WTB Speed Comp Review
Cons: Heavy, exposed stitching
Manufacturer: Wilderness Trail Bikes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The WTB Speed Comp takes home our Best Buy Award with solid 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 Speed Comp 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 140 mm should comfortably fit a wide range of rider sizes, and the generous padding will cushion 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 Comp 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 energy transfer and performance.
The Speed Comp is not the most high-performing saddle 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 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 Comp is a very versatile saddle that would be equally at home on a mountain bike, cyclocross bike, spare town bike, or touring bike. Faster road riding or road racing are probably not the best use for this saddle 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 Comp wouldn't be a bad choice beginner mountain riders or road riders, and in fact, comes standard as the original equipment saddle on several 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 Comp is a very durable saddle. 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 Comp 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 thinnger or denser padding or less likely to fatigue and compress over time. With that said, we know many riders who have used the Speed Comp for many trouble-free years, and our test certainly saddle did not disappoint during our testing period.
The Speed Comp won't win any accolades for its weight, as it comes in a little on the heavy side with a measured weight of 369 grams. Much of the hefty mass of this saddle 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 or carbon. However, our testers found the increased, weight did not outweigh the benefits of this durable and comfortable saddle.
As the winner of our Best Buy Award for the second year in a row, the Speed Comp offers an outstanding value. 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 Comp. Riders looking for a solid all-around saddle for an amazing value will not be disappointed with this model.
The WTB Speed Comp rides away with our Best Buy Award for the second year in a row, thanks to its versatile comfort and amazingly low price. 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