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Saddle comfort is subjective, but I found the Scicon Elan Power Ergo saddle just the right shape and really comfortable for all kinds of riding. Scicon is the latest manufacturer to the short saddle market, and says its Elan 'bridges the gap between performance and comfort'. Its carbon fibre rails and carbon-reinforced polymer shell ward off any flex for those hard efforts, but not so much as to reduce its plushness for long and steady rides.
I first started riding short saddles back when I was time trialling. The thinking behind them is that by removing a portion of the nose it makes them much more comfortable when crunched right over in an aero tuck. The lack of a nose also gives more room for your glutes, allowing for better hip rotation.
The Elan is Scicon's first attempt at a race saddle and its Power Ergo Design has been developed by the sports scientists at ASG Bike Science. Apparently, its 'Performance profile is designed for optimal pelvic rotation'.
So, what makes it different to a more traditional saddle?
As Mat pointed out in his piece on six of the best short saddles, something traditional like a Selle Italia Flite is 275mm long, a Fabric Scoop is 282mm, and the Fizik Arione Classic is 302mm, one of the longest saddles that you can buy.
The Elan measures in at just 248mm and, as I mentioned, the length is taken off the nose so you still get the traditional saddle shape at the rear. The Elan is a little wider than most race saddles at 148mm compared with around the 135mm mark.
Since the beginning of the year I've been riding the similarly shaped Prologo Dimension Nack on my race bike and I love it; the one thing you may glean from the review, though, is that it is quite firm. It's still comfortable enough for most instances but if you are riding longer and a little slower than race speeds, it can take its toll eventually.
This Scicon has slightly thicker padding than the Prologo, which makes it better suited for those slower miles. It's been fitted to my winter steed, a Kinesis T2, which is set up pretty much identical to my race bike, including quite a large drop from saddle to handlebar.
For three or four-hour rides, the extra padding of the Elan is very noticeable, providing some shock absorbing from the road. Riding less aggressively tends to mean you have more weight on the saddle so it's good to see that Scicon has got the padding firmness pretty much spot on.
It feels supportive with a bit of give but no sag or bouncing about over the rough sections. Scicon has aimed this saddle at on and off-road use and I think it's a good all-round balance. I stuck the Elan on the Vitus cyclo-cross bike I was testing, and it was perfectly comfortable for gravel use and racing about on the grass.
The Elan comes with a central cutout, which Scicon says increases blood flow around the perineal area to reduce numbness. I personally don't find a massive difference between saddles with or without the central section removed, so how well it works is difficult to say. I certainly never suffered any discomfort or numbness, and it's worth bearing in mind that Scicon has designed this saddle for both male and female riders.
It's a very well made saddle, although it doesn't have as neat a finish underneath as the Prologo, which uses the base to cover the attaching of the cover to the saddle, although that is purely cosmetic.
At £180 the Elan is up there with a lot of other top-end saddles, so it's no surprise that it has full-carbon rails for stiffness while keeping the overall weight down. They have a sandpaper style effect mid-rail to grip the seatpost, which is a good touch.
It's about 20 quid cheaper than the £199.99 Prologo, but the Prologo is nearly 60g lighter and comes with a full carbon fibre base.
The recently reviewed Astute Star Lite VT saddle is £179.99 for a similar weight (it's a full length saddle, though) and it too has carbon rails and a carbon-reinforced nylon base.
One thing I hope we'll see are some cheaper models of the Elan, maybe using titanium or steel rails, to make it more accessible and compete with the likes of the BBB Echelon.
Overall, I really like the Elan for its shape and padding, and it's a welcome addition to my Kinesis.
It's also available in a limited edition boxset, which we have here. The saddle is exactly the same but you also get a colour coded Elan 210 saddle bag which includes an inner tube, patch kit, tyre levers and adapter for a CO2 cartridge. Each box is individually numbered and costs £219.
Impressive balance of comfort and stiffness makes this a very good saddle for those who like to go short
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Scicon Elan Power Ergo Saddle
Size tested: 6 x 15 x 24cm
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?
Scicon says, "Challenge the norm. SCICON presents the new ELAN Saddle, SCICON's first racing saddle and the next development in the brand's long standing heritage and innovation in cycling.
"The new SCICON Elan Saddle paves the way for a new category in the SCICON repertoire, a move made possible thanks to the in-house industry expertise across both saddle design and sports science. The goal? Produce a saddle that provides performance and comfort in both an aggressive race position and a more relaxed riding style.
"The result? A performance product for cyclists in need of a lightweight saddle with no compromise on ride comfort, that is field tested and proven for both men and women. The saddle design is well suited for both road cyclists and mountain bike riders alike, thanks to innovative riding position designed with performance and comfort in mind."
I think the Elan is a really good all-rounder.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
POWER ERGO DESIGN
Slightly shorter and wider than the average racing saddle, the SCICON ELAN has a short-nose and ergonomic design with a wider seat area, following a lightly waved seat profile. Minimising the seating surface, combined with a short nose design and centrai cut out to remove pressure from soft tissue, the ELAN saddle allows far sufficient hip rotation as well as increased blood flow to improve ride comfort in all riding positions far long days in the saddle with an increase of muscular efficiency of the 10%.
UNDIRECTIONAL CARBON RAILS
The CARBON fiber reinforced polymer shell built onta two unidirectional braided CARBON fiber rails, combined with the Power Ergo Design far a comfortable yet performance ride, weighs in at just 199 grams in a one size fits ali saddle measuring 148mm by 250mm.
CHECK PERIODICALLY THE COMPRESSION LEVEL OF PADDING. lf goes below middle point the ergonomic advantages could be less.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I loved the shape and it really suited all kinds of riding styles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The shape, and the padding is spot on for all types of riding.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a big outlay for a saddle but there is nothing I really dislike about it on the whole.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For its construction and performance it sits well against the opposition mentioned in the review. I'd like to see some cheaper models introduced to offer similar performance on a budget.
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
A great shape, good build quality and impressive comfort make for a very good saddle for the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!