Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite Saddle

CHARLES LEE | 10th Oct 2016 | REVIEWS

Ask some cyclists which part of the human body forms the largest contact point with the bicycle and you will probably get a mixture of responses like “hands”, “palms”, “feet” and “sole”!  But the truth is, our bums is the biggest touch point with our two-wheeled gizmos!  As the mainstay that supports our spine and the weight of our torso, it is no surprise that the most fleshy part of the human anatomy is the key factor that determines how enjoyable your ride can be.  It doesn’t matter that you have a strong pair of legs or powerful lungs; once your backside feels sore, your ride is miserably finished!

The folks from Fabric probably know best when it comes to saddle, or rather, backside comfort.  And they really know their stuff.  After all, these guys are the creators of the carbon-fibre Fabric ALM, an ultra-performance 140-gram saddle that was born out of a first-ever technology collaboration between Fabric and commercial plane maker Airbus Group!

Headquartered in Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom, Fabric not only produces sophisticated and aesthetically-striking saddles.  Its designers and engineers have, in recent times, expanded into making other bicycle components and accessories by cleverly capitalising on their existing product and industrial design knowledge in saddles.  If you look at Fabric’s website, you will find many astounding products of art and sophistication.


The Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite Saddle

Touted as the most versatile model in the Fabric line-up, the Scoop saddle series sits as a group of mid-range saddles that comes in three distinctive riding profiles: Flat for race-focused riders, Shallow for weekend warriors who demand total performance and Radius for leisure bikers who simply want a comfort-lasting ride.  Every flavour is further marshalled into four sub-genres based on the types of materials that are used to manufacture them: Ultimate, Pro, Race and Elite. The Scoop Shallow Ultimate, for instance, takes the top-end position at a weight of only 162 grams with its carbon-fibre saddle base and rail.  The Scoop Shallow Pro is the second best saddle in the Scoop Shallow line-up.  Third place goes to the Scoop Shallow Race, the railing of which is made of titanium.

Our test toy, the Scoop Shallow Elite, occupies the fourth and last position in the family.  That said, the saddle is not giving away any hint that it will be outdone by its Shallow siblings.  Aesthetically, the 282-millimetres long Shallow Elite cuts an immensely-striking profile that exudes a careful blend of minimalism and performance.  Decked in black with a happy green base, the overall profile of the Shallow Elite is flat, which makes it a suitable choice for races and competitions.  The frontal portion, or the nose, dips slightly for increased pleasantness.  The rear portion arches a little upwards to maintain rider’s comfort.  The centre of the saddle is curved inwards to reduce nerve pressures around the perineum.  Judging from these ergonomic lines, it is obvious that the Shallow Elite, though a viable component for race-day, is truly meant for all-day riding.

At 266 grams, the Shallow Elite, which is pieced together by a three-part bonding process, leans on the weighty side, when compared against carbon-made saddles.  This is not a surprise, since its railing is made of chromoly, which is a heavier earth element.  To balance things out, the upper part of the saddle, which is covered with a waterproof microfibre material, is made of lightweight polyurethane foam.  The underneath of the Shallow Elite is made of nylon shell, which is light yet strong.


Sitting on it

Many riders have the misconception that razor-thin saddles are uncomfortable.  In fact, wide saddles may not necessarily be enjoyable to sit on.  The Shallow Elite surprised us with its plushness and comfort, despite its profile as a race-inspired saddle.  Thanks to the springy nylon shell that offers some flex when pressed, we hardly experienced any repulsiveness – that unaccommodating feeling that one normally encounters when riding a low-cost mass-production bicycle – during our run-in with the saddle.  It doesn’t take long for us to adjust to the contours of the Shallow Elite.  Those who are used to riding in a more aggressive position will, however, find that the Shallow Elite exhibited too much flex.  Our advice is to opt for the Shallow Ultimate, which uses carbon-fibre as its saddle base.

At 142-millimetres wide, the Shallow Elite is considered slim.  Hence, we were a little sceptical when we were assured by Fabric that the saddle fits bulkier riders with wider sit bones.  True to Fabric’s claim, the bigger-sized test riders who took the Shallow Elite out for a few laps around Zhenghua Park remarked that the saddle gave them a balanced feel.

Long-distance riding is probably the best way to test the calibre of the Shallow Elite.  And we got to say that the saddle managed to conquer it with relative ease.  With the curvature in the centre of the saddle, we were able to keep the discomfort and soreness to a minimum during our three-hour ride.  If you are one of those who are in favour of sitting on the nose of the saddle, there is still a fair amount of plushness.  Quite unexpectedly, one of our test riders complained of numbness in his perineum region at the end of the ride.  To stay numb- and sore-free for longer durations, our advice is to shift your butt towards the rear of the Shallow Elite, where the surface area of the scoop is large enough to support your sit bones.

The only glaring pet peeve of the Shallow Elite is that it looks rather unsightly once its saddle base is splattered with road grime and mud.  The easiest way to avoid this problem is to go for the all-black model.


Buying verdict

If there is ever a ten-point scoring system on the Shallow Elite, we would have given it an eight.

Although the Shallow Elite is not perfect, it is a saddle to reckon with.  With neat aggressive lines, the Shallow Elite is, in our views, one of the better-designed saddles in its class.  With six different colours, there will be one that matches your bike and your personality.  More importantly, the Shallow Elite is able to offer a good degree of comfort during long rides.

If you are looking for a saddle replacement or simply wanted something different (or better), do approach Cannasia and try a Shallow Elite out.  Honestly, we think it is a worthy investment.

Fabric saddles are exclusively available at Cannasia.