Author Topic: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle  (Read 6111 times)

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« on: December 02, 2018, 07:30:38 pm »



I don't believe there is a review of the Aspin saddle in this section.  I currently have a Spa Nidd, (since 2013),  but feel  that there must be something better out there.  Good point about the Nidd is the mesh underneath, which is also a bad point.  The saddle doesn't loose it shape , but it won't give either. So I have been reading reviews on t'web, and I know one chap on here has 5 Aspins,  (I  keep wanting to call them Asprins !!).   I  fancied a natural coloured one, and almost bought one from Spa and a very good 'price match' offer,  but I spied one on e-bay ,  in Germany,new, still in box, in brown. So I won it with a 3 seconds to go, bid  ;D.  ( quite funny really,  as I had worked out my price, tapped in 'make a bid'  then about to press confirm, then realised the auction was in Euro's, so very quickly upped my offer, and I  think others may have thought it was in pounds)  Should be here in a week I rekon,,  then I'll  photo / measure the life out of it. i think  nearly every review has been very positive, But firstly I hope there is enough set back in the rails.  Some say there is 8mm more than a Brooks, some say the same, so this is the first hurdle,  but my seatpost , Nitto SP 72 Jaguar, has some setback.  I thought it better to try one at a cheaper price than blow a lot of money.  So More to follow, but please feel free to chip in with tales of woe,  pics ,  etc.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2018, 08:34:50 pm »
I was looking for a replacement for my two ancient Brooks Professionals (newer ones seemingly of dubious quality) and alighted on the Berthoud saddles after some experimentation.  I have two 'open' Aspins which are very promising so far.

However, the straight section of the rails is set quite far back, so that I have had to source seat-posts with more lay-back.

All the component parts are available separately from Gilles Berthoud.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2018, 12:09:33 am »
I'm using one as a replacement for a Team Pro (Ti version; the cantle plate cracked).
I wanted something similar, but of recent years I've been finding that the leather on the Team Pros has been cracking round the back of the end rear rivets.

Comfort is much the same as the Team Pro (i.e good), leather seems thicker, I've had it long enough (5 years) for the leather to start to shape to me.
Setback seems much the same to me, going by the placement of a Bagman QR clamp.

One of the screws holding on the leather top went walkabout, so I got a set of spares, replaced the missing screw and tightened up the rest. No problem since.
On one occasion, I tried lifting the back of the bike by the rear of the saddle when it was loaded with full camping panniers, and pulled the cantle plate off the end of the saddle rails. It went back easily enough, but I had to slack the nose bolt tension right off first.
I'm still working on trying to break the habit of lifting the bike by the saddle.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2018, 07:15:23 am »
I have 5 of them.  Nuff said really.

I got my first one about 7 years ago having broken yet another modern Brooks.  Still like my 1960s Pro but keep that on a period machine.  Aspin works for me, sort of a cross between a Pro and a Swift.  I have bought parts direct from Berthoud easily, e.g. I changed the leather on my oldest one just because I wanted a different colour.  Colour gets washed from the nose of the saddle by rain, especially noticeable on the natural colour ones, so looks a bit naff and takes a couple of hundred miles to recover.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2018, 01:35:28 pm »
What sort of seat post you all using, how much layback, I have 25mm, have to wait and see if it is enough.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2018, 03:34:32 pm »
What sort of seat post you all using, how much layback, I have 25mm, have to wait and see if it is enough.
Good old fashioned 2 bolt Campag.  so a similar layback I should think.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2018, 08:30:04 pm »
Well,  having bought this saddle, I may not need it now.. :facepalm:   see my Spa Nidd review   ::-)

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2018, 05:15:28 pm »
I've had a Gilles Berthoud Aravis saddle (the Ti-railed version of the Aspin, with no cut out) on my Hewitt tourer for about 3 years. I have the "natural" finish version, which was very light in colour when new, but which has darkened considerably over time and use, and is now a deep reddish brown colour (which as tatanab noted, does get a bit blotchy around the edges after it gets wet*, but this does go away again with further use - if I remember I'll post some photos to show what I mean). The saddle was actually remarkably comfortable from new, even though it was very hard and before it had developed dimples - much more so than any of the B17 and Imperial saddles I've had. After breaking in further, and developing dimples etc. it got more and more comfortable - more than any other saddle I've owned. Even on long rides (which admittedly for me aren't usually much more than 100km a day), after the short break-in period, I've never experienced any discomfort or numbness in the saddle region, the best I can say about it is that I don't think about it or notice it when riding.

I currently have the saddle on a Ritchley seatpost with about 20-25mm of setback.

I'm thinking of getting another Aravis (possibly in black) to put on the Mercian Strada Speciale I have an order, even though it's perhaps a bit heavy for a road bike saddle (the Aravis is about 440g, I think). The thinner Galabier is a bit lighter at about 365g, but I suspect less comfortable - comfort may trump weight in this case! The Galabier is also lacking saddle bag loops, which may come in handy as my Strada won't have rack mounts.


* I do use a Brooks saddle cover with it when it's wet, but some moisture still gets through. I tried the rubber Gilles Berthoud saddle cover, but think it started to stain the saddle black, so stopped using it. I'd like to find a better saddle cover, though,
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2018, 02:41:20 pm »
I just couldn't wait  ::-).  Despite oiling my Spa Nidd, I started looking and measuring,  and before I could say 'Gilles Berthoud' I had the old  saddle off!   :facepalm:

Anyway, here we go.

IMG_0404 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Secondhand (new) from Germany, for £92 plus p+p, in Brown.

IMG_0405 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Leather 5.6mm thick

IMG_0406 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Overall length of rail

IMG_0407 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Rail offset from Rear

IMG_0408 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Rail offset from front

IMG_0410 by mark tilley, on Flickr

O/A depth of saddle/rail

IMG_0411 by mark tilley, on Flickr


This one was born in..........

IMG_0412 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Compared to Nidd topside


IMG_0413 by mark tilley, on Flickr


Compared to Nidd , undercarraige


IMG_0414 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Due to shallower saddle, had to raise post this much. (ish)

IMG_0415 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Off for a first fettling ride.



After about 5 km I shoved the seat right back to its max, (another 2-3mm), and it is very shiny.   Seems very firm, but not hard. after about another  15k, I forgot about it.  I  came home after first 44km , and put some proofide on it. I may end up tweaking it a bit, but if I lower it , I can't push it back any more. So Its different from the Nidd, in that it is flat,  and slim, in fact it felt VERY slim when I first got on it, but that soon dissapeared. 


I think I am going to like it. ::-)

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 05:29:55 pm »
110 km in,  and I've fecked and fettled,  lowered the seat gradually,a few times, so now it is a pencil line thickness from the original position  of the Spa Nidd,  marked on the post, and each time I lowered it  got better. Its going to be good, I think. Still feels  narrow,  and the bike feels more responsive to side ways movement, a bit like sitting on top on a gate as opposed to sitting in a bucket. Another thing that is strange, is the bike feel more sporty, in that it feels more refined, and precise, and , well I can't think of a word for it, more of a watchmakers screwdriver, and less of a mallet. I know its all the placebo thing , but its nice.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2018, 06:54:36 pm »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0OeHK6sVEw&t=1s

For those that haven't seen the video of them being made. ;)

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2018, 06:45:48 pm »
Alas this chapter will now close, after 201 km, I know this saddle will not suit my sit bones, shame as it is a thing of beauty, and much more elegant than the Spa Nidd,  so now in the For Sale section.  That was quick!  ::-)

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2018, 08:12:04 am »
Alas this chapter will now close, after 201 km, I know this saddle will not suit my sit bones, shame as it is a thing of beauty, and much more elegant than the Spa Nidd,  so now in the For Sale section.  That was quick!  ::-)

Oh that's a shame, it's perfect for my sit bones, I can tell from where they make the dimples in the leather (and from how comfortable it is for me) though I think mine may be relatively narrow.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2018, 05:18:48 pm »
IMG_0446 by mark tilley, on Flickr

IMG_0447 by mark tilley, on Flickr

Okies,,bit of an update.. ::-)  I did advertise this for sale,  but had second thoughts after a couple of days and a few interested inquiries'
When I tried the saddle initially, I used a Nitto SP72 twin bolt post.  The saddle would 'just' about get back to where I wanted it, but due to the largeish cradle clamp, it was  nose down, not good, so I  moved it in all the wrong directions to try to get comfy.
I refitted my Spa Nidd on the Nitto post and it was bliss.  But I thought all those people can't be wrong, so I dug out an old MTB post, a blast from the past! A Race Face XY. This has maybe 3-4mm more setback,  although it is difficult to measure accurately on different posts, but more importantly it has a smallish cradle,  and  has 2 bolts to adjust the tilt OR the fore/aft separately, without affecting the other.
So I re- fitted it , with careful measurements of the Nitto/ Nidd combo,  prior to removal, et voila!  I lowered it , maybe 2-3mm, from the initial setting,, but thats it.  28km fettling yesterday, and out today with an 82 km whizz around some frosty lanes.  amazing..  Not quite as comfy as the 'cooking oil impregnated Nidd' BUT  I am able to slide back and forward a tad, without upsetting everything, or sitting on the rear rivets. No Soreness,  No numbness, No aches. just dandy! So I''ll be keeping it after all.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2018, 10:59:14 pm »
Great to hear it worked out for you in the end, I've been so pleased with mine
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2018, 08:25:48 am »
Out of interest, as there were no instructions in the box, and google fails me, which way does one turn the tensioning bolt, to tension, and when tensioned, is there some resistance to the bolt turning, or will it just keep going until the saddle is 12" long?  ( for future reference)

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2018, 09:46:32 am »
I wouldn't touch the tensioner unless there is a very noticeable  and uncomfortable sag in the leather. 

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2018, 10:18:45 am »
which way does one turn the tensioning bolt, to tension, and when tensioned, is there some resistance to the bolt turning, or will it just keep going until the saddle is 12" long?
Turning the screw clockwise adds tension.  Just like a Brooks, you can keep turning the screw and adding tension as far as you like or are strong enough.  I recall reading somewhere that GB were asked if there is a torque setting that can be applied and the reply was "no, because all is set by feel and experience".

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2018, 10:21:25 am »
I wouldn't touch the tensioner unless there is a very noticeable  and uncomfortable sag in the leather.

Agreed! I actually like mine with a slight sag, though I have once tightened the tension a little (after about 2 or 3 years) when it got a bit too pronounced.

But in part-answer to the original question, I remember there not being very much resistance when tensioning the saddle, much less compared to tensioning a Brooks, so be careful not to overdo it!

 I can't remember which way you turn the bolt - I'm sure if you look at threads it should be possible to work it out, or there may be something on the Gilles Berthoud website about this: https://berthoudcycles.fr/en/content/17-saddles
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2018, 11:25:48 am »
Okies, another update  :facepalm:,  had a bit of a moment yesterday,  couldn't get comfy, hard as a rock, numb, all the wrong things.So came home, and swapped the saddle back to my Nidd, then went for a spin. Comfy ? well yes of course, but , its strange, the saddle felt so large and bulky, it felt like I was wearing a nappy.  Couldn't sleep last night, comparing memories of both saddles, in my head. So, this morning, I put the Aspin back on again   :facepalm: :facepalm:, reset it, further back,  after measuring everything, and went for a spin. Yes seemed fine, still rock hard, and still starting to feel numb! :demon: :demon:. Arghh! 
Eureka moment approaching   ::-)
I remembered a comment by oxford Guy above, that he likes his with a bit of a sag  :o,  so I whipped out the allen key, and slackened off the nose bolt 2 FULL turns.  ( Vaguely remember tightening it when I got the saddle as it didn't seem to have much tension on it, although I wasn't exactly sure sure which way was which)

Outcome,  saddle is much more comfy,  and flexible,  so  that the middle part of the saddle is free to  depress as I move about. Bottom line is, the tension was too taught,  allowing no give.  Phew!see how we go from here.  (sorry if I'm boring any one )

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2018, 03:15:08 pm »
I didn't tighten mine at all at first.  The older one now has stretched somewhat, but the newer one has had no more than a quarter turn.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2019, 01:10:55 pm »
Bit of an update,  just over  1000km in now, and I  think I found the  'sweet spot' by accident. Won't bore you too much, but I'd set it up based on the previous set, that I had lowered already, which was .....well based upon years of riding........................in the wrong position ::-).  My old Pearson started its Audax  career with a std seat post and a 110mm stem set level, it 's  ended up  with a layback post,  with the seat shoved all the way back,  and a 90mm 7 deg rise stem.  So I've migrated 'up and back' ,  and subsequent set ups have been based on this 'evolved 'position. BUT the bike 'always ' looked wrong,  I thought I must just have very long femurs!

At about 800 km  I was still getting numb, so put the Nidd/seatpost combo back on, at pre set marks,   ::-) ::-) ::-)  I rode it for a 45 km  commute, and it was just so wrong. I  felt like an Ape on a circus bike, I just couldn't  believe my position was  that far out for years.  By now the Aspin had moved its position, and was prob another 10mm lower,  but still with numbing issues.

So on my return home, I put the Aspin/ seatpost combo back on,  and had a cup of tea and stared at Olive trying to work it out.  Next day on my way in, i thought what if  ::-).  So I stopped  and moved the saddle forward  (in 2 goes)  about 4/5mm total  . I didn't think it would make any difference,only to make me feel scrunched up,  but no. It now seems perfect. I am happy steaming along on the hoods,  but equally happy tootling at a much lower cadence on the tops,  and the saddle is now level, and no numbness, and it has allowed my to rotate the bars round (down) 1/2 of a spine, which is more comfortable, and better for out of the saddle climbing.  So my position is getting to be more where I thouggh it should be to look right.   :thumbsup:  It is a very comfortable saddle, no mega rides yet, but I've not had the time anyway.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2019, 02:11:40 pm »
Glad to hear you're still getting on well with your Aspin, I'm very happy with my Aravis:

[click to expand]

]
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2019, 03:38:41 pm »
Ah, your bars are higher than the saddle, by how much, is that why there is a bit of hammock? mine are 30-35mm lower, but I' probably heavier.
Also your reach seems much longer than mine.  Suits your Hewitt well, that saddle, it does.

Re: Gilles Berthoud Aspin saddle
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2019, 03:55:10 pm »
One of mine is a bit hammock like, which I have to keep an eye on because the leather will bounce off the big screw heads on my preferred 2 bolt Campag saddle pillars.  My other Aspins are pan flat, some almost new and some with many miles.  Noticeably, it is the "natural" finish one that has developed the hammock.  All of them are still comfortable.  I tend to have a drop of 10-15mm at a guess to the bars and my normal riding position tends to be with hands a little behind the hoods.