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Despite their prevalence, gel and foam saddles do have their drawbacks. Foam can compress to a point where it provides almost no cushioning at all. And for all the support that gel is supposed to provide, it can sneak into places you really don't want it to cause other problems. In theory, any air-filled saddle could do the same. But Fabric's Cell Elite Radius is not some sort of seat-shaped balloon; instead, it uses collapsible pyramid air cell technology to provide impressive air-sprung comfort.
At 282mm, the Cell Elite Radius offers a plenty of room to manoeuvre fore and aft. However, for me, the 'Radius' profile is just a little wide, with the inside of my thighs occasionally rubbing against the sides, especially in a more aggressive, lower riding position.
To be fair to Fabric, it does say this saddle is designed for more upright riding, and there's little to complain about when cruising with your head up. Support is really quite incredible. I did my first test ride on the Cell Elite wearing just jeans and comfort was superb.
The reason for this, Fabric says, is because, 'the air-tight seal stops the saddle compressing completely, so you never feel those painful pressure points found on traditional seats.' I'd have to concur. I experienced no discomfort, with my seated weight distributed nicely across the saddle width and length, particularly when sitting upright in cruise mode. The air cells are tightly regulated, so you won't find unwanted cushioning going walkabout like gel, and they don't compress to rigidity like foam.
Elsewhere in the saddle's build, the chromoly rails are fairly standard, although the waterproof and durable TPU cover should ensure longevity and the weight of 360g is impressively light for a comfort-orientated saddle.
Aesthetics should also be mentioned, as the Cell Elite's appearance is rather fun. Available in blue, red or black, the sight of the hexagonal air cells through the semi-translucent TPU surface is a little bit reminiscent of old-school plastic BMX saddles. It'll certainly be a talking point at the work bike rack, if not necessarily carrying quite the same cachet as the Brooks Cambium All Weather.
Which brings us to the possible uses of this saddle. Because of its excellent support, the Cell Elite could be used for hours on end, although it's equally effective for quicker blasts without the need for padded shorts. It's not a saddle for head-down speed demons and is far more suited to leisure riders or – even better – regular commuters.
All things considered, then, the £49.99 price tag is more than fair. As long as you're happy to enjoy a relatively upright seating position, this may just be the perfect urban cycling saddle.
Offers air-sprung comfort, funky urban looks and long-term durability at a very fair price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Cell Elite Radius Saddle
Size tested: 155 x 282mm, chromoly rails
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Fabric says: "Experience unrivalled comfort with our unique, air-sprung saddle design for everyday rides. Made from a core of collapsable pyramid cells, the air-tight seal stops the saddle compressing completely, so you never feel those painful pressure points found on traditional seats. Ideal for the daily commute or fun rides when you're in jeans or shorts. Equally great for wild bike packing adventures where you don't want to spend days in performance gear."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Rails: Chromoly (7mm)
* Base: Nylon
* Cover: Tough TPU
* Profile: Radius
* Weight: 355g
* Width: 155mm
* Length: 282mm
* Mid rail to saddle topper: 51.5mm
Very well made – no signs of compromise despite mid-range price.
Performed perfectly when used as suggested.
TPU surface is waterproof and looks sturdy.
Very good for a leisure/urban cycling saddle.
Fantastic comfort when cruising.
Very fair value – not super-cheap, but the performance outweighs the price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For head-up leisure riding and cycle commuting it really performed perfectly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I quite like the looks and the durability, but the ride comfort is by far its greatest quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very well – it's half the price of the Brooks Cambium C15 Carved All Weather.
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
It's an excellent product that manages to combine great performance with fun looks, new technology, and an affordable price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure