Pinkbike Product Picks SQlab 611 Active Titube SaddleSQlab's
SQlab's best all-mountain/trailbike saddle is its new 611 Active ATB Titube, easily recognized by its slim, 300-millimeter profile and downward curving nose.
latest mountain bike saddle, the 611 Active Titube features, among its many innovations, a longer, down-curved nose that gives technical riders extra seating positions for cornering and steep climbing. The 302-millimeter length also provides more options to riders who use the saddle for control while standing. SQlab's 611-series saddles feature a slight step-down ahead of the seating area as well as a slight depressions in the padding that provide pressure relief for soft tissue. The saddle's nose is flattened slightly to offer temporary comfort when using that section for technical climbing. Kevlar fabric reinforces the nose and wings of the saddle for crash protection, and a row of traction nubs is embossed into the synthetic leather cover to keep your butt in place while descending. The rear of the saddle rails nest in special elastomer cups which allow the saddle to rock slightly with the hips as you pedal. Three cup hardnesses are available, although even SQlab admits that the middle-durometer grey ones that come standard are all anyone has ever needed. SQlab is big on selecting the exact padding firmness for each cycling genre, and has developed its own "shore-hardness" scale to that effect. Active 611 saddles use their firmest, 60-durometer Marathon foam padding, which is also found inside SQlab's racing saddles. 611 Active saddles are offered in 13, 14 and 15-centimeter widths and three models are available: one with chromoly rails for $169 and SQlab offers a shorter-length Race version for $169 USD. We reviewed the top-of-the-line titanium-railed, Active 611 Titube model, which retails for $189 and weighs 280 grams in the 13-centimeter width.SQlab
The SQlab story
(Clockwise) Viewed from the Kevlar-armored rear, the Active saddle's stepped pressure relief area can be seen just ahead of the flared seating area. A look at the elastomer system that allows the saddle to follow the slight rocking motion of the hips. Titanium alloy rails allow 30-millimeters of fore/aft adjustment. The saddle's flattened and curved nose is designed to be used as a temporary position for technical climbing.
Those unfamiliar with SQlab deserve to know a bit about their story. Regardless of how the tale has been or will be told, it was SQlab that did the groundbreaking research and founded the concept that the sit-bones of the human pelvis vary in width and thus, saddles should be offered in specific widths that correspond to those variables. SQlab discovered this while doing blood-flow and nerve-damage research related to cycling saddles in Germany, where founders Tobias Hild and Dr. Stefan Staudte also came across information that debunks some widely-held "urban legends" about saddles
and their construction. While male sit-bones average slightly narrower than female's, the reality is that the width of both sexes' are all over the map, so the notion that women need wider saddles is not true. SQlab also found that there is no need for a specific female or male shape for the saddle either. By using a relieved "shelf" in front of the seating area of the saddle, SQlab solves the issues related to reduced blood flow and soft-tissue irritation that turn out to be common to both sexes. Armed with their findings, Stefan and Tobias launched SQlab - where they continue to research ways to make cycling more comfortable and they produce saddles in all shapes and sizes to cover everything from boardwalk cruising to World Cup XC racing. As you may expect, SQlab also developed a quick and easy method of measuring
the width of your sit bones, and they offer their saddles in a number of widths to suit. It could be argued that all contemporary ergonomic saddle design can be classified as pre and post SQlab. So, if you hear another brand talking about saddle width options and pressure relief shapes, think "SQlab" when you come across "we" or "our" in their marketing schpiels.
SQlab began its saddle research using expensive digital pressure pads and related computer software to register and record where conventional saddles bore the rider's weight. Today, SQlab uses corrugated cardboard, The customer sits on the cardboard and rocks back to make imprints of his or her sit bones. The width is recorded on a simple guide that suggests the correct width saddle. SQlab found that a more upright riding position requires a correspondingly wider saddle, which is factored by the chart.
|SQlab is unafraid to push the boundaries of saddle design in the name of comfort and performance. 302-millimeters of 611 Active saddle, perched high on the seatpost, with its day-glo orange accents and curved nose cannot be easily disguised. Prepare for some curious questions at the trailheads. While riding, however, the saddle's elongated nose and ergonomic profile are largely unnoticed. The padding is firm and it takes a few rides for it to settle into a shape that is truly comfortable, which came as a surprise, until one of us read the part in SQlab's instructions that made note of its probable break-in period. The length of the 611 saddle exaggerates any degree of tilt, so be warned to bring an Allen key to make mid-ride angle changes until you find its sweet spot. Once you get those initial rides under saddle, though, the 611 Active becomes quite comfortable and it stays that way during all types of riding conditions. Where the Active 611 saddle delivers the most returns is while climbing steeps. The level of traction control that is available by riding slightly forward on the nose is uncanny - especially when scratching up rolling gravel or loose surfaces. Another attribute that came into play was that we could push the bike into a lean using the outside leg with the crankarm clocked in a variety of positions, and while that move is not often called for, the saddle is there if you need it. Another unexpected attribute of the Active design is the slight rocking action that is built into the rear rail junctions - an added comfort which becomes readily apparent after you hop off the Active saddle and ride a conventional design. The bottom line is that on trail, the 611 Active's features are truly improvements when compared to top selling conventional saddles, but will the availability of custom widths, enhanced comfort and technical performance benefits be enough to convince riders to spend $189 on a new seat? Tough call, but the more I spend on it, the less I am inclined to ride anything else. - RC|