I have been looking for a new saddle for a while now. I was looking for something reasonably light but comfortable for a new build (Sarto Antonio custom RR02 frame).
I have had lots of problems with saddles for some time now and been through quite a few - including a hybrid I made myself out of the parts of three different saddles!
I recently tried a friend's Specialized Toupe saddle and found it to be just about right, however, as I refuse to purchase anything Specialized, at least I found out that I need a flat saddle. I was recommended a Williams saddle, but in the meantime had contacted SQ labs in Germany as they seemed to have an interesting product and had a carbon model in the pipeline that weighed just 100g with different padding options! They also had no distributor in Spain and I have been helping some young LBS owners to source brands to distribute so it was interesting for that reason as well.
I contacted the very helpful Kathrina at SQ labs and she agreed to send two saddles in different widths for us to test.
I have been riding the 611 race model for the last week (450km -one 6 hour ride) so I thought I would give my opinion on this saddle. The saddle with Ti alloy rails is not a lightweight at 264 grams, however there is sub 200g carbon model and that soon to be released 100g with padding 6.1 model.
The first thing one notices about this saddle is the stepped design, the purpose of which, in combination with a concave area (where a cut out would normally be) is to relieve pressure on the perineal area and sit bones. Before receiving the saddle, I figured this could be really difficult to get used to.
Anyway, first impressions are that the saddles are very well made (the first package they sent me got lost and as they had to send me replacements, they sent me seconds, there was only one tiny flaw in the covering of one of the saddles that I could see). I guess we come to expect quality from German-made products; vorsprung durch technik and all that.
When I tried the Toupe saddle, it was very easy to set up and I dialled it in with just two adjustments.
Being lazy, I didn't bother to read the SQ manual and it took me about 6 adjustments to dial it in. I found that for best comfort I needed to tilt it up at the nose very slightly and also had to move it forwards slightly farther than the other saddles I have tried, otherwise my sit bones kept sliding forwards off the step area. I kept the saddle height the same, as the saddle I was using had taller rails.
When I queried why I had to set up with a slight backwards tilt, Kathrina pointed me to the manual (probably with a roll of the eyes!). Here I found out that the saddle design allows for slight tilting up (extra comfort) or down (more relief in the perineal area) at the nose. Also the saddle height may need to be lowered to take into account the raised area of the step design though I would check carefully before lowering the 1.5 to 3cm they recommend. Additionally they recommend that the saddle should be moved forwards slightly as well to ensure the sit bones are seated in the right area. I had essentially intuitively set the saddle up the right way, I just went the wrong way about it.
The best thing I can say about this saddle is that after about 1/2 hour of riding it disappeared and I forgot that it was there.
The extra padding over the Toupe made it slightly more comfortable on the sit bones on longer rides.
I need relief in the perineal area when I am in the drops. Before trying it, I believed that the concave area would probably not work for me, however, it worked a treat. I have tried several cut out saddles and this felt better in that area than any of them, it just felt that my tackle was nicely supported and had its own compartment - sort of like when you turn over on the beach and make a hole in the sand. I've tried large cut out style saddles such as the Selle Italia Max but I always got the vague feeling that my tackle might get caught in the rear wheel spokes (girls please take note). Seriously though, the lack of a cut out was not missed. SQ argue that this allows the pressure on the sit bones to be spread more evenly.
Despite having the step, the saddle still allows you to move around. I found one added bonus that perhaps even the manufacturer hasn't realised - when you move forwards on the saddle to get the power down, that step gives you something to brace against and it feels as if every ounce is going into driving forwards.
Comes in several widths
May require a little more set up to get it dialed in
Could be a bit lighter (my test model is 264g) But hey that padded 6.1 soon to be available is a weight weenie qualifier.
Conclusion: If this saddle is for you, it may be the most comfortable saddle you ever try. I get the feeling it is the type of saddle prospective owners will either love or hate.