It took less than one painful ride on a mountain bike for Jeri Rutherford to begin plotting the latest product for her bike seat business.
"I said, 'I am not doing this,' " she said of the notoriously firm, unforgiving saddles placed on mountain bikes.
So for the second time, she set out to design a seat she says was missing from the marketplace: a seat with a shape to meet the unique requirements of mountain biking that also is able to absorb bumps, provide a comfortable surface and withstand the pounding of trail riding.
Her Boise-based company, RideOut Technologies, recently released the Challenger seat for mountain bikes. The company's first seat, designed for traditional biking, came out eight years ago.
"When you hit a bump, this seat will actually flex to absorb those bumps," Rutherford said. "... The seat flexes as you land on it. On top of that, with the ergonomic design, it is a truly comfortable seat."
Mountain bikes present a challenge for seat designers because they need to allow for the movement of riders who often are standing while going downhill. Bulky, comfy cruiser seats aren't an option.
"All mountain bike seats need a long enough horn so that you can control the bike when you're going downhill," Rutherford said. "It also has to be about the (standard) amount of width because you'll frequently be behind the seat when you're going downhill."
It took three years of development to produce the Challenger, including work from seven engineers. The seat went through European testing, which involves pounding it with 500 pounds of pressure 250,000 times, Rutherford said. About 15 models broke before she found the right combination.
"It took a long time, several engineers, to figure out how do we make it thick enough (to hold up) and thin enough at the same time," she said, "because of that incredible impact that you take when you hit something hard."
The Challenger seat is on sale for $79 (regularly $93) at rideouttech.com.
The original Carbon Comfort seat sells for $93. It not only absorbs shock but flexes side to side to relieve pressure points. That seat took five years of development — the first three to get it built and the last two to acquire the patent, Rutherford said — before she began selling them.
The seats are made in the same Taiwan factory as many name-brand seats, she said, but they're assembled in Boise and shipped from here.
Her hope is that the seats encourage more people to ride.
"They're not going to ride if they're uncomfortable," she said.