At A Glance
When is a saddle not a saddle? When it's an SQ Lab saddle. This is not just an off the peg lump of plastic, metal and fabric, or merely a place to park your behind while you smash out the miles on the bike. Flick through the website and you find that, instead of engineers, the most common job title is doctor, which seems to be a prerequisite for working there. Get ready for science!Buy Saddles on
This 611 Ergowave Active has been painstakingly designed to provide optimum levels of comfort and biomechanical performance, so much so that each saddle is measured to the rider in one of four different widths. Added to this is the ability to run one of three different elastomer dampers under the rear of the seat to provide the appropriate level of lateral flex in the seat. This flex aims to lower stresses on the spine, allow for different leg lengths and make for better pedalling. The step saddle shape, with a higher rear, and distinctive scoop has been developed by SQ Lab to relieve pressure on, as they put it; 'sensitive areas'. The mission is to fit the correct saddle to a rider, just like a pair of comfy shoes.
The build quality has not been overlooked in any aspect, with alloy or carbon rails available and kevlar reinforced rear panels, coming it at weights between 275g and 286g in alloy rail form. Dimensions vary but the length is fixed at 280mm and widths between 12 and 15cm, and the nose width is a spacious 49mm giving plenty of space for when the going gets steep.
On The Trail
Firstly, before getting comfy on a new saddle from SQ lab you must be fitted, but don't worry, the backside measurements are unintrusive, and a doctors appointment is not necessary. It's a simple process of sitting on a stool and impressing one's imprint onto a piece of paper which is then measured to get the correct saddle width. Following this, an elastomer is chosen base on weight, and off you go.
Installation is simple, but the increased length of the saddle took a little bit of time to adjust to the correct fore/aft position. The saddle really feels most comfortable when you are sat correctly over the rear pads, and I found that once in that position, it was far more pleasant than any other spot. With the drop nose, getting level was another experiment, but again is an easy adjustment, though it turns out the UCI has some rules on saddle angles and the lowest point, which is particularly important for these saddles, so watch out all you racers out there.
Now, I didn't get this saddle to alleviate any ongoing ailments or injuries, I just wanted a good saddle for my long term test bike and that's what I got. Like a favourite worn-in pair of trainers, the 611 has been consistently enjoyable to use, and not rubbed or given any discomfort. I have had plenty of saddles over the years which have also been very good, but the guys at SQ Lab promised me it would be great, and it is. Rather than gambling with a standard seat this is as close to a dead cert as possible.
Looks may raise a few eyebrows, the long flat nose and the raised rear are visually different, but other than collecting water in the depression in the seat, the design has proved itself. I can feel the flex in the rear, but can't definitively say I'm pedalling better, however the long wide nose has been great for steep climbing.
The durability of the uppers has been superb so far, with an easy to clean surface backed up with the kevlar rear, which is showing no signs of damage despite crashes. The only obvious wear is on the front portion of the saddle rails, being exposed means they are prone to some paint rub from inner thighs/shorts, but this is not noticeable at all when riding.
I was sceptical initially, however the results have proven the claims: that they can fit a saddle to a rider, and it will be comfortable. There is a price to pay, but for those who struggle to get a saddle that works for them, this is surely an obvious answer, as it is for anyone who suffers from back pain or other lower back ailments, it's worth a shot. For something we sit on for such a lot of time, I think we should at the very least, spend more time, thought and money on this humble component, and SQ Lab is certainly the place to start.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.