About This Review
There is no more intimate—figuratively as well as literally—connection to your bike than the saddle. At the same time, the saddle is maybe the most overlooked component on bikes today. Everyone always brags about their new handlebars, how much travel their dropper has, their new tires or wheels, but no one really talks up their brand new saddle. But here’s the truth: a saddle, whether you’re a man, woman, newbie, or pro, can make or break the fun-o-meter of a ride quicker than just about anything else.
So if a saddle is so critical, how do you find the right one? First, look for a saddle that suits your preferred riding style: a DH/park rider needs something very different than an XC racer. Second, what’s your riding position? The more you bend forward, the more pressure you’ll put on your pelvic area. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman—soft tissue relief is a real thing. Third, how flexible are you? People without a lot of flexibility tend to shift around more; a rounded shape tends to suit them better. Super flexible riders tend to prefer a slightly curved saddle. Reasonably flexible riders (most cyclists) typically have a stable position on a bike, which translates to a flat saddle. Fourth, and most critical, is measuring your sit bones to dial in exactly how wide of a saddle is optimal for you. Once you have this info, finding a saddle that’s “customized” for your bum becomes a much easier task.
So what are your "sit bones"? The Ischial Tuberosity, commonly referred to as the "sit bones," are a pair of bones that mark the lateral boundary of the pelvic outlet and end up being where you rest most of your weight while sitting. The distance between the left and right sit bone is what is used for measuring and calculating the optimum saddle width. Some companies will send along a measuring kit, or you can venture down to your LBS and see if they can help you out. On average, women tend to have wider sit bones than men along with a different anatomical design, so there might be a good rationale behind gender-specific saddles designs.
For this review, Pierce and I spent the past 9 months rotating through 5 non-gender specific saddles, and 4 women-specific saddles. Pierce's sit bone measurement was 110mm, typically a S/M saddle, while mine was 144mm, a M/L saddle. Pierce tested saddles from Ergon, WTB, Bontrager, and Selle Italia, while I tested the saddles from Ergon, WTB, Specialized, Fi'zi:k, and SQlab. We managed to squeeze in a saddle from SDG Components in the last phase of the testing by tapping into the resources from one of my favorite gear testers, Jameson Florence, bringing our total to ten. The most important thing to understand is that saddle choice is a very personal matter and the best way to figure out which one will work best for you is to narrow down the width and shape, mount the thing with the assistance of a bike fitter or someone who can help you find your angle, and then test a few saddles.
One final note: every saddle listed here utilizes different rail materials. The primary difference between rail material for the same shape of saddle is weight. But all of them have a certain amount of compliance built into them, too—think of that as passive suspension. Saddles need compliance to offer a good ride characteristic. As the rail materials change, to keep that compliance consistent, cover and padding materials may be tweaked, which adds or removes weight depending on how stiff that rail material is. Bottom line? A heavier, steel railed saddle should offer the same ride characteristics as a ti-alloy or even a carbon railed saddle of the same shape, just at a greatly reduced price point. But that weight penalty can be 3-4 oz (85-110 grams). Not a lot, but worth noting.
WTB Deva TeamTested by Nikki Rohan
• Weight: 193g (Titanium)
• Colors: Black
• Widths: Medium (145mm)
• Length: 260mm
• MSRP: Steel ($39.95), Cromoly ($79.95), Titanium ($129.95)
WTB is one of those companies that has pretty much been around since day one in terms of saddles. Mark Slate was one of their original designers and was old school to the core. Saddles he designed weren’t created from some crazy computer program but carved by hand from wood. He would then ride these prototypes and tweak the saddle shape based on how it felt. Talk about a serious hard-ass. Saddle design has since moved on, but there are a number of WTB saddles still in production that were shaped this way; notably the Pure, Speed, Silverado, and Rocket saddles.
The Deva is one of WTB's more popular saddles designs and offers a female-focused shape with generous DNA padding, a short nose, and a flatter profile. While it is technically a women-specific design, it is also super popular with men. The saddle comes in one size: 145mm wide x 260mm long; but is available with three different types of rails at three different price points, titanium (193g), cromoly (275g) or steel (305g). Like most of the women-specific saddles in this review, the Deva has a flat tip-to-tail profile, minimal rounding, and offers a fairly small but effective channel (no cut-out) in the middle to relieve genital pressure. The 145mm width is narrower than some women-specific saddles but not as narrow as my all-time favorite companion, the WTB Silverado, which Pierce reviews below.
This was one of the last saddles I put on my bike. I had been a loyal, although non-sponsored, WTB saddle lover the past five years, so I was excited to get my hands on something new to me. My first impression was that the saddle was ridiculously light. Yes, I had the "team" version that includes the titanium rails, and DNA padding (a superlight polyurethane material), but this is the lightest saddle of the review coming in at a meager 193g or 6.8 oz.
After my weight assessment ,and the pain and agony of swapping saddles on my bike (I wish there was an easier way), I ventured out for an epic adventure in the woods. Kind of frightening on an unknown saddle, but I had zero issues adjusting to the Deva. Sometimes with the wider saddles, it would take me a ride or three to adjust, but with the Deva I instantly felt comfortable. The saddle platform was wide enough to support my sit bones without any chaffing on the inner thighs; the padding kept them from feeling bruised or sore despite a couple of hours of saddle time, and I had zero issues with pressure points or stinging lady parts post-ride. The nose is a bit shorter than I typically like, but as with all the saddles in this review, I had no issues moving my weight forward on steep or technical climbs. I have read that the saddle companies think women need a shorter nosed saddle for easy on and off transitions, but I'm not sure I agree with this assessment as I personally like a longer nose. It's not my area of expertise, just a personal preference.
Bottom line, WTB has done an excellent job designing this saddle. While it doesn't offer the deep cut-out that some women (or men) might need, the shallow design should be ample to reduce pressure points for most riders, and the flat platform should be just wide enough to keep your bum happy. I also really appreciate that the Deva comes in at three price points for those of you who want to keep your costs down and aren't firmly in the weight weenie camp.
WTB Deva Team
Only available in one width
WTB SilveradoTested by Pierce Martin
• Weight: 204g (Titanium)
• Colors: Black
• Widths: Narrow (135mm) or Medium (tested, 142mm)
• Length: 280mm
• MSRP: Steel ($39.95), Cromoly ($79.95), Titanium ($129.95), or Carbon ($249.95)
With a longer and narrower shape compared to the Deva, the Silverado provides plenty of support for shifting your weight forward and backward. Designed to cover everything from road to enduro riding, the Silverado is middle of the spectrum saddle offering a balance of a flat sit bone platform with rounded edges for smooth pedaling. Again there is a very small center channel for those sensitive bits, with a cut out in the shell beneath the padding (visible when you flip the saddle over). Similar to the Deva, the Silverado is available in several different rail constructions including steel, cromoly, titanium plus the addition of a carbon rail version, which is not available in the Deva.
Until this review, my go-to saddle was the Volt from WTB, in size M. I've ridden that saddle for many years, but I found that for my narrow sit bones I much prefer the medium Silverado. Coming from the Volt, the Silverado delivered a much better experience during long days in the saddle. Returning home from grueling days of uphill grinding without a serious case of saddle-ass was a joy. Maybe it has to do with the more traditional shape of the Silverado, which doesn't have the upturned rear that the Volt does. Additionally, I would occasionally get saddle sores when riding the Volt, but those days appear to be long gone since switching to the Silverado.
Like Nikki, I found the DNA padding material to be very comfortable and it offered plenty of support without being too firm. One aspect I enjoyed was the ABR fabric lining on the sides and rear of the saddle. This is designed to protect those parts of the saddle from abrasion and impacts, and I was worried it would be too grippy and limit my ability to shift my weight around, but I was relieved to find that it wasn't grippy at all; I could easily shift my weight around on the saddle as the terrain and features changed. I've found that some saddles are quite grippy, depending on the material of your shorts/pants and how they interact with the sides of the saddle, and that can make for some awkward moments on the bike in technical terrain, but I didn't find that to be the case with the Silverado.
I plan on replacing all the saddles on my other bikes with the Silverado when I get a chance. Again saddle fit is extremely unique, but the Silverado just happens to work quite well for me.
Several weight vs. price options+
Narrower and longer option+
Outer material isn't too grippy
Center channel is not very pronounced
Specialized Women's S-Works Power with MIMICTested by Nikki Rohan
• Sizes: 143mm (tested), 155mm
• Weight: 223g
• Colors: Black
• MSRP: $300 USD
• Models: Power Pro ($240 USD), Power Expert ($160 USD), Power Comp ($130 USD)
While Specialized are renowned for their bikes, people don’t realize that they spend a lot of time and energy trying to create a better riding experience from the ground up. A lot of time that means clothing, but it also means components, everything from tires to handlebars to... saddles. Specialized raised eyebrows with the first saddle to tackle erectile dysfunction, but they didn’t quit with men’s saddles. Nowadays they are also reputed to make some of the best women’s saddles out there.
The Women's S-Works Power with MIMIC is an ultra-light, high-performance saddle designed for all-day comfort in any riding position. The Power with MIMIC comes in multiple models at different price points, from the Power Comp with Cr-Mo rails to the S-Works Power with carbon rails and a carbon shell. They all feature the MIMIC technology which is stated to be a design that "mimics" the body's response to different types of pressure - e.g. reducing pressure on sensitive areas while supporting soft tissue. The general design of the saddle is a short nose with noticeably softer foam to eliminate pressure and a flat rear platform with a firmer foam for sit bone support. Lastly, the cutout (like the Deva) is a variation on a complete cut-out and uses soft memory foam to deliver anatomical support yet at the same time prevent soft tissue (labial) swelling or numbness.
At first glance, I didn't know what to expect with this saddle. The unique design with the shorter nose (tip to tail the saddle measures a scant 241mm) and the wide rear platform is a large step away from the long and narrow WTB Silverado saddle that I had spent the previous five years on. But once I had the thing mounted and started pedaling, this saddle blew me away. On the very first (three hour) test ride I felt no pressure points, no chaffing along my inner thigh, and I didn't find myself moving my hips around looking for that sweet spot. The words that best describe the experience was that I pretty much felt like there wasn't even a saddle on the bike.
In general, I tend to ride in a fairly aggressive forward-leaning position. However, I also took this saddle to Utah for a tour on the White Rim Canyon trail for three long days pedaling in a fairly upright position. The saddle provided me with the perfect amount of support throughout all my test rides including being able to easily move my weight forward for technical climbs despite the short nose. Everything seemed to come together to provide the perfect amount of comfort and support I need for long days on the bike. Although the cut-out is not as pronounced as some of the other brands it allowed for ample relief of labial pressure. Translation? No post-ride soreness (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean).
While I personally didn't experience any difficulties with this saddle, I have spoken to some women who had a hard time moving their weight forward when climbing due to the shorter nose. But at the end of the day, this is the saddle I would recommend nine out of ten times to women who want to know what I think is the best bet for comfort and support. The design just works and the saddle comes in two sizes for those of you with wider sit bones. I can't speak to the other less expensive models as I only tested the S-Works Power, which comes with a pretty steep price tag, but I would imagine the other models offer a similar ride experience.
Specialized Women's S-Works Power with MIMIC
Comfortable in all riding positions+
Cut-out for soft-tissue discomfort
Selle Italia X-LR TM Air Cross SuperflowTested by Pierce Martin
• Weight: 224g (Manganese)
• Colors: Black
• Width: 131mm
• Length: 266mm
• MSRP: $119.99
Selle Italia is one of the few companies out there completely dedicated to the saddle and has a long, rich heritage of developing bicycle seats that stretches all the way back to 1897. Unique to the saddles tested, the Superflow X-LR has a huge cutout center channel that will really keep the tinkle-dangle happy with plenty of room and lots of airflow. This saddle has a modern and angular stealth fighter look to it and can serve double duty on your future hoverbike. In terms of shape, the Superflow X-LR has a lot of taper to towards the outer edges of the saddle and a very pronounced droop in the nose. Made in (you guessed it) Italy, the Superflow X-LR is constructed from a two-layer material with a soft inner cushion and a durable waterproof outer skin that should offer plenty of protection and durability over time.
The model I tested was the Manganese rail construction that weighs in at 215g for the narrower, small width, and 224g for the wider, large width. Price is fairly decent for the weight, although it still tops over $100. You can also get the saddle with either titanium or carbon rails if you are willing to pay for it. If the giant gaping hole in the middle of the saddle is too much for you, you can also get the "Fill" version of the saddle in the where (you guessed it again) the center gap has been filled in.
This saddle definitely has the most room for all you well-endowed commenters out there. I found this saddle offered a great deal of comfort and ventilation for my sensitive bits. I had zero pressure points or numbness, and I appreciated the little bit of airflow that helped to keep things cooler and dryer, especially on the hotter days that have become more common the past few years.
In terms of comfort in the sit bone area, I didn't get along quite as well with the Superflow X-LR as I did with other saddles. I found the large amount of downwards taper toward the sides of the saddle didn't offer the support I am used to, which led to some tenderness and soreness on longer rides. Additionally, I found the outer material to have more of a hard plasticky feel, and it didn't feel particularly very svelte or high end to me. Furthermore, the material was a bit too grippy for my taste compared to the other saddles I tested, which isn't my favorite - I like to be able to move around with ease.
All in all, the Superflow X-LR is a solid option to check out if you usually have issues with numbness or pinched nerves in the nether regions, although it may not offer the best support for your rump if you prefer a flatter sit platform.
Selle Italia Superflow X-LR
Fi'zi:k Luna X5Tested by Nikki Rohan
• Weight: 261g
• Colors: Black
• Sizes: 145mm (tested), 155mm
• Length: 280mm
• MSRP: $99 USD
I clearly remember when the first Fi’zi:k saddles hit the market in the mid-'90s. They weren’t really that different from anyone else’s as far as shape goes. But they sourced unique materials and focused on sophisticated and beautiful saddles that were distinctly different. That position continues today, with Fi’zi:k’s commitment to “providing the ultimate in saddle design—combining comfort and lightweight with technology and innovation.”
The Luna X5 is Fi'zi:k's optimum MTB saddle designed to suit a women's body shape and movement while riding. The saddle features S-alloy rails, a carbon-reinforced nylon shell, an ergonomic cut-out shape to provide soft-tissue relief, and reinforced Microtex side panels. The saddle comes in two different widths, 145mm and 155mm and is one of the longer nosed saddles I tested. It has a rather flat and thin profile with minimal padding, but does offer flexible wing panels at the rear; they flex when pedaling to allow the saddle to better conform to your body when pedaling.
I tested this saddle for around fifty hours on my mountain bike and then I stuck it on my cross bike for cross season, because why not? The saddle suited my forward "aggressive" body position well. The rear platform looked like one of the wider ones of the group, but once it was on my bike, the 145mm felt just right in terms of width and sit bone support. On the comfort scale, the rear platform of the saddle wasn't the plushest—while it was firm and supportive, it was middle of the road when it came to overall comfort. I found that when I spent an extended amount of time in a more upright position, I would catch myself moving my bum around to take the pressure off my sit bones. As for the flexible wings, I didn't experience any inner thigh chaffing, so the shape worked for me, but I didn't particularly like the feel of the flex as I was pedaling, so I guess I lean towards preferring a stiff saddle. The cut-out channel did its job and provided nice pressure relief for my lady parts, too.
If you're in the market for a long and narrow saddle that offers a little more flex, a nice cut-out channel for pressure relief and good support for sliding your weight forward or back, this saddle is worth checking out. It's not the lightest saddle of the group, nor does Fi'zi:k give you options to lighten it up, but for the price, it is a solid choice in terms of quality and performance.
Fi'zi:k Luna X5
Flexible wings for pedaling motion+
Cut-out for soft-tissue discomfort
Could use a bit more padding
Bontrager Arvada EliteTested by Pierce Martin
• Weight: 224g (Austenite)
• Colors: Black
• Widths: 128mm, 138mm, 148mm
• Length: 270mm
• MSRP: $144.99
Bontrager a long history of making unique saddles, going back to the days when Keith Bontrager offered a wide, drop nose saddle that had more than a bit of a cult following. Nowadays they offer a large variety of saddles available covering minuscule featherweight torture devices for the road to bulky and cushy touring seats. The Arvada is designed for both comfort and performance and has a very traditional shape with an average length and is available in three widths. Instead of being a totally flat platform, it has a bit of a "whale tail" rear with some roundness approaching the sides of the saddle. Bontrager claims the Austenite rails (a high carbon steel alloy) are lighter and stronger than standard titanium at this price point, but I couldn't really tell a difference. There is a recessed center channel for promoting comfort and blood flow in the soft tissue areas. Additionally, there is a cutout down the center of the plastic bottom shell that is meant to increase compliance and allow the saddle to flex slightly under heavy pedaling.
I found the padding material to offer a good balance of support while remaining supple. The covering material is pretty grippy with lots of little traction dots, and doesn't feel particularly plush, rather it feels as if it's more on the plasticky end of the pleather spectrum. Again my preference is for less grip on saddles for ease of movement, and the Arvada was pretty good at keeping my bum locked in place. A positive for people who like that characteristic, but not my cup of tea. The underside doesn't have the most polished look wither, there are lots of wrinkles and folds in the covering material visible. But hey, who is looking at the bottom of their saddle? Plus those wrinkles will normally be covered in mud.
This saddle felt very similar to me to the Silverado from WTB. The platform is slightly more rounded and downturned towards the sides of the saddle and this resulted in somewhat less comfort for me on longer rides. The length felt right on the money, though, and I had plenty of support for attacking steep climbs. In total, I didn't notice any pain, numbness, or pressure points. The Arvada can work for both genders, as it's not designed to be either men's or lady's specific. To test that theory, we also had a woman put some time in on the Arvada, and she found it to be quite comfortable.
Bottom line? The Bontrager Arvada offers a great all-around option for a lightweight, performance saddle with a more traditional shape.
Bontrager Arvada Elite
Several width options+
Channel cutout increases compliance
Pricier than other options for weight
Ergon SM Sport Gel WomenTested by Nikki Rohan
• Weight: S/M 285g M/L 295 g
• Colors: Berry, Stealth (tested)
• Sizes: 143mm (S/M), 155mm (M/L)
• Length: 261 mm
• MSRP: $89.95 USD
Located in NW Germany in the city of Koblenz, Ergon’s HQ has ample testing grounds located nearby, as well as a roster of top-flight athletes that race on the EWS and World Cup circuits. But more than that, Ergon draws on a network of German professionals who specialize in product material, research, production, and testing. It helps that the designers are users, too, as their site concisely states it: “At Ergon, we are all cyclists and we think like cyclists. We are passionate, innovative, problem-solving tech enthusiasts, who are constantly curious. We live and breathe cycling.” Further, Ergon tests all materials for toxic materials and impurities, and all materials used by them adhere to the highest German food and child toy safety standards. Child toy, I like that.
The SM Sport Gel Women is a women-specific saddle from Ergon designed for long days on the mountain bike. It features a wide and very flat rear platform to support a larger contact area, large gel pads in the soft tissue area for relief, a center cut out to further reduce pressure in the genital area, and CroMo steel rails. I tested the SM Sport Gel Women saddle in the M/L size, which fits a sit-bone width of 120-160mm (the S/M fits 90-120mm). This was the first women's specific saddle I had ever used, so it took a bit of adjusting. To be honest, I am fairly certain I had never actually had a saddle wide enough to sit on my sit bones prior to this review nor had I ever experienced a cut-out. First time for everything, I guess.
Out of the box, I spent the first week on this saddle in Moab, riding everything from Portal and Captain Ahab to chasing my kids on Slick Rock. After the adjustment period where I realized I did, in fact, have sit bones, I found this saddle to be fairly comfortable, although a little wide for me. While I had zero pressure points, I did notice a little chaffing on the inside of my thigh due to the wider rear platform and the transition area from that platform to the bottom of the shell. Although I am sized to fit a M/L, I feel that had I sized down, that a narrower version of this saddle it would fit my body and riding position better.
From a performance perspective, whether I was climbing or descending, the overall shape and length of the saddle seemed to provide adequate support. The longer cut-out relieved pressure on my lady parts regardless of my body position, and the saddle had just enough padding that I didn't find myself moving around constantly trying to get comfortable. I have read that some women prefer more padding on the rear platform than this saddle offers, but that wasn't an issue for me. While this saddle has a shorter nose than some of the other brands tested, the nose is long enough that I could easily slide forward on technical climbs and adjust my weight as needed.
Overall, Ergon has done a great job of designing a sleek and simple women's specific saddle that comes in at a super affordable price tag. For any lady who is looking for a nice flat rear platform and excellent pressure relief, this saddle is a perfect opportunity to dip your toes in the water. However, getting a proper size and fit will be the key to your happiness.
Ergon SM Sport Gel Women
Wide rear platform & cut-out+
Ergon SM Pro MenTested by Pierce Martin
• Weight: 235g (TiNox)
• Colors: Stealth, Red, Blue
• Width: S/M (9-12cm) or M/L (12-16cm)
• Length: 27.2cm
• MSRP: $109.95
While Nikki only got to test the "Sport" version of Ergon's saddle, I got to test the "Pro" version. Compared to the "Sport" model, the "Pro" model adds TiNox rails, OrthoCell® inlays, and Orthopedic AirCell Foam which supposedly has more reset force, is more durable, and is lighter than standard foam. Poor Nikki must have really suffered without all those features. On a side note, though, I'm not sure why Ergon doesn't make a pro version for the ladies.
For the men, the SM saddle has a gender-specific design that is targeted specifically to technical seated climbing, dropper posting, berm slapping mountain biking. No roadie compromises here. The shape is fairly traditional but it does have a pretty large rear platform with a slight incline. The sides are pretty rounded compared to other saddles. The anatomically optimized center relief channel is pretty deep and has a small hole at the end to promote airflow and keep things cool down there.
During my testing I found this saddle to be very comfortable and the S/M size worked perfectly for my narrower sit bones. I would still give a slight nod to the Silverado in terms of an overall shape that works well for my body type, but I still did a ton of riding on the Ergon without any discomfort or numbness. I definitely noticed that the padding and foam on this saddle had the most thought and design put into it. The AirCell foam and inlays had a very supportive feel to them without being overly hard. Additionally, they maintained the same feel and support over time without beginning to feel crushed or worn out like standard foam can. Furthermore, I could ride this saddle occasionally without a chamois liner, which I usually won't risk on other saddles.
The outside lining material is pretty slick without much grip, exactly how I like it for unlimited freedom of movement. One issue with the nice blue color that I tested is that the color did begin to wear off and fade over time, but that's a nitpick. But, if that's a thing for you, then you may want to just go with the black option.
In summary, this saddle is a great option with an ergonomically designed shape and higher quality foam and support compared to other saddles. It is also reasonably priced compared to other saddles of the same weight.
Ergon SM Pro Men
Ergonomic MTB specific shape+
High end foam/padding
Colors fade pretty quickly
SQlab 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube SaddleTested by Nikki Rohan
• Weight: 226g (14cm)
• Colors: Black
• Sizes: 12cm, 13cm, 14cm (tested), 15cm
• Length: 280 mm
• MSRP: $169.99 USD
A few years ago, my husband who is a retired photographer was forced to sit through four SQlab saddle presentations at a press launch. He came home full of what I thought was useless information at the time, but it did include my first introduction to an SQlab saddle. Like fingerprints, not everyone’s butt is the same. Consequently, making a single saddle that’s perfect for everyone is nearly impossible. But SQlabs cracked the code by utilizing sit bone width to determine a baseline starting point on saddle fit, and then by offering their saddles in a variety of widths. If you venture onto the SQlab website you will find they will send you a free sit bone measuring kit, and walk you through the process of choosing the best saddle for your size and riding style.
The 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube saddle I chose to test features one of the most "ergonomic" designs of the group with a wave-like shape and a raised rear platform. The saddle is not a women's specific design, but rather comes in sizes that suit a wide range of sit bones. The saddle has a 49mm nose width, too, which is slightly wider and slightly longer than the SQlab 612 range, to allow for added pressure relief in climbing positions. The 611 Ergowave also has increased padding and is available in a variety of rail materials (carbon, S/Ti Tube, CrMo). I tested the "14cm" saddle with the Ti/S-Tube Alloy rails, weighing in at 226g; in comparison, the carbon version of saddle weighs in at 196g. The saddle also includes SQlab's Active technology which utilizes three different elastomer dampers that can be swapped out to "tune" the feel of the saddle under load.
The saddle has a nice, wide rear platform and then steps down and slopes forward toward the longer nose. During my testing, it provided good support for my sit bones and the padding, although minimal, was adequate to keep things comfortable. The cut-out channel is not as deep as some of the competition, but it starts wide in the back and tapers off towards the middle of the nose. I felt like the channel provided adequate pressure relief for my forward/aggressive riding position. I loaned this saddle off to one of my riding buddies, and she absolutely loved this saddle - she even ventured to say she can pretty much not wear a chamois when riding the 611 due to the shape and support this saddle provides. I have as of yet to remove a chamois from my riding gear list, but I do have a lot of female friends who have gone that direction thanks to modern saddle technology.
I really like the fact that SQlabs has created a saddle that will work for either a penis or vagina, wait, am I allowed to say that? Hmmm....for Frank and Beans as well as Veejayjay, then. While a little on the pricey side, I would say this saddle was my favorite of the group and offers excellent comfort, support, and style.
SQlab 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube Saddle
Comfortable in all riding positions+
Available in multiple widths+
Channel for soft-tissue discomfort+
Designed for men and women
SDG Components Radar MTNTested by Jameson Florence
• Weight: 230g
• Colors: Multiple color options
• Width: 138mm
• Length: 270mm
• MSRP: $99.99 USD
SDG Components is a bit of an enigma. Although you won't find much company information or history on their website, if you dig deep you will find that their name stands for "Speed Defies Gravity". In the pre-dropper era, they made their name with their innovative and lightweight "I-beam" seat post head and saddle combo. Today their focus seems to be a fairly diverse selection of saddles that come in a variety of shapes, and sizes, alongside grips, and a pretty nifty looking dropper post.
The Radar MTN is built for performance and all-day comfort on a mountain bike. It utilizes a flat forward design for aggressive riding positions, a peri canal groove to allow for pressure relief, a longer wider nose for additional forward support, and a rear "buzz" cutout for extra tire clearance for a 29er at full compression. The saddle comes in one size—270mmx138mm—but three different models with three different price points, Cro-Mo rails ($69.95), Steel rails ($49.95) and Ti-Alloy rails ($99.95). The saddle tested is the Ti-alloy model. For $100, it's not cheap, but in a world where similar saddles can run you in the hundreds, it's a good value.
The Radar supports well on the wings and nose without having any hard spots or notable pressure points, though the “peri canal groove" with the hidden cutout does the job better than anything else I’ve used to date. I have spent some ridiculous days in the saddle, so I'm no stranger to the numbness associated with a poor saddle design, but I've experienced this a limited number of times with the Radar. I think this has a lot to do with how well the saddle supports me around the channel yet still manages to offer relief for the sensitive bits. As a result, I find that I can sit and pedal for extended periods without needing to squirm around for a more comfortable position. The cover material is particularly nice, it allows you to slide around a bit without catching your shorts, yet at the same time grips well enough to keep you firmly in place without feeling binding. I do notice that on rare occasions that material can be a bit “squeaky” if moisture levels are just right, but we’re nitpicking here. But along those lines, I'm also a little disappointed in how well the rail paint holds up; it wore off rather quickly where the clamps grab. It’s mostly a cosmetic thing, but still…
There are two features somewhat unique to this saddle that I find beneficial. The first is that with the trend of longer and longer travel 29er’s sporting seemingly larger, more aggressively knobbed tires every year, SDG has designed this saddle with a significant cutout in the rear. When you find yourself on a bike that has just a few millimeters of clearance back there at bottom out, this gives the saddle some breathing room from the tire. Of course, your shorts may still develop a skid mark or three, but you won't hear that 'zzzzZZZT!" sound when your saddle tries to stop the wheel. This cutout definitely adds a more of a pronounced winged shape to the rear of the saddle, and when looking at that profile, one might be concerned about a wingtip catching their shorts during moments of extra rad maneuvering, but I can safely report the saddle has (as of yet) never tried to pull my shorts off.
Second, the longish, squared-off nose gives you a nice platform to press on when the climbing gets extra steep and techy and you absolutely have to slide forward a bit keep traction. You know those times when you have to jam the nose of the saddle where you really don’t want to in order to keep the front tire on dirt? The designers at SDG must not like the feeling of a pointy nose either so they made it as square and large as they could without being obtrusive. Having said that, it's still not a comfortable maneuver, but the Radar's nose at least takes the edge off taint abuse.
SDG has been refining their mountain seat shapes for decades now. I’ve spent a lot of time on quite a few of their models over the years (along with a few other saddles from WTB, etc; but I always find myself coming back to SDG) so I'm familiar with their designs. And while I’ve been comfortable with most of them, for me, the Radar MTN hits the nail on the head. I've had this saddle on my bike since May 2019, and during that time it’s seen well over 800 miles, an absurd amount of mud and some snow tossed in here and there, and a few crashes. Despite the miles and abuse, it’s holding up quite well, showing just a little wear at the seams between the main fabric and the Kevlar wings.
SDG Components Radar MTN
Ergonomic MTB specific shape+
Rear cutout for 29'er tire clearance+
Wide square edge nose
Only available in one width
About the Tester:
Nikki Rohan stands 5'5" and weighs 135 lbs with a 28-inch waist, 37-inch hips, and 35-inch chest and wears a size small helmet, size large gloves, and EU-41 shoes. She resides in Hood River OR with her husband, Colin Meagher, her two kids, a dog, and a grumpy cat. Nikki has been mountain biking for close to 20 years, including a short stint competing in the pro women category in enduro races in the PNW, as well as events like Trans BC, Trans-Provence, Downieville Classic, Grinduro and the occasional CX race.
About the Tester:
Pierce Martin is 5'11" tall, has a 31-inch waist, and weighs 160lbs on a low beer week. Usually, he is right in the middle of the bell curve wearing medium for most cycling shorts, jerseys, gloves, and helmets. Pierce lives in Hood River, OR where he spends his working hours as a desk jockey in the cube farm.