Bicycle Seat Rail Removal Repairs and Cover Fixing including Saddle Rail Reinstallation
This is often a problem that requires a replacement saddle, bent rails and a crash impact can both mean you saddle has slipped from it’s perch and left you in the lerch!
There are a few articles and forum threads on the web relating to various problems however none that address the solution adequately so here goes. Each saddle is different and many manufacters have different methods over the years so nobody will have the perfect answer sometimes you’ll just have to forge your own way.
The video below if a bit long is amusing even if you haven’t been there before, it’s not a trail side repair for most people. But if you’re carrying a good metal tyre lever or flat bar of some kind it’s going to be almost impossible. [TL:DR They didn’t manage to succeed]
Getting it back in is the easy part…
It very simply presses back in place and when you realise how simple it is you’ll laugh…
Luckily I’ve been building bikes and tools for a long time and I enjoy a good process to do the kinds of things most people cant. This saddle was a begging find so I didn’t want to discard the only good option I had already got for free and it wasn’t perfect either so it could do with anything I could do to repair some simple aging wear on the cover and rails.
The rails were a little bent and the cover had separated in the middle section form the base, nose and tail were both good so it was salvagable if I could just perform a small miracle in some eyes, magic in others, it really does all come down to slight of hand.
Now I’ve personally broken seat rails made of titanium, other alloys and steel, I’ve bent them until the saddle has walked off the rails whilst peddaling in the saddle, I’ve bounced them of as I’ve ghosted the bike off in a crash, I’ve snapped them through fatigue related stresses and twisted them in hard landings.
There are many ways you can damage these aligned creations to damage both there performance and function as well as your pleasure and performance too.
If you need a new saddle you can look at our range of in stock saddles here.
Whilst there are some things you can do to minimise damage through fitment or suitable mating to seatpost clamps (did you know there’s a few different sizes even) this isn’t the main cause or what we’re dealing with here.
High end saddles like Brooks do offer rail and frame replacements you could do an internet search for “yoursaddlecompany rail replacement” but this may seem expensively prohibitive still. I’ve known some rail systems designed to be replacable by the consumer and these are often held in with screws or plates you can easily remove with hand tools.
The Fix, what tools do you need?
If you have the following tools I suppose you could easily make you own solution like I did.
- Flat 90deg Crowbar
- 6mm T-Bar Allen Key
- Suitable old Pedal Spanner
- Old Wood Chisel
- Packing card or plastic like HDPE Milk Carton
if you require some slip protection on your rails and fabrics where tools will interface
Want to skip the rest and just watch a video of the process.
You’ll need some good old fashioned balancing skills to position everything and all four limbs.
- First, position the pedal spanner at the front of the saddle with any bend in it facing upwards
- Second, position the crowbar at the rear and offer up the allen key through the rearward bend on the saddle rails.
- Third, whilst hoding the crowbar in position and levering down gently, use the pedal spanner with a lot more force (being shorter) to push the front downwards into a bend against the saddle upper
- Forth, Whilst your at the maximum tension and you’ll see some physical deflection then using your foot to tread on the nose of the saddle forcing it off the tip bend of the saddle rails.
Wiggle the rails from the rear holsters on the saddle upper, for this I used a squirt of GT85 to free them.
This is the stunningly easy part… When you see how fi’zi:k fit them in the factory it’s quick enough to miss it if you blink. The video below starts at 1:48 and show’s the action you’re about to replicate with a chisel for a guide and crowbar for a press.
There’s enough flex in the upper seat of most saddles to accomplish this, don’t be tempted to bend the rails in, as this will mishape them again.
- First, Pop the Seats Saddle Rails back in to place each side at the rear and make sure they’re fully insterted and squarely positioned.
- Second, Lift the front of the rails away from the Seat Upper and put the wood chisel with the Flat Side against the Nose Cup.
- Third, Use the Flat Spike of the Crowbar to force the rails down as you lever the Chisel against them.
You may need to use all your weight at this point to press down firmly and squarely until you hear a positive click or get thrown free and it’s done!
(watch that chisel or pick a blunt old one that will also protect you saddle from extra damage).
If you need to perform a corrective bend this can be hard to DIY, but you can always use hot glue as I have before to take up play at the nose afterwards. any other rubbery glue you can drip into the nose cup can do the same and stop excessive play or further chance of it slipping off, it may stop the saddle flexing as much.
There is an alternative method where you get to build a clamp and bend the rails in this video here but that isn’t required always and for more modern saddles with newer plastic it’s not necessarily viable with the space available between the rails and the upper.
Initially I thought about building a simple tool like the above version but it didn’t require that, and I was thinking about how there must be a way like the factorys would install them far faster using less directional forces and a more reciprocal action.
How are Saddles Made?
If you’d like to know more about how bicycle saddles are maufactured in the first place then here are some videos I’ve found that you migh find interesting or usefull.
The Velo Factory tour below gives a good oversight of modern manstream saddle design and covers.
Here’s a view in side the design minds of Ergon who also make some very good grips and other parts.
Here’s someone giving it a good shot for themselves and making a simple leather cover for a perished saddle. You could also use vinyl or fabric of course the creativity is open to you. If you’ve got a good staple gun (air or electric) you maight be able to do a better job as glue won’t hold itself for ever but I think that’s verging into a whole other topic in itself.
While many of our customers delight in spending a weekend diligently tweaking, overhauling or repairing their bicycles, many riders do not have the time, the tools or the inclination to do it themselves. If this sounds like you, why not pop your bike into the shop for a free safety checkover so we can discuss your service requirements.
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