I wouldn’t normally be swayed too much by pro endorsements, but I confess to being curious about the saddle that genial mega-endurance rider Lachlan Morton calls home when he’s hitting the gravel. Italian brand Prologo has three perches in its AGX range, all designed to dampen vibration for long mile-munching, while hopefully staying firm enough to make you feel like you’re getting a solid transfer of power.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
The best gravel bike saddle in the range is the Scratch M5 AGX, which sits above the more wedge-shaped Dimension AGX and the more basic Akero, and we reckon it packs a pretty capable blend of features. AGX stands for Adventure, Gravel, and Cyclocross, by the way, and that’s how we’ve been testing it.
Design and aesthetics
The Scratch M5 AGX has a modern yet classic look - which as you’ll read below, reflects the way it feels, too. It only comes in one width - a slender-to-medium 140mm - and it has a long-nosed T-shape design to help keep you centered. That nose is a medium width to keep out of the way of your legs while pedaling, and it has a moderate downward curve at the tip.
Profile-wise it’s semi-curved from side to side where your sit-bones make contact, and it has a gentle flare upwards at the back.
So far, so ‘medium’ for everything, but that’s combined with different densities of padding on the upper (the different areas are separated by the grooves in the upper); a little tail fin to keep a bit of spray off your ass, and a series of ridges on the rear for added grip - all of which combine into a visually pleasing package with a good level of finish.
You might wonder about the two direct mount bolt holes on the underside of the saddle - they’re for as-yet-to-be-released accessories.
The spec of the Scratch M5 AGX feels about right for a nicely made upper-mid priced saddle. The hollow Tirox rails are a relatively light and strong steel alloy (not titanium, despite the promising name), that should be super-durable, and cheerfully handles up to 12nm of clamping force should you need it. (The rails also have a useful 65mm of fore-aft adjustability, compared with the more normal 50mm.)
The base is relatively straightforward nylon plastic - not as fancy or strong as carbon or carbon-infused, but arguably better for hours of seated riding on uneven ground, given its better flexibility.
The cushioning is a highlight - slightly softer and thicker than Prologo’s non-AGX saddles and using different densities and thicknesses around the sit bones, the central channel (which is also cut away on the base for extra compliance), the sides and the tip.
On the downside, it’s not the lightest saddle in the world - ours weighed in at 230g, about the same as the slightly more expensive Specialized Power Expert, and 75g more than the, albeit pricier, Selle San Marco Allroad Open-Fit Carbon FX. And there’s no extra abrasion resistance on the edges of the saddle, but so far so good.
For my shape and style, this was a real Goldilocks saddle.
It was firm enough to feel stable and purposeful, but soft enough, thanks to the combination of the cushioning, the rails, and the base, to take the vibration out of the kind of seated riding that gravel expeditions are made of.
The semi-curved shape is broad and flat enough to feel nicely planted - also helped by the grippy finish at the rear - but rounded enough to let you move around easily when you need to. If you enjoy steep descents, the relatively low rise at the back would also make maneuvering off the back easy when needed.
And the conventional T-shape gives that useful length of nose to steer lightly with, using the pressure of your thigh, while at the same time the dropped nose keeps things uncluttered up front and makes it easier to slide on and off the seat when needed.
The saddle is actually shorter than you might think, once you factor out the lip of the built-in mudguard. It’s 180mm from the tip to the widest point. That’s more than the 165mm of a short-nose perch like the Specialized Power Expert, but still 30mm shorter than a classic long thin model like the Selle Italia X-LR.
Did I notice the ‘multi sector system’ of different foam padding in different areas? It’s hard to say, but I suspect my undercarriage was glad that the front half - which is more about protection - was softer than the rear half - which is more about power transfer - and you can definitely tell that the middle section is lightly suspended with no shell underneath.
I guess the Goldilocks qualities also extend to the price and the weight - it’s not cheap or super-light, but it hits the spot as a saddle you might want to rely on. Some ‘midway’ products end up being too much of a compromise. Instead, the Scratch M5 AGX combines qualities of road and off-road, and classic and modern, to create a saddle with real all-day, all-round off-road potential.
Tech Specs: Prologo Scratch M5 AGX
- Price: $135 / £104.99
- Colors: Black
- Sizes: 231x140mm (one size)
- Lateral profile: Semi-curved
- Weight: 230g
- Key materials: Rails: Tirox (steel alloy), Base: nylon plastic