Tioga Spyder Stratum Seat - Review

Aug 21, 2014
by Mike Levy  
Tioga Spyder Stratum review test

At just 120 grams and lacking any foam padding, the Spyder Stratum requires an open mind.



The unpadded 120 gram Spyder Stratum saddle is bound to attract attention, but Tioga explained to us how that isn't the goal of the unique looking and flexible webbed design.''The Spyder aims to address a major deficiency present in most mainstream padded saddle construction: shock absorption and, more specifically, its rate and frequency of absorbing energy from bumps'' says Tioga's Kai Cheng. ''We found that padding on saddles is an inefficient shock absorber because their 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.'' Rather than foam that tends to compress and then not do much else, the Spyder's dual-material webbed shell is said to be able to conform to a rider's behind while also staying pliable and active regardless of how much weight is on it. You're correct if you're thinking that you've seen something similar in the past - Tioga has offered a road-specific model with a shell built from a single material for a few years now, but that design proved to not be durable enough for off-road use. In contrast, the Spyder Stratum is manufactured using two different materials: a stiffer base material with a softer and more flexible cover bonded over top. Tioga's 'DualTech' two-piece construction took a few years for them to figure out, and they actually tested a large number of different versions that offered more and less flexibility before finding a happy medium that they feel works well across the board and is durable enough for all around use on a mountain bike: ''The SpyderWeb cover’s compression is managed by unique underside structural braces connected to its frame to enable the saddle to remain lively when seated but not overtly sag or bottom out while pedalling or taking on bigger hits, Cheng clarified when we asked why one would want a less flexible shell design. Want to see how the flexible shell works? Check out the video that Tioga put together that shows just how much the Spyder's shell flexes under a rider.

Tioga Syder Stratum review test

The Spyder Stratum's shell has been designed to flex a certain way, with not too little and not too much give.



The Spyder Stratum has passed all EN testing, and while the 190 gram chromoly-railed model that retails for $125 USD doesn't carry any sort of rider weight limit, Tioga does say that the flex of the webbed shell is best suited to riders weighing between 150 and 180lb - a lighter rider may find it a bit harsh, while a heavier one could sag too deep. The same weight recommendation applies to the $190 USD carbon railed version that's reviewed below, as well as a 240lb rider weight limit that doesn't seem out of line given the seat's feathery 120 gram weight. www.tiogausa.com

Tioga Syder Stratum review test

The darker material is the stiffer base, while the lighter coloured section is the softer and more forgiving shell.



Pinkbike's Take


bigquotesThere's no point in sugar coating it: my undersides were scared the first time I took a gander at the unique looking Spyder Stratum. Duty called, though, and I mounted it atop my FOX seat post and then gingerly hit the trails for a short, safe introduction lap to see how things would play out. And then a funny thing happened: I completely forgot that the Spyder was under me, and not just for the first hour or two, but for hours and hours on end. In fact, if it was a blind test, I would have guessed that it was any other padded and comfortable seat on the market. I began using the Spyder a few weeks before the seven day long BC Bike Race with no real intentions of running it in the event, a pretty rational thing to think given the race's length and it having over 30,000 feet of climbing in total, but found myself so happy with the Spyder that I left it on. That's a hell of a lot of consecutive time spent sitting on a seat, pushing down on the pedals, and suffering like a dog in the heat while wearing bib shorts that turned out to be sporting a not so agreeable chamois pad. Despite the sub-par chamois, I found the seat to be damn comfortable, enough so that it was actually still on my personal Rocky Mountain Element until just a few days ago. The Spyder Stratum isn't perfect and I have the red marks on my mid-section to prove it. The issue is that its complete lack of padding makes for some pretty unforgiving edges around its backside, and getting far behind the seat on steep downhill pitches sometimes left a few not so gentle reminders on my belly. And this was with it mounted onto a dropper seat post, so I'd be wary of using the Spyder Stratum on a standard post that won't let it get down and out of the way when required. The other thing that needs pointing out is just how unforgiving the unpadded nose of the seat is, something that became pretty obvious to me the first time I got up on the front of the seat for a steep climb. I ended up dropping the nose down a degree or two more than I would usually run it and that solved the issue. Tioga is aware that the front of the seat is a bit stiff and will be introducing a less aggressive version, called the Spyder Outland, that will have a more forgiving shell and nose section and be aimed towards trail riders rather than for pure cross-country use. That said, I'm happy enough with the general shape and flex across the weight bearing zone of the standard Spyder Stratum that I don't see myself moving onto the Outland model.

I wrote this review a few weeks ago and, at the time, the Spyder Stratum was still going strong. That came to an abrupt halt during yesterday's ride when I rolled through a compression on the trail while seated and heard an unmistakable popping sound from underneath me followed by noticing that I was sitting a bit askew on the seat. The cause was a broken carbon rail that had failed about 5mm back from the clamp, thereby letting one side of the ultra flexible shell sag down much lower than it should. Not ideal, no doubt about it, mostly because at 170lb I don't think I should be breaking any seat rails, carbon or not, but also because I found it to be extremely comfortable yet have to replace it with something else.
- Mike Levy



76 Comments

  • + 75
 Testicle cheese grater?
  • + 23
 No.
  • + 20
 Only if you ride bare back. ;-)
  • + 21
 It actually makes a lot of sense. Sometimes less is more, assuming its executed correctly.
  • + 5
 Saw one of these a few weeks back thinking it was the road version on a pretty tricked out Scott trail bike. The rider looked like a dirt roadie and had bar ends on riser bars so I thought he was just an idiot for running this seat. Maybe I was wrong.
  • + 8
 Riding something similar for years. Very very comfy, light,durable.
  • + 2
 I've been rocking t D-spyder on my dh bike for 3-4 years now . its a great saddle . i started eyeing this up when it camout a few mo ago. but at 200lbs naked that weight limit scares me
  • - 1
 doesnt the solution or at lest stepping stone seem stupidly obvious, combine the 15mm of padding normally used with the web design thus removing any uncomfort but still making a saving on the weight over a conventional seat?
  • + 50
 I made my own from a laundry basket
  • + 17
 I award you one internets for cleverness
  • + 12
 Thanks @mikelevy for the honest review, love the look of the seat but for sure will not be my next one, I need something to last a lot.
  • + 10
 I'm upset with myself that I can't think of any good puns for this product - this doesn't sit well with me.
  • + 4
 When I was a kid my favorite saddle was a Selle Royal Aeroal that I used for BMX (see link).

www.sjscycles.co.uk/images/products/medium/selle-royal-aeroyal-saddle-IMG25180.jpg

I've been looking for something similar ever since. The Tioga Spyder Stratum is it. I'll be getting one.
  • + 6
 @mikelevy, would you ride the chromoly rail version?

170 is a far cry from the 240lb limit for the carbon rails.
  • + 5
 I wouldn't think twice about rocking the chromoly rail version. We actually have one of those as well under a 220lb-ish rider and he's managed to bend the rails a touch, just in full disclosure. Both versions are among the most comfortable seats I've ever used, so I'm hoping to get on another regardless.
  • + 2
 I wonder if has to do with the ends of the rails flexing more, since this doesn't have a traditional shell to act as one of the legs of the polygon. (I case I'm unclear: the rail essentially is three sides of a rectangle, with the seat being the forth, if the seat is flexing you've got a less structurally sound rectangle.)
  • + 3
 Maybe they just need to do some slight redesigns to modify the pressure points so it's distributing the pressure on a more even scale rather than at a critical point. Maybe that's why it cracked?
  • + 2
 About forty years ago I made a similar saddle from a Cinelli road saddle that had only a leather cover and no padding. The cover got torn or something and I pealed it off. Cut away the sides and drilled holes through the top to make it flex more easily. I probably weighed 130 pounds then. I thought it worked well back then under my hard 16 year old arse. But that was road riding. I like the lack of a leather or pleather cover as I wear through those pretty fast. I'll try one if I see one.
  • + 2
 The BMX race version came on a complete I bought and has been by far the most comfortable BMX race seat to just sit on I've ever had. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase the coming spyder Outland.
  • + 2
 over took a rider at the mega running one of these seats, it literally broke off the rails and flew past me, was fucking hilarious, the rider had to ride the rest of the course on his rails!
  • + 3
 been riding my saddle without any foam for about 2 years now .. just without that spiderstuff, its nothing new for me.. just peel off your foam and you're fine
  • + 1
 I had the original version and I absolutely loved it. It was light as hell, and very comfy. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long... it shattered when I mucked up dropping off a teeter totter (because I thought it was a solid bridge drop... awkward!). Luckily I didn't actually fall... might have made myself a little more aerodynamic.

I'd give this new, more durable version a try, for sure.
  • + 1
 I owned one these for about a month and experienced the exact same scenario. The edges of the seat are sharp and unforgiving to the in side of your thighs. I broke one of the carbon rails just by lowering my dropper post while riding. It's a piece, don't waist your money
  • + 2
 I'm not saying it's a bad idea. But I already have enough trouble explaining my uncomfortable, overpriced mountain bike to my workmates. What would they say if they saw this!!!
  • + 1
 I have been using a Selle SMP Carbon for about 5 years.

www.google.ca/search?q=Selle+SMP+Carbon&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CD4QsARqFQoTCN2s9ZOS1MgCFcEtiAod1LEGPg&biw=1600&bih=742

I have all the padding I need in my chamois. I have 2 with chromemoly rails for MTB and one with carbon rails on my road bike.
In our wet Pacific NW This saddle stands up to the environment better than other saddles I have tried. These are expensive but worth it in the long run if you ride a lot. I also find the smooth water prof surface easy to slide my weight forward and aft on compared to leather saddles that feel sticky sliding on the surface. Especially in our wet riding area
  • + 4
 1986 just called, it wants it's seat back!!
  • + 2
 Yeah, I had something very similar on my Mongoose back in '81. Can't remember what brand it was though!! Seems like it was red...
  • + 2
 Wouldn't this seat enable a mud/dirt enema on wet trails and roads? Where as conventional seat blocks the dirt spray when your seated.
  • + 5
 Yes it does spray your ass with mud, I have one.
  • + 12
 Total bummer?
  • + 8
 I hadn't noticed anymore mud/spray than usual on my ass, and I live in B.C. where it rains 8 out of the 7 days of the week, if not more. I can't certainly see how some would get through, though, just that I didn't notice it.
  • + 3
 Had to ask, that's where massive amounts of bud live on my bike. Do you still call the Wack homie?
  • + 9
 When you're standing, a lot of mud hits your ass, and ends up on top of the seat. There's a chance this saddle would actually shed mud better than average, as not only can dirt go through from the bottom, but the top. I suspect it's a non-issue.
  • + 3
 You don't have to worry about the foam getting wet like on designs with stitching on top.
  • + 4
 If youre lucky it might act like a stencil and when you look at your shorts later you have a web shaped mud mark on your arse
  • + 3
 Taint stencil!
  • + 1
 Love the look of the saddle but might need a custom made Mucky Nutz style crotch protector to protect from damp scranus syndrome. Easy to make one out of a plastic stationary folder.
  • + 1
 I use a Tioga Spyder saddle and have used the 4x saddle in the past. I like em, and have had no problems with them breaking. Although I'm not sure about the carbon rails, they're already light enough with the alloy rails.
  • + 1
 If you were to put one of these and a dh bike I would recommend using a different saddle if you were going for william and using the gondolas. ..I defo wouldn't trust this saddle to hold my bike up in the air
  • + 1
 Been using the bmx version for years. It's shorter and stronger. Longest lasting dh seat I've ever run.
  • + 3
 Is this the saddle on which your taint became a can of open tuna? If so that would then be even more wonderful
  • + 8
 No, that was a different saddle. And those SWAT chamois... does it make me a roadie if I want SWATs with the chamois out of my Castelli bibs?
  • + 2
 Nope - the SWAT chammy isn't the greatest. Agreed with you on that
  • + 2
 Mike, get yourself a pair of the Giro New Road bibs, and never look back.
  • + 1
 You got me all excited @mikelevy, been looking for some liners to try... castelli doesn't seem to make any though, just full shorts, & full shorts under baggies is no fun in the desert. Any good liner recommends?
  • + 2
 Funny enough my Pearl Izumi bib chamois feels just as nice as my Rapha bibs. For whatever that's worth.
  • + 1
 @groghunter plenty of good options out there but not cheap. Check out Giro New Road or Dirtbaggies bibs (both have high quality pads and you can take a piss out of them), or if you want a chamois without bibs, high end road stuff like Sugoi RS-E or Specialized RBX. It's pretty much accepted that anything that comes as a liner with a mountain bike short is not going to cut it for long days pedalling, unfortunately including the SWAT bib.
  • + 1
 That's sucks. more mesh-like weave of liners is a big benefit in the desert southwest.

That said, I'm not doing XC length days in the saddle, I just need something good enough for regular MTB. I just can't seem to find anything as good as my old (as in about 12 years) Fox shorts.
  • + 2
 i have the standard spider on my DH bike so far so good, and it is comfy...
  • + 1
 I have a D-spider pivotal. I think it's the only rock hard (but bombroof) saddle in their lineup. Great if you only stand up on your bike. Really light, strong and cheap.
  • + 1
 Hmm. Thought I was sold on the last seat review on PB of the Anvl Forge. May have to consider the chromoly of this saddle as well.
  • + 2
 170lbs? Well that's another thingy I can't buy. Gotta bike more. But it's in my genes
  • + 1
 It looks pretty cool, but I'll stick with standard padding and a much lower price tag. If I were racing cross country I might try it out!
  • + 2
 The saddle is actually not bad. It does rip thru pants like nothing if you don't have reinforced dh shorts.
  • + 3
 Hhhhhmm, not in my case. I usually wear barely-there XC baggies and their bums all look good as new. That said, I rotate between three or four different pairs so the wear is spread out.
  • + 1
 This look like the old 1980 BMX plastic saddles
www.cycleking.co.uk/15_37_79_Old-school-BMX-bits_1_asc.html
  • + 2
 Seats are like bikinis. The less you get the more you pay.
  • + 2
 My ass hurts from looking at this seat.
  • + 6
 That's too bad - it's crazy comfortable. I was hesitant at first as well.
  • + 1
 Mike- The issue I see with this saddle is the ridiculous weight limit. Fine for a chunk of riders w/I the limits but those on the fringes are totally left out. Seems like the niche is getting narrower.
  • + 2
 Fair enough, but I don't feel that a 150 and 180lb weight recommendation for a XC race saddle is too out of line, or that a 240lb weight limit for the chromoly railed version is unacceptable. That said, I did break it, didn't I?
  • + 1
 Call me old fashioned but I still buy and ride old NOS WTB Team SST saddles and have never found anything more comfortable.
  • + 2
 No good here in the UK. Soggy bottom sorrows.
  • + 1
 If you're snapping rails at 170lbs, there's no way I'm gonna try this at 210lbs......
  • + 2
 They forgot to mention the post mud track weight.
  • + 2
 The best saddle when you want to fart. Nuff said.
  • + 1
 Too bad the track is not in titanium.
  • + 2
 Nylon baggy recommended.
  • + 1
 Any idea of when the more trail friendly version is going to be released?
  • + 0
 Is this a article to see if you can sale anything, not saying would not try it for free but not pay money for?
  • + 6
 Doesnt matter how they got it, as long as the review is honest.
  • + 0
 Back to the mud butt comments, couldn't it be considered taint paint?
  • + 1
 FART SWATTER
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.070916
Mobile Version of Website