SDG BEL-AIR V3 SADDLE REVIEW
Review by Nic Hall | Photos by Drew Rohde
Few bike seats have the respect and legacy of the SDG Bel-Air. The Bel-AIr is an icon in the mountain bike world and their wild patterns and treatments have made them lust-worthy accessories for decades. The saddle adorned the dream bikes of the world’s best riders during our younger years. From the Intense M1, the legendary Honda DH bike, and several Iron Horse Sundays. Now after 25 years in service, the SDG Bel-Air V3 is looking to carry the torch. We’ve been riding several Bel-Air V3 saddles since they were launched several months ago. We were excited to see how a familiar look and feel would benefit from modern materials and manufacturing applications. So, is the Bel-Air 3 still a crowd favorite? Let’s find out.
SDG shortened the over length of the saddle to 260mm to compliment current bike geometries and more modern riding styles. The base of the saddle is crafted out of nylon glass with the inclusion of a bridge to help increase power transfer. From there, the use of injection molded foam provides on-saddle comfort and durability that has not previously been available. SDG utilizes what they call Atmos shaping to vacuum seal the saddle cover to the base, this process eliminates the need for bumpers, staples or glue, giving the saddle a seamless look along with increasing durability and reducing the risks of snagging, tearing or discomfort. Another new feature on the Bel-Air V3 is the use of sonic welded edges, which add even another level of protection and increased durability to the corners of the saddle.
The Bel-Air V3’s profile has been slightly updated but maintains a slight rear rise and lowered profile. By doing this SDG helps riders rotate their pelvis forward while providing extra support and power from the seated, climbing position. New to the BAV3 are the reverse Free Float Rail Inserts, designed to offer more flex and prevent the saddle from inhibiting power transfer on the downstroke. Also new is the cutout, which helps ensure blood flows where it needs to during long days in the saddle.
SDG offers the Bel-Air V3 in 3 rail configurations: Carbon ($189.99), Lux Alloy ($89.99 / $109.99 Fuel), and Steel ($59.99). It is available in a range of colors including a very blingy oil slick option. We tested their new Lux Alloy option as it’s not much heavier than a Carbon saddle but is $100 cheaper. Plus we’re always a fan of trying out new technology.
We swapped the SDG Bel-Air Lux Alloy onto several of our test bikes for the last few months and have gotten our rear ends acquainted. The saddle was instantly comfortable with no break in period thanks to the moderate padding and neutral spacing. A deep central cut out, called the peri-canal relieved any perineal pressure adequately and we had no “numbness” issues.
The rear of the saddle is slightly higher than the front, allowing for a comfortable pedaling position for long sections of road or flat trail. Width of the BAV3 is 140mm, which is right in the sweet spot for sit bone fit and fit our three testers well. We found the shorter length to be good for pulling duty on everything from downhill bikes to eMTB and shorter travel trail bikes.
Flex is markedly improved from the pervious version with the free float rail inserts and Lux Alloy rails. This helped with comfort and kept the saddle in one piece during falls. Abrasion resistant material has been added on both sides of the saddle and has proven to be strong enough for our media hack riding but soft enough to not chafe our delicate back sides.
SDG has done a good job keeping the saddle neutral and pleasing to a wide range of riders but also brought it into the modern age. The new manufacturing techniques are truly impressive and we can’t think of many of bike saddles that boast the level of refinement and technology the Bel-Air V3 has.
We really liked the Lux Alloy rails in terms of feel and noticed they may even be more comfortable than the higher end carbon-railed version we had on another test bike. As with anything SDG, the wide assortment of colors and price points are greatly appreciated and while we know saddles are highly individual, the fact that all three of our testers agreed is a testament that the old crowd pleaser is still alive and well in the Bel-Air V3. It’s just presented in a more modern way.
Price: $59.99 – $189.99
Weight: 181g (Carbon), 236g (Lux Alloy), 318g (Steel)
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