SQlab 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube Review
Cons: Expensive, stiff
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Our Analysis and Test Results
SQlab isn't exactly a household name in cycling, but this German brand produces a full line of products from saddles to grips with a focus on ergonomics. What SQlab lacks in brand recognition, they make up for with a devoted following of riders who swear by their bike saddles. The 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube is one such saddle that has been designed almost exclusively with ergonomics and biomechanics in mind. There are other brands out there who claim to have excellent ergonomics, but we haven't seen another brand where it is their singular focus like SQlab. They are so dedicated to proper fit that they will even send you a fit kit so you can measure your sit bones to ensure you get the right size. The 611 Ergowave Active was explicitly designed for all-mountain and enduro style riding with lightweight construction, "Active" technology, and a reinforced tail for those inevitable dismounts. SQlab saddles don't come cheap but if you experience hip, back, or other pain then we think you should check out our Top Pick for Ergonomics, the 611 Ergoware Active S-tube.
The 611 Ergowave Active saddle's comfort is a result of its ergonomically advanced design which works similarly to a custom footbed by lining up your joints. It's far from plush or cushy, it's quite stiff, but assuming you get the proper size this saddle is impressively comfortable. To ensure you get the correct size, SQlab will mail you a fit kit so you can measure your sit bones at home and order the appropriate width to match. You should also be able to find sit bone measuring tools at most quality bike shops. Once you've determined the correct width, the 611 Ergowave Active comes in 4 widths, 12, 13, 14, and 15 cm; there are a handful of additional design features that are intended to enhance user comfort.
The SQlab website is like a college course in ergonomics, with more information than you can process about the science behind their uniquely shaped saddles. Their focus is on proper fit, with weight supported by the sit bones, relief on the perineal area, and their Active technology providing a little side to side play to match the body's biomechanics. When viewed from the side, the saddle has a unique stepped profile to it. The tail is much higher than the middle of the saddle, and it rises gently to the nose. One thing testers noticed right away is that the high tail puts you right into the sweet spot of the saddle. The result is that your sit bones are precisely where they're supposed to be with your perineum over the pressure relief channel for maximum comfort.
SQlab has incorporated their Active technology into this saddle which refers it having the ability to rock slightly, about 1mm, to either side in unison with your pedal stroke. This slight rocking is meant to mimic the body's biomechanics through the hips, lower back, and pelvis in an effort to increase comfort. This is achieved by a unique attachment of the saddle rails at the tail of the saddle. Both rails attach into a wide t-shaped yoke that is only connected in the center and allows for the side to side shifts of the tail wings of the saddle. The saddle comes with three different rubber elastomers, soft, medium, and stiff, each of which weighs 26g and can be swapped out to adjust the amount of "active" play or can be left off entirely to save a little weight. These elastomers are also intended to provide a little shock absorption, though testers didn't notice them doing much.
Padding is one thing that it doesn't have a lot of, it's quite stiff actually, not as unforgiving as the SDG Circuit Mtn Ti-Alloy but nowhere near as plush feeling as the WTB Koda Team. The shell of the saddle is also quite rigid and doesn't offer much in the way of give beyond the active rocking of the tail. The nose of the 611 Ergowave has been made wider and flatter than most other saddles. Testers found this nose shape to be quite comfortable, especially during prolonged steep and technical climbs where your weight is positioned as far forward as you can get.
The 611 Ergowave Active is undoubtedly a high-performance mountain bike saddle. SQlab has gone to great lengths to create one of the most ergonomically advanced saddles we've ever seen, and this applies to its performance as well as the user's comfort. Beyond its ergonomic features, this saddle has a somewhat minimalist feel. It is lightly padded and quite stiff, so there is little energy wasted through excessive cushioning as you may experience with softer saddles.
The high tail and stepped shape of the saddle ensure that you stay in the sweet spot of the saddle for optimal comfort, weight distribution, and pedaling position. The Active technology of the tail also allows for a slight amount of side to rock with your pedal stroke which is intended to allow for a more natural movement of the pelvis. This movement generally goes unnoticed on the trail, but the pedal stroke feels nice and round with excellent power transfer the whole way through. The three densities of rubber elastomers included with the saddle are also meant to help dampen vibrations and further enhance comfort.
The shape of the saddle is a touch wider through the tail than other saddles which measure 140mm wide. The tail tapers slightly but also has a squared-off shape across the back which may be a little more prone to hanging up on shorts than models with more taper like the Tioga Undercover Stratum or the Fabric Scoop Race Shallow. Dropper seat posts do a fantastic job of getting the saddle down and out of the way while descending, so testers didn't find the tail shape to be a real issue. The 611 Ergowave Active has a lower stack height, the distance from the seat rails to the top of the saddle, than most of the other models in this review, making it a decent option for the rider looking to maximize the length of dropper seat post they can fit on their bike.
During our testing, we found the 611 Ergowave to be a well made and highly durable saddle. Craftsmanship appears to be top notch with a quality and durable construction that should be able to handle just about anything you can dish out. The saddle rails are very firmly attached and appear to be glued or molded into the plastic. The rails didn't let out a single noise to speak of during testing. The tail of the saddle is also wrapped in with a kevlar reinforcement to protect it in the case of a crash, or several.
During testing, we did manage to damage the paint on the rails of the saddle. While it did get damaged, we have to admit that it was user error that caused this problem. During our unusually snowy winter, one of our testers got antsy and mounted this saddle to a super low-quality saddle clamp on an indoor trainer that dug into the rails and chipped the paint. We are sure this damage wouldn't have happened on a standard saddle clamp and didn't detract from its durability score as a result.
SQlab claims that the 611 Ergowave Active saddle was, "precisely designed to accommodate the requirements of off-road cycling and perfectly meet the demands of All Mountain and Enduro use." That statement alone makes their intentions for this saddle quite clear. Testers feel that this saddle is also a good option for long distance riders, whether that's big backcountry epics or XC races, due to the ergonomics that may benefit riders over extended periods in the saddle. We also wouldn't hesitate to put this saddle on our road or gravel bikes, though SQlab makes a full line of saddles for all disciplines of riding.
Due to the weight of the 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube, 252g with elastomer and 226g without, it might not be the first pick of the weight conscious rider or racer. That weight is relatively comparable to many of the other saddles in this review, however, and a small price to pay if you suffer from pain or discomfort caused by poorly fitting saddles.
The 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube is one of the few saddles that we've tested that weighs exactly what the manufacturer claims. It weighs 226g without an elastomer and 252g with one of the three densities of elastomer attached. It's far from feather-light like the Tioga Spyder Outland or the WTB Koda Team, but we feel it is respectable for the width and the wealth of ergonomically friendly features.
In general, all other things being equal we do feel that lighter is better. However, in the case of the 611 Ergowave Active, if this saddle can solve pain or discomfort, we feel that the small weight penalty of this saddle is something that most riders would be willing to accept.
At its retail price, the 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube is among the most expensive saddles in this review. Whether or not this represents a good value is a decision that individual riders will have to make for themselves. For the right person, this saddle could be worth its weight in gold if it helps to solve nagging pain or discomfort issues associated with poorly fitting saddles. We can say that it appears to be a well-made product with an advanced ergonomically friendly design. SQlab also makes a full line of saddles at a variety of price points that may better suit people's specific budgets. If you seek the best value in a mountain bike saddle, we think our Best Buy Award winner, the WTB Volt Race is hard to beat.
The 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube is one of many ergonomically designed saddles by SQlab. Every aspect of this saddle's design is intended to enhance a rider's comfort out on the trail. It all starts with the proper fit which you can ensure by using their free fit kit that they'll send you in the mail. The stepped shape is unlike anything else on the market, with a high tail that keeps the rider positioned over the sweet spot for proper weight distribution on the sit bones and pressure relief for the perineum. This saddle also features their Active technology which allows the tail of the saddle to rock slightly with the pedal stroke to works with the body's biomechanics and make for a round and powerful pedal stroke. It's not cheap, but if you're looking for an answer to nagging discomfort or pain then we suggest checking out the 611 Ergowave Active, our Top Pick for Ergonomics.
SQ-Lab makes a full range of saddle for all types of cycling. They make several mountain bike specific saddles in addition to the 611 Ergowave Active S-Tube reviewed here.
The 611 Ergowave Active Carbon ($240) is the same as the S-Tube model reviewed here but comes with carbon rails and weighs 30g less.
They also make the 611 Ergowave in 3 "non-active" versions. The CRMO ($100) S-Tube ($130), and the Carbon ($200) have the same shape and fit but don't have as much side to side rock as the active versions.
SQ-Lab also makes several versions of a similar model called the 612 which is an all around saddle that is better suited for the demands of road cycling.
— Jeremy Benson