On the surface the Rivet Independence is a traditional leather saddle, but it has a modern twist in the form of a composite resin frame.
Regular readers may remember me raving about the Rivet Pearl that I tested a while back. The Indie came in shortly before I rode London-Edinburgh-London. I was in two minds which to pick, but settled for the Pearl on the grounds that I'd spent longer with it and knew it would be good for the ride. Having spent several hundred miles perched on the Independent I can confidently say that it would have been just as good.
The Indie sits in the middle of Rivet's range, measured by width. At 160mm it's 10mm narrower than the Pearl and just 5mm wider than the Diablo. It shares the quality construction and thick leather of the Pearl, along with the all-important tension plate underneath, which prevent the saddle from splaying.
Where it differs significantly from the other saddles in the range is the composite resin frame (complete with bag loops). This sturdy plastic helps to keep the weight down (a chromoly Indie weighs just a whisker more than a titanium Pearl). I'd guess that it may also help absorb vibrations, although that's more conjecture than fact and frankly, my backside isn't that sensitive a testing instrument.
Initially I was sold. The Independence was very comfy from the off (bearing in mind that I have more Brooks saddles than most people would consider healthy). On a subsequent 100km ride I found myself wincing more than once - the Indie is definitely firmer than the Pearl. All Rivet saddles can be 'tuned' using the nose bolt but I opted to persevere rather than bugger about. After that slightly ouchy ride things settled down.
I wouldn't say that it needed to be broken in, in the often overstated 'ride through the pain' sense, but there was a brief process of negotiation to go through before my backside and the saddle were in complete harmony.
Rivet saddles are proudly touted as being waterproof, as they put it "our cows wear raincoats" and don't need treating with Proofide. That may be true of the majority of the range, but the Natural (buff) colour that I tested *isn't*. I only discovered this after leaving my bike parked up outside a pub in the rain. After just a short spell the water drops had formed dark blotches, almost like raised blisters.
I gave it a going over with Proofide once it had dried and since then the surface has developed a rather pleasing 'aged' patina, but it would have been useful to know beforehand that some kind of treatment was in order. Annoyingly this happened before I got any pics, so thanks go to Rivet for supplying the ones that accompany this review.
Standard saddle review disclaimer
All saddles are subjective - there is no such thing as a standard issue backside - but anyone who fancies trying a leather saddle would do well to try the Independence.
Excellent long distance saddle with novel construction that keeps weight down.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rivet Independence chromoly saddle
Size tested: Natural
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?
Blurb - "Combining the tradition and comfort of leather suspended between strong resin frame materials, the new Independence is lighter than its competitors. Passing tests for durability, and sporting a sleek design, we're confident you'll like having the new Indy underneath you. The Independence, so named because that's what it gives you. We think you'll agree."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Treated leather (although the Natural coloured version isn't, see review)
Very well made, although you will need to apply Proofide (or similar) if you have the buff coloured Au Naturale version.
Weight isn't really a major consideration with leather saddles, but the resin frame means that a chromoly Independence weighs just a whisker less than a titanium Pearl.
This is what you buy a leather saddle for. The Independence is firmer than the Pearl and takes a bit more getting used to, but it's worth the effort.
The nearest equivalent Brooks (B15 Swallow Chrome, 490g) is more expensive (£165) although you can find them for less online. The Rivet is only available through Carradice but it is better finished.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy, looks good and very well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I wasn't too pleased to find that the Natural version isn't waterproof, but it's only cosmetic.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes (sorry Brooks).
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A very worthy alternative to a Brooks.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 5' 8 Weight: er....85kg
I usually ride: Kona Dew Drop, Dawes Century SE, Carlton Corsa My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
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