The SQ Labs Ergowave 612 Active saddle has seen a large amount of invested time into researching regarding optimal pressure distribution in saddle design. It's a saddle with a design that produces a profile that relieves pressure on intimate parts, but the wide rear of the saddle caused unwanted pressure in other areas. It’s a comfy unisex saddle but it’s not my holy grail.
In an attempt to find the perfect saddle I was directed towards the SQ Labs Ergowave 612 range by a friend who loved hers and with ongoing intimate issues in the saddle department, I heeded the advice and called one in for test.
The Ergowave range heralds a new shape of saddles that I have not seen before. They feature a profile that is higher at the rear than at the front that SQ Lab's say is driven by research calculating the forces occurring deep within the structures of the body and the maximum load between the cyclist and the bike saddle. Given my penchant for dipping the nose of the saddle, not just make the most of the effective seat angle of the bike, but also to alleviate some pressure on my undercarriage, I thought SQ Labs might be onto something. SQ Labs say “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.” There is lots of background information about the design on the SQ Labs website here. They also say that pelvis movement up to 7 degrees via flexible wings stimulates the natural movement of walking and therefore increases efficiency when pedalling. I was looking forward to not only being comfortable but also more effective on the pedals too!
The Ergowave saddle I tested was a 15cm 612 Active saddle, one of the cheaper options in the range with S-Tube alloy rails, costing of 149.95 Euros or £135.35 and weighs in at 244g. You can also get the same saddle in pricier carbon railed versions and there is also the 611 range to choose from. These 611 saddles are a little wider at the nose, longer from nose to tail and contain more padding at the rear. The 612 Active saddle is designed for both road and more aggressive mountain bike use.
The Ergowave saddles also use 'Adjustable Active Technology' which is the use of three elastomers which fitted to the rear of the underside of the saddle adjust the amount of deformation the wings of the saddle, leading to more freedom of movement of the pelvis. SQ labs have a good GIF on their website here so you can visualize what I am talking about. I experimented with these elastomers when setting up the saddle and with no discernable difference felt I opted for the correct one recommended for my weight (white). With the others making for less ‘flex’ to the saddle I can only assume that being on the lighter side of things, in order to allow even more movement of the wings of the saddle I would need an even more flexible elastomer not available. My colleague Mike over on road.cc recently tested a 13cm carbon railed version of the same saddle and said he could feel the differences in the elastomers, opting for a more flexible one for increased comfort on longer rides.
Riding on the saddle was, for the most part, a comfortable affair, I really rate the step down profile of the saddle, it makes perfect sense moving the saddle away from the sensitive parts of the body, leaving the support located on the rear of the saddle and the more hardy sit bones. I used the Ergowave 612 on cross-country bikes, trail bike and my enduro bike and found that I no longer needed to drop the nose of the saddle as I usually would, with the design of the saddle doing this job for me.
Where I disliked the saddle was in the width of the nose and the wings. I used the SQ Labs fitting system, which involves making indents on a piece of corrugated card and figuring out which saddle size is best for your sit bone width. SQ Labs advised me that I’d need a 15cm saddle, I usually opt for a narrower fit and my current saddle of choice is the Fizik Luna X5 which measures 145mm at the widest part. I found the wings of the Ergowave a little wide rubbing on the rear of my thighs, uncomfortable over long periods. Where the Fizik isn’t necessarily a lot narrower, the thermoplastic elastomer side panels fitted to the wings are a lot more flexible than the design of the Ergowave. I approached SQ Labs with my observations and requested to try the 14cm saddle but they, unfortunately, weren’t keen on the idea, stating that I had been fitted correctly to the right size saddle.
It’s a shame that I couldn’t experiment as I really like the profile of the saddle, it ticks all the boxes in relieving pressure. I also found the relatively long flat nose of the saddle to suit my preferences, although I do usually like a really slim nose, it would be nice to see the Ergowave range give options for narrower sizes at the nose too. If you are looking to invest in a good saddle with plenty of research to back up its claims then the SQ Labs range is a great place to look, just make sure when measuring yourself that you also trust your prior instincts and learn from prior experience. about the features that you know work for you in the saddle department.
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