Ergon is unquestionably one of the unique companies in mountain biking. Certainly their products stand out in a crowd. The key to their difference is in the name - it's all about ergonomics. Generally, the contact points on our mountain bikes, grips and saddles have seen very little to no fundamental change since the inception of the mountain bike. Ergon is one of the few companies pushing the envelope of development, producing radically different products, all of which are underpinned with science and research. They are the only mountain bike company we know of who have a doctor of ergonomics in-house. We took a look behind the scenes in the headquarters in Koblenz, Germany to try and understand better just how different their approach is to other companies.
Once the prototype saddle has gone through testing they come back downstairs to refine the form. Here, Frank is removing excess material by hand before the foam is re-cut. In a past life he was once Jarno Truli's privateer engineer back in the days of the Toyota F1 team. This process is repeated until both the riders and the data show that the form is correct.
When the final form is agreed upon, the project then arrives on Michael's (he is another ex-automotive engineer
) desk which is where the engineering takes over. He meticulously plans every millimetre of the saddle to find a balance between flexibility, strength and weight running FEA on the design to make sure that there is nothing excess in the form. This is not just a case of making the saddle strong enough either because a large part of the comfort of a saddle comes from flex in the base, so if it is too rigid the saddle will be too harsh.
With the form set and the materials calculated, the final step in the production of a saddle is that it comes to Juan, one of Ergon's five industrial designers, to add some aesthetics to the ergonomics. They work to sculpt the form into something appealing, without compromising the function.