WTB Aviator Review

by Brian Mullin on August 9, 2010

When I was at Sea Otter this year I was highly intrigued by the new to 2010 WTB Aviator saddle. This Freeride and Downhiller saddle means business, from its durable canvas cover, to its grippy sides, and beefy Cr-Mo rails. When I got a Yeti ASR 7 as a new test steed, it was time to place this beast into some action.

WTB Aviator
The Aviator comes in two models, the DH Race (which I tested) and the less expensive Comp. The DH Race is covered with a durable and tough canvas cover, abrasion resistant corners, grippy sides, a flex tuned shell with comfort zone cut out, and oversized 8mm Cromoly rails, while the Comp uses a synthetic cover and forgoes the special corners.

Impressions
The Aviator is overbuilt to take the abuse that the Freerider and Downhiller are going to toss the saddle into. It is meant to take the crashes, monstrous hits and impacts, jarring trails and just plain ill treatment that this type of rider is going to subject the saddle to. I have taken my share of putting it into those situations, and it shows a little wear and tear. The canvas fabric is pretty light in color, and has shown some slight discoloration and spotting, but after all the mud, dirt and sand that it has been embedded with, it looks pretty good (won’t win a beauty contest).

The tear resistant canvas, along with the grippy rubbery sides and abrasion resistant rear corners offer quite a bit of adhesion and tactile feel, but those features still allow quite a bit of movement without snagging, but slippery doesn’t come into its vocabulary. The tough abrasion resistant rear corners, named ABR corners, offer just enough extra protection right in the spot the saddle always seems to hit. It even comes with a nifty little pocket at the very back, sort of like a pair of jeans would have.

Which pocket?!
MY BACK POCKET!!!
You’ve got ten back pockets!!!
LEFT CHEEK!!! LEFT CHEEK!!! LEFT CHEEK!!!

The saddle’s shape is interesting, being 137mm wide and 279mm long (measured), it’s fatter or wider along its entire length than most saddles, especially towards the front half, and ends with a blunt nose. The shape feels comfortable, and provides good stability. The beefy oversized 8mm chromoly rails might be hard to fit into some seatposts, but they certainly won’t bend, and you won’t tear or break a rail on this monster. The rails are beefy suckers, and I think the seatpost cradle will break first?

The saddle is designed with their Comfort Zone cutout, soft DNA padding (squishy), and Flex-Tuned shell, which makes it nice in rough terrain, impacts and long rides. I could sit down more often, and for longer periods of time through rocky conditions, and the blows from slamming into objects were definitely softened.

The Comfort Zone cutouts on the bottom of the saddle (blue section), have a bit of give where the huevos (sensitive soft tissue) always get abused or smashed into, and offer some relief. The saddle is really comfy!

Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch…THE COMFY CHAIR!

All this comfort, support, width and grip, allow you to maneuver the bike, whether it’s in the air, on a berm or flying down gnarly terrain. The saddle’s attributes let you use your legs and butt to lever the bike into and out of position, using the saddle as a pivot and pinch point. This baby likes to be used and pushed around, as they say “rode hard and put up wet.”

The fat front section, along with the blunt nose conspire with each other on long steep climbs, and it’s not very comfortable nor easy trying to pull tough hills. It’s just not a very functional combination, and has too much squish, and is not slippery enough, nor does it have a climbing specific pointy nose. Then again, it’s a FR/DH saddle not a weenie cross country racing and climbing saddle. I am a climber at heart, so I am going to nit pick this one. It does fine on short climbing stints, but is outside its realm as a marathon saddle.

While it’s not the lightest saddle at 307g (measured), it’s better the average downhiller, and with its excellent grip and comfort, it can be used for both FR/DH and for normal trail usage.

Measured Specs:
weight – 307.7g
size – 137mm x 279mm

Bottom Line
The WTB Aviator is durable, tough, comfortable, moderately light (for its category), has excellent grippiness, is well padded, offers good support, and has a nice shape. It’s obviously made for the Freerider or Downhiller, but it will suit the All Mountain and Trail rider, just don’t expect it to be a climbing machine.

Strengths
– Durable and tough
– Comfy
– Grippy
– Great for AM, FR and DH riding

Weaknesses
– Mediocre climber
– Prone to staining and showing dirt

Overall Rating: 3.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

WTB Aviator Specs:
– MSRP: DH Race $80/Comp $40
– Rails: oversized, 8-millimeter
– Usage: Freeide/Downhill
– Size: mid-width x mid-length (137mm x 272mm)
– Oversized Cromoly rails
– Models:
Aviator DH Race – Color: Tan, Weight: 315 gr., Durable canvas cover, Flex-Tuned shell, Comfort Zone, Abrasion-resistant corners, Grippy sides
Aviator Comp – Color: black, Weight: 390 grams, Synthetic leather cover, Flex-Tuned shell, Comfort Zone

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