Ergon, BASF revolutionize bicycle saddle


An exploded view of the new saddle, showing the twin-shell construction. With the ST Core Ultra, Ergon and technology partner BASF are propelling the development of the bicycle saddle to a new level. Using new materials and a groundbreaking design principle, crucial parameters such as ergonomics, comfort and dynamics are being redefined

THERE have been no significant changes to bicycle saddle technology since the 1960s, with most models conforming to a standardized principle: rails – saddle shell – padding – cover. The disadvantage of this construction is that the saddle shell has a dual role: it bears the load of the cyclist and is simultaneously the seat shell, being the substructure for the padding. This results in a stiff seat shell, which restricts seating comfort.

The research team at Ergon, a leading German manufacturer of bike seats, grips and other mainly foamed components, has been focusing on this aspect in particular for some time. This led to the development of the revolutionary TwinShell technology, with an ergonomic core. Two shells function in isolation from each other in a sandwich construction, held in a floating arrangement by a high-performance elastomer damper made of Infinergy®, an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) developed by BASF. The lower, supporting shell performs a load-bearing function while the upper, flexible seat shell supports the padding.

This design principle not only increases comfort but also allows for an entirely new form of pedaling ergonomics. As a result of isolating the seat shell from the supporting shell, the saddle follows the natural pedaling movements in all directions. This has the advantage of systematically combining optimized pressure distribution across the sit bones, efficient pedaling ergonomics, excellent vibration damping and active back protection for the first time.

The Ergon core is made of Infinergy®. This innovative material is setting new standards in relation to damping and suspension due to thousands of light and highly elastic foam particles. The high elasticity optimizes the damping of pressure in the seat area. As soon as the pressure impulse has passed, the foam springs back into its old shape. The material retains this property even under continuous load. The Ergon core thus ensures a direct damping response and the highest possible resilience, as well as maximum durability at minimal material weight. This E-TPU foam has already been used with great success by leading manufacturers in the safety and running shoe sectors.

Franc Arnold, Ergon founder and chief executive, is convinced that the ST Core Ultra represents a huge triumph: “The idea of a design principle using TwinShell technology and an ergonomic core has been around for a while, but we were never able to find a suitable material on the market to implement this project. Now, Infinergy® from BASF has exceeded our expectations. I am absolutely certain that Ergon will cause a stir in the bicycle industry with its ST Core Ultra.”

The ST Core Ultra will be available in Europe and the United States from February 2018.