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The Fabric Line Race Shallow saddle is a bit of a classic. Though it's been around for a few years now, it's still one of the best all-round performing saddles out there: comfortable on long rides, suitable for a range of riding styles, with subtle styling that looks great on any bike.
Let's get one thing out of the way: Fabric makes a lot of bike saddles. It makes so many – 43 by my count – that it actually means finding the right saddle for your backside is a bit of a mission.
There are three different types of saddle to choose from depending on how you want to sit – upright, normal, or low. Then, within each of these categories are different models depending on the seating style you want, as well as different seat widths, different seat rails and, naturally, different colours (though not on all models).
Honestly, it can all get a bit much, and so I'm delighted to save you about an hour of wading through the entire range by telling you that the Fabric Race Line Shallow is a fantastic all-round saddle that will probably suit the majority of bottoms and riding styles; it's the saddle you should probably go out and buy right now. No, really.
Back in 2017, Stu reviewed the previous if slightly less wordily-named Fabric Line saddle with titanium rails. It's essentially the same saddle that you see here, aside from an increase in its overall length from 270mm to 282mm, and it's five quid more expensive. I can only presume this increase is because those choosing the wider 142mm saddle for their wider sit bones are probably longer in the undercarriage as well. The 134mm version, which is also available, is still 270mm.
Whether this makes a jot of difference or not, the longer incarnation is still a fantastic saddle, as it was three years ago, for several reasons. For starters, it looks really smart – sleek and understated, with a lovely shape that won't look out of place on any style of bike. Its neat design is aided, no doubt, by the one-piece padding that's bonded to the flexible nylon base. That same piece of microfibre padding is also waterproof.
It's available in all-black or black with white accents on the cutout and base, and if you opt for the Team version, which sounds like a souped-up version of the same saddle (spoiler: it's not), you get it in black with a blacked-out Fabric logo on the top of the saddle, and the small Fabric logo in white.
Then there's the spec – you're getting a reasonably lightweight saddle with titanium rails for £75, which actually isn't a huge amount of money when you look around at what else offers the same – and a full-length pressure relief channel.
Most importantly, it's really very comfy. Okay, saddle comfort is subjective, but I never thought I could be swayed away from the Charge Spoon saddle that I've been perched on for the last 15 years – it just seemed to suit me for some reason – but this is just as lovely a place to rest my backside, if not even more so. Despite there being quite a minimal level of padding, the combination of flexy titanium rails and the channel along the centre did a great job of cushioning me nicely.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's going to be the out and out best choice of saddle for serious mile-munching, but for me it's ideal for my usual training distance of about 50-60 miles. At this mileage I suffered zero numbness in the perineum, and I didn't get soreness anywhere either.
Sitting in the Shallow category of its saddles means that the Fabric Race Line is designed for a normal riding position on the hoods, where you're leaning forward enough to cruise along nicely without putting your back out. Fabric says the saddle is optimised for this seating position thanks to its medium level of padding and more rounded rear section.
According to my seat to bar drop, which is quite considerable (blame my long legs), I'd probably be more at home on the racier Flat type of saddle (though Fabric doesn't make the Line in this seating position), but in reality I found that the Race Line seemed to work as well sat as upright as possible on the tops as it did when I was down really low in the drops, without the nose getting in the way.
If you're happy to sacrifice a few pounds on the scales, then you can also save a few pounds on the cost of a Fabric Line saddle. The entry-level Sport version, with steel rails, is just £39.99 and weighs a claimed 290g (a 47g penalty), while on the next rung is the £54.99 Elite version with chromoly rails, which, maybe not totally surprisingly, is only 3g heavier than the titanium Race model going by the claimed weights. There's a really light carbon Pro version available too, but it's a tenner shy of double the money of the titanium version.
Though we've not compared them side by side, in Stu's review of the older version he did note that the increased flexibility of the titanium rails definitely gave more comfort over the chromoly version. Whether that's worth an extra £20 is debatable.
Even after three years since it launched, Fabric's slightly updated Line Race Shallow is still the sweet spot of saddles in terms of price, comfort and looks, and the good thing is if you want to spend a little less and still get great performance, all you have to do is drop down a rung on the ladder.
It's hardly changed over the years, and still one of the best all-round saddles you can get
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Line Race Shallow saddle 2020
Size tested: 142mm
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?
Fabric says, "Go further for longer with the Line saddle. Based on our innovative Scoop saddle, the Line has a single, split piece of waterproof pad with a full-length central relief channel to decrease pressure on the pudendal artery. The Line is specifically designed for comfort on longer days in the saddle.
"Our state-of-the-art Line saddle design builds in comfort to every ride. Our unique three-part construction strips away the compression and tension found in traditional hard, stretched-cover saddles. We do this by bonding a waterproof microfiber straight onto a flexible base, allowing us to use a softer foam, giving you added comfort, wherever you're headed.
"The Shallow profile has a more rounded rear section and medium padding. This profile is for riders leaning forwards, in a more natural riding position; typically the handlebars will be slightly lower than the saddle with the rider's weight being split between the saddle and handlebars more evenly, requiring less padding on the saddle."
I found the saddle very comfortable and could easily rack up 60 miles without any discomfort, and I've got a very picky set of sit bones.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rails: Titanium (7mm)
Base: Flexible nylon
Mid rail to saddle topper 49mm
An effective saddle no matter whether you're in a normal position or in the drops, and feels stiff enough to let you apply the power.
Not the lightest saddle out there, but many similar weight saddles are more expensive.
It feels a little firm to begin with, but it's actually very comfy on long distances. The usual caveats apply re saddle comfort being subjective...
£75 isn't cheap, but you're getting a lot of saddle for the money, and there isn't really much in this price bracket that can compete.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Race Line Shallow feels like a very comfortable saddle for training or racing on.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's comfortable to sit on for many miles, but isn't particularly heavy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a good price for a titanium railed saddle at this weight, and with this level of comfort and performance. The main competition for the Line Race Shallow comes from Fabric's own stable: the Elite version with chromoly rails is nearly as light, looks almost identical and is £20 less.
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
There's nothing bad to say about the Fabric Line Race Shallow saddle – it does everything really well. It's comfortable on long rides, feels great whether you're taking it easy or riding hard, and it looks fantastic too, in an understated way.
About the tester
I usually ride: Steel audax bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives,