The 3 West Reprieve saddle debuted in April, and I’ve been running it on my ‘cross bike for the past four months of training and racing. For cyclocross, I like something with a kicked-up tail. It allows me to push against the saddle when pedaling hard, but it can’t be so high that dismounts are impeded. The Reprieve meets these requirements and adds an interesting take on pressure relief.
The saddle is designed with a 3/4″ drop immediately in front of the wider sit bone support section. In front of that is an inflatable balloon along the nose that lets you adjust the height and firmness to suit your preferences. Amazingly, all of the additional shaping, construction and internal parts come together in a package that’s not any heavier than a typical performance saddle…
For 265g, you get a hollow ti railed perch with real leather cover that measures 143mm x 270mm. The rails are tall, and they seem to connect more forward than many other saddles I’ve tried, so I have the seat pushed way further back than I normally do.
Top down, the shape is traditional, and the profile from the front has a moderate curve that should suit many riders.
It’s the side profile that’s so unique (and attention grabbing when you’re standing around after a race). 3 West says the pit in the middle allows the perineum to maintain its normal shape and not be squished by your body weight. And that the angled tail section rotates your hips forward, which helps keep your spine straight and positions you for optimum power output. This forward hip rotation works well for me and something I try to achieve with any saddle, the Reprieve just makes it easier.
The other unique feature is the ability to customize the firmness of the nose. The perimeter of it has a firm but plush padding with a bladder running through the center that’s pumped up via the port underneath the shell. It comes with a small pump that’s also used to deflate it. It maxes out with just six squeezes of the pump, becoming firm-ish. Actually, not really all that firm, but supportive enough that I couldn’t feel the edges. Deflate it all the way and it becomes perfectly flat.
I rode it fully inflated and it felt good. I can’t remember any numbness while using the saddle, whether in the hard charging race position or on longer, more casual adventure and training rides. It’s comfortable, but I think I’ll keep it on my ‘cross bike or try it on a mountain bike. It’s designed to work for road, too, or anything else, but personally I think I like it better for bumpier situations. Gravel racing might be a good fit for it as it’s cushy but supportive. Triathletes might fall in love.
As weird as it looks, it feels good. And normal. Personally, I’d like to see an “SL” version that just uses a fixed foam to create that front shape and lose the bladder and stuff, but adjustability is a good thing and it comes at little or no real weight penalty here. If you’ve been having trouble finding a sweet spot on your saddle, this might be the right one to try. Retail is $175, available in black or white.