Ok, so I decided after reading thru a couple of posts from some well respected members here to take the plung and mod my SLR XP saddle by stripping it and swapping the rails. I sent out a couple of emails with questions to these guys who will remain nameless. I don't want to throw their names out there as I don't want my final product to reflect on their superior and professional skill level or the products that have put out and posted up on here for us. I will simply say thank you for all their help and guidence and that I could not and would not have done this with out them.
So first off, I had an old Merek full carbon saddle that I bought about 3 yrs ago for $75. I bought it for my mtb but the shape of it (pointed nose and tail) would either bang into my inner thighs or catch on my shorts so I basically just threw it in a box and let it sit. I also had a SLR XP w/ vanox rails. The XP if you don't know is the same shape and base as the nicer SLR's but has heavier rails and double the amount of padding. Weight on this saddle is 186g. The Merek on the other hand weighed 112g.
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So here is my "how-to" on modding my SLR saddle. But first, safety! Make sure you have the following and use them!
1. eye protection
2. face mask (preferrably a respirator with changeable cartridges)
3. well vented area to do the work
I started with the SLR saddle by removing the leather and padding. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the leather from the lower edges of the saddle and then pulled it the rest of the way off using my hands. You want to try to keep the leather and the padding together as you pull it off. Trust me, it is easier to get them off together than trying to remove the padding by itself. Take your time as it will save you some frustration down the road.
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At this point you can see that we already dropped a fair amount of weight but there is some clean up to do. I used Goof Off to remove the remaining adhesive and padding.
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I then moved on to the removal of the rails from the SLR. In this particular case, the rails were not bonded into the little pockets/mounting points. I was able to simply cut the rails and pull them out by hand with little to no effort. I used a Dremil with a cutting wheel to do this.
Now it was time to work on the Merek saddle. I used the same cutting wheel and cut out the existing carbon rails. Be careful not to cut the actual rails while doing this. Also make sure you wear your eye protection and face mask as the dust will be flying and that crap can cause lung cancer! Once the rails were out I deviated from the original plan. Initially we thought the rails on the SLR would be bonded to the saddle base which would require trimming those mounting points/pockets off and then glueing the new rails in place and later reinforcing them with carbon fiber. But since the pockets were in tact, the plan was to try to reuse those same mounting points and simply epoxy the rails in place.
At this point, I spent some time test fitting, sanding things down a little more, test fitting, repeat... finally I got them to fit but noticed that I had a small crack in the rail up at the nose where it makes a bend.
It's epoxy time! Make sure you have cleaned and dried the saddle and rails to be rid of all dust and moisture. You have to work quick as the epoxy sets pretty fast. I mixed up the epoxy as per directions and put some in each of the mounting pockets. I then put some on each of the rail portions that would insert into the saddle and then put the rail in place. I let it sit for a few minutes then installed an old seat post to help keep everything in alighnment. This probably isn't needed but I didn't want anything to shift around on me because I didn't try to brace it. As per the directions, the epoxy reaches full cure in 15-24 hours. So, I put it in a warm place (mechanical room in the basement) and left it there. This morning, the epoxy is ever so slightly tacky so I removed the seat post and left it sitting there. I probably won't have a chance to ride it until Saturday afternoon at best so cure time shouldn't be an issue.
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I still have some cleaning up to do at this point. I will continue to work on cleaning up the bottom edges of the saddle and remove the remaining leather/adhesive crap as well as try to sand down/clean up the epoxy a tad. But in all reality, it's on the bottom of the saddle that I will be sitting on and can't see anyway. I might consider sanding it all down to get out any impreffections and clear coating it but I'm not too stressed at this point (that only adds weight
I do have a bit of a back up plan in the event that the epoxy doesn't hold or a rail breaks. Initially I thought I would cut a slot out of the top to basically turn it into the flow version of the saddle but I will put some miles on it first to make sure everything will hold up. If it all works out w/ no problems then I'll cut the slot. If something goes wrong, then I can pack it up along with my carbon post and send it to Berk to let him make an official combo w/ it. For him to do that though, he would need to have a solid saddle shell to bond to so having the slot in it wouldn't allow for that. So for now, no slot. I am guessing that a slot could knock out another 10g or so (if that).
At this point I'm excited that things worked out and am looking forward to seeing how it rides. So, I spent a total of $127 if you consider what I paid for the seats (event though I have had them for a while) and the epoxy. I shaved 73g for a new total of 113g for the completed saddle. Not the lightest but I spent less money and have a seat that is lighter than a SLR Carbonio. Most importantly I can say that I did it myself! PRICELESS
So here it is finished (as of this morning-still have to do the clean up work on it)
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Sorry for the glare on the scale. Reads 113g Nice drop from the original 186g!
So if anyone is thinking about wanting a solid shell saddle feel comfident that it can be done. You don't even have to swap the rails if you don't want to. The SLR XP w/ vanox rails and no leather/padding weighed in at 147g which isn't that bad on its own. But if you happen to have some carbon rails sitting around and think you want to give it a shot, I say go for it.
It was a great experience and took me about 2.5 hours to do. Many thanks to the fellas that gave me some pointers and direction. Sorry if it isn't as beautiful as some of their work but it was my first time trying something like this and overall I'm pretty happy with the results.