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P-38 Seat Modification

When my new P-38 arrived last week, I was surprised at the low weight of the standard seat. On my first few rides, I also found the seat to be surprisingly comfortable. My only objection to the seat is it's rectangular shape and width.. Because the seat is so wide in the front, I have a little bit of trouble putting my foot down when I stop; and also a little trouble getting my foot over the seat when I dismount. A seat with a narrower nose, would ease both of these difficulties. Is there any way to retrofit an Easy Racer or other brand seat with a more favorable geometry? If so, I'm looking for a seat which wont increase the weight of the bike.

On the Lightning website, there is a section called "Tim's tech tips" or something similar. Lots of useful information there. One tip for riders having trouble planting their feet flat is to throw one leg over the side of the seat when stopping, and lean over a bit. You could still keep one foot clipped in.

The standard seat is one of the best things about Lightning bikes. It is extremely light but very comfy, especially when cranking hard in hot, humid weather. So I would only substitute some other seat as a last resort.

If you are willing to tinker, other seats can be adapted to the P-38 frame. I did this on one of my bikes, and there is a fuzzy picture of it about two thirds down the gallery section of this site. But my hardshell seat is not as comfy as the original. I only did it to lay the seat back pretty far for racing, and because I enjoy experimenting. The original seat is the correct way to go for most riders most of the time.

If the throw-the-leg-over-the-side trick does not work for you, I would write to Tim for further help.

Hope this helps some,
Joel

Thanks for the feedback. I'll stick with the standard seat. I only tumbled once so far. But that was starting up at a traffic light. I pulled on the handle bars and turned the front wheel. Bad habit from my DF days. Fortunately, the P-38 has a low seat. No damage to me or the bike - just my ego.

The apparently simple seat design is much more comfortable than the Euromesh seat IMO. The Euromesh seat will not incorporate the cantilevered suspension that Tim has designed in.

As mentioned, if you hold one leg out (sideways) when stopping, the bike will fall toward that side. It will also fall toward the direction the front wheel is pointing.

I find that I can put my legs either side of the seat and point my toes down, when stopped. This puts the anti slip part of the shoe on the ground. I too have tumbled due to the hard sole of my shoe slipping.

Paul W
P-38
Optima Raptor
Optima Lynx

Has anybody ever had a problem with their aluminum seat frame cracking or breaking? Over the last two riding seasons my frame has broken at each of the four holes where the seat frame is bolted to the bike frame and seat supports. I am 6'3"" 210 lbs and I do ride the bike hard. But, I can't believe I'm so big or ride the bike so hard to be the only person having this sort of problem. BTW the bike is 7 years old and I'm the only owner.

The early aluminum seats - before 1996 or so - were made of a thinner tubing than the later ones. I broke one of the older seats when I was 160 pounds. I put big miles on the bike and seat, and used the bike on rough Chicago pavement. Because my bike was purchased used, and was out of warranty, I paid for a new and more robustly constructed replacement seat. The replacement has held up well for me, especially considering that I have put on some extra pounds over the years.

Some people are really hard on bike frames and components.

If your broken seat is only 7 years old, I would contact Tim Brummer at Lightning about it. It might be worth exploring the possibility of getting a replacement made out of cro-moly instead of aluminum. A little more weight, but a lot less hassle for you.

Safe riding,
Joel Dickman

Thanks for the reply. I did contact Tim after I had broken the frame the first time. Since the seat was beyond the warranty period, Tim said they would fix it for $100. He didn't mention the cro-moly option. I didn't take them up on the repair since I had a cery good local welder repair the breaks (2) for less than $20. I did suggest that he change the seat mounting method so that it was similar to the quick release (actually knobs and holder that releases the seat quickly from the frame) on the Phantom. I will probably get this latest break welded for the time being and explore a seat frame and mesh replacement in the off-season.

Rick

I have had the same thought as you about the seat attachment methods. With no holes drilled in the aluminum seat frame tubes, you do not have any stress risers leading to cracks. So the Phantom / Stealth approach seems like the only way to go.

But Brummer is an engineer and bike designer, so he must have some good reason for doing what he does on the P-38.

Which is not to say that I know what the good reason is!

I will email him and ask, and report back here.

Safe riding,
Joel

I emailed Tim Brummer and asked about this issue. He replied as follows, though not in these exact words:

1)A small percentage of both P-38 and Phantom seat frames have broken in the past, so the Phantom attachment method is not perfect either. Future Lightning seat frames will use thicker tubing to correct this.
2) The P-38 seat attachment method - with bolts through holes drilled in the seat frame - is lighter, better looking, and equally strong and durable when the seat frame is properly bolted to the seat stays.
3) Most of the P-38 seat frame problems have been caused by riders not following the instructions in the owner's manual regarding the right way of tightening the seat stay bolts.

Safe riding,
Joel

Hello Bobkny,

I had this same problem when I first got my P-38, close to two years ago. It doesn't help that my 20" front wheel and large frame make the front of the bike just barely within my size limit.

What helped for me was to switch to a different pair of bicycling shoes that have a thicker sole. The Lake shoes I use now have ridges around the front and back that give them extra height, about 1 cm more than my previous pair (Shimano).

This gives me a little extra reach when I put my leg down, and that helped quite a bit.

The cleat itself is at about the same depth, so it did not affect the boom length fit for me.

Happy rides,

Scott C.
Cary, NC USA

Does anyone have a P38 fitted with Phantom seat stays?

And/or, more precisely, a photograph of a 2012 Voyager fitted with Phantom seat stays and, ideally, a rack?

Hi Chance,

I am not familiar with the Voyager bike, and cannot offer advice. Non-Voyager P-38 bikes have seat stays that are permanently brazed to the rear dropout area of the bike. Not removable without use of a hacksaw or torch. An ordinary rack can be attached to the bridge tube in between the stays, or you can use the little clamps sold by Blackburn ("P-clamps") to attach racks to bikes that do not have braze-on attachment points.

The Phantom and earlier Stealth bikes do have seat stays that are removable though.

If you are trying to figure out the best way to attach a rack to the rear end of a Voyager, and which rack works best, perhaps an email to Tim Brummer at Lightning would help. Or maybe some Voyager riders reading this can give suggestions.

Safe riding,
Joel

Rather frustratingly, not all brazing is permanent. The Phantom stays are TB's resolution of an issue with my new Voyager.
To temper some of my impatience as the stays cross the Atlantic, I was hoping to tap the wealth of experience out there to visualise two adjacent rear dropout connections (rather than the top of the rack). I imagine that, in this detail, the Voyager is little different from the 'stock' P38.
Hopefully, in a few days, I'll be able to see the real thing and my enquiry will become redundant.

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