At the Magura Press Camp in Sedona, I came home with a unique saddle for MTB or road riding. SQlab was there as one of the vendors on display, and they have a line of saddles and grips and bars, etc. A German company, it had its beginnings here, as noted on the SQlab website.
SQlab – The history
Toby Hild was born 1970 in Munich, rode motocross bikes in the 80’s and then switched to downhill. Early in the 90’s he founded the company Amazing Toys and manufactured MTB DH components such as handlebars, chainguides and grips. After a big motocross crash in the year 2000, he was forced to stop all sports activities he had been doing up until that point.
After a lengthy recovery phase he was able to slowly start riding mountainbikes again in 2002 but concentrated more on marathon riding which started out quite successfully with a 3rd place of the SQlab employees team at the Munich 24 hr event.
In addition to over 25 years of experience in competition sports and being a test rider for manufacturers and magazines, the many accidents and surgeries he has gone through have almost given his body seismographic capabilities. He immediately notices problems with the contact points grips, saddle and pedals as well as an incorrect geometry.
Since 2001, together with Dr. Stefan Stautde, Toby started researching ergonomics in cycling. The gathered theoretical findings from the teachings of anatomy and biomechanics were compared with scientific research studies, medical reports, personal experience and findings from thousands of cyclists which had meanwhile been measured up.
The findings led to both the guidebook “The path to a perfect saddle“, which is seen as standard-setting not just by retailers, and a range of components with the aim of making cycling healthier, less painful and more efficient.
So with that in mind, let’s look at the SQlab 612 Ergowave Active saddle.
Now I have to say that saddles are so intensely personal that even reviewing one just might be the height of foolishness. However, knowing that your butt is not my butt, I will press on with my thoughts and findings. First then, from the SQlab website about the SQlab 612 Ergowave Active Saddle:
The 612 Ergowave active was specifically designed to accomodate the requirements of both competetive and leisure cyclists both on the road or mountainbike. The wave-like shape and raised rear section provides perfect rearward support and an optimal pressure distribution which reaches deep into the body structures resulting in improved power transmission. The lowered nose in combination with the dip provides optimal pressure relief for the perineal area. The flat but slim SQlab MaxContact® saddle nose and the firm padding of the 612 were both specifically designed for the needs on the roadbike. The SQlab active technology allows the saddle to follow the biomechanical motion when pedalling resulting in increased comfort, mobilisation of the spinal discs and reduced pressure to the sitbones.
Saddles have come so far from where I remember them from my early beginnings, that I sure appreciate the hard work and research that goes into making my backside and nether region comfy. But despite all the above quoted “optimal” this and “improved” that, I found the SQlab 612 Ergowave Active saddle to be very uncomfortable to ride, despite, or perhaps, even because of the intended design.
I mounted it on the Intense Primer at Press Camp, and used it on a ride there and a few rides back at home. My initial impression was that my sit bones, or ischial tuberosities, were perched on top of two little podiums, and a fairly firm one as well. In the heat of Sedona, by the time I was done, I had developed ‘hot spots’ where I was contacting the saddle, although the overall shape of the saddle was fine to move around on. Still, at home I expected to tweak the fit a bit and find a better result.
But I never could get past that focused pressure right on the sit bones, despite being fit for the saddle width by the SQlab person with their ‘butt graph’ paper and bed of nails fit system. A 143mm wide saddle is well within my norm. I have never been on a saddle that allowed for so much relief for the perineal area though, no doubt because of the large void in the area of the saddle, but also due to the way you perch on the flat back of the saddle.
Every ride would find me squirming to ease that pressure and find the sweet spot, but I gave up, finding that no amount of tilting or sliding fore-aft changed that for me. I also let Navy Mike ride it as he actually likes saddles I hate, like ones from Fizik. He took off the SQlab 612 Ergowave Active saddle and replaced it with the Fabric OE saddle. It is firm and I like that in a saddle, so the padding level was not the issue IMO.
Now the Active part of the saddle is interesting. It has an elasotomer section at the rear rails of the saddle that allow it to tilt side to side as you pedal. That is an interesting deal. If I have a biomechanical issue where I am uneven in my pedal stroke, say for leg length issues, then that could be of value. I don’t know for sure though as I do not have any issue in that way. So that feature seems a bit lost for me and if my saddle height and width is correct, and I am not rocking in the saddle as I pedal, then I would just as soon not have my saddle tilting side to side either. However, I do know a guy who cycles with a prosthetic and he has a lot of body motion to make that work for him. He is quite a guy and has overcome a great deal of adversity in his life and sports pursuits, so I plan on passing this saddle on to him to try. You can see in the pic that he has a ton of side to side rocking at the hips when at BDC on the left side.
I do think this saddle does what it sets out to do in many ways and for someone who has prostate issues or other physical things going on, it might be the hot ticket. However, even if it does do what it says it does, I guess I just did not like the result. Maybe I do not have “seismographic capabilities” like the founder of SQlab. Your mileage and seismograph may vary.
Note: The products shown here were provided at no cost to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.