More Comfortable Bike Saddles, Courtesy of 3D Printing

“We realized that we had taken foam technology to the absolute limit,” says Garrett Getter, leader of body geometry for bicycle manufacturer Specialized. “And therefore, if we wanted to keep progressing saddle ergonomics, we needed to seek out new technologies.”

To design a better bike saddle, Getter and his team began working with 3D printed EPU (elastomeric polyurethane), a rubber-like polymer. The result is their S-Works Romin EVO saddle, which combines a carbon-fiber shell with an elaborate EPU lattice designed to compress in all the right places. “This revolutionary process creates a complex honeycomb structure that allows us to infinitely tune the material’s density in a way impossible with foam,” the company writes. “[The saddle is] designed to deliver exceptional comfort and ensure blood flow to soft tissue when riding in a low, aero position.”

While comfort is a tricky thing to enumerate, the company says they’ve “reduced sit bone pressure by up to 26%,” and says the lattice contains some 22,200 struts and 10,700 nodes, “all individually tuned” for the right blend of support and comfort.

Here’s Getter and his team describing the project:

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One downside: Like foam, EPU does not appear to be recyclable.