Grips and Saddles. Ask any cyclist and they’ll tell you about their ‘go to’ brand and model. The answers that you collect will probably be all over the map. I’m a Brooks Swift Saddle and Ergon GP1 – Size Large for grippage. Most cyclists are very loyal to the touch point components (Seat/Grips/Pedals) that they run. So, I preface this review with an understanding of old dogs and new seats. I know why, this old dog, decided that a seat test, sounded like a good idea, in spite of my own, brand preferences. It was the measurement process and the multitude of saddle sizes that SQ Lab offer that over came my own brand loyalties. So I agreed to test an SQ Labs 611 Ergowave Active Saddle and 711 Grips and I’ve been running them for about 8 months.
The SQ Lab Saddle process, starts with a fit kit that has instructions on how to measure your sit bones. You basically make an impression on a wide wale cardboard sheet, that is supplied in the kit and that allows you to take a measurement of the width of your sit bones. That measurement is then influenced by the type of riding position that suits the rider’s intended use, and the correct saddle is revealed. This sort of fit kit saddle sizing technique is not exclusive to SQ Lab. I believe that the big red S has a similar program.
There are 4 different widths of the saddle offered and a variety of models as well. I worked with Kenny, from SQ Lab, to determine which model fit my needs and as soon as the saddle came in, I swapped out my Brooks Swift for the new-ness. The first thing that I noticed, even before my first ride, was that the 611 Ergowave Active saddle was about a half an inch longer (in the nose) than the brooks. Initially. the longer nose created problems with the way that I’m used to setting up a brooks (with the nose up just the slightest bit). I emailed Kenny about it, and he suggested an angle adjustment. He also explained that the longer nose was designed to aid in proving a forward seated climbing perch and to aid in steering (with the hips) which is a technique that, in theory, helps my gyro-computer connect with flowing singletrack funskis. The small tilt forward put an end to any discomfort issues I had whined about, but even before the tilt adjustment, there was always a sweet spot on this saddle(further back) where I could feel my sit bones go to their happy place. I’m a believer that the width sizing of these saddles makes for a more comfortable ride.
So, I rode this saddle on my personal mountain bike, a Surly Krampus, from Spring till, Mid-Summer, and then I started testing a Blackjack Fate. Jack asked me what kind of saddle that I wanted on the demo bike and I told him a WTB Rocket, because that’s a saddle that I had ridden all the way back on my Red/Rolloff/Pugsley and that’s what popped into my head, because…… It’s just not cricket to ask a friend to send a test bike, with a four hundred dollar Brooks Saddle. So the bike came with a lovely WTB saddle. I got a couple of good rides in, on that saddle and it became clear to me that it was too wide for my anatomy. This old dog had learned about sit bone sizing and that allowed me to diagnose the source of the discomfort straight away. I replaced the WTB Saddle with the SQ Lab and once again, my sit bones found their happy place. That’s two bikes and two happy experiences. I have to mention this : I have an Amigo Lance that bought a SQ Lab saddle (on my recommendation). I assume he went through a similar fit-kit and consultation with his local bike shop, etc. But I don’t know which model that he ended up getting. Lance told me that he felt that the saddle wasn’t padded enough for his 6+ hour rides. The saddle is quite firm and there is minimal padding. I found this saddle to be perfectly tolerable, but my trail rides are an hour and a half to three hours, tops. The saddle that I tested has the SQ Labs active elastomer bumpers that come in Hard/Med/Soft. I ran the Hard durometer bumper. The rails of our test saddle are titanium, but the saddle also comes in a version with carbon rails.
I just started testing another fat-bike and it came with a shiny new WTB Saddle. If that saddle doesn’t work out, I’d have no issue with bolting the SQ Lab on there and I’m confident that I’d have no problem finding…..my happy place.
SQ Lab 711 Grips
These are the grips that I ran for the entire test of the Borealis Crestone last winter and then moved them over to my Asylum Cycles Hank. Both the Crestone & Hank are bikes, that amigos usually want to give a spin. More often than not, folks that took a test ride, came back and asked what kind of grips were on there, because they really liked them. The 711 grips also come in 3 sizes. We tested a size Large. I love these grips and I’m very pro Ergon. I think grips make a big difference on how the pilot controls of a modern mountain bike interface with our digits. Almost every test bike that I write about gets the grips swapped. These grips have a permanent home on my favorite non-fat-bike in the current quiver. They are the only non-ergon grips that I currently run. They’re rebels and I like that.
You can get more information about SQ Lab at – www.sq-lab.com