WTB Gravelier Saddle: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted & MG
WTB announced the new Gravelier saddle today at Sea Otter, but we at Riding Gravel have been “in the know” for a while here and were trusted with some Gravelier saddles to try out ahead of the release. So, we have a two-pronged review with Guitar Ted and MG who both have been riding the Gravelier saddle since mid-March. With about a month’s worth of riding and hundreds of miles already logged on the Gravelier saddles, we bring you our take on them here today.
What It Is: WTB claims that the Gravelier is, as the name would suggest, a saddle that helps riders be more comfortable in the typical forward leaning position that many utilize when riding gravel. But they also admit that the Gravelier can be used for road and XC MTB riding as well.
Here is some promotional copy we were sent on the Gravelier to explain what the design is claimed to do.
“The Gravelier represents the pinnacle of pedaling comfort and performance for gravel riders who put in big miles at an expeditious pace. Our new Fusion Form base technology balances rider comfort and support while also optimizing power transfer throughout the duration of a ride. This is accomplished by fine tuning the fiber content in the base to maximize the performance of each saddle model. The perineal (sit bone) relief cutout of the Gravelier improves blood flow and reduces numbness in sensitive areas when the hips are rotated forward in an aggressive forward-leaning pedaling position. The gradual taper of the Gravelier creates a wide saddle mid-point, which expands the range of comfortable seating positions and allows riders to shift forward or back on the saddle without losing sit bone support. This improves comfort and reduces saddle fatigue as the miles stack up. Built for Speed. Built for Distance. Built for Gravel.“
The Gravelier is available in a few versions which range from $99.95 to $249.95 depending on the rail material. Other aspects of the saddle remain the same across the range (with the exception of the Fusion Form base technology. See bullet point list below) so there is a Gravelier for every budget. Rail materials are CroMoly, Stainless Steel, Titanium, and Carbon Fiber. Currently all Graveliers are a Medium width (142mm X 248mm L) and are claimed to accommodate sit bone widths from 100mm – 130mm. Prices for the CroMoly and Carbon saddles have already been mentioned, but here are the Stainless Steel and Titanium rail saddle prices: $119.95 and $142.95 respectively.
Bullet-point feature list here from WTB:
• Stiff, yet responsive, fiber-infused Fusion Form base optimizes power transfer under hard efforts while also absorbing vibrations transferred through the bike.
• New Fusion Form base allows model-specific amounts of fiber to be infused into the nylon to dial in a flex profile that balances comfort and support.
• Center cutout is ergonomically positioned to reduce perineal pressure, improve blood flow and reduce numbness in sensitive areas when the hips are rotated forward in an aggressive pedaling position.
• Pressure mapping technology was used to create a foundational shape based on anatomical science that we then refined to create the perfect shape for gravel riders.
• 248mm length is shorter than most saddles, which alleviates pressure on sensitive areas as the hips are rotated forward and reduces overall saddle weight in the process.
First Impressions: Guitar Ted: I was wowed by the light weight of the carbon railed saddle I was sent. It was astounding to me that a saddle can weigh only 160 grams and have a cover on it with any padding at all, but the scale did not lie. The fit and finish of the saddle was – as usual with WTB high-end stuff – impeccable. I have never used a saddle with a cut-out before, so I was curious to see how that would play out for me.
MG: While the Gravelier is WTB’s first “gravel specific” saddle, it has a familiar shape and feel. The shape is reminiscent of the Silverado mountain bike saddle (a personal favorite), however the rear section is more rounded and less flat. And then of course there’s the full cutout in place of the closed Comfort Zone on the Silverado. I have the titanium railed version, by the way. The 208 gram weight of the Ti-rail version is very competitive. In fact, it dropped more than 40g compared to the Fizik saddle I had been running before.
So, overall the impression was one of familiarity for MG and one of some wonder for GT, since he hadn’t ridden a saddle quite like this before, with the exception of the Ergon saddle Riding Gravel tested last year here. The difference being the padding and that the rail material was different, and there was no cut-out.
Riding Impressions: MG: The shell is engineered with quite a bit of flexibility, making the Gravelier ride a lot softer than it looks, despite the firm padding. The shorter overall length means you might need to move the saddle around a bit during setup to find its sweet spot. Once I found the sweet spot though, I found the Gravelier to be a very comfortable saddle for my posterior.
I love the feel of the microfiber cover. It’s easy to move around on, yet you can lock into your position easily as well. The cutout is done well too, as it doesn’t detract from comfort anywhere else on the saddle to provide soft tissue relief. While I’m not always sold on the virtue of full cutouts, WTB did a good job with the cutout on the Gravelier.
GT: I got quite a few training rides in on the Gravelier and rode it in an event in early April. The shape and comfort level I experienced on the Gravelier was as every bit as good as the Ergon saddle which I have on another bike. (See review link on the Ergon saddle above)
During the six hours I rode on the saddle during the event I was in, I never experienced that dreaded “I’m done with this ride” feeling because of a saddle that is starting to really hurt. In fact, I have to say that for me the Gravelier just was a “saddle” that didn’t cause me to have any issues. I can’t even really say I noted the cut-out either, which, to be honest, I was a bit surprised by. So, I have to agree with MG on the cut-out – It does the job without any notice.
At The Finish: MG: Of course, all saddle reviews are subjective, but for me the Gravelier ranks right up there with my current favorite gravel saddles, including the PRO Stealth Off-Road, Fizik Terra Argo, and Tioga Undercover Stratum. That’s a winner in my book.
GT: I have been a big fan of the Ergon saddle I have referenced, but the WTB Gravelier is just as good, if maybe just a tic lower on my scale only because the Ergon saddle has a better padding design, in my opinion. But if I am honest here, I am splitting hairs. I know this because I hopped on the bike with the Ergon saddle, and not thinking about the bike I was on, I thought it was the WTB saddle, they are that close for me.
Like MG says though, saddle choice is highly subjective, but we both agree here that you could do a whole lot worse than the Gravelier and if you are looking for something new in a saddle, and have been using similarly shaped saddles, it’s worth a try.
Note: WTB sent over these Gravelier saddles for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.