The Golden Wrench

A blog about bicycle repair and maintenance by the mechanics at Freewheel Bike.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Revolutionary Technology!

Remember how revolutionary cut-out seats were back in the mid-90's? Remember the promises that the revolutionists promised, and the threats they threatened us with? Remember the documentary about the guy who did Ironman triathlons hunkered down in his tuck for four hours with his first-generation Flite pointing up like an ICBM? [Remember how delighted he was to tell the entire universe about his problems?]

"HIS PROBLEMS WILL BE YOUR PROBLEMS, RECREATIONAL CYCLIST MAN!!! UNLESS YOU BUY OUR CUT-OUT SEAT!!!"

And who can forget the commercials, with the elderly couples boisterously succeeding at golf and smiling comfortably in the sunset, while Mister Pleasant-Voice speed-reads a list of possible side effects? "Ask your doctor if the Body Symmetry 4000 SX cut-out saddle is right for you. Do not use the Body Symmetry 4000 SX if you are pregnant or think that you might be pregnant, especially if you're a man. Do not use the Body Symmetry 4000 SX in the presence of people with high levels of sensitivity to squeaking sounds or the smell of imitation leather. Limit use of the Body Symmetry 4000 SX to days in which your carbohydrate intake is equal to or greater than that of a vibrant Yorkshire stockman prior to his vigor dissipating (usually in his early fifties). Always wear your helmet when using Body Symmetry 4000 SX, especially on Thursdays and periods of intense sun spot activity, as these times correspond with the natural biorhythms of something something something. Look both ways if crossing open fields when using Body Symmetry 4000 SX, as Body Symmetry 4000 SX has been found during testing to attract juvenile bisons when the rails become dry and creaky. Body Symmetry 4000 SX has just informed me that due to a commonly-overlooked technicality not exclusive to the English tongue, the plural form of "bisons" is just "bison," and that the reader will have to figure out that I mean more than one bison from the context. Possible side effects most commonly associated with use of Body Symmetry 4000 SX include double vision, triple vision, impaired vision, augmented vision, sore hands and feet, torn breeches, loin chafing, whimpering, nostrils encrusted with dried mucus, heart failure, heart success, feebleness, wickedness, cod-liver oil, omelettes, siphoning of the Broger-valve membranes near the Fubular miscreant on your starboard gizzard, and poor taste in home decor. If you or a loved one notice most of these side-effects (all of which are rare as hen's teeth, I assure you) in yourself or an adjacent hominid, discontinue your use of Body Symmetry 4000 SX until you have insulted your doctor. Consulted. Consulted your doctor. Sorry."

Yeah, OK. Perhaps the science is sound, or perhaps it has more to do with the angle of the saddle and the distribution of the pressure than with the presence or absence of a cutout. I'm not taking sides.

I recently went to the Henry Ford museum in Detroit, and saw this (from a pennyfarthing):


... and this (from an early "safety bicycle"):
... and this, on a bicycle built "for a great gangling gentleman" (middle bike--sorry about the blurry photo):


One wonders how such an important medical breakthrough could go out of style for seventy years.

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