Giant's Contact SLR Saddle has a carbon shell and carbon rails, and comes in three shape options to suit your riding style. For £129.99 it's not a bad deal, as long as you can put up with its firm ride.
So, I've mentioned the firmness a couple of times already and we aren't even 100 words in yet... so safe to say it's one of the defining factors of the Contact. Giant says that it was in development with top pro road and off-road teams during its design stage, and that translates to the finished product.
My first ride on the Contact was a 90-minute blast between the rain showers and the pace was pretty high; the harder the ride, the less weight you are putting on the saddle, as most of it is on the pedals.
I got on with the Giant quite well, arriving home without any numbness or noticeable pain. I liked the shape – the slightly curved profile as it swoops down from the rear – and the way the nose drops ever so slightly for when you are crouched down on the bars.
The next day, though, when I climbed aboard I had quite a bit of tissue soreness from the previous day, made worse by having to set off a little more sedately (more weight on the saddle). Things settled down a bit after a few miles, helped by the fact that the shape of the Giant means you don't need to shift about much, but if I hit a bump in the road I sure knew about it.
The padding is firm and not exactly thick, but after about 300 miles of testing I've got used to it and things have settled down. While I definitely think the Contact SLR is aimed at those riders who travel at a quick pace, it didn't quite gel with me.
As I mentioned, Giant, like many others – Fizik and Fabric, for instance – offers slightly different saddles depending on how you ride and your position. The Contact SLR is available in Forward, Neutral and Upright, the Forward for those who have good flexibility and spend a lot of time in a race position, with the Upright being aimed at those who like a more endurance-based position.
Even though I don't hang around on the bike, I don't spend much time in the drops, preferring to crouch low on the hoods, so the Neutral that we were sent should be a pretty good fit for me.
The main difference between the three saddles is the length of the pressure-relief channel running down the saddle. The Forward has a much longer channel than the Upright, for example, taking into account the position of your pelvis and body in relation to the saddle.
When it comes to value, £129.99 isn't bad for a saddle with a carbon fibre shell and rails.
The Selle San Marco Mantra Full Fit Carbon FX saddle that I recently tested costs £179.99, and for that you only get a carbon composite shell, albeit with a little less weight. I was a massive fan of the shape and comfort, though.
For the same money you could go for the Syncros Tofino 10 Cut Out Saddle. Admittedly it's a short-nosed design, but it has the same level of firmness and a full carbon fibre build.
If you aren't too fussed about the whole carbon fibre thing then you could take a look at the Contact SL versions, which use a carbon composite base and metal rails. They'll set you back just £69.99.
On the whole, the Contact SLR isn't really for me – I can forgive its firmness but the shape didn't quite suit. We are all different, though, and when it comes to build and quality, for the money it can't really be faulted.
A great saddle for those who like to ride hard, and decent value too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Giant Contact SLR Neutral saddle
Size tested: Neutral
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?
Giant says, "Giant performance saddles feature Dynamic Cycling Fit philosophy to help you find the perfect fit for your body, your position and your riding style. Developed and raced by Giant pros, including 2017 Giro d'Italia champion Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb, each Contact SLR and Contact SL model is available in three different options (Forward, Neutral or Upright) based on the unique contact angle of a rider's pelvis while riding."
It delivers everything a performance saddle needs, as long as you get on with the shape.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Giant lists these features:
Pelvic position: Men's neutral riding position
Material top: Vacuum formed microfibre cover
Material base: Carbon base
Padding: Foam and particle flow technology
Rails: Carbon fibre rails
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's light and offers a slender profile which is ideal for a race saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very good quality build for a decent price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite firm even when bedded in, and the shape didn't quite suit me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For a full carbon construction it offers good value against a lot of the competition.
Did you enjoy using the product? I didn't quite get on with it, to be honest.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, it offers decent value and the shape may suit.
Use this box to explain your overall score
With a full carbon construction at a decent price, this is definitely worth considering. Obviously saddles are a very personal thing – if you like yours firm and it suits your shape then it's an 8. I didn't get on with the shape but objectively it's a good quality, well made saddle and a decent price, so I've gone with 7. At the end of the day a review is a subjective impression that gives you as much objective detail as you need to make up your mind about buying. Hopefully.
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!