Saddle Up! Riding Gravel’s Saddle Round Up- Part Two- by Grannygear
Is there a perfect saddle? Not likely. But there will be winners and losers as in the first post I set the stage for a sampling of various saddles, all with gravel and or adventure potential. From there we have a pile of saddles to work through. That first post is here. Today we look at two more saddles from two different companies, each with a quite different approach to the perfect perch.
Velo Prevail Ride 143 saddle: Minimal yet compliant.
From the website:
“Taking all of the advantages from the Angel line, including ArcTech suspension shock absorption systems and AirForm, Prevail, the professional level saddle provides excellent comfort while pedaling and a more classic full seat. The Y-shaped cutout is within the base of Prevail to offer pressure relief while maintaining the support necessary for competition saddles. Thanks to the additional seat coverage, the Prevail allows for multi-seat positions with a stiffer feel.“
So I guess if you make 15 million saddles a year, which is what it says on the Velo website, you are likely pretty good at it by now. Of course that number includes a lot of OE saddles made for other brands and ranges across a huge swath of the market including all kinds of recreational level saddles.
The story behind Velo as a company is very interesting, being owned and run by a woman with quite a vision. From the website:
Velo Enterprise began with founder Stella Yu’s vision to create perfect saddles for all types of demanding cyclists. In 1979, Stella Yu founded Velo Enterprise Co., Ltd. with the goal of meeting the individual needs of every cyclist.
A bit of google-ing will get you the story on all that, but that has to be one busy and smart lady.
The Prevail Ride 143 saddle weighs in at 254g and has a more minimal shape to it compared to most of the others I have on hand. What also stands out is the amount of give in the saddle shell. Arc Tech allows for more flex in the way the saddle rails attach to the shell and the foam seems quite compliant as well. It is a good looking saddle too. Can a saddle look fast? This one does.
The retail price for this is USD $99.80
At the Checkpoint: On the trail the Velo Prevail Ride 143 feels a lot like a road saddle with a very minimal feel to it body contact wise. It feels much less ‘there’ than the WTBs did with very little contact except the sit bones. Now that could mean it’s a butt hatchet or perhaps it’s a harsh ride, but neither is true. The amount of give in the saddle is actually exceptional. There must be something to the Arc Tech deal because small impacts are very nicely absorbed.
I had plenty of saddle rail to get it where I wanted it, so it is not a short saddle in that regard.
There might be too much give or I am not sure what, because I felt like I was sliding off the back end of the saddle unless I tilted it quite nose down. Perhaps the saddle was sinking back or maybe I just would have liked a bit of a kick in the back section. You can actually see in the side profile shot that the Prevail Ride slopes down a bit from the middle to the back. Maybe I am feeling that. Once I set the tilt correctly, the saddle was very comfortable and did have a road saddle feel to it. If you are coming from that slim, minimal saddle type then the Prevail Ride would not feel like you just jumped onto some saddle from an exercise bike.
One thing that I should point out, although on a gravel bike it may be a moot point. The back lip of the saddle is a hard plastic ridge and if I were back behind the saddle, like on a crazy steep trail, I would not want to hit that plastic piece in the groin area. Now that is much more a typical MTB situation, and this is not an MTB saddle, but I mention it anyway.
At the Finish: In the end I felt like I wanted more saddle support or more something from the Velo that I was not getting, although that is mostly preference over function. I think that if your tastes run to a minimal saddle, then this is well worth a look and has excellent compliance built into it.
Ergon SR Comp: Support at it’s finest?
“Pressure relief in the seating area: SR Men. Flat contour, yet still comfortably padded. The overall shape and the relief channel with its deep cut-out perfectly match the male anatomy in a low, forward tilted riding position typical for road biking. The highly sensitive perineal area is effectively unloaded, preventing any discomfort. OrthoCell®-Inlays in the seating area generate the best possible pressure distribution – the innovative OrthoCell® material ensures maximum reset forces and is also more durable and lighter than gel.“
I have used Ergon Saddles in the past and generally have had good results from them. I used one as my first gravel bike saddle and liked it with some reservations, running it until it seemed the padding was allowing me to feel the inner construction of the saddle and then that was that. Maybe it was me. It also required a very, very accurate positioning or it rubbed on my inner thighs right below the butt cheeks.
The new SR Comp saddle weighed in at 263g. $99.95 USD
At the Checkpoint: I have tried 4 Ergon saddles and all of them have had one thing in common. The ‘wing’ section, that being where the saddle begins to taper towards the mid section heading to the nose, will rub on my inner thighs unless I get the saddle exactly right. I mean exactly. And even then sometimes it still will annoy me for a few pedal strokes, then I forget about it.
Despite this persnickety-ness, the new SR Comp is one of the best saddles for gravel I have used. The saddle feels pretty firm when you push on it with your hands. After coming from the slinky Velo I was a bit concerned that it would be too stiff for comfort.
The SR Comp has a beautifully supportive sit area that cradled me with more suppleness then I expected. It seems to be firmly supportive AND compliant all at the same time. There is a smallish area to what I would call the sweet spot, so I had to spend some time getting fore/aft and tilt just right, mostly to avoid the thigh rubbing. Once there, it has been very, very, good.
At the Finish: The Ergon SR Comp is giving the WTB Silverado a run for its money in my book, the Silverado allowing for a bit more flexibility in pedaling position, but is not quite as ’just right’ in support as the SR Comp is.
Note- The saddles featured in Riding Gravel’s Saddle Shootout were all sent to Riding Gravel by their respective manufacturers/brands at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for these posts and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.