Breaking in

A question we're frequently asked is how long our cork saddles takes to soften, and how much softer they become once broken in. It's not always easy to answer this in a way that doesn't rely on anecdotal evidence, which, in effect, feels like saying: "It'll get softer, trust us!"

In this article we've pulled together some of the quantitative data that we gathered during beta testing, regarding changes in softness that occur to the FR-1 cork saddle with usage. We hope it will help to provide clarity regarding what to expect from the product over the course of it's first few years, and how this compares to other saddle materials currently in use. We'll keep adding to this article, as we gather more data, but below is a summary of what we've measured so far.

Pre-break in

Much like a leather saddle, the FR-1 starts out very firm. We get a reading of 72.5 on the Shore A hardness scale across most of it's surface which is similar to a brand new leather saddle.



Softer with time

As with a leather saddle, the FR-1 'breaks in' over time. Taking readings on saddles that have been ridden daily for one month, gives an average hardness of 55 on the Shore A scale (similar to a firm foam saddle), whilst after two months it softens further to 46.5. After this the hardness stabilises. Our oldest prototype, which was ridden daily for 3 years gives a reading 47, so in fact fractionally harder than the average after 2 month's of break-in.

Interestingly whilst the leather and cork saddles we tested softened with usage, the foam saddles tended to become harder over time, owing to compression of the polymeric foam.


Non-linear transformation

The break-in isn't uniform across the saddle's surface but is instead most severe at the parts of the saddle that are put under regular pressure by the rider. The beta tested saddles all give slightly different readings in different locations, but in general the softest area tends to align with sit bone positions. Conversely the hardest areas tend to be those that don't have much direct contact with the rider, in particular at the rear of the saddle and sections of the nose.

We'll keep this blog updated as we record new results and testing continues. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries in the meantime.

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