The SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon is a very good pressure-relieving saddle at an extremely low weight. It might feel firm in use but that doesn't detract from its long-ride comfort.
If firmness doesn't especially appeal, check out other options in our guide to the best bike saddles.
This saddle is built to SQlab's distinctive Ergowave design, meaning that although it's distinctly flat from side to side – there's no arch to it – there's a distinct hump towards the rear. It really ramps up back there! What's the point of that? SQlab reckons that it helps provide more grip, improves power transmission, and prevents energy-consuming bad posture. It has loads of science to back up its claims if you want to get into the nitty-gritty.
It certainly feels different from any other saddle I've used (and doing this job, I've used a lot). After dropping my seatpost slightly and moving the saddle a little further forward than usual, I found a really good position that worked well for me. I wouldn't say I was getting more power out but I did find a really stable position.
> How to set up your saddle
It's hard to describe – more something that you need to experience – but the shape makes you feel a little more supported than usual rather than just being perched on top of the saddle. The non-slip microfibre cover helps here too, although let's not overstate that. You can still move around easily enough when you want to, it's just not quite as slippery as some.
One of the other distinctive features of this saddle is the dip in the middle. SQlab calls this a 'slight depression' but it's actually pretty deep with a complete absence of padding here. You can feel that it's just the upper fixed directly to the shell in the centre, with the padding around the edge like a ring doughnut. An oddly shaped ring doughnut, admittedly, but you get the picture.
As with many other saddles, the idea is to reduce pressure on the soft tissue in the perineal area and it works really well. The nose is flat and lower than the rest of the saddle too, so you're probably going to be putting a little less pressure than normal here. That's what it felt like to me. This all means that if you ever suffer from numbness or discomfort in the perineal area as a result of riding your bike, this saddle could be well worth a shot.
The narrow nose gives you plenty of space for pedalling without any chafing on the inside of your thighs. After about three months of almost daily use, there's very little polishing of the upper in that area, showing just how little rubbing has been going on and suggesting that durability isn't going to be an issue there.
The closed-cell foam padding is dense and pretty thin throughout so there's very little give to it when you climb aboard. In fact, it feels decidedly firm, but don't let that put you off. The base, which is carbon fibre-reinforced polyamide, flexes a little and I always find comfort to be far more about saddle shape than squishy padding. As ever with saddles, it's a case of individual preference – what I find comfortable might, to you, feel like sitting on a bed of nails, or what is uncomfortable for me might make you feel like you're floating on a cushion of air – but my experience is that soft saddles might feel nice and welcoming to start with but a firmer saddle that fits well is the better option in the long run.
Like other Ergowave saddles, the 612 Ergowave R Carbon comes in four widths and you need to get the right one for your anatomy. The sizes are 12cm to 15cm, but that's what SQlab calls the 'useable width' rather than measured edge to edge, so there's no point setting about your current saddle with a tape measure.
How do you know which size is right? You need a very quick and simple-to-perform sit-bone measurement. You sit on a piece of measuring paper on a stool, pull yourself down to increase the pressure, and then the distance between the centre of your sit-bone marks is measured.
The idea is that your sit bones 'lie completely flat on the saddle [because] this is the only way in which pressure is relieved on the sensitive area in men and on the pubic arch in women and ensures more efficiency', according to SQlab.
The SQlab system takes your riding position into account too – the amount you bend forward on your bike, essentially. The 612 Ergowave R Carbon is designed for those who ride in a stretched or aggressive position rather than those who bend only moderately forward or who sit upright in the saddle.
Various saddles are available in this shape, including the 612 Ergowave Active that Mike reviewed. This one features an elastomer at the rear (different degrees of hardness are available) which allows the saddle to tilt from side to side as you pedal, the idea being to minimise pressure on the sit bones and improve comfort.
The 612 Ergowave R Carbon that I've been using is the top-level model with the carbon fibre-reinforced polyamide base I mentioned earlier and solid carbon rails. Bear in mind that these rails are ovalised – 7mm x 9.6mm – so they won't fit all seatposts. Some clamps will only accept round rails so check with your seatpost manufacturer if you're in any doubt.
Of course, £200 is a lot to spend on a saddle but it's not outlandish these days, and the SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon does offer a lot, particularly for those who struggle to find a perch that's comfortable and doesn't cause numbness.
Even putting that to one side, we don't review many padded saddles that weigh as little as this one. There are certainly many more important factors than weight when it comes to saddles, but, for reference, the £255 Selle Italia Novus Boost Evo Kit Carbonio Superflow saddle we reviewed was 169g. If you're not weight-obsessed, the SQlab 612 Ergowave R with hollow alloy rails is cheaper (£134.99) and weighs a claimed 190g (12cm).
Overall, the lightweight SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon is a supportive saddle that provides effective soft tissue pressure relief. The padding is firm, but many people will love the Ergowave shape.
Lightweight saddle with minimal padding, but cleverly shaped shell delivers plenty of support and comfort
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Make and model: SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon saddle
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?
The SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon saddle is designed for performance-orientated road bike and cross-country mountain bike riders who like a very sporty position.
SQlab describes it like this:
More performance-based ergonomics from 125g.
The raised rear gives more grip and better power transmission.
A big advantage is on straight roads and especially uphill.
The stronger narrower mid-section and the narrow saddle nose gives more legroom.
The proven SQlab ERGOWAVE form relieves the soft tissue area and prevents energy-consuming bad posture.
The saddle shell is weight and flex-optimised down to the last detail.
More longitudinal stiffness and perfectly coordinated material flex to the side mean more comfort with less weight at the same time.
The cover is extremely light but also abrasion-resistant and non-slip. The padding is closed-cell and strongly minimised.
The comfort comes from the shape and the flex behaviour between rail - shell - foam, which is coordinated as an overall system.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The saddle is available in 12-15cm widths. I took the 14cm version.
SQlab lists these features:
The raised rear gives more grip and better power transmission. A big advantage is on straight roads and especially uphill.
The stronger narrower mid-section and the narrow saddle nose give more legroom.
The slight depression in the middle of the saddle has been lengthened for a very sporty sitting position to reduce the pressure on the sensitive structures of the perineal area.
Weight and flex optimised
More longitudinal stiffness and perfectly coordinated material flex to the side mean more comfort with less weight at the same time. 125g.
SIZE(S) IN CM (EFFECTIVE SADDLE WIDTH): 12 / 13 / 14 / 15cm
LENGTH IN MM: APPROX. 252
MATERIAL RAILS: CARBON (HIGH OVAL 7MM X 9,6MM - SOLID)
MATERIAL BASE: CARBON FIBRE REINFORCED POLYAMIDE COMPOUND (PA12 + CF)
MATERIAL PADDING: SUPERLIGHT FOAM
MATERIAL COVER: MICROFIBRE
HARDNESS IN SQ-SHORE: 60
RELIEF OF PERINEAL AREA IN %: 63
MAXIMUM LOAD IN KG: 90
MAXIMUM TORQUE IN NM: 18
E-BIKE READY: NO
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for durability:
After three months of almost daily use, the upper looks in great condition. After a quick wipe, so does the base.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Our 14cm-wide model hit the scales at just 130g, SQlab's exact claimed weight, so I've no doubt that the 12cm version will hit SQlab's claimed weight of 125g.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Despite the firm padding and lack of weight, I've found this saddle to offer a very high level of comfort. You have to get measured up in advance to ensure you have the correct width. I can certainly imagine some people wanting deeper, more forgiving padding, but it worked well for me.
Rate the product for value:
£200 is a lot to spend on a saddle, but there's a lot of tech involved here. It's worth the money if you stay comfortable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs really well. A super-low weight and a high level of comfort don't necessarily go hand in hand but SQlab delivers both here.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The combination of low weight and comfort.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Of course, £200 is a lot to spend on a saddle but it's not outlandish these days and the SQlab 612 Ergowave R Carbon does offer a lot, particularly for those who struggle to find a perch that's comfortable and doesn't cause numbness.
Even putting that to one side, we don't review many padded saddles that weigh as little as this one. There are certainly many more important factors than weight when it comes to saddles but, for reference, the £260 Selle Italia Novus Boost Evo Kit Carbonio Superflow saddle we reviewed was 169g. https://road.cc/content/review/selle-italia-novus-boost-evo-kit-carbonio... If you're not weight-obsessed, the SQlab 612 Ergowave with hollow alloy rails is much cheaper. https://www.sq-lab.com/en/products/saddles/sqlab-saddle-612-ergowave.html
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
Although it's not cheap, you get an excellent level of performance here so I think it's a very good offering overall.
Age: 48 Height: 190cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
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