro badge on the seat rail are all you'll find to break up the vast expanse of dimpled black skin on this perch.

The seat rails were a bit of a let down. It seems that the Bontrager designers took an "old skool" approach to saddle rail design and this doesn't allow for much fore/aft adjustment. Especially in light of saddles like fizik and newer WTB products. That said, I was able to dial in a satisfactory adjustment. Just be aware that you won't have a lot to play with there. The rails are graduated on the drive side for easy reference. Another nice touch.

The shape of the Bontrager Rhythm Pro at first seemed somewhat familiar. When I got it home, I dug through the parts bin and found an "old skool" Bontrager Plus 10 saddle from back in the day. Sure enough, the new Rhythm Pro looked like an evolution of that design. Similar shape, rear "kick up", corners lopped off for easier rearward weight transfers, and broad padded nose. Where the new differs from the old is in the overall length, (the Pro is longer by a bit) and in the saddles profile. The Rhythm Pro is flatter, almost bucket like. The old Plus 10 had a decided "crown" to it's profile. I might also add that the newer Pro is decidedly lighter. Progress has it's benefits!

My first impressions of this saddle are good. It installed with no drama. The rails being right at the perfect distance to match up with my Salsa Shaft seat post. The ride was a bit surprising. The base of the Rhythm Pro is very forgiving. A trait I have found to be largely true across the Bontrager saddle line. The edges of the saddle didn't dig in, but rather flexed out of the way. The cover allowed fore and aft movements easily, but didn't feel too slippery. I like the rear "kick up" for pushing against when I climb. The nose is broad and forgiving too, which is nice when "assuming the position" when climbing.

Prices are a penny shy of $85 and $70 for the Pro and Elite models respectively. They should be available from your Trek/Fisher/Lemond dealer now.

I'll be giving this saddle the "multi-hour" test soon, so I'll reserve final judgements until then. Stay tuned!

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