WTB Speed Review
Cons: Heavy, not as stiff as racing saddles
Manufacturer: Wilderness Trail Bikes
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|Price||$39.95 at Competitive Cyclist||$162.90 at Amazon||$113.23 at Amazon||$112 List||$164.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Competitive price, versatile design, comfortable, durable||Lightweight, comfortable, durable||Lightweight, supportive, comfortable on long rides||Lightweight, comfortable, reasonably priced||Relieves pressure, good price, texture prevents slip|
|Cons||Heavy, not as stiff as racing saddles||No anatomic relief channel, lacks versatility||No pressure relief channel, limited colors||Unique shape may not be for everyone||Saddle can stick, excess padding, pricey|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable balance of stiffness and cushioning, at a price that can't be beat||If you're a racer looking for comfortable and lightweight performance, this may be the model for you||A lightweight, comfortable bike seat great for cruising and distance riding||A uniquely shaped saddle that blends comfort with lightweight performance||Forgiving to the sitting bits, but sleek enough for racing|
|Rating Categories||WTB Speed||Fabric Scoop||Fizik Aliante Gamma Kium||Prologo Dimension||Terry Fly TI|
|Specs||WTB Speed||Fabric Scoop||Fizik Aliante...||Prologo Dimension||Terry Fly TI|
|Dimensions||L 270 mm, W 145 mm||L 282 mm, W 142 mm||L 265 mm, W 142 mm||L 245 mm, W 143 mm||L 277 mm, W 140mm|
|Weight (grams)||379 g||195 g||252 g||191 g||236 g|
|Target Use (mountain, road, etc.)||Mountain, Road, Cyclocross||Road||Road||Road, Mountain, Cyclocross||Road|
|Rail Material||Steel||Carbon fiber||Alloy||Tirox||316 Titanium Alloy|
|Seat Cover Material||Synthetic||Waterproof Microfiber||Synthetic||Microfiber||Leather|
|Shell Material||Plastic||Nylon, PU foam||Nylon Carbon Reinforced with Twin Flex™ center||Light foam||Unspecified Composite|
|Anatomical Cut Out or Channel||Yes, groove||No||No||Yes, full cut out||Yes, cut out|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The WTB Speed saddle once again earns recognition for its outstanding all-around performance at a great price. This saddle ranks well across the board, receiving respectable scores in every rating metric except for weight. While this isn't an ultra-lightweight, ultra-stiff performance saddle, the comfortable padding, versatile shape, and solid construction would make it an excellent option for your mountain bike, commuter bike, or spare road bike. The Steel rail version that we tested is very affordable but also a bit on the heavier side. A slightly lighter and more expensive Cromoly rail version is also available.
The WTB Speed is an all-around favorite among our group of testers when it comes to comfort. It offers a generous amount of padding that's not too firm and not too soft, and an anatomical groove down the center that provides noticeable pressure relief. A slight rise in the rear of the saddle provides a nice platform to push against during harder efforts. The measured width of 145 millimeters should comfortably fit a wide range of rider sizes, and the generous padding will provide cushioning for a wide range of anatomies.
The overall shape of this 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 channel devoid of material, but rather the shell below the padding is simply removed to allow for more downward displacement and to limit pressure on your sensitive areas. The effect is subtle but certainly noticeable when you slide forward on the saddle during a hard effort.
This 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 stiffer shells, the Speed relies on its firm padding to provide support, rather than a stiff structural shell. There are pros and cons to this approach — it generally provides a forgiving ride that's soft and comfortable, but can also compromise optimum energy transfer and performance.
The Speed saddle is not the most high-performing option that we reviewed. The same generous padding that makes this seat so comfortable can become a drawback to maximum energy transfer and power output. The sensation of losing power to the saddle flex and padding is definitely noticeable during harder efforts, especially in comparison to higher performance saddles with a stiffer shell material and thinner or denser padding.
If you are new to mountain biking or wish to use this saddle on a commuter bike or spare road bike, then you probably won't be so concerned about the potential loss of energy transfer. For most new riders or casual riders not necessarily looking for maximum performance or power output, we would emphasize the importance of comfort over performance. However, if you're a more experienced rider or racer looking for maximum efficiency, you will likely be happier with one of the more performance-oriented saddles in our lineup. When it comes to maximum efficiency and highest performance, a stiffer saddle with firmer padding will provide a better platform for optimum power transfer.
The Speed is a very versatile saddle that would be equally at home on a mountain bike, cyclocross bike, spare town bike, or touring bike. However, this saddle is probably not best suited for faster road riding or road racing due to its heavier weight, thicker padding, and flexible shell, which could absorb energy and inhibit maximum power output. Other saddles that score highly in the versatility ratings blend comfort and performance with judicious use of padding and a stiffer shell that allows for better power transfer. For casual trail riding, cruising, or touring, this model is a good choice that is comfortable for long days in the saddle.
Although it's not the most high-performing saddle in our lineup, the Speed wouldn't be a bad choice for beginner mountain bike riders or road riders, and we've seen this saddle or a similar version as the standard saddle on multiple bikes from reputable manufacturers. It provides a solid amount of comfort for a wide variety of riders and will provide adequate performance for new riders who aren't looking to race and are looking to maximize comfort and enjoyment.
The Speed saddle is a very durable option. The synthetic cover is tough; it offers a rubberized plastic scuff guard around the rear edges and durable steel rails. Our only complaint is that there are some exposed stitches at the junction of the scuff guard and the synthetic cover. Exposed stitching is prone to potential 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 with extended use.
A saddle with a soft, flexible frame such as the Speed relies directly on the padding for its shape and support, compared to a saddle with a stiffer shell or internal skeleton. Saddles with a stiffer shell and thinner or denser padding are less likely to fatigue and compress over time. With that said, we know many riders who have used the Speed for many trouble-free years, and our test saddle certainly did not disappoint during our testing period.
The Speed saddle won't win any accolades for its weight, as it comes in a little on the heavy side with a measured weight of 379 grams in the Steel rail version. Much of the hefty mass of this saddle can be attributed to the thick, dense padding that is heavier than what is typically found on more expensive saddles. The steel rails are also heavier than other materials such as titanium or carbon. However, our testers found that the increased weight did not outweigh the benefits of this durable and comfortable model.
Earning recognition for its excellent value, the WTB Speed offers an excellent bang for the buck and nicely blends comfort and performance with affordability. You are not likely to find a better all-around saddle for its low list price. We tested many saddles that are lighter in weight or offer better performance, but none of them even come close to the price of the Speed. Riders looking for a solid all-around saddle for an amazing value will not be disappointed with this model.
The WTB Speed rides away with one of our top honors once again, thanks to its versatile comfort and excellent value. New riders who find this as the stock saddle on their new bike will likely be pleased with it, and riders looking to upgrade an older saddle on their mountain bike or touring bike without breaking the bank should definitely consider it.
— Nick Bruckbauer