Don't be fooled by the name – the Imogene isn't just for girls. It's the widest road saddle that Rivet makes and has a slightly shorter nose, much as you'd expect from a typically female specific saddle, but it was still comfy for this chap.
Rivet doesn't divide its saddles into male/female categories, it's all about the saddle that suits you best, regardless of how your undercarriage is arranged. Head Riveter Debra Banks is a serious long distance biker and she favours the long and narrow Independence.
Leather saddles can to be feared as instruments of genital torture but there are plenty of riders, both men and women, who swear by them. If you're a woman you'll know that getting the right saddle is especially important (us chaps aren't quite as delicate, although a numb willy isn't very nice), so it's worth doing a bit of homework. There's loads of information on the Rivet site about choosing the right saddle, so take a look before you decide.
I tested the Pearl and Independence a few years ago. The Pearl impressed me so much that it ended up on my bike for London – Edinburgh – London. As I fell off my bike after averaging nearly 300km a day for five days, my backside was about the only bit of me that didn't feel broken. That sets a very high bar, and while the Imogene isn't quite as comfy, for me at least, it's still a very good saddle.
The Imogene has the usual features you'd expect from a Rivet saddle: a tension plate to prevent splay, a bonded under layer to protect the leather and a pressure relieving cutout (there's also a version without the hole if you prefer). The frame is made from a tough resin with chromoly rails. It's the same as the frame on the Independence (complete with bag loops) and reduces weight compared with a full metal frame.
The nose assembly, with the adjustable bolt passing through a sturdy block, is more robust than the traditional metal shackle you usually find on leather saddles, especially those with a frame made from titanium. I've managed to break the nose on two conventional Ti-railed saddles (my beloved Pearl and a Brooks Swift) on account of being a fat knacker. It's a good example of how Rivet is willing to innovate rather than just make high quality 'me too' Brooks copies. They're beautifully made too, with lovely crisp edges on the leather and embossed rivets.
Rivet saddles are already waterproofed, so the tub of goo it provided seemed a bit superfluous. Leather saddles do need a bit of TLC, though, and it was nice to find a decent rain cover included in the package.
First impressions were that the Imogene was very firm with a slightly more rounded profile than the Pearl. After an hour we were still friends, although it was clear this was a relationship that would mature over time rather than being love at first sight. The second ride, a 70-miler, was fine too, as were a brace of centuries. I did wonder if the shorter/wider dimensions would be a problem or force me into a more upright position, but it was fine. I don't tend to ride in a very aggressive position anyway but I had no problem spending time on the drops and no numbness.
Although I didn't find it quite as comfy as the Pearl, that's more a reflection of how well I got on with the Pearl rather than a criticism of the Imogene. Rivet claims its saddles can be 'tuned' to achieve a tension that suits, but I prefer to be patient rather than fiddle about. By all means get wiggly with the included tuning spanner if you're more of a princess than I am.
Carradice is the official UK distributor and has just taken delivery of the first batch. Price for the chromoly railed version is £150, the Ti-railed one is £225. If you want to try before you buy, ask Carradice nicely – there's usually a demo saddle available for people to borrow. If you buy direct from Rivet it has a very generous 365-day no-quibble returns policy, but you'll probably get stung for a customs charge on delivery as well as the return postage to the US.
All told, I put in about 500 miles before writing this review. For the time being it's staying put on my bike, and I expect it to get even more comfortable the longer we spend together.
Excellent unisex leather saddle, well worth trying
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rivet Imogene
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Despite its name the Imogene (named after a mountain pass) isn't female specific. Rivet produces a range of saddles that vary in width and length, so you should be able to find one that suits you. The Imogene is the widest of its road saddles.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproofed leather with a bonded underlayer. The leather has a cutout on top and a tension plate underneath. Rails are chromoly, attached to a frame and nose block made from resin.
Extremely well made and Rivet has learned lessons from some of its previous saddles.
I didn't find it quite as plush as the Pearl or Independence, but it was still very comfy for long rides.
Should be pretty much bomb-proof.
As always, there's a trade-off between weight and comfort with a leather saddle.
Not quite in the same class as the Pearl and Independence I'd previously tested, but still good for rides of 100+ miles.
£150 is a hefty wedge, but it's very well made and a happy backside is worth paying for.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy and reliable. It looks good too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Me and Imogene got on just fine, but it hasn't replaced the Pearl and Independence in my affections. For that reason alone I can't really give it more than an 8; your bottom might award it a 9...
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Hewitt Alpine
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, audax and long distance solo rides