Fabric’s Scoop Saddle can come in a few different variations, to suit both different riding styles and different budgets. Divided in to three style options the Scoop Saddle comes as ‘Flat’, ‘Shallow’, and ‘Radius’. The Flat profile is designed for aero riding positions, so (as the name suggests) it it a) flat and b) has very little padding. The curvature and padding increases up to Radius with a profile that suits more upright positions and has much more padding.
There are also four different levels that one can purchase, depending on how much weight one wants to save fairly directly linked with size of wallet: ‘Elite’, ‘Race’, ‘Pro’, ‘Ultimate’. Elite comes in at around the £40.00 mark, whilst for an Ultimate you can expect to part with about £180.00.
The unit we had on test was a Flat Elite, very kindly loaned to us by our local bike shop Broadribb Cycles in Banbury. This is the cheapest of the aero offerings, however even this seemed to be superbly made. There are only three pieces to the saddle: the rails, base, and cover and it is this simplicity that seemed to make it such a good bit of kit, there is very little to go wrong – for example there are no staples that can fall out and the whole saddle has a robust feel to it. The saddle we had was white and it did seem to pick up grime a little during installation, but it was relatively easy to clean off.
The saddle got fitted to a Giant Defy 4 for test riding. The Flat profile encourages an aero position and it was set up with this in mind. As can be seen in the above image there are marks on the saddle rails to aid in installation, although they are only max/min marks, there are no gradations in between. The Flat option has the minimum of padding and during riding this really does tell. The saddle does work well in helping to attain a good aero position, the long nose means one can get forward and low, but this would strictly be for short rides only, I expect that anything over an Olympic distance would be distinctly uncomfortable and an iron distance would be right out unless one is blessed with an iron posterior. I would be very interested in getting my hands on the Shallow option for comparison, as I suspect that it would be an excellent all rounder, a little bit of padding going a long way, without compromising an excellent aero position.
During actual riding the saddle was comfortable, and even this cheapest option was lighter than the stock Giant saddle that it replaced. I chose a route that took in both uphills and downhills, as well as flat sections of good tarmac and flat sections with poor quality surface. Perhaps because of the slightly forward position encouraged by the saddle climbing was comfortable and on the smooth sections of road and the downhills the power really could be put down. The rougher sections of road were certainly more noticeable, but this is a small price to pay for an aggressive position. Again I have my suspicions that the Shallow profile would have just that little bit more forgivness, for few sacrifices.
Throughout the review I have deliberately skirted round the issue of tri bikes as I don’t think it quite meets the requirements of a tri-specific saddle – the nose just does not have the padding required and if you have forked out for a tri bike it is likely to come with a tri saddle already on it. This is a bit of a pity as it is advertised on the manufacturer website, www.fabric.cc, as for use with aero bars.
The Fabric Scoop Saddle Flat Elite is an excellently made saddle for a very good price. Whislt I would not go for it as an tri bike upgrade (unless you are on something really horrific) it would be an excellent replacement saddle or a good way into experimenting with slightly more aggressive positions on a road bike, without spending too much. As I have not tested them I cannot comment on the higher end offerings, they are light, but at a price – spend an extra sixty pounds at the top end and you shave off ten grams. So this is a really good saddle for getting the power down from, but I would at least want to check out the other profiles if I planned to leave it on my bike 24/7, and I would not plan long, leisurely sportives on it. However if you are a racer in the market for a new saddle, wanting to shave those seconds off, it is a good buy.