The new Bel Air Saddle from SDG Components officially drops today, bringing more of everything loved about the classic profile and then some. The new Bel Air v3.0 offers a few small refinements to bring it up to speed with new trends in frame geometry and manufacturing to improve on what was an already great seat.
I’ve been running at least one iteration of the Bel Air on my bikes since I’ve been riding mountain bikes. And although I’ve tested and ridden quite a few different options from SDG and other brands, I always come back to the Bel Air.
The 2.0 model gained a down curved nose, central relief channel and slight rise in the rear. That rear rise was helpful when pointing the bike up the trail, and helped create a sweet spot for sitting.
The new V3 tweaks the rear rise slightly and shortens the nose with a bit more padding, resulting in an improved climbing platform. The overall length has been reduced as well, with the overall effect of better optimizing the saddle for the longer reaches found in modern mountain bike geometry.
Features & Specs – via SDG
- 260mm Length
- 140mm Width
- Listed weight: 236g
- Undercut relief cutout
- Injection-molded EVA foam
- New Lux-Alloy rails are 15% stronger than Ti-Alloy with minimal increase in weight
- MSRP: Bel Air V3 models start at $60 (black steel rails)
Out of the box – first impressions
SDG sent over a few samples prior to the official launch so I could log some riding time, and as a long time SDG fan, I mounted them up right away. My go-to saddle color tends to be black — riding year-round here in the Pacific Northwest tends to put a lot of wear and tear on my saddles and black looks good no matter how beat up it gets. I put the black model on my all mountain bike but had to take a moment to really admire the new Fuel model. Featuring an “oil slick” finish on the base, the Lux-Alloy rails are iridescent dripped and coated for an aesthetic that is simply striking.
As my all mountain bike receives the most abuse, regularly getting put away dirty, I saved the Fuel edition to install on my carbon Kona Honzo, which is setup as an XC 29″ hardtail. It also happens to be the bike I log the most saddle time, as it doubles as my gravel/adventure/ exploration steed.
On the trail
Since installing the Bel-Air V3.0 on my hardtail and trail bike, (paired with the SDG Tellis Dropper Post) the bulk of the riding has been split between long multi-surface xc adventure fests and sessioning the roots, rocks, berms and dirt jumps on the local trails. I was already happy with the previous edition of the Bel Air, but the shorter, flattened nose and slight changes to the shape and foam improve on what was already a great pedaling platform.
I spend a lot of time pedaling in the saddle on the Kona Honzo on XC adventure rides from our front door, so the saddle set up on this bike is crucial to comfort for long days of pedaling. When I built up this steed, I sized up from my go-to frame size of medium for the longer reach and top tube of the large. While I initially didn’t like the longer cockpit as it felt unwieldly negotiating the large wood kickers at the local bike park, the Honzo is my XC bike and for long-distance exploring and adventuring it has done me well. I run the saddle all the way forward in the rails, for a position well situated for long periods of climbing.
Initially experimenting with a dropped nose for long climbs, with the rise in the rear the exaggerated position isn’t required. I find that setting the saddle with a level nose works for all-around riding.
On the all mountain bike the rise in the rear and firm EVA foam makes for a solid but comfortable pedaling platform with a nice sweet spot from which you can drive power to the pedals. It’s even more comfortable than before with the additional undercut relief section providing a bit more give in that crucial spot where your bits and pieces hang out.
The new flattened nose improves the experience of those moments where you’re hovering over the front of the seat to clean those technical sections.
Like the previous iterations of the saddle, the shape lends itself well to all riding styles. That’s where the rise in the rear of the saddle and the shorter length is a crucial feature that works very well for its intended purpose. The new construction not only makes for a clean look but makes it even easier to move around on with its seamless edges.
Bel-Air Saddle – 25 years and counting
SDG Components started in 1993 in a garage in SoCal with the Comp Ti saddle. I remember it fondly, as I owned on that I ran on a custom-built hardtail, pairing the bold red (pictured above) with a red headset and Rockshox Judy fork. Though a crash back in the day took it out of play, I still count a Bel-Air SL i-Beam in leopard print in my collection.
The iterative changes to the foam shape of today’s 2020 V3 model is improved over the original model, but it’s the blend of comfort and performance that continues to make the Bel-Air my go-to for all-around riding. That said, is also the best performing (and looking) Bel-Air yet.
The Bel-Air V3 is available in a range of rail materials and colors; pictured and ridden: the Bel-Air v3 Fuel Lux-Alloy ($109.99) and the Bel-Air V3 Lux-Alloy in Black ($89.99).
Learn more at SDGComponents.com