Perforated saddles in cyclocross according to Stammie

I've been asked by several people, why these cyclocross saddles were perforated. Was it for weight saving reasons, to shed mud and water, or maybe something else?
Since these saddles are from the period before I started a racing career or got jobs in the bike business and because the concept phased out and never actually came back, I cannot speak from own experience of knowledge.
So, what else could I do than asking one of the people who played an important role in the cyclocross scene in the 1970s and 1980, ex pro and ex world champion cyclocross Hennie Stamsnijder?
I've asked him if he knew what the idea behind the perforated saddles was and why these saddles were not popular and discontinued so quickly.
Hennie was so kind to share his opinion and experience with me:

"The first thing we did was pulling the saddle cover and foam padding off from the hard shell and then drill holes into the hard shell ourselves.
The bonding was not as good as nowadays and when you rode longer time in rain and bad weather, the glue dissolved and cover and padding were coming loose.
We were still riding in our fabulous woollen racing shorts with natural chamois reason and always had to make smooth with chamois grease. Because of that, the shorts and saddles were so slippery that you could sit well on the hard shell. Hence the solution with the holes to get a more rough surface. Besides that, a drilled hard shell saddle was much lighter than a saddle with a wet leather cover with wet foam padding."

So, a clear answer from the master, why they used perforated saddles. To get a better grip and to avoid a serious weight increase in wet conditions.
It's no immediate answer why the saddle manufacturers made perforated saddles with leather cover and foam padding, but it seems that they didn't understand exactly what the racers' problems were and came up with the wrong product. They may have tried to keep the comfort of a padded saddle and to shed water, grease and dirt via the perforations. Unfortunately, the saddles were still heavy and because of the additional (approx.) 50 entry ports, were getting even heavier in the wet. Besides that, the bonding technique was still shitty.
The problem of heavy and slippery saddles was solved in the 1980s thanks to lycra skin suits, synthetic chamois and lighter, skinnier saddles with better bonding. And by the different race courses. Wet and muddy races like Saccolongo, Hägendorf and Lembeek don't happen that often anymore.

No comments: