Tioga's radical looking range of Spyder seats feature webbed construction that the company says is able to conform to a rider's behind while also staying pliable and active. The $140 USD Spyder Outland version tested below employs removable silicone pads that should make it even more comfortable than the already impressive Spyder Stratum, but they do bump the weight up to a still-feathery 205 grams. Is the Spyder Outland more comfortable than its medieval appearance might have you believe?
Why did Tioga take such a different approach to seat design? ''The Spyder aims to address a major deficiency present in mainstream padded saddle construction: shock absorption and, more specifically, its rate and frequency of absorbing energy from bumps,'' Tioga's Kai Cheng explained. ''We found that padding on saddles is an inefficient shock absorber because its level of absorption is proportional to its mass; more absorption requires thicker and heavier padding. As most performance saddles utilize padding of well under than 15mm thick, and then factoring in the padding compression once you sit on it, there’s not much shock absorbing value left to take on the hits.''
Spyder Outland Details
• Dual material flexible web frame
• Removable silicone padding
• Dimensions: 285mm x 125mm
• Hollow chromoly seat rails
• No rider weight limit
• Colours: black, white
• Weight: 205 grams (w/ silicone pads)
• MSRP: $140 USD
So, instead of using standard seat foam that Cheng says will just compact down and become useless, Tioga went with a dual-material shell with a webbed design that's said to be far better at conforming to a rider's underside while also remaining flexible enough to still be forgiving.
It's the Spyder's dual-material construction that makes the design possible. First, a stiffer base material is used to create the seat's general shape (shown in green to the right), after which a softer, more flexible material is bonded over the top of it to create the Spyder's shell. The finished product looks pretty seamless, but you can spot the two different materials if you get close, and you can actually feel how the top is softer than the edges if you use your fingernail to try and scrape both. Tioga's 'DualTech' two-piece construction took awhile for them to get right, and they tested and decided against designs that offered both more and less flexibility.
The Spyder Outland's shell measures 125mm across, which is ten millimeters narrower than the racier looking Spyder Stratum, but the Outland's nose is a bit wider, and is intended to offer a more flexible and forgiving feel. Tioga has also added neat silicone pads that mesh with the Outland's webbed shell, although I have a feeling that the removable padding is more to convince people to try the seat than to actually increase comfort.
Despite what my riding buddies were predicting, my underside wasn't rendered a bloody mess by the Outland's webbed shell, and I can vouch that all of my functions still function after roughly a year's worth of use. Of course, I already knew that would be the case because I spent a very long time on the Outland's lighter weight, less flexible brother, the Spyder Stratum. I've told people that the Stratum (which broke a rail during my time on it) was easily on my top five list of most comfortable saddles, so I expected the Outland to be pretty similar, if not even more comfortable due to the neat silicone padding that Tioga has added.
The Outland turned out to be quite different than the Stratum. To begin with, although its webbed shell looks very similar, it's actually 10mm narrower at the back and about 6mm wider at the nose, something that gives it a very different feel under you. The Outland was still comfortable enough for me to move it from test bike to test bike throughout the year, but I could definitely feel that pressure was being applied to a smaller area of my bum. This is purely down to the seat's shape rather than its funky webbed shell or silicone padding, which I know because I rode it with and without the silicone add-ons. Further highlighting that shape is far more important that how much padding a seat has, I actually found the Outland to be more comfortable without the silicone padding. I was happy enough with the shape to spend well over a hundred days with it under me, but I'd advise that it's best suited to those with narrow sit bones.
Much like I found with the Stratum, the Outland's edges could feel a bit harsher than a more traditional, padded seat when you get them into your gut or the inside of your thigh. I don't think I'd be putting this one on my dirt jump bike. But, if you're an open-minded kind of rider who prefers a seat on the narrow side of the spectrum, the Spyder Outland is worth looking it. The Outland also proved to be reliable, with it not emitting a single squeak or squawk over the last year of use, and its rails are still dead-straight. Pinkbike’s Take:
|The Spyder Outland's appearance is going to be enough to scare some riders away, which is a shame because I can almost guarantee that those who prefer a narrow seat will find the odd looking Tioga to be quite comfortable. - Mike Levy|
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