Even after more than 30 years of creating saddles at Terry for every type of cycling, there are still opportunities to create a new model that does something no other bike saddle does quite as well. Now, riders looking for a performance saddle with long distance comfort have a new option: the Raven, perhaps our most comfortable bike saddle ever in this category, delivers a premium level of comfort at a surprisingly low price point.
Even better, the Raven is designed to be an exceptionally comfortable bike saddle for an underserved population: men who would prefer a wider saddle and women who would benefit from a narrower one.
Simplicity Meets Intelligence In Our Newest, Amazingly Affordable & Comfortable Bike Saddle – The Raven
Ever wonder what goes into making a comfortable bike saddle, well… comfortable?
Let’s take a look behind the scenes and see how the Raven was transformed from an idea in a product development meeting to a finished bike saddle, ready to help riders “put more smiles in their miles!”
Our development team saw a need for a performance saddle that sits between our FLX line – pure, minimal, elite performance – and the Butterfly series – performance with more width and padding. This would be a comfortable bike saddle for performance riders who wanted a little more supportive cushioning than the FLX, and a narrower profile than the Butterfly.
The team settled on a creative brief for the new bike saddle calling for these essential features:
- Comfortable saddle appearance – soft contours and inviting shape.
- Comfortable feeling – foam volume and density tuned for comfort.
- Supportive cushioning without bulk for performance.
- Pressure relief channel and a drop nose.
- Clean, economical construction.
- Lightweight, durable rails.
- MSRP under $90.
Designing the Most Comfortable Bike Saddle: Less is More
The design process begins with sketches, where the designer can experiment with translating the list of features into a dimensional form, and work out details of the saddle’s appearance.
Simplicity had been a goal for this saddle all along, from both the esthetic and production points of view. As the team worked with their ideas the saddle took on its own personality – classic, refined, and purely functional. A minimalist approach, minimizing waste and bulk, and eliminating non-essentials all felt just right.
This aligned nicely with wider trends, where more and more of us are making choices to simplify our increasingly complex lives. As Nik Holm, Director of Supply Chain Operations at Terry and design lead on the Raven project, puts it, “If you buy into this idea of buying less but buying quality, every thing you have has a purpose; you desire every thing to perform beautifully. The Raven Saddle is an offspring of that desire.”
An unadorned black cover seemed to be the natural choice, and when the name “Raven” emerged it was clearly a great fit – the personality and appearance of the saddle was well in tune with many of the distinctive qualities of these highly intelligent, playful birds. (See why ravens inspired the team’s creative juices with this clip.)
“Hands-On” Development of Form and Function
From sketches the designer moves on to models, where shape and proportions are worked out and refined. The quickest, most direct way to model a saddle is with clay.
Nik made a series of clay models, building onto a saddle base developed by our manufacturing partner, selected to meet the requirements of the brief. He explains, “These first 6 or so iterations are as hands on as you can get, feeling every curve of the saddle with wet, clay-filled hands. Intermittently testing with a caliper allows us to see where one’s sit bones will be positioned on the saddle.”
The shape of the cutout and channel evolved significantly through the modeling process. The first rendition from sketches did not look comfortable at all. We opted to develop a more functional channel that extends from the front to the rear for both pressure relief for the coccyx in the aft, and on the perineum, blood vessels, and nerves on the fore.
New Technology Delivers Manufacturing Efficiency
Once the right shape had been sculpted, a 3D scan was made from the final clay model. The digitized design could be refined through 3D modeling to smooth out any irregularities and fine tune the shape.
Our manufacturer used the 3D files to make molds for foam injection, and used those to make a series of complete prototypes.
Foam density is measured with a shore durometer. There are only a few standard shore densities for saddle foams in the industry and we always start out with the denser versions. The denser the foam, the more support it will provide you on a longer ride. Then, we experiment with other densities and with gel.
At each step the team evaluated the prototype and made refinements until, at last, the goals of the design brief were fully realized.
The Raven is being made in Taiwan, where new technology from one of our long-time saddle makers gives us options for cost efficiency that haven’t been available before.
Nik Holm again: “You will notice that the base of the saddle is completely clean. For the first time, a Terry saddle doesn’t have any glue or staples appearing on the bottom of the saddle. We can achieve this by vacuum molding a flat black cover over the foam before it is attached to the substrate. By doing this, there are no points of the saddle that are stiffer than others, which is prone to happen when you hand stretch a cover over a saddle.”
At 150mm wide, the Raven is a little narrower than our typical women’s saddles, and slightly wider than our men’s. It has a slim profile, which allows more room for pelvic tilt and bulk reduction. At 265mm it is a bit longer than a typical women’s saddle allowing for more movement and control. With its anatomic cutout and full length pressure relief channel, the Raven provides excellent comfort in multiple riding positions.
We were able to create a single saddle model that meets the comfort needs of a wider group of riders, and reduces manufacturing steps and materials to bare essentials. The result: the new Raven delivers higher levels of comfort and performance at a lower price point than any of its competitors.
The Real-World Test – You Decide
Is the Raven truly the most comfortable bike saddle in our performance category?
The most meaningful measure of success for a saddle is always the positive outcomes achieved for its riders. Since the Raven is a new product we will have to wait for customers to log miles and hours on the Raven to know how well we did in their eyes.
We hope their stories and reviews will confirm the opinions of our in-house testers. Their feedback makes us very optimistic. This comment from Jeannette Segale, one of our Customer Service gurus, sums it up nicely:
Here’s my feedback after riding the Raven prototype:
Pros– Incredible comfort, no pressure points or chafing. Remained comfortable throughout 2-1/2 hour ride. Kept waiting for the usual mid-ride discomfort to happen, but it never did.
Cons– None, other than I had to remove it from my bike.
Our bike saddles, especially the Butterfly, Fly and Liberator lines, have set the benchmark for comfortable bike saddles for many cyclists. We think the Raven may continue this tradition, by being one of our most comfortable bike saddles yet, and an outstanding value.
As Nik says, “The Raven was designed to be a simple, durable, performance saddle. I believe it is so much more and I hope you can experience its elegance and find comfort in its simplicity.”
Browse and buy the Raven saddle here. Be sure to let us know how you like it!