Inside Ergon

Mar 15, 2016
by Matt Wragg  



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.




Inside Ergon
Dr. Kim Tofaute and Janina Haas (also a sports scientist) work closely together for the initial development of Ergon's saddles. Janina's background is in anatomy and sports technology, and she applies this expertise to understanding precisely the body's relationship to the contact points of the bike.

Inside Ergon
We don't know of any other company that starts their product development for a saddle with a medical model of the hip girdle - complete with nerves, blood supply and musculature, yet this is precisely where Janina starts.

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
With that understanding of the anatomy, the next step is to put people onto their stationery bike and to start to gather data on what the movement of pedaling actually looks like. It is no ordinary stationary bike, though, it's not like the ones in your local gym, rather this bike can be adjusted and adapted to mimic the exact riding position of a given bike. While the grey object being placed on the saddle may look like an uninteresting saddle cover, it is, in fact, a highly sophisticated pressure sensor. This then relays that data live to the attached computer so Janina can see exactly where and how the body puts pressure on the site through each pedal stroke. This data means they can then adapt the form to minimise areas of high pressure which would lead to discomfort and provide support in the precise places it is most needed.

Inside Ergon
In the downstairs of the building long-time automotive engineer, Andreas, and his team take over the next step - applying the data to prototypes.

Inside Ergon
To begin developing a new model, Ergon start with what they know - they have a number of existing bases and rails for their saddles and they take one of these to being working from. Sometimes they will keep the base unchanged, others they will completely re-work it.

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
Each saddle is derived from an exacting combination of base, rails and foam - and for the foam there a myriad of options. There are different thicknesses and densities to tailor the padding to the application - for instance, for long distance riding the saddle needs to be pretty hard because although a soft saddle may feel more comfortable at first, it will not provide enough support to stay comfortable for the entire ride. The one step we were not allowed to shoot was how they work the foam from the giant blocks it comes in, into the final, complex shape of the saddle - they want to keep that a secret.

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
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.

Inside Ergon
Inside Ergon
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.

Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon
Inside Ergon

Inside Ergon

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.

Inside Ergon
This approach isn't just for XC and trail riding either, they do the same for downhill - and Tahnee Seagrave has been flying high at the top of the women's field using Ergon's kit.

Inside Ergon
With this kind of scientific approach you might expect the Ergon crew to be very straight-laced and serious. You'd be wrong there...


MENTIONS: @ergonbike




65 Comments

  • 68 1
 That really is about as German as it gets.
  • 50 1
 in a good way...
  • 27 0
 Vorsprung durch Technik.... time to roll up your sleeves, free yourself from the corset of national stereotypes and start embracing your inner German.
  • 14 1
 @SiSandro you know me too well
@ad15 definitely haha. I worked in the engineering world in Germany for a while, was incredibly impressive how thorough their development cycles are.
  • 6 22
flag Mrstamper (Mar 15, 2016 at 11:46) (Below Threshold)
 Typically efficient and utterly boring.
  • 13 1
 @Mrstamper that's below the belt.... you've obviously never seen the germans do "apres ski"..... on the other side of the coin... the brits are known to be overly prudish and have a love of queueing.....
  • 11 4
 mrs tamper... sooooo close to mrs tampon....
  • 5 1
 Ad15 One would be quite correct in your observation and I might hastened to add,impeccable manners and a guarded sense of loyalty to ones friends.Unfortunatley this is trait found in few.
Mrs tamper....mrs tampon.really? it's a jolly good job I popped on my wife's French lace corset this morning...my sides have almost split.
  • 2 1
 impeccable manners..... my sides HAVE split...you only have to spend 30 minutes in a car in the UK to see how false that claim is..Wink
  • 2 0
 Backseat or front?
  • 2 3
 'We're leaving the union and your gonna have to suck german bum hole..'ladadada ladadada
  • 15 2
 "scientific approach you might expect the Ergon crew to be very straight-laced and serious. You'd be wrong there..."

I don't know any straight-laced scientists
  • 11 20
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 15, 2016 at 4:54) (Below Threshold)
 You make a good impression of one Big Grin
  • 5 1
 my publication record would disagree with the impression part of your statement Wink
  • 7 0
 Contact broadmoor security..he's got online again.
  • 5 5
 No harm meant, just a joke Wink
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns is your comments intentional for negative remarks? Or do you not even realize you are doing it? If that latter I would love to talk to some of your friends to find their impression of you. Just saying.
  • 5 2
 No you would not like to talk to any of my friends, nor meet me. You just wanted to give me an online slap so I shut up. But I don't expect you to follow a long record of rants between me and @poah to realize that I was just giving him a friendly poke. Cheers mate. Life's good!
  • 2 1
 It has nothing to do with giving you an online slap of you took it that way. Just an observation from many comments.
  • 2 1
 @wakidesigns I know it's you charlie Bronson.
  • 4 1
 I've never chatted to @WAKIdesigns before in my life @USMC I think he has mental health issues
  • 1 1
 @poah nah mate,he's just a twat.
  • 1 2
 Holy crap @poah. You are a low life. You do know it is verifiable and you behaved like a 12 year old fat kid trying to be one of the boys? What's worse though, you did it over the internet. Hah, enjoy your social cancer
  • 11 1
 Thanks Matt. Thanks Ergon.
  • 9 3
 ^if it's anything like Volkswagen,all them stats and tests won't count for shit
  • 3 0
 Who has ERGON gear? Is it in fact more comfortable. Everytime I read about them i'm excited that finally I might get rid of my tender palms and butt...then I read comments from riders about changing grips straight away etc. It does seem concerning that they don't have any riders or real world tests in there process.
  • 13 0
 There is a long real world test with all our products. Most products take 2-3 years of development, testing, and refining before they ever see the light of day on the store shelf of your local bike shop. All products are test by our factory riders and teams; Canyon Factory Enduro Team, Team Topeak-Ergon, Richie Schley, Fab Barel, Tahnee Seagrave, Rachel Throop, Nate Hills, Yeti/Fox Enduro Team...and the list goes on.
  • 3 0
 good to hear, thanks for the response
  • 2 0
 Ergon GE1's are the only grips that got ride of my hand pain. the fact that they are asymmetrical means they can be rotated to change the angle of your hands on the bars. so well thought out.
  • 2 0
 I used an Ergon SM3 to take the solo overall win in my last 18 hour race. I've used it in similar races as well. I can vouch for its comfort. My butt was not the part of my body that was hurting at the end.
  • 6 1
 Good to know that much engineer and detail behind the seat. Keep up the good work
  • 3 1
 i bought an SM3 after years on WTB SST's. Ouch. I found that saddle to be as uncomfortable as any.....ever.Bought an SQlabs 611 Active saddle and LOVE it. I think some people like a flat saddle layout and others a curved. Count me as liking curves.
  • 3 0
 Bought an SM3 enduro specific, does what it says on the box.... impressed ! so much so that have just bought the Ergon BE2 backpack... similarly impressed...
  • 1 0
 This is amazing - good to see, that there is more behind the products, than doing nice colors and fashion.
I used SM3 a lot and yes...it was a tough one during the first rides. But I love the design and the quality.
So I stuck to the brand and found out, that they learned from the past. The saddles today are way better and more comfy, than SM3. Once I met part of ERGON R&D together with Canyon Enduro Team and mister Barel himself...and I can confirm, they are doing product testings under real conditions (and...they are badass riders too).
  • 1 0
 I love how Ergons products look and feel. Got their gs1 grips but turns out the pain was from brake levers rotated incorrectly. They are fine though, wearing well. Butt... Despite being designed with an ergonomic doctor their saddles so far havent worked for me, numbness same as the rest. I really wanted them to work. Luckily I tried a specialized phenom it is magic and perfect for me.
  • 1 1
 i've always thought their saddles looked quite nice, the shallow broad design just makes sense visually, This seems to becoming a pretty popular approach as ive seen alot of company's follow suit. I never really did get the idea of some saddles having those two aggressive humps. ( witch i assume are intended to support your ass buns ) but it always looked pretty pointless to me, and if Ergons engineers are anything to go be then i guess they really are.
  • 3 3
 So how about incline? That stationary bike doesn't seem to accommodate simulating riding up an incline. It's those long grinds up fore roads that really become a comfort isse - ID think the results from the test rig would look quite different if it were angled up a bit.
  • 3 0
 These saddles seperate my cheeks like no other. It's like sitting on a piece of plywood.
  • 4 3
 Awesome write up! I am actually looking up Ergon seats now, as my butt cannot take any mote discomfort.
Also, who ran through all the comments and neg propped them? Big Grin
  • 4 4
 wow
very good info
as the biggest contact to the bike is the saddle, it is really important to know this things
now to search the web for Ergon saddle on sale :-)
  • 3 1
 And still people want to buy a saddle for $15....
  • 1 4
 Yep) Last summer I bought saddle for $3 at a local market and it does what it is made for - kipping my ass above ground )))
  • 4 1
 I just attach a pillow to my seat post. Does de job well and save me money. No need for these over overengineered saddles.
  • 1 0
 mmm... Pillow)) So you can stop and sleep were ever you want))) But speaking seriously I don't prefer German bike parts. But that is only my experience... Of course comparing pillow with saddle for $3 in general is not far from true but in my case (maybe it sounds fantastic) it is really good saddle. I compared it with really expensive saddles on my friend's bike and didn't feel huge difference.
So if somebody wants to by expensive Hi-tech saddle he can do this. If somebody wants to do as I do he also can do this. And I just described my opinion and that is all)
  • 2 2
 I would almost buy one of those seats. Every time I ride my commuter bike for a long distance, I have perineum issues by the end.
  • 3 1
 SQlab saddles all the way
  • 1 0
 Why do you say that?
  • 3 1
 I have tried many saddles over time and I have found that the SQlab 15 has been the ultimate saddle. I find my lower back is less fatigued on rides. It comes with three different polymer inserts that change the way the saddle flexes. It's pricey but worth every penny. I'll sell you my Ergon saddle.
  • 1 0
 Interesting. They had been on my radar but no one around here uses one so I was a little wary of trying it.
  • 3 3
 i have one of their saddles. Its honestly very uncomfortable. yea it gives you proper support on tour hip bones but thats all it supports. All your weight is in 2 spots.
  • 6 0
 Yep,they're your sit bones
  • 2 0
 that Girl in Sunglasess is kinda Cute.
  • 3 2
 Be carefull; if you crash, it could be "Ergon inside you" ...
  • 5 6
 Indeed that pink saddle looks like something that might fit a hole instead of supporting it Smile
  • 2 4
 You'd have to ask Tahnee Seagrave if you really want to know.
They even have a "SM3" model so I wouldn't be surprised.
  • 2 1
 What I now now makes me feel that I knew nothing before!
  • 6 5
 How does it feel to be inside Ergon?
  • 1 2
 Echt Deutsch... Engineering everything from the top to the bottom. But I like it Smile Mostly, something better is born and that's everything we want to reach.
  • 1 0
 Koblenz? Isn't Canyon established there al well?
  • 4 0
 Yep; the founders of the two companies are brothers.
  • 1 0
 Now i see why Canyon bikes are equipped with Ergon parts.
  • 1 1
 Doesn't seem to be a very innovative process when 5 designers are used at the end, for styling, it's 2016, not 1986.
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