To be “on the rivet” is an old cycling term meaning giving it full exertion, almost to the point of breaking. It derives from the days when riders used riveted leather saddles, and with intense effort, the hips slide forward, leaving the cyclist’s posterior straddling the front rivet of the saddle.
Rivet Cycle Works produces saddles from leather and traditional metal rivets. They want you to ride hard – on the rivet, even – but remain comfortable in those sensitive areas. In fact, the company’s genesis has more to do with long days in the saddle and summiting storied mountain passes than it does with eyes-crossed intense efforts.
Debra Banks started Rivet in 2010 after a career in public education and a love for long distance cycling. Both experiences have been influential to Rivet’s development. From riding long distances, Banks came to appreciate the comfort of traditional leather saddles, with a few modern touches that relieve pressure. From her days helping students and teachers in public schools came an appreciation for the human touch.
“My education has helped me immensely with customers and production,“ says Banks, and she knows that saddles are a personal thing that no two people may find equally suitable.
“Helping people find the right saddle is my favorite part of this job,” she says. “It’s an individual experience for everyone and when it works, they’re on their bike longer and more often. That’s a win for them and good for the planet!”
There are six different Rivet saddles, each of them named after high mountain passes in Colorado and California that Banks has ridden over (she’s also a veteran of three Paris-Brest-Paris randonneuse races). The model names are: The Imogene, The Loveland, The Pearl, The Independence, The Diablo and The Sonora.
All of the models have the same traditional, classic look in various shades of brown, tan and black, but there are differences in width, shape and cut-out options. Rivet’s website offers a thorough guide to choosing the right model for your gender, body size and riding style/preferences.
Leather has applications for other cycling accessories as well, and Rivet offers high-quality leather grips and two models of handcrafted leather saddlebags. Reflecting Banks’ love of randonneuring, there are also some non-leather accessories offered for the long-distance cyclist, such as dyno hubs, bells, lights and leather waterproofing cream.
One thing is for certain: high-quality leather saddles will make long days in the saddle more comfortable, but it still won’t be an afternoon on the sofa. Nor should it be. Rivet finds that sweet spot of saddle bliss, where comfort and performance converge as in a Venn diagram.
“Firm but forgiving, our saddles will take you where you want to go, whether it’s around the block or around the world,” says Banks.