by Marc Basiliere
October 14, 2013
A Bel Air for the 21st century
On of the saddles of the mid-’90s mountain bike boom, it’s forgivable if SDG’s Bel-Air had dropped off of most riders’ radar. Designed from the start to be more comfortable in the dirt than road-oriented models, SDG (for Speed Defies Gravity) recently decided that it was time to give the old girl a makeover.
While they may appear simple lumps of foam and microfibre, when talking to saddle designers the amount of thought that goes into each model becomes apparent- and it is pretty amazing. Compared to road-oriented saddles, the Bel-Air has a wider nose for long, steep climbs, dropped at the front to prevent the dreaded baggy-snag. A kicked-up rear is designed to rotate the pelvis forward, allowing the rider to push against the saddle under hard efforts and straightening the spine somewhat for improved comfort. This sort of shape tends to work better for riders who find a comfortable spot and then don’t move around much on the saddle.
The addition of a subtle centre Peri-Canal reduces pressure on ‘sensitive tissue’ without creating undue pressure at its edges. Two updated models are levels are offered: the lightweight (but reasonably-priced) I-Beam equipped Bel-Air SL and the Ti- or Ti-Alloy railed Bel-Air 2.0. Both have microfibre covers and lightweight EVA foam. The original Bel Air lives on as the Bel Air RL and all models are available in a wide range of colours.
Also for 2014, the company’s racier Duster saddle line sees several updates. The Duster’s relatively flat profile is designed for those who move about in the saddle, making the most of the area available. Duster MTN and Duster P models get the pleasure-enhancing Peri-Canal and the Duster MTN brings back scuff-resistant Kevlar edges. Under all of the covers sits a dual-density base, with softer nylon where the nose transitions to wing for improved pedaling comfort.
All three models are available with CrMo or colour-coordinated Ti-Alloy rails or with SDG’s strong/light/inexpensive (2 1/2 out of three ain’t bad) I-Beam interface. As a bonus, all I-Beam saddles come with removable brackets for Topeak‘s QuickClick saddle bag interface. Across the range, eleven colour combinations are being offered, so there’s no excuse not to find one that looks good.