Seats in sports provide a connection point between the sportsperson and their mode of transportation. Plastic components provide a lightweight, stable platform.
This cycle saddle (1), made of carbon fibre, is extremely light helping to keep the overall weight of the race bike to a minimum. However, carbon fibre is very hard, and slippery as it is very smooth causing the cyclist to move about and lose speed. The solution is to use a different covering material, with a textured finish, making the saddle more comfortable. This will make the saddle fractionally heavier but will ensure maximum transfer of power.
The Tillet T8 karting seat (2) is made from glass-reinforced plastic also known as fibreglass. It is made as a single piece using the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process. This is a low pressure moulding application injecting a mixed resin and a catalyst into a closed mould containing a fibre pack 'pre-form'. This process enables the mouldings to be manufactured to close dimensional tolerances, with good surface finish on both sides of the piece, and the possibility of selective reinforcement and good fibre management. The T8 is the first kart seat to be made using this process. The system makes a strong moulding with uniform quality and thickness, and speeds up the production, keeping the price of the seat to a minimum.
The dressage horse riding saddle (3) has been constructed out of synthetic leather. Horse riding can be prohibitively expensive particularly with saddles costing hundreds if not thousands of pounds. By using synthetic leather the cost can be reduced dramatically.
These seats provide examples of how plastics contribute to the way sports, and who takes part in them, develop. The cycle saddle shows that elite riders are using plastic to reduce weight to help them go faster, but the lighter the saddle the more expensive it is. The opposite is true of the Karting seat and Horse riding saddle, because of the use of plastics and specific processes the seats are cheaper meaning participation in these sports becomes a possibility for a wider spectrum of people.