The short saddle concept started when ‘noseless’ saddle specialists ISM focused its time-trial and triathlon model designs on a comfort solution for riders adopting a super-aggressive ride position.
After that, the short saddle became a feature on the road pretty quickly when Specialized launched its original Power in 2015, fast becoming a rider favourite.
Since then, we’ve seen similar designs from ProLogo (Dimension), PRO (Stealth), Selle Italia (Novus Boost), Fizik (Argo), Syncros (Tofino), Scicon (Elan) and more. The one unifying factor, however, has been that short saddles carry a high price, starting at around £90… up until now.
Performance, comfort and value
Fabric has a history of being somewhat disruptive in the saddle market. Its Scoop saddle impressed us so we have high hopes for this new Line S.
Fabric tells us that the saddle is designed to reduce pressure on soft tissue when holding an aggressive riding position, and the choice of a full-length deep channel should make it a truly unisex offering too.
Fabric’s construction methods are smart; the bonded-on padding eliminates any staples or stitching and the underside is smooth too, making it easy to keep clean. It’s a construction method Fabric pioneered and one you can see being adopted by most premium saddle brands, and at premium prices.
The new Line S has been in development for some time and is based on the standard length, deep channelled Line saddle in the current Fabric range. The Line saddle combines a flexible base with two deep bonded padded sections that run either side of a broad and deep channel.
The Line S is 240mm long (compared to the standard Line at 282mm) and is available in 142mm and 155mm widths.
At launch, there are two finishes available: Team, with a large gloss Fabric logo running the length of the cover, and a more sedate matt black version. But with Fabric’s history for offering a rainbow range of colours on the Scoop, we’d imagine that more variants on the Line-S will be available in the future.
There are three models in the range: a cro-mo railed version for £59; a titanium railed option for £79.99; and a lightweight (180g) carbon railed range-topper at £149.99.
Fabric Line S saddle first impressions
I’ve had the Line S in its 234.5g cro-mo guise since early February and so far I’ve been impressed.
My current favourite saddle is the Specialized Power Pro Elaston, which at 230g is comparable weight wise, but at £190 is significantly more expensive.
The Line S has a slightly flatter profile from the mid-section to the nose but still retains an upward curve towards the heel of the saddle. The transition between the stubby broad nose and the rear flanks comes in sooner and the channel broadens from 15mm at the nose to 45mm at the heel, and from 10mm deep at the nose to 15mm at the heel.
The padding, while deep and soft, doesn’t squirm or spread sideways, so you get all of the benefits of deep padding without the downsides of feeling unbalanced or slipping around.
The matt finish with its large gloss logo is plenty grippy in the dry, and in the wet its light texture copes well without becoming too slippy.
As with any short saddle, you won’t find yourself moving around as much as you would on a standard saddle; it’s either shifted forward riding hard, or sitting up and relying on the rear of the saddle to hold you steady.
This means that fit and position are very important, and the Line S offers 55mm fore-and-aft adjustment on the rails, and I found it easy to get a position that mirrors my current saddle.
One thing not immediately apparent, but most welcome, is that even with such a wide and defined channel the Line S doesn’t have a ‘hole’ in the base, and in the very wet winter we rode through in the UK that’s been a blessing.
Split-holed saddle designs usually have more compliance in the base than a solid unit, but the Line S doesn’t feel in any way firm or stiff in this polymer-based model.
I’m keeping the Line-S on test for now, and will report back soon with a full review.