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review

Fabric Line-S Race Flat saddle

8
£79.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Brilliant for hard, fast riding, but sharp-edged channel can irritate on endurance rides
Stable platform for maximising power and efficiency
Deep, full length channel
Might not suit endurance riding
Weight: 
235g
Contact: 

Fabric's Line-S Race Flat saddle will appeal to performance-focused riders looking for a stable, supportive design for fast riding – the Flat in the name means flat-out. Its stumpy length and wide, slightly-sloped rear encourage an efficient fixed position, while the full-length channel relieves pressure. Mostly, it works extremely well, but the angular channel sides can occasionally irritate and there's no real wiggle-room to ease pressure on long rides.

The Line-S is pretty different to the old Line Elite we tested back in 2015. About 40mm of the length has gone (20mm either end), the channel is now uniform in both construction and depth, and the base is a single platform.

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It's worth pointing out that, while the packaging was labelled 'women's', Fabric has purposefully designed a unisex saddle here, and lists it as such on its site.

Construction and ride

As is clear from the photos, the Line-S is a simple construction: two waterproof, microfibre-covered foam pads sitting on a flexible nylon base to create a deep, full-length central channel.

2020 Fabric Line S Race Flat women's saddle - front.jpg

The pads slope down gently at the outer edges so there's minimal rub against buttocks/upper-inner thighs. The drop of the pad to the channel is more of a square edge, which caused me a small amount of irritation. I know this won't be the case for everyone – I'm very used to the rounded edges of my Specialized Oura (now replaced by the high-scoring Romin).

The padding is firm but, for me, provides enough cushioning. There's a little flex in the nylon base and titanium rails, and that helps absorb rough surface vibrations too.

2020 Fabric Line S Race Flat women's saddle - underside.jpg

I have always used long-nosed saddles and had, until now, never got on with shorter, wider ones. Models such as Specialized's Power Expert Gel with Mimic simply don't offer the wriggle room I'm used to and, in the case of the Expert, I missed a proper cutout. I've been pleasantly surprised by the Line-S, though. The full-length channel means I can get into a low position, stay there and experience no soft tissue discomfort from pressure.

I managed rides of up to 2.5 hours at a tempo pace and the saddle stayed comfortable throughout, fixed though I was in position. This position allowed me to put down power efficiently and effectively.

Obviously, saddle adjustment is critical too, but no matter what I did, anything longer than 2.5hrs and I was wanting to shuffle about a bit more. The shape doesn't really allow it, though.

While I genuinely got on with it and saw huge benefits to my pacier rides, I wouldn't be swapping it on a permanent basis (unless I had a bike solely dedicated to short, sharp sessions).

The construction has at least one added bonus if you're a no-mudguard rider: you get a channel without the hole, so dirt and road spray stay on the underside. The flat, smooth underside also makes it really easy to clean, while also meaning the padding doesn't need reinforcement. This may add to longevity – I have a couple of cutout saddles whose reinforcements have weakened significantly over time.

If this colour scheme is not to your liking, Fabric does a black version with its logo on the upper, and it's definitely less conspicuous.

2020 Fabric Line S Race Flat women's saddle - 2.jpg

Fabric has priced it well; £79.99 for a 235g (240g for the 142mm) performance saddle is perfectly palatable. The similar Specialized Power Expert is £105 and 210g, while the men's version is effectively the same weight as the Fabric at 233g.

Fizik's Tempo Argo R5 is a tenner more than the Line-S Race Flat, and comes in 150mm and 160mm widths (claimed 241g and 247g respectively). It's 20mm longer than the Line-S, too, so if you're reluctant to give up wiggle room it might be a good compromise.

> 10 of the best short saddles - compare the new generation of fast seats

Fabric's Line-S Race Flat is an innovative saddle that offers exceptional comfort and stability for riders looking to maximise power and efficiency. It's well priced, with options to up or down-grade (the £60 Elite and £150 Pro versions) should your budget differ, it's well made, and it promises to last. Just be aware it might not suit if you like your rides long.

Verdict

Brilliant for hard, fast riding, but sharp-edged channel can irritate on endurance rides

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Fabric Line-S Race Flat

Size tested: 155mm x 240mm

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 tells us it's "Engineered for lightning speed – and comfort. The short design lets you hold an aggressive riding position for longer – letting you fix your seating position and focus on the ride ahead."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Rails: Titanium (7mm)

Base: Flexible Nylon

Cover: Waterproof microfibre

Profile: Flat

Weight: 234g

Width: 155mm

Length: 240mm

Mid rail to saddle topper: 45mm

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

High-quality construction and well finished.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Comfortable and supportive, provides a stable position for efficient, high-power riding. Outstanding for shorter, pacier rides.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Showing no signs of wear and tear, dead easy to clean.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

I personally had occasional irritation from the square edge of the padding that drops to the channel. This wasn't on every ride, but I would definitely prefer a softer edge here.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Compared to market equivalents, it's good value for money.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

For flat-out riding and racing it's great. It really helps you hold a stable position, allowing efficient pedalling with a focus on power output.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Deep, full-length channel.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Could do with more-rounded edges along the channel sides.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's well priced compared with similar from Specialized and Fizik.

Did you enjoy using the product? For pacier rides under 2.5 hours, absolutely.

Would you consider buying the product? Unlikely

Would you recommend the product to a friend? For performance/time-trial riding, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's an innovative and affordable saddle that provides stability and comfort when focusing on efficient power output and top end performance. With a gentler edge to the padding that drops to the channel, I'd be giving it a 9.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 173cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Road  My best bike is: Carbon road.

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!

Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling. 

After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing. 

Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…

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