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The Liv Contact SLR Forward Carbon Saddle is a lightweight, high-performance design for women who ride with a more aggressive position. Although its lack of padding or cutout might not be for everyone, it will undoubtedly suit riders who favour short, punchy training rides as well as active road racers.
The Contact SLR Forward sits at the very top of Liv's range of saddles. The range is extensive; Liv has considered every type of rider, from the competitive racer to the recreational rider and commuter. Many of the models are available in two versions, Forward and Upright.
Liv offers the Contact SLR in these two different models; Forward and Upright basically refer to your position on the bike. The Forward model has a channel running right through to the tip, while the channel on the Upright stops halfway down.
The Contact SLR Forward is 15mm longer than my 'normal' saddle – a Specialized Oura. However, Liv takes the guesswork out of getting the set-back/position right by incorporating a measuring device within the packaging. It fits over your current saddle and you measure the set-back and height from a width of 80mm and then use these dimensions to fit the new saddle. It makes more sense than measuring the set-back from the tip of the saddle given how much saddles can vary in length. I was a little sceptical, but when I jumped on the bike the position felt spot on. It clearly worked for me and meant there were no initial rides spoiled with regular 'adjustment stops'.
I don't normally tolerate saddles without a cutout; I've yet to find one that doesn't cause discomfort within a couple of hours. I was pleasantly surprised that the first few rides of 2-2.5 hours were pretty comfortable. I didn't find myself shifting excessively in the saddle, trying to relieve pressure from any one single spot. When I stepped up the duration, however, I began to experience some mild irritation on the more sensitive parts. After 4 hours I was not really comfortable. It wasn't so bad that I couldn't ride again the next day, but it certainly wasn't what I would want on a permanent basis. I have persisted throughout the test period but still don't feel right on the saddle during rides in excess of 3.5 hours. The discomfort is nothing excruciating, but I won't be making any swaps with my regular saddle.
The saddle is very firm; on rough, bumpy roads it's not very forgiving. The Particle Flow Technology might be doing something but it certainly doesn't have much give, even along its channel. The lower my position and the harder I was riding, the more comfortable the saddle. The very gradual downward slope at the nose of the saddle really lends it to an 'on-the-drops' position and high-intensity riding.
Longer rides clearly mean you are in a more upright position. The Upright model would perhaps be preferable then. The concept of having a saddle for your specific riding style is great, so long as you are not mixing it up on a regular basis, then it all goes out of the window. While I was more than happy on the Contact Forward for my short, intense rides, it certainly wouldn't be my choice for endurance rides.
The carbon base and rails mean that the saddle is very light – a fraction over 190g by our scales. Identical to Specialized's Pro Arc, which is £45 more. If weight is not important to you but the saddle shape and style appeal, you can drop down two levels to Liv's Forward or Upright Contact Saddle and save yourself £95 while only gaining 100g. Not a bad compromise I'd say.
The vacuum-formed microfiber cover gives the saddle an understated look. There are no tiny holes present that can be prone to collecting grit during filthy, rainy, winter rides. Overall, the saddle is well made and looks like it should be on a racing bike.
For its specification, the SLR Contact Forward is competitively priced. Fizik's Luce is a similar composition and dips under 200g. Although its shape is not really comparable to the Contact, it will set you back £164.99. If you are looking to compare a similar shaped saddle, the Bontrager Yatra Pro Carbon Women's Saddle is not so different. It ranges from 165g-175g (depending upon size) and has an RRP of £149.99.
The Liv SLR Forward Contact has certainly reduced my levels of scepticism about saddles without cutouts. It suited me for those shorter, more intense rides but, given I'm no longer racing, it isn't quite the saddle for me. There is no escaping that it is a well-made, competitively priced option for those who love to 'race' their bike all year round.
One for the 'racers'; a firm saddle that's really good for short, punchy rides when you are putting down the power
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Liv Women’s Contact SLR Forward Saddle
Size tested: One size, Forward
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?
Liv says that its Contact SLR Forward Saddle is its 'highest performing saddle that's designed to feel like a custom fit for riders with a forward or upright riding position'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pelvic position: Women's forward riding position
Material top: Vacuum formed microfiber cover
Material base: Carbon base
Padding: Foam and particle flow technology
Rails: Carbon fibre rails
For hard riding it's spot on.
Unusual finish (cover) and hard to judge how it will wear. Still looks like new after four weeks of almost daily use.
You need to be on the hoods or drops and putting down a decent power to feel comfortable. It's a hard saddle.
Certainly offers the competitive performance and weight benefits that match other saddles. It's slightly cheaper than most too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
In a forward position while riding hard, the saddle was great.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Definitely took me back to my race days and I enjoyed using it for short, sharp rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It wouldn't be my choice of saddle for rides over 3 hours.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We haven't tested a huge number of 'top end' female-specific saddles. It's competitively priced when compared to saddles of a similar weight and specification.
Did you enjoy using the product? For short, punchy rides, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No, I don't do enough of this sort of riding anymore!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they are racing, most definitely.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a great value saddle for anyone who is serious about competitive riding.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…