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Gravel Gear

Reviewed: Syncros XR1.5 Women saddle is low profile and made for ‘cross riders

Syncros' new saddle is simple and low profile, and our reviewer concludes it would be best used on a mountain or cyclocross bike

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Women’s saddle manufacturers tend to be dogmatic about design. Every saddle in the Specialized women’s performance line has a cutout; over in Fizik’s lineup, there’s nary a cutout to be seen — just channels. Companies stick to their formulas and research for good reason. Once you find a saddle that works for you, why change?

Syncros brings a different design to women’s saddles with the XR1.5 Women model. While the company’s Web site claims there’s a pressure relief channel design, it’s difficult to detect. The XR1.5 is simple and low profile — no cutouts, no large channels. Just you and the saddle. What it lacks in negative space to relieve pressure, it (almost) makes up for in effective Superlight EVA foam.

Denser and with a lower profile than the foam in a puffy marshmallow saddle like the Selle Italia Lady Flow, yet thicker than the padding in Fizik’s sleek Arione Donna, the XR1.5’s well-balanced cushioning is one of its best features. The foam continues to the tip of the saddle, a plus for riders who find themselves occasionally riding at the front of their seat, like on a steep, short singletrack climb.

The XR1.5 is most appropriate when one’s riding style requires lots of body English and movement. On longer road rides spent in a static, aggressive position, most riders will miss having a channel or cutout. This low-profile design is more appropriate for a mountain or cyclocross bike, where mobility joins comfort as a key attribute. The XR1.5 might also work for casual road riders with more upright positions who don’t like the additional friction of a cutout.

While the XR1.5’s shape allows intentional changes of position on the bike, it isn’t slippery. The slightly coarse microfabric cover and textured rear keep you from sliding around if you don’t want to.

With titanium rails, the XR1.5 weighs in at 240 grams — heavier than the Fizik Arione Donna (189g) and Specialized Ruby Expert (195g for the 143-millimeter size) — but still far from being a tank of a saddle.

We never recommend switching saddles just for the sake of something new, but if you’ve struggled to find something comfortable across the current range of popular women’s lines, the XR1.5 is a marked enough departure from the women’s saddle norm that it could very well be a great fit. If you want a supportive, unrestrictive, no-frills perch for your mountain or cyclocross bike, the XR1.5 is worth a look.

Pros: Simple, low-profile design allows for dynamic movement on the bike. Padding is effective but out of the way.

Cons: No channel or cutout makes for discomfort on long road rides in aggressive positions. The black stripe down the middle of the saddle was off-center in our version, which is annoying if you use it as a landmark to align your seatpost.