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The BBB Echelon Saddle is a cutaway design, reckoned to bridge the gap between road and dirt duties. Several hundred miles hence and my derrière reckons it does just this in a very competent and understated fashion.
Its specification is pretty much what I'd expect from the sub-£70 price point. Up top, we have a waterproof, faux leather cover. This is a satin finish, striking the sweetspot tenure-wise yet still sleek enough to discourage water from pooling. It does seem durable, and BBB has felt 'scuff bumpers'/similar protective detailing unnecessary.
Padding is described as a superlight foam and by my reckoning is on the generous side of minimalist (given the design brief and coming from something like my Holdsworth's Specialized Toupe Gel).
BBB describes the shell as 'carbon reinforced', while the chromoly rails are finished in a very fetching grey. The adjustment scale is very subtle compared with BBB's Razor and Specialized's Toupe. I've set ours up intuitively and made minor adjustments as appropriate.
As I'd expect, it's a glued and screwed construction – no ugly, low rent stapling here. The cutout is a gentle, sloping affair, less aggressive than some and, in my experience at least, none the worse for it.
Although labelled BSD-141, it's 145mm wide and 265mm long. That seems a touch long for a unisex design, though it is developed for a 'competitive cycling posture'. There are also 155mm and 165mm wide options (confusingly labelled 142 and 143 respectively).
Some years back, I received a full Specialized BG-fit consultation, suggesting that 143mm wide was optimal. On a low-slung road-biased mount this has proven so, although I've tended to go very slightly wider with 'cross derivatives.
My fixed gear winter/trainer usually sports a Brooks Swift with titanium rails on a Thudbuster ST suspension seatpost. Swapping it for the BBB, I was conscious of, and appreciated, a more direct ride. Powering along sweeping back doubles, the firm padding continued this supportive, yet direct narrative.
Most cutaway channels are pretty effective these days, although we're all unique. As rides staircased from 25 to 35 and 50 miles, there was no hint of tingling let alone numbness in the genital/pelvic regions. The cover's not in fly-paper territory, and there's plenty of scope for subtle shifting over the course of these rides, even with satin-effect Lycra or messenger knickers.
Swapped over to my lower slung TT fixed, though broader than my default, the slightly wider base didn't impede with cadences around the 100-110rpm mark, nor has there been any chafing of sensitive areas. On balance, and for this build, the Specialized Toupe Gel retains a slight edge in the comfort stakes and saves a few grams too, but comfort is a very subjective thing.
I've also managed around 70 miles of dirt duty on a racier cross-country bike without any problems and would suggest taking a closer look if you're a flat bar dirt disciple looking to trim the fat without compromising comfort.
My rough stuff tourer cum trailer tug has a more upright stance, placing greater weight upon the sit bones, and after 40-odd mixed terrain miles I was becoming quite numb of bum and sore of inner thigh, which isn't the case with this Selle Italia Turbomatic, which has seen many thousands of miles.
The Echelon's cover seems pretty hardy – no hint of distress despite being regularly leant against trees, rough sawn wood, rendered brickwork and so on. That said, I'd be inclined to add a layer or two of electrical tape to the sides, especially for gravel/cross-biased duties. Some kind of rubberised 'bumper' round the rear would be welcomed.
Ultimately, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Echelon. It's an understated but very competent 'everyman' saddle, by my reckoning well suited to road and sportier trail antics.
Understated, very comfortable saddle for road/mountain bike duties
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BBB Echelon Saddle
Size tested: 145mm
Tell us what the product is for
BBB says, "High performance Road/MTB saddle for competitive cycling posture."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Large pressure relieving hole which keeps the blood flow intact and eliminates pressure point under the pubic arch.
Size: 145 – 265 mm (W–L)
Weight: 280 g
Lightweight hollow CrMo rail with adjustment scale.
Carbon reinforced shell.
Light foam with hard density for good support on long rides.
Durable synthetic cover.
Well made, typical of the price point, although I'd quite like to see some scuff bumpers around the rear.
Has proven extremely comfortable in most contexts, pressure relieving cutout was particularly good.
Scuff bumpers would be good.
Impressive given the level of comfort and chromoly rails.
A very good match for me.
Well made and of a standard I'd expect from this price point, not a bargain but good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been impressed by the standard of comfort and support provided by the Echelon. More to the point, it genuinely seems to deliver on road and sportier mountain bike contexts. Padding, though firm, remains supportive and, rough stuff tourer aside, chafing/similar discomfort hasn't been an issue.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid build quality, sleek, understated design, modest weight and, ultimately, excellent performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing per se, although scuff bumpers would be a good addition.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Understated but well executed saddle, a very good choice for road and cross-country/gravel type riding.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)