Review: Rivet Pearl Saddle (1/2)

The Rivet Pearl is an amazing saddle.

An attractive and altogether interesting-looking saddle; it was described to me as ‘somewhere between a Selle An-atomica and a Brooks Imperial’, and luckily I have seen enough of each to understand the line of best fit. However, what this approximation really means is that the Rivet Pearl has strong and long-lasting materials, a female-specific cut-out design and flawless features.


Debra Banks’ highly successful company: Rivet Cycle Works

Rivet Pearl Saddle
Price: $175AUD
Weight: ~600g
Pros: Damn comfortable, no saddle splay, easy to tension and adjust, beautiful design, waterproof leather!
Cons: It isn’t the lightest beast! It needs to be treated with care (saddle cover sometimes) even though it’s waterproof.

My Rivet Pearl (RP for short) weighs a sturdy 600 grams and is made from weather-resistant leather and has cro-moly rails and parts underneath its skirt. The cut-out is unique and despite certainly looking a bit peculiar, it actually incorporates some fancy footwork underneath its “flaps”. According to users of the Brooks and Anatomica saddles, a common downfall is that the saddle can ‘splay’ once it has been used for a decent amount of time, and sometimes after not such a decent amount of time. Saddle ‘splay’ means that the saddle sags in the centre and the edges flare out and rub the inside of ones thighs, in an altogether unpleasant manner. The “flaps” too can become abrasive and uncomfortable. Brooks have come up with a frilly solution, they’ve added lace. Ok, not quite – their undersides have adjustable laces threaded to keep the saddle and flaps supple and supported. Rivet Cycleworks, however, have a different concept with a design to eliminate both splay and the need for laces – the flaps are designed to move independently of one another and yet are ultimately adjoined underneath and literally riveted together with a metal plate. I know, rivets on a Rivet, who’d have thought?!

Peering through the “flaps”, one can just see the crafty construction of the riveted Rivet Pearl.

The cutout and the flaps themselves have been based on a hundred years of design – tweaked to meet the needs of those of us with lady parts and are toted in design as “a sure preventive to all perineal pressure”. Perineals are found on men and women (the area between your underneith bits which contains bucketloads of important nerves and blood vessels) and perineal pressure is not just a thing that men or experience when riding, women too can suffer perineal numbness and resultant potential disfunction . The main issue in saddles with cut-outs is that although saddles are pretty uniform, genitals are not. This makes catering for everyone difficult and thus, there are many different options on the market for ladies and gentlemen alike. The RP has a cutout that vaguely mirrors the shape of the body parts destined to sit astride it (hello leather vagina!) and its flaps move independently of each other to reduce friction and promote saddle synergy – that is, the seat moves with you rather than against you. Ultimately this combination of creativity and comfort is well designed for those of us who will be in the saddle for good periods of time, such as long haul touring Miss Alleykat.

Reviews detail that after about 1000 kilometers (read: somewhere around the two or three week mark, riding cyclingabout-styles) the saddle should effectively be uniquely yours; that is, it will have moulded to your bum and bits and is thus the most comfortable damn thing you ever did sit on.

During the initial set up, I have tightened the bolt that replaces ‘lacing’ just a smidge, and after 1000 kilometres this will need to be altered again. The thing is, it’s such a simple and effective process (turning a bolt at the nose of the saddle with a spanner…tough stuff) I’m not worried about the future relationship between my Rivet and my ‘downstairs’ at all.

Hidden at the nose of the RP is the tension adjusting knob (aka the TAK)

Breaking in the Rivet Pearl

So far I am loving it. Initially it was quite firm on the old sit bones (bruise-worthy even) and rather slippery. Alex ‘Bike Whisperer’ Denham and I played with the angle and also found a complementary handlebar height (similar to the saddle height itself in fact) and suddenly, it was heaven. Saddles such as this are designed to be ridden with the nose slightly raised, to really allow for the saddle and your undercarriage to get to know one another intimately (and also to ensure the intended ‘fit’ to be found). It can feel a little different from what one is used to, especially if street bikes or road bikes or even mountain bikes are more your thing. However, it should start feeling as though you’re siting in a firm but kind armchair fairly instantaneously, or at least as soon as you’re sitting atop it in nothing but knicks.

I actually cannot believe how comfortable the saddle is, I’ll readily admit it didn’t look promising (despite being a really really ridiculously goodlooking saddle) and the first few short trips were not exactly something to write home about but really, if you’re willing to spend some time laying the foundation of a healthy partnership and the same amount of time on a sometimsetup depth set up, then you’ll be laughing. Apparently they’re supposed to get better with time and miles under the belt (so to speak) so my ladyparts are in for a treat!

More on Breaking in the RP

On Sunday June 24th, Alex and I completed the 40-something kilometers of the Melbourne Roobaix with a group of friends and about 2000 other bike enthusiasts. The day was spectacular and Melbourne put on its best behaviour so that fun could be had by all, riding along cobble stones, winding around back alleys, panting up hills and generally confusing already baffled Sunday drivers with our sheer roobaix numbers. My Surly Long Haul Trucker (affectionately known as Surly Elliot) was the perfect bike to tackle these trials and tribulations – and the Rivet Pearl looked after my bits and bum alike – I was shaken but not stirred.

Brunswick Velodrome: witness the continued rejoicing at the end of a marvellous Roobaix. (photo curtesy of Graeme Cross, 2012)

Since securing my RP, I have probably only knocked over around 150 kilometres, but it has been such a delight to ride so early in the piece that I feel positive that it shall continue to assert its usefulness and comfort in the months… make that years… to come! Technically, Rivet Cycle Works honor a six month return policy on all saddles, but as I have no idea where over the seas I will be in one month’s time, let alone six! I will have to trust that the Pearl is in fact a pearl in real life – its luster increasing with each ride.

Many thanks to Richard Ayling of Diggari Imports for his generous aid in suiting us with an alarming number of items, from the Rivet to Ortleib panniers and even a beautiful bell to boot!  (More reviews on these products to come). Make sure you get in contact with Diggari to give one a go!

Bottoms up!

Diggari Imports

  1. I find your criticism of Brooks England saddles interesting given that a Brooks has an adjusting bolt to re-tension the saddle, just as the one you review does. Not sure therefore how the Brooks seems to be inferior. Given their long history I think I will stick to my four saddles. Interesting review but.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Andrew. I think the main difference is in the way that the splay is limited by the adjoining plate instead of having extra lacing to rely on. I definitely don’t believe the Brooks is inferior however, nor should their wonderfully reliable and long-standing history be disregarded. Brooks just uses a different approach. I think, as the Rivet saddles are a relatively new design, they’ve tried to take the best from both worlds and invent from there. I shall try to review this review and ensure that it doesn’t come across as though I’m bagging the Brooks. Thanks again.

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