THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA
Pro cyclist Evelyn Stevens will be the first to tell you that she has a reputation as a bit of a saddle princess. But it’s this quality—her sensitivity to any saddle that’s just a little bit ‘off’—that made her the perfect candidate for working with the saddle team on the S-Works Power saddle development.
“I’ve always voiced my opinion when something’s not right,” she says, “and I just wanted a saddle where I could be in an aggressive position and still be comfortable.”
Evie’s initial involvement with testing and the saddle team began with the Sitero saddle. Her feedback on positioning while using that particular saddle converged naturally with work the team was doing developing a new road saddle that put the rider in a more ‘power’ position.
“The best thing about Evie is that she would give the test saddles time,” says Nick Gosseen, then head of saddle development. “She’d take prototypes and test them for a week or a month then give us feedback, and she knows pretty quickly what she wants and is able to articulate it clearly.”
The process of tweaking the saddle after each round of feedback sounds a little McGuyver-ish to the initiated, but these quick-turnaround tweaks made it easier to test and re-test until a more perfect, final version of the saddle emerged.
“In the beginning,” says Gosseen, “it was just cutting up production saddles and refining them—and I mean literally using X-Acto knives, epoxy, anything you could to give the saddle structural stability so that Evie could ride and test it safely.”
“We created probably two or three saddles that allowed us to test certain things with her. One was nose length; another was foam density and curvature in the back of the saddle. It helped us narrow the tree down and decide which direction we wanted to go with the Power saddle. She had some things she specifically liked, so we found a version that worked with her during testing, and she ended up riding it full-time.”
Evelyn Stevens, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team
I RODE SOME REALLY WEIRD STUFF. FORTUNATELY, I’M NOT TOO CONCERNED ABOUT HOW COOL I LOOK.
These early prototypes are not always the most beautiful, particularly the final prototype that she liked.
“It was a hacked up thing.” Gosseen screws up his face when describing the aesthetic glory of it. “I mean it looked so terrible. It looked like something that someone did in their backyard or back garage or whatever.”
Fortunately, the final production of the S-Works Power saddle is much more beautiful, and as a thank you to Evie for all of her valuable feedback during testing, the saddle team created a one-off Power saddle for her.
“For me,” says Evie, looking at the saddle. “Red is a symbol of power and strength. When I look at it, that’s what I think. It says, be strong and be powerful when you get on your bike today.” And as for being part of the testing process?
“I think because we race it, and ride it, and we pay such close attention to our bodies, we’re able to give good feedback. And in the end, that means someone who just wants to ride their bike a couple of days a week can get a benefit from that.”