I tested two of their Race Series saddles, the 611 active MTB and the 611 Race. Their ergonomic designs really make the saddles more comfortable, efficient and easier to spend longer periods of time out riding without numbness or hot spots.
The 611 Race comes in 12cm, 13cm, 14cm and 15cm widths, and uses TiTube alloy rails, Marathon Foam padding and is covered with K18 material, and retails for $110. The 611 active MTB comes in 13cm, 14cm and 15cm widths, and uses TiTube alloy rails, Marathon Foam padding and is covered with K18 material, comes with three exchangeable elastomer inserts (soft, medium, hard) and retails for $165. Radsport USA, is the North American home of the premium German brands of Syntace, Liteville, SQlab and Haberland and 66Sick.
- 611 active - Length 302mm, weights 289g - 304g
- 611 Race - Length 279mm, weights 249g-270g
SQlab produces ergonomic bike products, including saddles, grips, pedals and handlebars. Their saddles come in varying width sizes to maximize pedaling efficiency and comfort, by getting the weight off the soft tissue and transmitted to the seat bones. This matching of the pelvis to the saddle works in conjunction with their Step saddle design, which has a kick up towards the rear of the saddle and the MaxContact technology, which keep a flatter nose section for optimal support and footprint contact. They calculate the width of the users sit bones using a simple piece of corrugated cardboard, in which you scrunch your butt into the cardboard making an impression or indentation of your butt bones for a subsequent measurement. Once the width is determined, you add another zero through four to come up with the saddle size, which are 12, 13, 14, and 15 cm. The zero is for an aero position, while one is for x-country, two and three for a slight bend for All Mountain use, and finally four is for casual cruiser positioning. I measured out to a 12cm wide seat bone, and then I added a 2 to come up with a size 14 saddle. SQlab dealers actually have a fancy measuring device (shown above), that helps you to force your sit bones into the cardboard by using a set of hand grips for additional leverage. I did my measuring on the kitchen table in my underwear, which got some interesting glances from my kids.
The main differences between the 611 active and 611 is that the former has a slightly longer nose, and it uses their Active damping system. The Active damping system uses three different density elastomers, which are swappable (plug-n-play) depending on the riders desired amount of lateral movement of the hips. The elastomers get wedged up under the saddle where the rails attach at the rear. SQlab's Active Design allows the saddle shell to follow the bio-mechanical movement of the pelvis on each pedal stroke, in a sort of dampened suspension set up. This results in a decrease of pressure on the sit bones and a mobilization of the spinal discs.
I used the saddles on my Ibis Mojo HD and Ripley, doing lots of climbing on long steep grinds, and many miles of fire roads to get to my local All Mountain terrain. Even though it was a wide saddle, the width turned out to be very beneficial when you got your sit bones up on the stepped design of the rear of the saddle. Once you got yourself up on your sit bones on the rear section, it relieved pressure from the sensitive soft tissue, giving maximum comfort. In addition, the position gave an additional amount of leverage and increased power. I personally liked a stepped or raised rear on a saddle in contrast to some of the flatter varieties, but some might find it a bit too extreme, while I found it ideal. When the terrain got steep on a climb, you could scrunch yourself up on the nose and pry down for greater traction and control. I sometimes found the nose to be a tad too narrow and hard for my personal tastes and my body geometry, but others might not have an issue with that. The 611 active's longer nose section gave it better control and power management, which was useful on long climbs, though it could get in the way when doing some gnarly technical maneuvering. Overall, the saddle was on the firm side of things, though the design, features, materials and sizing worked in concert to give a surprisingly comfortable ride. The Titanium rails, flexible shell, and padding worked in synergy to offer good bump absorption, while still providing stability and control.
The active's elastomer system was a real highlight for me, and when you're on the rear of the saddle, it allowed a slight lateral movement (rockin') of the hips, which made pedaling more efficient and the body more comfortable. Even though the system gave the nice movement from the hips, it never felt squishy or sloppy, and the saddle still offered a stable platform. After many long days and climbs on the saddle, I've come to appreciate the active's damping system, as it made riding much more pleasant on any terrain. I tried out all three of the elastomer inserts (soft, medium, hard), and ended up using the softest one, which provided maximum comfort and lateral movement.
I really like the SQlab 611 Race and 611 active MTB, and their ergonomic designs make the saddles more comfortable, efficient and easier to spend longer periods of time out riding without numbness or hot spots, especially in the nether regions. Both saddles have the SQlab Step design which has a kick up towards the rear of the saddle, which offers a great platform for you sit bones (aka butt bones). This design distributes body weight in the proper locations, and helps reduce pressure on soft tissue in the perineum area. Their sizing system helps you get on a saddle that fits your sit bone's width, which isn't necessarily what body type you have, since thinner people can have a wide sit bones, and larger people might have a narrower one. Once the saddle is tuned to your sit bone width you maximize contact, power, comfort, and control. The active elastomer system was a real winner, and the lateral movement in the hips was noticeable and very welcome, giving more comfort and pedaling efficiency when seated on the rear. I do wish the nose had a tad more padding and width, as I found it too firm for my tastes on some climbs, and although they aren't heavy, they could go on a diet.
- Active system
- Stepped design
- Multiple sizes to fit various sit bone widths
- Not a lightweight
- Needs a tad more padding and width on the nose
MSRP: 611 Race $110 and 611 active MTB $165
Overall Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers