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Hands-on Gear Review
WTB Speed Comp Review
Cons: Heavy, exposed stitching.
Bottom line: The Speed is a comfortable saddle with dense padding, and a price that can't be beat.
Winner of our Best Buy Award, the Speed Comp is a great saddle at an even better price. Universally liked by nearly all of our testers, it seems to have the unique ability to fit almost anyone. Its length and width fall right in the middle when compared to other saddles in the WTB line up, such as the WTB Pure and the WTB Rocket. Generous padding and an anatomical groove round out the flat shape. If you are a fan of the old version of the Speed saddle, known as the Speed V, you are going to love the new version that is now known simply as the Speed. The changes are subtle in appearance, but the cover material is greatly improved with minimal exposed stitching.
The Speed is our go-to saddle for the daily driver mountain bike or commuter. It is, however, a bit too soft and heavy for the gram counters and serious racers. If you are looking for a lightweight racing saddle, we recommend you look at the our Editors' Choice Specialized Phenom Expert or the Top Pick Fabric Scoop.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Speed was an all-around favorite among our testers for comfort. It offers generous padding and an anatomical groove that provides noticeable pressure relief. With a width of 140mm, it is narrower than the WTB Pure, and wider than the rather narrow Rocket. WTB lists the width of the Speed as 145mm, but we found the widest section of the saddle to be only 140mm. A slight rise in the rear provides something to push against during hard efforts. The Speed strikes the perfect balance with middle of the road dimensions and generous padding.
The shape of the saddle is relatively flat, with rounded edges that taper to the outside to limit excessive thigh contact while pedaling. Like other WTB saddles we tested, the Speed employs a Comfort Zone cutout in the shell near the nose of the saddle. This is not a full cutout with an open area devoid of material. The shell below the padding is simply removed, to allow for more downward displacement, to limit pressure on sensitive areas. The effect is subtle but noticeable when you slide forward on the saddle during a hard effort.
The Speed saddle has a good amount of flex, which helps to enhance comfort when pedaling in the seated position over rough terrain. The flex is a result of the extensive cutouts in the shell material. Unlike saddles with firm shells like the Fabric Scoop, the Speed relies on the padding for support rather than a stiff shell. There are pros and cons to this approach — generally, it yields a very soft comfortable ride but compromises performance.
The Speed is not the most high-performance saddle we reviewed; the generous padding that makes it so comfortable is a deterrent when it comes to maximum-seated power output. The sensation of losing power to saddle flex and padding compression is noticeable, especially in comparison to a higher performance saddle such as the Specialized Phenom or the Fabric Scoop. Should you be worried about this?
If you are new to mountain biking, the answer is no. For the new rider we emphasise comfort over performance. However, if you are an experienced rider or racer looking for maximum efficiency, you will likely be happier on a more performance oriented saddle such as the WTB High Tail, or the Fizik Monte. When it comes to maximum efficiency, a firmer saddle will provide a better platform for power transfer.
The Speed is quite versatile and would be at home on a mountain bike, cyclocross bike, town bike, or touring bike. Road riding and road racing are not the best use for the Speed, due to its heavy padding and flexible shell, which inhibit power output. Other mountain bike saddles such as the Fizik Monte are more versatile due to their more judicious use of padding, allowing for better power transfer. For casual trail riding, the Speed is a good choice. It is very comfortable for long days in the saddle.
The Speed is very durable: the synthetic cover is tough, it offers a rubberized plastic scuff guard and durable steel rails. Our only complaint is the exposed stitching at the junction of the scuff guard and the cover. Exposed stitching is prone to abrasion over time. You should also be aware that saddles with very thick padding tend to lose support over time, as the padding compresses and breaks down.
A soft saddle such as the Pure relies directly on the padding for its shape and support, compared to a saddle such as the Phenom that gets its shape from the shell, which is much less likely to fatigue over time. With that said, we know many riders who have had a Speed in use for many trouble-free years, and our test saddle did not disappoint during the testing period.
No accolades here, the Speed is on the heavy side at 362g. The Monte Manganese has a similar shape and comparable comfort but weighs only 245g. Much of the hefty mass of the the Speed can be attributed to the thick, dense Standard level padding, which is heavier than the DNA padding found on more expensive and higher performing WTB saddles. The steel rails are also heavier than other materials such as titanium. However, our testers found the increased weight did not outweigh the benefits of this durable and comfortable saddle.
This is a classic mountain bike saddle; it can handle the rigors of everyday use on your daily driver. It is also adept at handling the rigors of commuting and it will not shy away from a bit of mud on the cyclocross course.
As the winner of our Best Buy Award, the Speed offers outstanding value. You are not likely to find a better all-around saddle for $40. We tested many saddles that are lighter and offer better performance, but none even close to the price of the Speed.
The Speed saddle is offered in Team, Pro models in addition to the Comp model tested.
Speed Pro Gel
— Curtis Smith
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Most recent review: February 9, 2017