Saturday, April 05, 2008

2 things I wonder about

First, for all of the bike geeks, the second thing has to do with bicycles, so don't freak out. We'll get there in a minute.

So here's the first thing I wonder: why isn't recycled toilet paper (or any toilet paper) brown? Now, when you pulp up wood (or old paper) to make new paper, you have to bleach it to get it really white. Great for writing up the great American novel or whatever, but doing it to wipe your ass seems silly to me, *especially* with the recycled stuff (which is, natch, what Sarah and I get). I mean, how much extra energy and gnarly chemicals does it take to turn something white that's going to be used for butt-wiping? Doesn't that defeat the whole point of making it from recycled paper?

When I started ranting about this to Sarah, she said "People would never buy brown toilet paper". When I pressed her on this point, she added "because they're all stupid". Hmm. She might be right, there.

So now, on to the bike rant. My good pal McCalla recently started using something I haven't seen before - an SDG "I-beam" saddle and seatpost. I took one look at the design of this post and saddle and said something along the lines of "all other saddles are obsolete". Then I did a little research and realized that they've been around for several years, but they haven't really managed to become very popular, as far as I can tell.

Here are a few fun facts about the saddle/post setup:
-You've got something like 60mm of fore-aft adjustment, instead of maybe 20-30mm with a conventional saddle.

-Adjustment of tilt/angle and fore-aft, plus clamping, is accomplished with one nice strong bolt. Simple! Yes, if the bolt broke, you'd be screwed - but the same can be said of any conventional seatpost - in fact, conventional posts just have more things that can break, and all of them are just as critical.

-The saddle weighs 125 grams. And it has *actual padding* and kevlar sides, so that you don't have to buy a new one every time you make the mistake of, say, leaning the bike up against a wall. No carbon shell on ti rails idiocy here.

-They're CHEAP. A <150 gram saddle goes for $60 or so. A nice carbon seatpost is $85 or something, and a decent aluminum post is <$50. Better design and lower weight than saddle/post combos that cost twice as much, or more.

-I can't imagine a scenario in which you could break the I-beam. On the other hand, I've broken lots of conventional saddle rails.

-This type of design would work *unbelieveably well* with the new-school seatmast type road bikes. One bolt to clamp the mast AND the saddle would save the weightweenies some serious grams, eh?

There are two downsides I can think of:

-You lose the "suspension" element of the shell of the conventional saddle, which can sag between the rails a bit. I think you could easily make an I-beam design that would accomplish the same thing, though it doesn't exist now.

-Saddle and seatpost selection, to be honest, kinda sucks. Same story as 29er mountain bikes, back in the day, but we all know how that worked out...

Given that my current saddle/seatpost are in good shape, I probably won't upgrade myself until they get really ratty, but rest assured, one of these setups is in my future. Hell, SDG should *give* me one for giving them a writeup like this, totally unsolicited (you listening, guys? I'm looking to sell out here...)

And hey, all you brown TP manufacturers could hook me up too. There's space left on the jersey for another sponsor...


Anonymous said...

I think the paper should be a bit more like confetti. It's likely made from a varying assortment of news print, phone books, cuttings from office paper, and who knows what else.

The product would probably look rather muddy without bleaching or dyeing.

I could live with it, but it might be a marketing nightmare. As your wife said, consumers are stupid ;)

Interesting seat and post, btw.

Anonymous said...

If they offered a 450mm post, they'd have a piece of the market. 29ers need longer posts, at least for tall folks who prefer huge top tube clearance. One bolt, though? I've broken a single bolt before. It was not a good day. I'll stick with a Thomson for now.

eszter said...

They use brown toilet paper in Europe. Maybe you should rephrase - Americans are stupid.

Walt said...

Dude, they make a 400mm post. I don't know anyone who needs a 450 - that's just crazy. If you can get on the bike, you have enough standover.

As for the single bolt, I agree that it's disconcerting - but if any single bolt broke on ANY seatpost design that I can think of, you'd be in the same boat - the saddle would fall off. The extra bolts aren't actually redundant. So I don't see it as an issue.

Yes, Eszter, Americans are stupid. Except for us, of course. I'm going to take a marker and make all my TP brown...