SQlab Range Review


Words by Robert Johnston
Photos by Ian Linton & Finlay Anderson

These days there are countless options when purchasing quality aftermarket finishing kit, but many of the offerings are fairly similar in their approach, with only simple tweaks from age-old designs. SQlab does things differently, beginning with the human anatomy and working towards a cycling product in order to achieve the best ergonomics they can to enhance comfort and control on your rides. Over the last year they’ve given me a sample of some of the products they make across all of the contact points, and as it turns out I’ve grown very fond of just about all of it. Let’s take a look at those products and let me tell you why I’ve been liking them.

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One of the items where SQlab takes a notably different approach to the norm is in their saddles, and it’s likely the reason you would first hear about the company. SQlab takes a highly form-fitted approach with their saddles, offering sizes 13cm to 16cm in 1cm increments to offer just about every rider a tailored saddle fit to maximize comfort. Their saddles use SQlab’s Active Technology, which creates some inbuilt flex in the saddle to allow it to follow the natural tilt of the hips when pedaling and more evenly distribute pressure on the sit bones, with the degree of flex tailored to the rider weight using interchangeable elastomers.

The shape and general fit concept of the SQlab saddles is different than what has become typical. Rather than the saddle sitting in between the sit bones and spreading the support of the body across the perineal area, SQlab uses their stepped ERGOWAVE® design which supports rider weight on the sit bones, slightly further back on the saddle body than conventional designs. This reduces the chances of numbness down below during sustained periods in the saddle. The nose is dropped a touch to increase the space for sensitive areas, and has a wider profile to improve pressure distribution on steeper climbs.

I tested two of SQlab’s saddles extensively, the first of which was the 611 ERGOWAVE active 2.1 retailing for €159.95. This is a relatively low profile saddle that looks similar to the conventional saddle profile albeit with a different shape, and uses superlight foam padding and kevlar reinforcements on the high wear areas of the saddle. The second saddle is the Made-In-Germany 6OX Infinergy® ERGOWAVE® active 2.1, retailing for €199.95 and featuring the BASF Infinergy material to deliver tailored padding instead of the PU foam typically used for saddles. Infinergy is highly robust and elastic, and necessitates a covering material only on the contact points of the saddle. The 6OX saddle should offer the most comfort possible for MTB and eMTB riders looking for extra cushion and comfort without resorting to impractically thick and heavy saddles.


A proper saddle fit is always worthwhile and rarely fails to improve comfort, but in the case of the SQlab saddles, the different area of your butt that you use to support your body weight seems to make a huge amount of sense, taking the pressure off the soft tissue and instead letting your sit bones do most of the work. For me this proved to be extra comfortable – I hadn’t realized I was experiencing discomfort on the more comfortable “standard” saddles until I started rocking the SQlab units. That was after a very short adjustment period, that was primarily spent figuring out the optimum fore-aft position.

Tweaking the flex of the saddle with the different elastomers in the back is neat too, and I did prefer the recommended stiffer elastomer for my 96kg/210lbs mass, giving enough “give” to keep comfortable without feeling like one of those rocker saddles. The result was a saddle that I found to be considerably more comfortable for longer seated periods. The stepped profile also comes with the benefit of less core engagement to stay in the optimum position on the saddle when climbing steep terrain, where the saddle offers support to prevent sliding off the back of the saddle, and makes steeper grades more comfortable too.

The only issue I could foresee with the SQlab saddles is that they run quite wide overall – this isn’t an issue for the 14cm size and below, but once you go wider than this you may end up with a little too much saddle interaction on the descents which can impair your movement around the bike. The size 14cm saddles that suited my derriere weren’t overly bulky, but the 6OX saddle was definitely notable on bikes with shorter dropper posts. If you’re going to be logging serious seated miles in rough terrain the tradeoff will likely be worthwhile, but I’d be inclined to run one of the 611 saddles instead to obtain most of the same comfort without adding the extra bulk.

SQ Labs 7OX Grips


The 7OX grips have a highly tailored shape, designed to produce the optimum ergonomics for gravity riding. Available in two sizes – Small or Medium – to fit different hand sizes, the 7OXgrips should give increased control and comfort. The external portion of the top side of the grip is thicker to increase the levels of shock absorption in rough terrain, and the Ergobar grip shape gives a raised section on the front and outside of the grip to give a “peak” for bent fingers to wrap around and get the best control. There’s a textured section on the front and bottom of the grips with a piano key look, designed to improve the purchase of the fingertips on the grips. The SQlab 7OX grips use a single inboard collar to maximize control and comfort at the outer edge of the bar. Regardless of the size selected, the 7OX grips retail for €29.95.


Grips are hugely personal preference, and ergonomic grips take things to the next level. For me, these SQlab grips weren’t love at first ride, but after a little time experimenting with their positioning this changed and I’ve been really loving them since figuring it out. Getting the angle set up is absolutely crucial, as they strongly dictate the roll of your wrists on the bars and can quickly lead to a negative impact on comfort. Get them dialed into your sweet spot though and they offer great pressure distribution to reduce any pressure hot spots on your hands. Their shape means you don’t need to grip quite so hard to translate your hand movement to the bike, reducing hand fatigue and increasing safety when you get fatigued at the end of a long descent.

From wet and wild downhill riding to long days in the saddle on a trail bike, the 7OX grips have seen a ton of abuse, with wear rates that suggest less trail time than they’ve endured. The knurled pattern has nearly lost its prevalence, but they still grip well enough that I’m happy running them for much longer. They’ve fended off bashes against trees and a couple of slides on the ground without getting too torn up, so their durability seems up to scratch. Overall I’ve been very impressed by the SQlab 7OX grips, changing my perception of ergonomic grips to a much more positive tune. Plus, you can easily integrate the SQlab Innerbarends, which take comfort during sustained saddle time to the next level.

SQ Labs Inner Bar Ends


The SQlab Innerbarends may feel like a bit of a flashback in time, but their design and execution are undoubtedly modern. Innerbarends sit on the inside of your grips, offering a different hand position designed to improve comfort by relaxing the neck muscles and shifting the load to a different area of the hands during sustained climbs. They also offer some considerable improvements to aerodynamics, which can offer significant energy reductions or speed increases for higher speed pedaling sections over longer periods. The €39.95 Innerbarends 411 2.0 are made from Fiber Reinforced Plastic and can be mounted either directly to the handlebar by using the supplied plastic shim, or can replace the lock ring of SQlab’s grips for a highly integrated solution, tipping the scales at just 56g per pair.


I regularly find myself resting the palm of my hands on the top of the grips to give a slightly more relaxed upright position on extended portions of fireroad or road pedaling. SQlab’s Innerbarends give a safer and more comfortable manner in which to achieve the same thing, and crucially still offer some access to the brakes to slow down in a hurry if needed. Although many will dislike the looks, I’m a big fan of their performance so can accept it, especially for the slightly less aggressive bikes in my fleet where longer and flatter miles are likely. Exactly how many watts they’re saving me I don’t know nor care, but the comfort boost is there to be appreciated and that’s more than enough to convince me to run them. When combined with the 7OX grips, they integrate cleanly and don’t obstruct the controls, and the weight gain is minimal. Overall this is a product that I think will struggle to gain acceptance by riders until they try it, and then end up being a much appreciated solution to a problem they didn’t know they had.

SQ Labs 7OX Grips


Pedals are quite varied in terms of their ergonomics, but for many it’s less about comfort and more about all-out grip when working to optimize their shape. SQlab once again takes an ergonomics-first approach with their 5OX pedals, offering a concave profile with an outward rotation to better suit a slightly heels-in foot position, and three axle lengths to dial in the most comfortable Q-Factor for each rider and facilitate a more heels-in position without rubbing on the frame as you pedal.

The 5OX pedals are made from a glass fiber-reinforced plastic, which they selected in order to keep the cost down and to improve the ability of the pedal to shake off impacts with rocks on the trail. This body is quite thick at nearly 20mm, which allows the Chromoly axle and dual bearing and IGUS bushing internals to fit in without an axle lump and have a large overall profile at 110x105mm. There are 11 pins on each side of the pedal, which thread in through the pedal to captive nuts, making replacements easier if they get damaged. They tip the scales at a hair over 450g, and retail for €79.95.


The SQlab pedals proved to be excellent again, albeit less stand-out than their other components. They’re not the most concave, but their longer platform than most gives comfort and reduces how fussy you need to be with your foot positioning on the pedals. The longer axle proved to be comfortable for my stature, but I found myself sometimes sitting with my foot hanging over the inside of the pedals in hyper-dynamic movements, so I’d likely opt to go for a shorter length given the choice as I rarely struggle with heel clearance. The grip was very good with a range of shoes, though the thin threaded pins do give up some safety concerns for the times when you take one to the shin, as they’ll cut you up with ease.

In terms of durability, the large platforms have taken some large hits without flinching, and the pins have had the tops ground off them but have all held strong. The weather sealing may not be the best out there, as they did begin to feel rough before other pedals might, but SQlab will shortly offer a cheap service kit to take care of that. It won’t likely be an issue for riders in less moist climates, as Scottish mountain biking quickly exposes any weaknesses in weather sealing. The threaded pins would turn orange overnight following a wet ride or a bike wash as they rusted, which leaves me concerned for the ease of removing them when the time comes but didn’t pose any issues so far. Overall, they seem to be in it for the long haul, and offer some good performance for their price tag, with high durability thanks to their burly construction.

SQ Labs 7OX Grips


The SQlab ONE OX gloves are designed to be fairly minimalistic and “barely there” in their feel, without compromising in protection and control. SQlab adds their ergonomic approach in the form of a slim and wide fit option for each size, separating the overall length of the hand and fingers from its width and thickness to tailor the fit and allow for an elasticated cuff design without reduced comfort or security. The palm is made from AX-Suede material, a synthetic suede that’s designed to be thin and flexible without reducing durability. The palm is stitched externally to ensure comfort on your hands, and there’s a generous slanted elastic cuff to keep the gloves in place.


Thanks to SQlab’s fit system, and the choice of both a slim and wide fit in these gloves, my chunky hands were met with a slip-on glove that didn’t feel like it was going to burst and didn’t add any resistance when clenching my fists. Instead, the fit was…like a glove – it still required considerable effort and patience to get my hands into the elasticated cuff, but once inside there was no pressure. That’s not to say they were baggy though, far from it. I typically wear a size large but have frequent issues with stretching the material – this usually gives me a nice and tight fit for the first ride or two, before the gloves inevitably “bag out” and leave me with excess material that reduces the comfort of the fit. Because the SQlab gloves don’t have to stretch so much initially, they’re able to retain their shape and size and have been one of the few gloves that I don’t feel the need to wash frequently simply to shrink them back down to a comfortable size.

The AX Suede palm on these gloves is nicely tactile, and offers plentiful grip on both dry and wet grips. It never bunched, avoiding any discomfort between my palms and the grips, and managed to shake off a couple of spills onto softer terrain without showing any signs of damage. I haven’t managed to get any testing done in sweltering heat, for which I’d expect they’ll feel a little hot, but in mild temperatures they’ve been extremely comfortable. The extended cuffs give a nice level of security to the feeling, and help to close up some of the gap that typically shows with my long arms, benefitting looks and increasing protection from a crash or shrubbery.

All in all, aside from their relatively high price, the SQlab One OX gloves are an excellent offering, and one that I’m looking forward to riding in more throughout the year.


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