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review

Liv Alacra SL saddle

7
£69.99

VERDICT:

7
10
Firm yet comfortable all-rounder with some impressive elements for its price – one width only though
Lightweight
Ergonomic feel
Generous cutout
Might be too firm for some
Took some bedding in
Only available in one width
Cutout can get a bit grubby
Weight: 
222g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Liv's Alacra SL is its performance saddle with a mid-range price tag, featuring trickle-down technology from Liv's premium option, the SLR. It's a firm yet comfortable ride, with a shape intended to suit a range of riding styles.

Of Liv's 14-strong saddle range, the two Alacra models are touted as the high performance, distance-focused options. The Alacra SL (Super Light) tested here is positioned as more of an all-rounder while the SLR (Super Light Race) has a lightweight road focus.

> Find your nearest dealer here

At first squeeze the SL is pretty firm, but under its microfibre outer lies a range of comfort-focused technology, including Liv's 'rebound' foam, a lightweight padding with high elasticity designed to provide a custom feel, and 'particle flow', which aims to distribute weight across the main area of contact, and is claimed to reduce pressure points by more than 20%. This comfort-aiding tech is bolstered by a very generous cutout design that extends towards the tip of the nose.

2020 Liv Alacra SL saddle - top.jpg

The SL claims versatility – from laid-back days to racing – and its geometry echoes this: at 155mm it's on the wider side, making it supportive to the average woman's sit bones across semi-aero and more upright riding positions, while its wide, short nose aids forward-focused riding.

2020 Liv Alacra SL saddle - nose.jpg

It's worth pointing out that the Alacra SL shares almost all of these key design elements with its range-topping sister, the SLR, with only one key difference for the £60 saving: an extra 40g owing to steel rather than carbon rails.

2020 Liv Alacra SL saddle - underside.jpg

But at 222g, the SL – as the 'Super Light' name suggests – is still respectably light. Quite a bit lighter in fact than other similar saddles tested at this price point, including the SDG Allure at 268g and the Fizik Luce at 267g. Bonus then, that it comes in a bit cheaper than the aforementioned two, and a lot cheaper than the £129.99 rrp of the SLR.

But does all this fancy tech stack up in action? On first sit, the Alacra SL felt very different to my usual saddle, owing to its gently curved, as opposed to pan flat, mid-section. As such, it felt pleasingly ergonomic to my behind, shaped as if it were meant for me – a promising start.

2020 Liv Alacra SL saddle - rear detail.jpg

Heading out on the road for 2.5 hours, I was impressed with the level of instant comfort it afforded, given how firm it feels to the touch. The pressure relief channel was a win for me both during and post-riding: the cutaway is both wider and longer than I'm used to, and the result was very little soft tissue pressure in action – a crucial factor to saddle success.

I did, however, feel some pressure to the sit bones, which was apparent to the point of some discomfort on the first ride, although not enough to cause any discomfort afterwards. I put this down to bedding in, given that this saddle is the correct width for my measurements, and the feeling of mild discomfort improved somewhat with subsequent rides. By the fifth outing and on rides of up to four hours, I had all-but forgotten the saddle was there which, ultimately, is the aim of a saddle.

2020 Liv Alacra SL saddle - rear.jpg

The Alacra SL's aesthetic is smart and sporty with a minimal design overlay to the surface. It will be interesting to see how this fares over time – my other Liv saddle has white design elements that have rubbed off over time. But as an all-black design, the SL should fare better. It has scrubbed up alright after post-ride washes, but one thing to note is that there is a little ridge within the cutaway, between the padding and the carbon composite base, that's already collecting tough-to-shift dirt.

> Buyer’s Guide: 13 of the best women’s saddles

For me, the SL did need some bedding in but, overall, despite being a little on the firm side with minimal padding, it impressed on comfort across multiple riding positions from laid-back miles to putting down some power on the drops. It's certainly not the lightest saddle out there but for this price it feels like a good weight and handy all-rounder. It's just a shame that it doesn't come in multiple width options to suit more riders.

Verdict

Firm yet comfortable all-rounder with some impressive elements for its price – one width only though

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Liv Alacra SL saddle

Size tested: 155 x 248

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?

Liv says: 'A high-performing saddle designed to feel like a custom fit and support you where you need it most.'

This saddle is designed to be an all-rounder in terms of riding styles. I tested it across various riding positions and found its shape to be supportive and comfortable, but this is very personal and, for me, it did need bedding in first.

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

Liv lists:

- Rebound Technology (optimal density foam with incredibly high elasticity)

- Particle Flow (particles that mold to the rider's unique pelvic contact condition, reducing pressure points)

- Uniclip (mounting system for Liv/Giant accessories)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Sleek and ergonomic feel. However, dirt can gather in the cutout area.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

There is a already a scuff mark, and it's hard to clean the cut-away area. But the all-black design should weather well.

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

Not the lightest out there by a long chalk, but it is lighter than some others at this price point.

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

It's personal, but this saddle needed some bedding in for my sit bones. The cutout worked, though, and after a few rides the overall feeling was one of comfort.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Slightly cheaper than many mid-range saddles tested. A good price for the technology and weight.

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

The saddle supported various riding positions as advertised, with the short nose making for more comfortable forward-focused riding. The saddle took some bedding in for longer rides, but after a few outings I had forgotten it was there, and there was no evidence of pressure after rides.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

I loved the instant ergonomic feel and short nose.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The crevices that make cleaning hard.

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

It's slightly cheaper than many mid-range saddles tested, but it stacks up pretty well on comfort – although this is personal – and its weight compares well, too.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not at first, but yes after a few rides.

Would you consider buying the product? Not really for me, but then saddles are so personal.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, worth a go.

Use this box to explain your overall score

This saddle gets scores 7, meaning it's good, because it is comfy, with weight and features that compare well to others at this price point. Saddle comfort is personal, but it took a little more bedding in than my current saddle; it's also a bit tricky to clean.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 172cm  Weight: 60kg

I usually ride: My Scott Foil   My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax

Janine is an Ironman triathlete, GB Age Grouper and an Ironman Certified Coach who has raced multi-sports since 2013.

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