SQlab has been making saddles since around 2004, which focus strongly on ergonomics. The saddles eschew holes to relieve pressure points, and rely instead on what they call the ‘step’. Essentially, the rear of the saddle is slightly elevated compared to the front, which focusses more weight on the ischial tuberosities (or sit bones, to you and me) and relieves pressure to the more *ahem* delicate areas. Interestingly, SQlab says that this saddle will suit men or women.
The 611 Active is, according to SQlab’s website, the ‘top of the range saddle for a dynamic riding style on the All-Mountain or Enduro bike’. It looks broadly normal, in a slightly funny way, except that the nose seems somewhat long. It’s available in a variety of widths from 13cm to 15cm in 10mm increments. In the range above this one is a carbon railed one, too.
Underneath, between the light titanium rails and the saddle itself, is a space into which a mounded elastomer is pushed. Each saddle comes with three of these in different stiffnesses; soft, medium or hard, and you pick which one to slot in based on your weight. The idea is that it mimics the action of walking in the sitbones, to a certain extent.
The body of the saddle is faux leather, with substantial kevlar reinforcement at the nose and rear. In the widest part of the saddle, there is a gentle scooped out section which according to SQlab reduces perineal pressure by up to 75% (only 60% on the 13cm wide one though, but 75% on the other two).
To set it up, you run the saddle more nose-down than you’d perhaps expect; the nose is still level, but the widest part of the saddle seems more elevated than perhaps is should do. But in use, it’s extremely comfortable. Climbing in the saddle, the elastomers serve to flex the saddle in synchrony with your legs, and the long nose of the saddle, whilst present, interacts with your unmentionables with a surprisingly gentle lightness of touch. That nose, too, comes into its own on more nadgery climbs; its relative length and flatness give you an assured perch to thrutch your way up things of steepness, and on descents, with the saddle dropped, the length provides a solid interaction point.
But it’s on long, draggy climbs where the design of the saddle really comes into its own, in that it’s surprisingly invisible. Nothing went numb, nothing started to ache, it’s a very comfy saddle that I’m extremely impressed with.
Overall: Slightly unusual looks are soon forgotten, this is a pricey but super-comfy saddle which should suit a wide variety of riders. Recommended.
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|Tested:||by Barney for 3 months|