Which Berthoud Saddle is Best for Me?Jan Heine
Rene Herse Cycles is the exclusive North American distributor for Berthoud Cycles. We are especially excited about their saddles, which combine amazing comfort with modern design and superior durability.
Berthoud saddles start with the best vegetable-tanned cow hides, which are dyed in-house. All Berthoud saddle tops are cut in the grain direction of the leather. This ensures that the saddle is symmetric and breaks in evenly. It also orients the strongest direction of the leather so that it supports the rider’s weight optimally.
Most other saddle makers try to get as may saddles out of each cowhide as possible, but that can turn into a false economy when the saddles become lopsided or sag.
Berthoud forms their saddle tops in CNC-machined molds to create a very consistent shape. In the past, it’s often been a matter of luck whether you get a good saddle or a bad one. With Berthoud, they all are excellent.
The undercarriages are made from composite, which is more durable than steel and better at absorbing shocks. It’s one of the key reasons why these saddles are so comfortable.
The saddles are assembled with custom bolts rather than rivets, so they are easy to rebuild. Each saddle’s serial number is engraved on the nose bolt. On the rear, the bolts are outside the sitting area, sparing your riding clothes from abrasion.
Berthoud saddles come in four shapes for different riding styles:
The Galibier is Berthoud’s lightest saddle, weighing just 346 g thanks to its minimalist shape and titanium rails. It’s a great saddle for riders with a low, performance-oriented position, who prefer a relatively narrow saddle. Even so, the Galibier is still a little wider than modern ‘racing’ saddles, and it offers great long-distance comfort. The same shape is available with more economical steel rails as the Soulor model.
The Aspin and Aravis have slightly wider rears, making them perfect for a more relaxed riding position. The Aspin has steel rails, while the titanium rails of the Aravis save 50 grams. The ti rails also add comfort, because titanium is more flexible than steel.
The Aubisque is a wide saddle that is ideal for an upright position. It’s only available with stainless steel rails – the wide rear undercarriage flexes more than the narrow saddles, so this saddle doesn’t need the extra flex of the titanium rails.
The Marie-Blanque (steel) and Agnel (ti) are women’s saddles with shorter noses than the other models. The names of Berthoud saddles are taken from mountain passes: Saddles with steel rails are named after cols in the Pyrenees, while titanium-railed saddles carry the names of passes in the Alps.
Medium-width Berthoud saddles – both men’s and women’s – are also available in ‘Open’ versions with a cutout to relieve pressure. I usually don’t like saddles with cutouts, because the edges tend to chafe. I was surprised when I tried the Berthoud Open saddle: The shape of this cutout just disappeared, and the saddle was comfortable from the first ride. If you are concerned about pressure, this is probably the most comfortable saddle you’ll ever find.
Why isn’t the Galibier available with a cutout? Its minimalist shape simply doesn’t have enough leather to remove material from the center without losing its strength. And the wide Aubisque is for an upright riding position, which has you sit mostly on your sitbones, with little pressure on your soft tissues.
All Berthoud saddles – except, once again, the Galibier and the Aubisque – can be equipped with a KlickFix attachment to mount saddlebags, whether Berthoud’s or those from other manufacturers. Two screws attach the KlickFix attaches to the saddle frame, and the bag just klicks into it. This provides a stable connection – the bag won’t sway or come off, even on the roughest terrain. Alternatively, for riders who prefer to carry a traditional British saddlebag, two saddlebag loops are integrated into the frame of the medium-width saddles.
Berthoud saddles are totally serviceable. This means that you can change a worn-out top, or even change your saddle top from a ‘Standard’ to an ‘Open’ (or vice versa). We keep all spare parts in stock – you can build an entire saddle (minus the serial number on the nose rivet) from spare parts.
With all these choices, plus four different colors (tan, brown and black), most riders will find their perfect saddle in the Berthoud program. And once you’ve ridden one, it’ll be hard to go back to other saddles.