Venerable brand manages to succeed where others have failed with monorail design

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem

One of the age-old quandaries of the gram counting weight weenie is finding the lightest and most comfortable seatpost and saddle combination. With so many different posts and saddles on the market these days, the pairings can be almost limitless. For these weight conscious roadies and cross-country mountain biker types, comfort has always taken-pardon the pun-a backseat to weight.

For years, Tom Ritchey has dreamt of a saddle and seatpost combo that work together to not only reduce weight and improve ergonomics, but to deliver shock absorption and compliance for all-day rides as well. Because of the inherent limitations of traditional twin-rail system, this personal project of Ritchey's hasn't been feasible until recently.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwf0R3z04JM

Advances in carbon fiber and thermoplastic construction have enabled Ritchey to create the Vector Evo seatpost and saddle system-a monorail design that greatly reduces weight while improving compliance, stiffness, comfort and adjustability.

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem White

Unlike other monorail designs that have failed in the past, Ritchey spent a lot of development time combining the stiff, simple and low profile attributes of a monorail system with the load and shock dispersement capabilities of a twin-rail system. The result is a stiff, compliant, durable and comfortable seatpost and saddle combination that is ultra lightweight and can serve riding duties from strictly road to harsh, aggressive cross-country mountain biking.

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem

At the core of this design concept is a single, carbon-reinforced thermoplastic saddle rail available on both the 225 gram Contrail and the 177 gram Streem models. The monorail does a wishbone split at the back of the saddle where a patented twin-rail Vector Wing suspension system helps distribute load and flex. It also enables the use of a traditional saddle bag-a feature omitted on most other monorail systems.

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem White

The Vector Evo rail was designed to work like a leaf spring, and relies on the monorail and Vector Wing for compliance. This enables the saddle body to be made stiffer, with a reverse hammock design to prevent shell sagging over time. A traditional titanium twin-rail system can't provide the same shell stiffness and consistency that a monorail system provides, and twin carbon fiber rails are so stiff that they lack any saddle compliance.

The Vector Evo system is featured exclusively on both the Streem and Contrail saddles. The Streem is designed for aggressive cross-country riders who like to move around on the saddle a lot, while the Contrail is designed more for someone who likes to find the sweet spot of a saddle and stay put. The monorail system on both saddles also allows for greater fore-and-aft adjustment of 45 millimeters.

Continue to Page 2 for more on the Ritchey Vector Evo Streem saddle and Trail seatpost and full photo gallery »



Ritchey Vector Evo Streem Clamp

Another well thought-out aspect of the Vector Evo system is the seatpost clamping mechanism. Seatposts with Ritchey's LINK system have interchangeable clamps allowing the use of either a traditional two-rail saddle or the monorail setup. The clamp secures from below with two bolts on a sweeping 90-degree clamp mount surface for a wide range of saddle angle adjustment, and the 15mm offset clamp is reversible for an additional 10mm of fore-aft adjustment.

The 400mm long WCS Carbon Trail seatpost further enhances the compliance and shock absorption of the Streem saddle. Featuring FlexLogic carbon layup, the WCS Carbon Trail delivers 15 percent more vertical compliance with no loss of torsional stiffness, according to Ritchey. At 181 grams, the post remarkably lightweight, and the total system including the Streem saddle weighs just 358 grams.

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem Weight

Both the Streem and Contrail saddles come in black or white. Ritchey LINK-compatible seatposts are available in 27.2mm, 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters.

Fit and ride quality

Perhaps the biggest compliment one can give a saddle is not even noticing anything. Most people don't say, "this saddle is comfy." If they say nothing it means the saddle works. It's only when you notice the saddle tearing up your taint or making your manhood go numb that you say something, and that something is usually accompanied by choice f-bomb or two.

Ritchey Vector Evo Streem

Since putting the Vector Evo system on my Ibis Tranny singlespeed a couple months ago, I have nothing to say about the Streem saddle; which is a good thing. But in the interest of this review, I will say the following-I've never ridden a lighter weight saddle and seatpost combination that delivers the same amount of comfort, shock absorption and ease-of-adjustment than the Ritchey Vector Evo. This system simply works, and works simply-my top criteria for any cycling product.

I hate complicated stuff, and although the design and technology behind the Vector Evo system is complex, the execution is extremely elegant and simple in a way that only a legend like Tom Ritchey can pull off. And I can't express enough how great it is to still be able to run a saddle bag. Most designers wouldn't take the time to bother with such a request, but unlike most designers, Ritchey rides a gripload of miles per year, so he knows what riders want.

For years I have been running what I thought was the ultimate lightweight and comfortable mountain bike saddle and seatpost combination-a WTB Devo mounted on an Easton EC90 post. As light and comfy as it is, it's still 80 grams heavier than the Ritchey setup-which might as well be a ton in the world of weight weenies.

The only downside of the Vector Evo system? I'm going to have to buy one for my other mountain bike, my cyclocross bike and my road bike. And at nearly $375 retail for the seatpost and saddle, I'll be nearly a grand into seatposts and saddles, but my taint will think it's the best investment ever.

Ritchey Vector Evo Contrail Black

Ritchey Vector Evo System

  • WCS Vector Evo Streem Saddle - $149.95 (tested)
  • WCS LINK Carbon Trail Seatpost - $219.95 (tested)
  • LINK Clamp Kit Monolink - $19.95 (tested)
  • WCS Vector Evo Contrail Saddle - $149.95
  • WCS Carbon LINK Flexlogic Seatpost - $229.95
  • WCS Alloy LINK BB Black Seatpost - $89.95
  • WCS Alloy LINK Wet Black/White Seatpost - $99.95
For more information visit ritcheylogic.com.