Review: Fabric Cell Saddle

by
January 28, 2016

Fabric Cell Saddle

Hannah sets aside all prudishness to get to the bottom of saddle comfort.

Brand:
Fabric
Product:
Cell Saddle
From:
fabric.cc
Price:
£49.99
Tested:
by Hannah for 5 months

By Hannah

If you’re looking for a new saddle, it’s probably because the one you’ve got is in some way uncomfortable. In my view you’re going to be a lot more successful in finding one that is comfortable if you – and reviews – can be a little more specific about where a saddle does or does not press or rub. So let’s just put a couple of words out there: scrotum and testicles. These are not words I will be needing for this review, as I do not possess these items. However, I will be needing a couple of other words: perineum and labia. If this is going to make you uncomfortable, don’t read on. But I really think you really need to overcome this squeamishness if you’re going to talk about the effectiveness of a saddle. Bruised inner thighs, blisters on buttocks, a painful perineum and chafed and grazed labia are all things I’ve experienced on rides, and saddle choice definitely impacts each of these areas and the likelihood of such injuries. That said, saddles are a very personal thing – both in the sense that the bits that are hurting may well not be parts of your anatomy that usually make it into conversation; and in that what is comfortable for one may be torture for another.

Fabric Cell Saddle

It’s not just the personal element that makes a saddle a tricky item to review. Saddle height and positioning along with the right liner shorts and even appropriate unguents can have a massive impact on whether you can get comfortable. What is comfortable on one bike might not be on another, and what appears a good fit at first may not feel so good after a few hours atop it. With all this in mind, here’s how I have found the Fabric Cell to perform.

Fabric Cell Saddle

Unlike other manufacturers, Fabric appear to have shied away from a women’s specific approach, instead producing their saddles in a range of shapes and sizes to suit different bottoms and styles of riding regardless of gender. The Fabric Cell however comes in a single size and shape (but a range of six colours), and Fabric claim it is the world’s first airsprung saddle. At 155mm wide, it is generously proportioned and aimed at the relaxed or upright position favoured by commuters or mountain bikers. This is not a saddle for the drop bar brigade.

Fabric Cell Saddle

I found the width to be right for my sit bones, with both evenly supported within the cushioned area. This promised cushioning (modelled on running shoe technology) seemed pretty effective and I’ve certainly found that this area never feels tender or bashed after using this saddle, as it sometimes can on a harder model. The rubbery TPU cover is also comfortable – tacky but not to the point of rubbing or squeaking, but also not slippery when wet. There are fewer nooks and crannies than many saddles I’ve experienced, making it easier to clean the saddle of rub inducing mud and grit. Five months of use in plenty of mud has left little, if any, wear. So far so good.

P1140726

So far. How far? Well, about 25km I’d say. After this point, I tend to find that the fairly domed profile of the nose starts to take its toll. Probably tiredness and resultant riding position changes do too. But I find that at about this point I want to stand up a bit more frequently. I should point out that I haven’t yet found a saddle where this doesn’t happen eventually, although the distance into the ride at which this happens seems to vary between saddles. In this regard, the Fabric Cell performs better than some saddles I’ve tried, but worse than some with a cutaway or scooped centre down the nose.

For rides of up to 25km the cushioning is sufficient that I feel pretty comfortable – although a particularly wet and gritty ride might reduce this distance, as it would for other saddles. I find that the cushioning, while effective on a sit bones and a layer of buttock muscle and fat, is tougher than the soft tissues of the perineum, and as time goes by this area starts to feel fatigued from contact with the saddle. After a while longer this discomfort also extends to the (don’t say I didn’t warn you) labia, and a second day in the saddle after reaching this point is fairly unthinkable. It is to these longer rides that I think the domed shape of the Fabric Cell is less well suited – at least for my particular shape and riding position.

Fabric Cell Saddle

So, should you consider buying this saddle? If it is your buttocks or sit bones that feel the pain, then yes, as in this regard the saddle is very comfortable. Similarly if you have a very upright riding position, or never ride that far, you may well find this saddle suits you. If you’re a woman who is currently suffering on rides (and indeed for days afterwards) with pain in the perineum or labia, I’m not sure that this saddle holds the answer.

Overall: A cushioned saddle with a smooth profile which is easy to clean. If it matches your bottom’s particular needs, you’ll be able to find a saddle colour to match your bike.

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