Saddle choice, by its very nature, is an extremely personal preference. Cyclists come in all shapes and sizes, but even identically sized riders might prefer different saddles. SQlab GmbH of Germany recognizes that riders have different seating needs, and offers a range of saddles suited to riders of all sizes and disciplines. Recently I was given the opportunity to test the company’s 611 Race and 611 Active MTB saddles.
Like many other manufacturers, SQlab saddles are available in multiple widths. Determining your particular saddle width is a simple, two-part procedure. The first step is measuring your sit bones’ width using a piece of corrugated cardboard and a chair. Once you’ve determined that measurement, you then add 0-4cm depending on your preferred riding position (the more upright your position, the more you add). If you’re between sizes, SQlab recommends sizing up to the next width. My calculations put me in between the 14cm and 15cm sizes, so I selected 15cm test saddles.
Measuring 302mm in length, SQlab’s 611 Active MTB saddle is one of the longest off-road saddles available. The extra length, combined with the amply padded nose, translates into more positions for technical, off-road riding. For improved comfort and efficiency, the 611 Active saddle features the company’s T-Beam suspension system. Instead of attaching the base of the saddle directly to the rails, the shell is suspended via an elastomer which allows the saddle to track the rider’s pelvic movement.
The 611 Active MTB saddle’s unique profile serves two purposes. The flat rear portion supports the rider’s sit bones, and helps move pressure away from the soft tissues. Further relief is provided by the stepped fore/aft profile, which keeps pressure off the perineum. Dialing in the Active MTB saddle’s position required some tweaking over a few rides. In my case, that meant moving the SQlab saddle approximately 1cm farther forward than my other saddles.
Designed for on-road use, the 611 Race saddle features a more conventional profilel. The 279mm long Race saddle retains the 611 Active MTB’s flat, supportive rear portion, but lacks the latter saddle’s more pronounced stepped fore/aft profile. Interestingly enough, I found that less trial-and-error was required to determine the 611 Race model’s correct position, and the preferred setback for the Race saddle ended up being almost identical to my other saddles (Selle Anatomica, Specialized, WTB). With a weight of 280g, the SQlab Race model was comparable to saddles of similar size and construction.
During this review period, I split my time evenly between the two SQlab saddles. While not designed specifically for off-road use, I found that I preferred the 611 Race model for both paved and unpaved riding. I did notice, however, that the 611 Active MTB saddle’s suspension was superior for reducing trail chatter and vibration. Both saddles were tested with a variety of seaposts, and I’m happy to report that SQlab saddles remained free of squeaks and creaks for the duration of my review.
Disclosure: Radsport USA provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.