For quite some time, WTB has held a good share of the MTB saddle market with their classic Silverado model. Its aesthetically pleasing silhouette features a fairly wide and supportive tail with a slightly rounded off nose and just the right amount of padding throughout. In an area of the bike where cyclists can be up understandably picky, it has boasted and still does boast an impressively broad appeal. Not long ago, WTB introduced a new fit finder on their website which is surprisingly simple – all you need is a ruler and your wrist. Their research has shown a strong correlation with wrist width and sit bone width, so when prompted I measured my wrist and they sent out something new for me to try – the SL8. This new (to me) saddle is reminiscent of a Silverado, but leaner in profile and it a bit more stripped down. After a few months of use, here’s how it has been working out.
- Chromoly, Titanium (tested) and Carbon rails available
- Narrow, Medium (tested), Wide – 127, 142, 150 x 265mm length
- 211 grams (our scale)
- Microfiber cover with Kevlar side panels
Like many WTB seats, you’ll find tough, abrasion resistant Kevlar at the corners of the tail. We all crash, and this protective measure protects your investment.
The titanium railed option saves about 60 grams over its more affordable chromoly counterpart. My personal experience with titanium railed saddles is that they are also a bit less prone to bending if/when you case a jump while seated.
I ended up with the Medium 142 width saddle based on my measurements, as you can see above. Also pictured, you can see the relief in the shell as indicated by the “comfort zone” graphic. That cutaway definitely helps prevent unnecessary pressure in the most prone area of our anatomy.
Coming in at 211 grams with a bunch of dirt on it, the SL8 is pretty darn light given how dense its padding is. You can go about 60 grams in either direction with carbon fiber or chromoly – which will also cost or save you a bit of coin as well.
On the trail
When I first eyed up the SL8 visually, I was a bit skeptical of how well I’d get along with it. The hose looked a little on the pointy side and it seemed a bit narrow in the center, but I was quickly proven wrong. I’ve certainly not been averse to fairly low profile saddles, and I’m a firm believer that no amount of padding can trump contour, shape and design. Prior to the SL8, my go-to saddle has been the Specialized Phenom. Starting up front, while the nose doesn’t curl and drop off quite as dramatically as the Silverado, it stays out of the way well enough and I didn’t have issues with it wanting to snag on my shorts or jersey. Speaking of such things – moving around, hovering over the saddle and using the inside of the thighs to steer all proved to be pleasant experiences with the SL8. Back to padding – while the center section visually appeared a bit narrow, it actually proved to be very comfortable on some rather big days in the saddle. I had no issues with numbness whatsoever. Out back, the width was just right for me and I never found myself fussing and shifting around side to side a few hours into a ride.
As far as technical details go, first and foremost – I felt the padding was dense and well distributed, which is what makes the minimalist approach still somehow manage to be comfortable on trail. The padding has also held up so far through a rather wet winter during which it has seen a great deal of moisture and washings. Thus far there hasn’t been any degradation. The Kevlar is an obvious plus, but keep in mind that whether you ride in Lycra or Baggies, the chaffing will wear down your riding shorts to a certain extent. So far, the materials and craftsmanship have proven to be quite sturdy, with no split seams, bent rails or premature wear despite a few cases and small crashes. Additionally, the padding still feels as plush as ever.
I typically look to WTB when I’m after a saddle with a bit more to it – the Silverado fits that bill and it’s the kind of seat that I’ll typically mount on an Enduro or DH bike. To my surprise, I actually found the SL8 to be even more comfortable on long days despite its slender nature. There’s no reason to think that it can’t hold up just as well as it shares many of the same high points on the construction side. In terms of value, $129 for the titanium railed version is pretty reasonable. If you’re less weight conscientious, the $79 chromoly version is an even better deal. Don’t let its slender shape fool you into thinking it’s only good for the Gravel and XC crowd…I’d put the SL8 on just about anything, but maybe stop short with a downhill bike. In any case, it’s a great all around saddle, and the fact that it’s available in 3 widths is also surely a nice bonus as it will better fit a broader range of riders.