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Review of the Steelcase Leap (v2) chair

Steelcase Leap chair

This review is part of my series of reviews of ergonomic office chairs. People have wildly varying opinions when it comes to chairs, and you should always test a chair for a few days in your own work environment before buying it. (See more advice on how to buy a good chair.) Don’t use my reviews to decide which chair to buy; use them as a starting point for your own testing.

If you’re looking for a high-quality office chair, and you haven’t heard of the Steelcase Leap, you haven’t done your homework. It is Steelcase’s best-known chair and their biggest sales hit. If you were to make a chart of all-time best-selling high-end chairs, the Leap would almost certainly occupy a (distant) second place after Herman Miller’s Aeron, that mainstay of Silicon Valley startups. The Leap has certainly stood the test of time, having been in production since 1999 (albeit with some changes).

Still, after an initial in-store test, it did not blow me away. The Gesture was the new and shiny model; it seemed to offer better lumbar support and the salesman really talked up the intriguing, almost infinitely adjustable armrests. So the first chair I took home for a spin was a Gesture. Of course, as you know from my review, it quickly turned out the non-adjustable lumbar support was excessive, and the thickly padded seat got much too hot in normal use. So I kept borrowing chairs from high-end dealers, hoping I would find one I liked. After rejecting an unreasonable number of them, I had the chance to borrow a Steelcase Please for two weeks. It won my heart, and I was genuinely sorry when I had to take it back to the store. But then I tested the Leap, and I ended up having to choose between two very close contenders. In the end, I chose the Leap, but it was truly an agonizing choice and I was on the fence until the last minute.

Flexible backrest

While the human spine is S-shaped, it can be more or less curvy from person to person. What’s more, even for the same person, spinal curvature differs depending on position. So it should be no surprise that a standard office-chair backrest – which is essentially a rigid plastic board on a hinge with some padding – is not the most ergonomically sound solution.

The Leap is different. Its backrest is made of flexible plastic which is fixed only in two places – at the bottom and at chest level – to the metal frame behind it. Everything in between is free to move, which helps the backrest adapt to the shape of your spine.

Of course, the flexibility is not absolute and the backrest will resist larger deviations from the anatomically correct “S”. This is desirable – an ergonomic chair shouldn’t just adapt to whatever bad posture you have, but also encourage correct posture. As you sit more upright, your lower back will “want” to straighten, losing its natural concave shape. (This is called flexing your lumbar spine and is associated with back injuries that I’m guessing you don’t want to experience.) When you flex your lumbar spine on the Leap, the backrest will apply increasing force in that area to help you stay within healthy limits.

The degree to which the chair allows your lower back to straighten is adjustable with the “lower back firmness” knob – a superb feature that is only found on the Leap and the Please (strangely, you won’t find it on the newer and more expensive Gesture). Why is it important? Because people have different lumbar curves and differently shaped intervertebral discs. A “neutral” alignment of lumbar vertebrae (=one in which the pressure on lumbar intervertebral discs is evenly distributed, see here) means something different for different people. It could correspond to a deeper lumbar curve, or a slightly flatter one. If you’re a bit flatter, a chair that forces a deeper curve on you will feel uncomfortable (Gesture, I’m looking at you). If you’re more “curvy”, you want your natural shape to be preserved while you’re sitting.

At the lowest setting, the chair is quite pliable and submissive; at the highest, it’s like a Prussian public officer, fiercely resisting any attempts to deviate from the specified Lendenwirbelkurve. You should probably set it somewhere in the middle to ensure proper lumbar support (it’s better to err on the side of more support) while still allowing the backrest to adapt. Set it too high and the “default” curve may prove too deep for your particular physique. Set it too low and you may end up slouching.

The apex of the lumbar curve should be at around the height of the 4th lumbar vertebra. Whereas on the Please, the backrest moves up and down and you can adjust it to your spine, the Leap is “one-height-fits-all”. For me, the Leap’s lumbar curve is at a perfect height, supporting the critical lowest two lumbar vertebrae (here’s how to check this). It should work well for average and tall users; shorter users may need to sit on some kind of cushion.

The Leap can be purchased with an optional height-adjustable lumbar support, which Steelcase calls “the lumbar”. It’s a horizontal bar (“lum-bar”, get it?) made of hard plastic that you can slide up or down. It doesn’t affect the basic shape of the backrest much – mostly, it makes it stiffer. I decided I don’t need the extra firmness, so I removed mine and put it on a shelf with other stuff I don’t need. As far as I’m concerned, the removal of the lumbar support made the chair more comfortable without sacrificing ergonomics; as a bonus, I don’t have to deal with the support sliding down on its own, which can sometimes happen. (By the way, to get rid of the lumbar support, you need to take off the upholstery on the back, which requires pulling it upward with considerable force. Then you have to clip it on again, making sure all the tabs are secure – watch this video first.)

Nonetheless, considering it only costs ~$20, you should probably still buy it just to be on the safe side. In particular, smaller users may want to move the bar all the way down for some extra support in the critical lower lumbar area if the Leap’s standard lumbar bulge is too high to make good contact in that region.

Maximum hip angle

A crucial parameter of any office chair is the maximum hip angle. Sitting upright flexes your lumbar spine, putting uneven pressure on your intervertebral discs. The way to un-flex it is to open up your hip angle by reclining. This will also take much of the weight of your upper body off your spine and transfer it to the backrest. On the flip side, typing becomes harder, and keeping your gaze on the screen will put pressure on your cervical spine and neck muscles.

The maximum recline angle is often limited on more lightweight chairs, because large recline angles necessitate a sturdier, heavier, more expensive construction – otherwise, you might tip over as your center of gravity shifts backwards. The Leap is certainly no lightweight, with a very high 135° maximum hip angle, on par with the Please and the Gesture.

Photos of the Steelcase Leap chair in upright lock and maximum recline

Leap in maximum recline and upright lock

Note that “hip angle” is the angle between your torso and your legs, not the angle between your torso and the floor. It is not enough for the backrest to recline – for the angle to increase, the seatpan also has to stay more or less level. Some chairs recline quite far, but the seatpan tilts back with the backrest, so that the hip angle barely opens up. (One example is the Aeron.) The Leap has no issues with this – the seatpan tilts back just a little as you recline. This is in line with standard ergonomic advice – the slight tilt is supposed to stop your butt from sliding forward.

Sticky backrest mechanism

The recline mechanism is “sticky”, a very interesting and often overlooked design that I have only seen in Steelcase chairs (Amia, Please, Gesture). For details on how it works and how it differs from the more popular “smooth” mechanism, see my article “How to buy a good ergonomic office chair”, but here’s a bullet-point summary:

  • The backrest has a certain static friction which causes it to stay at the current recline angle until you make a significant move in either direction.
  • Once you overcome the initial friction, you can push the backrest back as far as you want. It does not push back against you more and more – the counterforce is more or less the same across the whole range of movement.
  • In effect, you get an excellent range of motion – just put the backrest where you want it, and it will tend to stay there. You don’t need to touch any controls to do it.

This is very different from the smooth mechanism, in which:

  • The backrest constantly tilts back and forth in response to the slightest movement (even reaching for your mouse will shift your weight enough to change the recline angle). This is probably healthy, because you get some movement as you sit.
  • To prevent you from dropping all the way back, there is a spring which makes the backrest push back more and more as you recline. This establishes a kind of “soft limit” on how far you can go.
  • Because of that, while small changes to the recline angle are very easy, major changes (e.g. from upright to reclined) are very hard, because eventually the counterforce will be stronger than your muscles. In order to make major position changes, you have to fiddle with tension controls or tilt limiters.

Both types of mechanisms have their strengths and weaknesses, but I feel the sticky mechanism offers a better trade-off. The prime directive in ergonomics is changing your position frequently. Any one position, no matter how anatomically correct, will do you an immense amount of harm if it is held for a long time. Therefore, the most important goal for an office chair is to allow easy position changes from almost upright to deeply reclined. Is it easy to go from “typing mode” to “casual browsing mode”? Sticky backrests allow you to do so without touching any knobs, and the only thing they sacrifice are micromovements.

The Leap has a 5-stop tilt limiter, which lets you set a hard limit on how far back the backrest will recline. This is useful on smooth backrests; on the Leap, not so much. The Leap’s sticky backrest will tend to stay at whatever angle you set it at, as long as that the back tension control is adjusted correctly to your weight, so there’s little need to mechanically limit the recline angle. I only use the tilt limiter on the rare occasion that I need to give my neck some rest and I want to prevent accidental reclining.

Backrest/seatpan coupling

The Leap shares the sticky backrest with the Gesture, the Amia and the Please. What’s unique about it is the fact that the backrest is mechanically coupled with the seatpan. As you recline, the seat will slide forward a little bit (about an inch). According to official Steelcase marketing and the relevant patent application, the motivation for this is to keep you close to your monitor and your keyboard so you won’t strain your eyes, neck, or arms.

I contend that this is a misguided design. For one thing, the benefits are marginal. Take look at this video of me going from an upright position to less than full recline. Notice how little the seatpan moves forward compared with how far the head and arms move back. It’s a drop in the bucket.

Second, it is ergonomically questionable, because it tears your lower back away from the backrest. As I explained in my guide, almost every chair (except those with an unusual backrest design) creates a small lumbar gap as you recline. The fact that the Leap will move your butt forward makes the gap slightly bigger, so that your lower back is that much less supported. Don’t get me wrong – thanks to the flexibility of the backrest, the overall gap is still smaller than in chairs with rigid backs (smaller than in the Amia or Think, a bit larger than on the Gesture, Please or Embody), as long as you are seated properly, i.e. with your butt all the way back. Moreover, it has to be noted that the gap only appears in the reclined position, where your back is bearing a much smaller load and your lumbar spine is flexed to a much lesser degree. So, it’s not a big deal, it’s just that the chair could have been a bit better.

Third, it makes the whole mechanical system more complicated. It is probably no accident that the Leap suffers from “backrest lag” problems to a greater degree than any other Steelcase chair; it is also the noisiest office chair I’ve tested yet. I will write more on these topics below – here, let me just say I suspect both problems are a direct consequence of how much the chair is trying to do when you recline.

Backrest lag

See what’s happening in the video? I’m trying to bring myself to a more upright position, but the backrest does not want to follow my back. Notice how at one point my upper back loses contact with the backrest. This is because the only way to get the backrest to move forward is to take most of my weight off it. In other words, I have to pull my trunk up using my abdominal (and psoas major) muscles. You can’t see it in the video, but the muscle force bringing my torso and legs together is almost enough to lift my legs off the floor.

This goes beyond the normal friction you’d expect from a sticky backrest. In chairs like the Please or Amia, your back never leaves the backrest. As soon as you tense your abs a bit, the backrest starts pushing you forward. Here, I have to do most of the work myself. Thanks for nothing, backrest!

Let me explain why I consider this an ergonomic issue. Your abs are attached to your ribs (which are attached to your spine) and to the bottom of your pelvis. Now imagine the force that is required to rotate the spine in the pelvis by contracting your abs. It would be very easy if your abs ran from your rib cage to the wall in front of you. But the abs have no such luxury. They have to do the work of lifting the spine even though they are almost parallel to it. This mechanical disadvantage means that whatever force they exert, most of it will be pointlessly directed along the spine, with only a tiny perpendicular component doing the actual rotating work. For any force perpendicular to the spine, the compressive force on the spine will be many times greater. (A similar reasoning applies to the psoas major, another muscle used in this motion.)

Furthermore, most people, when pulling themselves upright, will round their backs because it shifts the center of gravity forward and makes Isaac Newton do part of the work. This is a false benefit, though. Suppose you wanted to give yourself debilitating back pain. How would you do it? The recipe is well-known: (1) flex your lumbar spine, (2) do it under load, and (3) ideally, do it right after sitting for a while. Here, we’ve got three out of three! You’re doing sit-ups (the exercise that Stuart McGill warns against) after sitting motionless for a long time.

Well, okay, I admit it, I’m blowing this out of proportion. You’re not really doing sit-ups – more like “partial sit-ups”, since you are not starting from a supine position (where the required effort is highest) and are not finishing fully upright. So that’s a major difference right there.

Secondly, in my testing, I found a neat trick that makes it easier to go back to an upright position – stretching your arms forward. The weight of your arms will apply torque to your torso, reducing the required abdominal effort and the accompanying spinal compression. For me, this makes the lagginess acceptable.

Now for the really confusing part. Everything I’ve written above applies to the demo unit (around three years old) that I borrowed from the dealer. I also tested two display units in the showroom, and – if memory serves – they lagged in exactly the same way. In addition, I recall talking to a long-time Leap owner and former Steelcase salesman, who confirmed that this is a known quirk of the Leap. Knowing all that, I decided to buy a Leap anyway. I fully expected the backrest to lag, but when I got my chair, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no lag at all, and it hasn’t appeared in the year that I’ve had the chair. As you can see below, the backrest remains stuck to my back as I straighten up, offering constant support. I only have to tense my abs slightly to overcome the initial friction.

In total, I’ve tested three brand-new Leap chairs, and none were laggy. I don’t pretend to know what’s going on here. My best guess is that the Leap’s mechanism starts to stick more and more as it wears out, loses lubrication, or corrodes. I will be sure to update this review if I notice any signs of lag on my chair.

Curved backrest

The backrest is curved at the edges, a little like those bucket seats used in automobiles. This presents a problem when using the mouse with a tenkeyless keyboard – when I pull the mouse toward me, my elbow will normally hit the right edge of the seat. As a workaround, I had to learn to limit my mouse movement to avoid the closest part of the desk.

Here’s a video where I show the range of movement in the upright position and in a mid-reclined position (tilt lock 3), with the mouse right next to my tenkeyless keyboard and further away, to simulate where it would be with a full-size keyboard:

Whether you notice this issue or not will likely depend on your individual style of working (things like this are the reason why I always recommend testing a chair in your own workspace). Still, I would suggest you should only worry about this problem if you like to sit close to your keyboard/mouse and (1) or (2) applies:

  1. You use a tenkeyless keyboard (like me). With a full-size keyboard, the mouse is further to the right, and your elbow will no longer align with the edge of the backrest.
  2. You like to work sitting upright (unlike me). When you sit upright, the backrest is closer to the desk, which means less space for your arm to move.

I also have an Amia, which doesn’t have curved edges, and whenever I go back to the Leap after sitting on the Amia for a few days, I feel a bit restrained for a while.

Micromovements

Since the recline mechanism on the Steelcase Leap is of the sticky type, it doesn’t allow rocking. However, the flexibility of the backrest means that some rocking action is possible – not as much as on the Amia, and certainly not as much as on any smooth-backrest chair, but it’s better than nothing:

Thermal performance

The Leap has fairly thick foam padding, which means it can get uncomfortably hot in ambient temperatures of 25°C or more. If the temperature in your workspace never rises above 25°C (77°F), you probably won’t experience any problems. In the summer, the temperature in my room is often above 27°C, so I switch to my Amia, which is subjectively 15-20% cooler. Of the chairs I’ve tested, the Leap beats only the Gesture in thermal comfort (by a large margin), and is tied with the Please. It loses to the other foam chairs with thinner padding (Amia, Think), and cannot hold a candle to non-foam chairs (Humanscale Liberty, Aeron, Embody). I wish Steelcase would experiment with other materials like gels or foams, or at least make the seatpan padding thinner. If the Amia can get away with less foam without feeling less comfy, why can’t the Leap?

By the way, if you want to buy the Leap and are wondering which fabric to choose, feel free to choose whichever looks best. I have seen comments from Steelcase sales reps recommending the standard polyester (called “Cogent: Connect” in the US, “Atlantic” in Europe) as the “coolest”, but my extensive testing did not bear that out. Even putting an extra layer of fabric on the seat (effectively doubling the fabric thickness) has no noticeable effect on subjective warmth. If you’re sitting on a few inches of foam (the best thermal insulator known to man), the milimeter-thick outer layer is negligible, so long as it’s not something non-breathable like plastic foil. The only things that make a real difference in thermal comfort are the thickness of the foam (that’s why the Amia and the Think are cooler than the Leap and the Please, which are cooler than the uber-thick Gesture) and the material from which the chair is made (meshes and gels are much cooler than foams).

Noise

The Leap is the noisiest chair I’ve tested. If you buy one, there is a high likelihood that it will make some kind of mechanical noise when you move the backrest – something that isn’t true of most chairs from Steelcase and other brands. Will the noise bother you? It’s like with backlight bleed in LCD screens – it depends on the unit you get and your individual sensitivity. It will probably be quite tolerable, but you could also be unlucky and get a really noisy unit, as I did. If my experience is any guide, it could also be very hard to get the issue resolved under warranty.

Here are the data points I have: The demo unit from the dealer (2-3 years old) was more or less quiet (perhaps because it had backrest lag). The Leap I ordered was unacceptably noisy. The Leap ordered by a friend of mine was fine. The replacement chair I got under warranty is also fine. If you count only new chairs, that’s 1 out of 3 chairs with serious noise issues.

The Leap I ordered in 2017 developed noise issues about two weeks after I got it. It would make a highly annoying clanking sound whenever I would move the backrest after keeping it still for more than 15 seconds. It was especially irritating when working at night.

I’m not afraid of a little DIY, so I took off the seatpan and tried spraying lithium-based lubricant (which is what Steelcase officially recommends) on all the joints, the seatpan rails, and even inside the mechanism (although it’s hard to get the lubricant to the right places, because it is riveted shut and you can’t see what you’re doing). No effect.

What happened next is kind of a long story. I’ll do my best keep it short.

I contact the dealer (WES in Wrocław, Poland). They pick up the chair, and after about a month, deliver the chair back to me with a replaced mechanism. No more clanking! At last I’ll be able to enjoy my new Leap chair in peace, right? Not quite. After two weeks, the noises are back like some kind of curse. I feel like giving up, but then I get the chance to sit on a Leap that a friend of mine recently bought. It’s so much quieter than mine it’s not even a contest. So I contact the dealer again. Before they come to pick up the chair, I make this video:

By the way, the clanking was not the only noise issue with the chair. If you listen carefully at the very beginning of the video, as I turn toward the camera, you can hear a squeak – that’s the gas lift acting up. I tried applying some silicone oil, but it didn’t do anything. In addition, the center post would often make a soft clicking sound when I was reclined, because there was a microscopic amount of play between it and the base of the chair (the bottommost part where the wheels are attached). However, that last problem was virtually eliminated after I poured some silicon oil where the post meets the base.

Back to the story. I ask the dealer if it’s possible to replace the whole chair, seeing as replacing the mechanism has not fixed the noisy backrest, and the chair has started developing other issues. I’m told that Steelcase does not replace whole chairs, and that I will get a new gas lift. What about the backrest? “The backrest works smoothly and there is no creaking at all. We’ve tested it several times.” I upload my video to YouTube and send them the link. No response. Perhaps they’re doing some additional testing? Finally, after 11 days, instead of a response to my video, I get another one-liner:

“We will deliver the chair tomorrow.”

I try to get them to explain their position, but there is no reply. Out of desperation, I mention my video in a comment under the official launch video for the Steelcase SILQ chair. Shortly afterwards, I’m contacted by Steelcase’s social media person who promises to make things right.

You might be forgiven for thinking that things quickly moved toward a happy resolution from that point on, but the process dragged on for two months. The reasons for such a long delay are not entirely clear to me, but I got the distinct sense that replacements are highly exceptional in Steelcase land (as is Steelcase overruling a dealer’s decision), and a social media person at Steelcase HQ has very little clout with the people in Europe who can authorize one.

Finally, more than 3 months after I reported the noise issues to the dealer, a brand-new Leap chair arrived at my doorstep. At the time of this writing, I’ve had it for almost a year, and so far the clanking has not appeared. The chair makes a duller, much quieter noise, which sounds like plastic rubbing on plastic. Although it’s not silent like most other chairs, that kind of noise does not bother me at all. Here’s a video I recently made to show what my new Leap sounds like:

As I mention in the video, the mechanism has recently developed a faint squeak that you can hear when changing the recline angle. Because it is quite soft (you can’t even hear it in the video unless you turn up the volume), it doesn’t bother me enough to try and fix it with lubricant. I’ll update this section if it gets worse or if any new noises crop up.

A little postscript: all the chairs I’ve tested come from European distribution and were manufactured at Steelcase’s plant in France. Leaps for the American market are made in Mexico. This may or may not affect the likelihood of noise problems.

Armrests

The armrests on the Leap are beautifully designed. In my mind, they are a reference against which all armrests should be judged. They provide an impressive range of adjustments and – fussy as I am – I have never had difficulty getting them to do what I wanted – whether it was typing, using the mouse, using a gaming controller, or even holding a tablet with my elbows on them. Crucially, the inward adjustment is more than enough to rest your elbows on them while typing – which is a rare quality, even with expensive ergonomic chairs. You can also pull them down if you want to move super-close to your desk. Here’s a demonstration from an official Steelcase video:

There are ergonomists who advise against resting your forearms while typing, and I used to think so, too – but that was before I had the chance to try the armrests on chairs like the Leap, Amia or Think.

The material of which the armrest caps are made is a masterpiece. It’s nice and soft, which is important for preventing ulnar nerve injury. At the same time, it’s slippery enough to allow your forearms to slide on top of them as you move the mouse – but not so slippery as to make you lose grip. Finally, it doesn’t overheat your skin on hot days. It’s pretty much unimprovable. (That didn’t stop Steelcase from trying to improve on it in the Gesture chair, with lackluster results.)

Headrest

You can order the Steelcase Leap with an optional headrest, which looks like it was designed by an unpaid intern. The only adjustment you can make is to move it up and down, which is not nearly enough. When reclining, you need your headrest to move forward to enable your head to stay level, so that you can keep your gaze on the monitor. When sitting upright, you need it to move back so that it won’t restrict your movements.

The headrest on the Leap somehow manages to be annoying regardless of position. When I was sitting upright, it would brush against the back of my head, and limit my head movements (which is ergonomically bad). Considering that my head is positioned too far forward due to my posture problems, anyone with correct posture is sure to find this problem even more troublesome. When I was reclining, it was too far back to offer support without an extra pillow. You can see these problems in the photos shown earlier.

In short, I recommend ordering the Leap without the headrest. It works better that way.

A few tips on the available options

There are a lot of decisions to make when ordering a Leap. I’m planning a separate blog post on the different options – frames, bases, fabrics, casters, etc. Here, I’ll just share three tips, which might save you some time:

  1. In Europe, only black frames are available, so forget about the “Platinum” (light gray plastic) frame that you can see everywhere in Steelcase’s marketing photos.
  2. If you decide to buy the Leap with the awful headrest, note that it is only available in black, which probably means you should also order the black frame.
  3. As I wrote in the “thermal performance” section, the fabrics are thermally equivalent.

The Tom Test

  • Easy changing between at least two positions (near-upright and reclined): Pass. The sticky backrest makes it easy to adopt any position you like without messing with any knobs. The backrest seems to develop a tendency to “lag” as the chair ages, which is annoying and ergonomically unfavorable.
  • Open hip angle in the reclined position: Pass. Very large maximum recline angle.
  • Lumbar support: Pass. Thanks to a well-designed backrest with a firmness knob, your lumbar spine is very well-supported when it matters, i.e. when you’re sitting (near-)upright.
  • Backrest should adapt to your back: Pass. Brilliant flexible backrest.
  • Seatpan must not be too long: Pass.
  • Micromovements: Pass, but just barely. The back mostly stays put. You can rock, but only a tiny bit.
  • Armrests (if you care about them): Pass. The best in the known universe. Message to Steelcase: don’t try to improve them in the next version of the Leap.
  • Annoyances: Prone to noise problems (clanking, squeaking) due to the complicated mechanism. Can get too warm. The backrest is curved in a way which can slightly restrict mouse movement.

Final words

I spent a lot of time – perhaps too much – talking about various issues with the Leap – the backrest lag, the noise issues, even the curved backrest edges. You could get the impression that I don’t like it very much. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If I didn’t like the product, I would have simply dismissed it rather than spending all this time (over)analyzing its imperfections. So why do I like the Leap in spite of its flaws? Because it fails in areas which are not very important, and succeeds where it really matters.

And what matters, of course, is protecting the health of your spine. Thanks to a well-designed flexible backrest with adjustable firmness, the Leap adapts to your back while supporting proper posture – and does so better than almost any other chair I’ve tested (only Steelcase Please is an equal contender). It allows you to open your hip angle to a very high degree. It has a mechanism which enables you to change your position frequently without touching any controls.

Of course, my ideal chair would be a Leap without the overdesigned moving seatpan, the curved backrest or the noise problems; a Leap with cooler padding and an adjustable headrest. But that chair doesn’t exist, so Steelcase Leap is currently my default recommendation for people looking for an ergonomic task chair – though readers in Europe should also check out the Please. In terms of backrest ergonomics, the two chairs perform similarly despite very different construction. The Leap has significantly better armrests (though the gap has narrowed with the latest 4-D armrest option for the Please), supports some micromovements, and is softer. The Please is a bit cheaper, doesn’t suffer from noise or backrest lag issues, and can be purchased with a headrest that isn’t completely useless. The best choice will depend on your priorities.

88 Comments so far

  • Nisalon

    Thanks for the review Tom.

    I was looking forward to it (I already read most of your reviews. I would love to have a chair dealer as yours from whom I can borrow chairs to test them at home …)

    I’m myself the owner of a Leap chair for 3 years, and I love it (after removing the lumbar support which I didn’t like either). I agree with everything you said. I’ve the same opinion on the headrest. I never encountered any noise on this chair (contrary to my aeron which is very noisy). Same thermal issue, but it’s minor in my opinion.
    Regarding the chair lag, mine was lagging when I got it (brand new), but it’s not lagging anymore. Weird.

    There is, in my opinion, one issue you did not mention : the seat pan is a little bit too long for me, even if I set it up to the minimum. And this is despite the fact I’m tall 1m88. I would love to have a “smaller seatpan” option for it. Also, I think that the angle in between my 2 legs is very fixed by the seatpan contrary to a lot of other chairs where I feel more free to move my legs horizontally. But this is minor too I think.

    Anyway, thanks for the review

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You may be on to something with the side leg movement; perhaps it’s due to the relatively thick foam padding that causes you to “sink in” a bit. Hope it doesn’t start bothering me, now that you’ve mentioned it 🙂
      I too like shorter seatpans, despite standard ergonomic recommendations that they should end a short distance from your knees. For me, the adjustment range on the Leap works fine. What issues are you having with the seatpan length and do you find other chairs better in this regard?

  • Tiago

    Great review!

    I love the fact you took a solid year to release this in as much detail as possible: after experiencing mechanism age, adjustments behavior over time, warranty shenanigans, even multiple chairs and serviced parts.

    But this does set a different baseline from your other reviews, which from what I understand were based on 2 weeks with varied demo units (except maybe the Amia, correct?). What I mean to say is, even though you stand by the chair at the end of the review and despite stressing that for many of its quirks there are positive trade-offs, the title here is of utmost importance for “the guy who just got here from google”. I advise on changing this to something like “Long-term review…” so that people who find your (amazing!) series of reviews don’t get put off immediately by the very critical tone of this review.

    Thanks in most part to your reviews, I ended up purchasing refurbished/used Please v2 (old armrests…) and Leap v2 chairs. I found decent deals on UK office recovery site 2ndhnd (which doesn’t have many Leap V2’s… but they have something very rare I won’t mention here to prevent it from running out of stock until I get cash for it!) but does offer 55GBP shipping to most of Europe, and to Portugal, it was under DHL (*****). Also, my first unit came busted in one adjustment, and they arranged a replacement for free with FREE POSTAGE BACK TOO! I got the Leap V2 from ebay after convincing a London supplier (who deals a lot of Aerons and Pleases too) to box it for in-format courier collection (which I arranged for about 43€ using eurosender.com). It’s currently in transit so let’s see what awaits me… You might say this was a lot of work, but dealers in Portugal charge about 1200€ for either chair, and I got the 2ndhnd Please for 320€ shipped, and the Leap V2 for 220€. As I can’t find demo units for long-term testing, I figured purchasing used, cheap (warranty-less !_! ) chairs was my best bet.

    One chair I infinitely advise is my previous job’s Haworth Zody (aka Comforto 89 in Europe). This is a very good build quality chair and it shares many Steelcase goodies such as 4-D adjustable and the sticky backrest mechanism you did not find elsewhere. Do note the Zody is a Gel seat chair with a mesh back that can have a “cover” option in either fabric or leather – but you always seat on mesh. I’ve requested quotes locally for the Zody and it runs about 500-600€ pre-tax depending on headrest and cover options, but I am trying to convince another ebayer to box one for me under 80x80x80 so I can get a courier for a sensible amount of cash!

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Hi Tiago,

      You are right — my reviews of the Gesture, Embody and Liberty are less meaningful because I only had each of these chairs for ~3 days (sometimes simultaneously with another chair). It is likely that I would have noticed some minor annoyances if I’d had them longer. However, I feel it’s not that important, since I already rejected these chairs for other reasons. It wouldn’t change all that much if I found that e.g. the Gesture has noise problems.

      I’ve had the Leap and Amia for over a year, had the Please for several weeks (plus my friend has one, so it’s almost as if I had one), and the Think for (AFAIR) about a week first and then at least 3 weeks on another occasion. So it’s not an easy task to say which reviews should be labeled “long-term”. Certainly several weeks is a longer period than you’d get in a typical review for a commercial publication.

      Glad to hear you had a positive experience with 2ndhnd. I had considered buying from them, but was a bit too scared to buy sight unseen. Kudos to them for the free postage.

      The prices you quote for new Steelcase chairs sound completely Martian. All my price quotes from my Steelcase dealer showed the catalogue price (e.g. €1300 for Leap, excluding VAT) and then the “real price” after the ~50% discount. I figured they show you the ridiculous price to trick you into thinking you’re getting an incredible deal, but apparently some dealers really do charge that! Since it is evidently possible for a dealer to sell a Leap for €650 ex VAT at a (probably quite small) profit, if you buy it at €1300, over 50% would be dealer’s markup. I wonder what would happen if you called them and said “I’ll buy it for €700 — do you want to make some money or not?”…

      The Zody looks interesting — great find! From what I see here, the gel is only present in one area of the seatpan, but combined with the mesh backrest, it should be a very cool chair. The 4D armrests look promising, but I don’t know if they adjust inward enough (common problem). The pelvic support looks intriguing and in line with what I know about ergonomics, but the devil is in the details. I do not like the fact that the seat tilts back so much, what a wasted opportunity to open the hip angle and unflex the spine. Still, the chair seems worth testing at the very least.

      Once you get your Leap, why don’t you write your impressions here? One thing I’m interested in is whether your chair has a laggy backrest.

      • Tiago

        Beware the large reply:

        A note on prices prices – I haven’t gotten quotes for Steelcase gear as the authorized reps are either 300km away or in the neighbour country. Numbers I said were for retail I saw around European websites – the ones that do sell them new and show prices (mostly Germany). The chairs I got quotes for were the Haworth Comforto 89 (~500€+VAT, about 3 years ago: mesh and 4D arms, headrest extra 60€). The dealer mentioned their Fern chair being more expensive, so I didn’t follow up on that.

        I also have to correct myself as not being entirely sure about the backrest on the Comforto being sticky as Steelcase chairs – I remember it was not as “free-floating” as weight-actuated or spring-loaded (adjustable) action from comparing it to cheap chairs. It’s probably in-between the sticky backs of the Steelcase and the cheap spring stuff. It does use a nice leaver for tension.

        What I can say is that Comforto 89 only has 3 very strict recline locks: full straight ~90º such as the Please (straighter than the Leap!); around half-way back; and full recline, which I believe goes as far as the Leap. It may look in videos as if the seatpan tilts tons on full recline but I remember it still being very open leg angle, and from reading some old material from Haworth, a fully neutral angle was their marketing lingo (something along the 78º)? One thing the Comforto 89 does have over Steelcases is the “hard work”, front-seatpan+backrest foward tilt, simillar to the Aerons (?). Also, I remember it had two-way lock in some of these modes – one of the reclined positions I remember perfectly would lock in place both backwards and forwards, still allowing about 1-2cm movement but it really made it hard to stand up from the chair when reclined and locked, as there was no leverage from the backrest when moving to the front. A last note on the Comforto: most people at my old job would stand up from rotating the chair such that one of the arms would go under desks and “lift” the desk tops when weight was removed from the chair. This induced in a LOT of tearing on the armrest rubber, and duct-tape temp fixes/eventual replacement armpads which I’m sure weren’t cheap from our official supplier. As soon as it got a slight puncture, it would fully tear in weeks. The armrests would become VERY uncomfortable, even with thick clothing on the arms. Good as they were, their armrests have this huge flaw, but feeling the material of my Leap V2 I believe these also wouldn’t last long in that scenario. In contrast, I doubt old Please v2 arms, which as you said are HARD, will tear up anytime soon.

        About my Leap V2 – It arrived very decently for what I paid! I was saddenned that it didn’t bring fully adjustable arms (my bad, didn’t notice), but it is in very good condition for a Leather upholstered model manufactured in 2007 (!!!). This chair certainly lived up to its warranty. I can still feel slight backrest lag as you report (I think this fluctuates with the tension level too, but it certainly is more than my refurbished Please). The “knock” which you show in the video, on the other hand is not there, even the muted replacement one you also filmed. Ther are definitely other “age” sounds, like the rotating squeak (mild, but there), and more oddly, a long spring squeak that will come sporadically when I shift weight on the seatpan, as if a wooden door was opening in the other room. I also noticed that the Leap will slightly raise height when I don’t seat on it for a moment (and I don’t mean the usual buffer when you seat/stand – it does indeed the height level), but I’m sure this is pneumatic cylinder age and a new one can probably be replaced from aftermarket.

        (… cylinder talk brings me back to another thought on the Comforto 89: I’ve been looking up videos on disassembly/repair in order to convince the UK seller to pack one for me. The cylinder seems VERY proprietary. It’s something to have in mind for Haworths. See here at around 15:50: https://vimeo.com/84623435)

        Comparing the Please to the Leap (both v2’s), I think there are some important details on armrests and lumbar worth mentioning, as I didn’t catch them on your reviews: in the Pv2 (3D, older arms) armrests go ~3cm higher than the Lv2 (might be important for short-legged people with tall desks like me – I can type on the Pv2, not so much without a footrest on the Leap). They unfortunately shift angle with the backrest, making it – plot-twist – harder to type reclining. Yet they become more ergonomical when idling reclined, as they support arms better like that in my opinion. So that’s a pro, then a con, then a pro! The Leap, in which the arms and seatpan don’t move when reclining, staying parallel to floor, the Lv2 can be slided inwards a taller desk for comfortable “reclined typing”. I noticed in the Amia adjustment videos the same armrest/backrest syncro angling as the Pv2 occur, much like they share seatpan syncro-recline.

        Finally, and this might be the most important detail you seem to have missed about the Please v2 – applying force on the arms also applies proportional force to the lumbar section of the backrest. The Pv2 already provides more lumbar support than Lv2 (when both maxed) due to its 2-part backrest design, but you can really “give yourself a back massage” (no pun intended) by applying the least pressure on the arm rests, especially while reclining!

        All in all I really like the 2 chairs I acquired (Pv2 and Lv2), and I certainly feel that the comfort of the Leap trades blows with the better lumbar of the Please. The Leap seems to recline slightly more, thus I feel the Please is more of an office chair while the Leap’s larger, wider angled (with the legs) recline is slightly more suitable for relaxed home environment. Then again, if the Please’s headrest support does its job better as you say, in the end the Please might be the more balanced chair. And it is indeed cheaper!

        • Tomasz P. Szynalski

          Thanks for the write-up!

          For your reference, my Leap 4D armrests are slightly more than 22cm above the seat (measured with a tape measure going vertically from the edge of the seatpan) in the highest position. Are you sure your desk isn’t too high? In my experience, lower desks work better for typing.

          Yeah, the Amia also has tilting armrests, but it’s a very small angle, mostly because the Amia simply doesn’t recline as far as the Please.

          Haha. The “one armrest getting stuck under the desktop” problem has happened to me several times. I thought I was the only one! 🙂 I get a little stressed out every time it happens, but so far, the armrest caps have been holding up fine — not a scratch. One time I left it like that for the whole night and there was a big indentation, but it magically disappeared after a few hours. Looks like they made it of some durable stuff.

          It’s not that I missed the connection between the armrests and the lumbar section on the Please — I even remember making the “back massage” joke when I was testing it with a friend — it’s just that when I write a review, I have to focus on stuff that matters most. It would bore the daylight out of everyone if I just dumped all my thoughts and observations here 🙂

          Regarding your last paragraph, my impressions are actually the opposite. The Please seems like a more of a “chill out” chair to me… It feels like it’s more oriented towards deep recline — when you do that, you feel more supported, and there is more flexibility to really stretch your back (upper backrest is more mobile). There’s also a better headrest which is of course useful only in reclined positions. The Leap is more comfy, true, but if I were choosing a chair primarily for binging on YouTube, I would choose the Please over the Leap. BTW, I spent a chunk of time doing some fairly precise measurements and determined that the Leap and Please have the same maximum hip angle. It’s tricky to measure, though — hard to see the exact orientation of the spine without an X-ray machine 🙂

      • Tiago

        I noticed I didn’t address all your Zody (Comforto 89) concerns:

        * besides the tearing issue I mentioned before, the armrests do indeed slide forward anough for most people (and beyond common unadjustable armrest+ length), but maybe slightly less than required for some super comfortable typing. But I typed just fine with them, especially in the forward-tilt seat/back position

        * the gel seat felt like it’s gel all around and not just the center, but I digress. Perhaps it’s some sort of top-layer gel like they do on mattresses with memory foam (which usually have a small portion of foam to trick you and the rest is just springs or common foam). I also recall the seatpan is definitely larger than most chairs, I would say in line with the Herman Miller Embody from the looks of that chair.

        * can’t say anything about the pelvic support as it appears to be a new/optional feature the Zody I used didn’t have. I can say that the lumbar support, even on strongest settings, is not half as strong as in the Please v2, maybe it’s comparable to the Leap v2 in the mild lumbar setting and without lumbar piece. I actually never figured out it could be heigh-adjusted so I might be biased on it’s effect, but usually the problem with mesh backrests is that since they are very flexible (so as to distribute weight and conform to it), any strong lumbar/pelvic pieces will feel too protruding, so they had to use something soft that won’t feel alien to people that don’t recline that much. I’m sure this is a problem in, e.g. Aerons (with either the lumbar or posture add-ons), although I’ve never sat on either.

        • Chris

          Hi, I need some help…

          I’m between 3 chairs: Please, Leap and Gesture.

          Which one would you recommend to someone who has a spine like an S? You know, slight kyphosis for upper back and some anterior pelvic tilt for lower back.

          I’m buying used btw and I’ve heard that Please is not very reliable after some years. The Gesture looks very cool, but has thermal issues (that’s bad cause it’s hot for 6 months here) and I’m not sure if it’s comfy (it’s bad because you sit on your thighs). The Leap is great overall and I’m probably buying this, but I was wondering if one of those 2 chairs could offer something more than the Leap…

          • Tiago B.

            Hi there Chris.

            My back problems aren’t like yours (s4-5 hernia) so I’m not entirely sure any of these chairs will help.

            I do have some insight as I own both Leap v2 and Please v2. Got both used and both were manufactured circa 2007. They are in REALLY good condition even though I’m sure they were fairly used for office due to their origins.

            Your concerns about the Please v2 should, from my point of view, not be a problem. Not sure about it may have had refurbished fabric (bought from 2ndhnd) as it looks new, but other than that the entire mechanism of the chair (now) works perfectly. The first unit I got did have ONE complication in the backrest height locks (it has one on each side) – it wouldn’t unlock and I could only use it at that backrest height. Fortunately 2ndhnd has 1y warranty and they even collected back and sent another at ZERO charge. A bit of a pain to get back on the box (remove aforementioned backrest, which was…. locked) but the second I got was perfectly fine and I-m sure it’s not common, as I never faced it in my 30 or so times I moved the new locks to try adjustments over my 1y of ownership.

            The Leap v2 I purchased from a “junksion” on ebay (sells mostly “junk” but is a popular used Aerons refurbisher). I got (mostly) lucky with it, and the seller was nice enough to allow me to arrange collection by GLS/Eurosender. Its only problem was that the seat height wouldn’t initially memorize (would slowly go back to maximum after I stood up from it) but I found out it was the height adjust lever which probably lost springinnes over the years, wouldn’t go back to neutral (lock) and now I just manually force it there after adjustments. All good now and the original leather fabric is pretty much mint, which is one of the good things about leather – it resists odor and most stains. OTOH whatever DOES stain leather won’t wash out so easily (because leather is hard to wash and microscopically porous). It also gains natural leather rinkles (just like humans do with age) and of course, leather has its own characteristic smell but it’s the good kind. Also, leather is always hotter and less breathable in the summer, but if the room is AC’d, leather is a nice choice.

            My overall opinion on their back supports is that the Please seems sturdier/more orthodox, just like Tomasz contrasts both chairs. I personally “hurt” less with my Please, but if your back is definitely “non-standard” top to bottom, I think the Leap may be a better choice as it doesn’t force your UPPER BACK into position as much. The Please back support goes all the way to most necks. Leap can also have the lumbar support piece fully removed (mentioned in this review, can confirm it’s UBBER easy to remove it once you lose fear of detaching the leather from its plastic piece), along with the built-in lumbar “tightener” having a lesser “minimum” stiffness than the Please with 5 levels vs 4. The Please will also feel sort of relaxed with the lumbar “tightener” to minimum setting, yet I think the Leap is overall more slouchy.

            If you are based around the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal, Spain, UK, France), I can very well sell you my Leap v2 and ship it sensibly (UPS charges around 43euro, I know as I recently arranged collection from UK of my 2nd Zody, also did last year through GLS, same price). Contact my email if you’re interested and I’ll pretty much sell it at same price I bought it last year (sub 300euro). Only reason I’m selling is because I just prefer my 2 Zodys for home (better on my hernia) and my Please for work (doesn’t let me slouch as much due to the orthodox backrest). And I don’t need more than 3 chairs (I know how snob that sounds, but I DO have 3 different usual work locations and got all chairs for less than the price of one new 😀 ).

            Good luck finding what you need in any case!

  • Sven

    Just want to say this is one of the only places I’ve seen mention of the possible issues with the curved backrest. I’m 6’1″ with a lean build (~160lbs) and relatively wide shoulders and I find that curved area of the mid back to be very awkward. The edges have little to no flex to begin with but when you’re using the backrest in a normal manner the mid area flexes back while the edges can come forward a little, making the angle even more severe (concave) possibly hindering natural arm/elbow/shoulder movement . To make matters worse for me, I have a history of shoulder problems (unrelated to chair) and this quirk can really cause flare ups for my left shoulder as I basically have to have it extended forward or always internally rotated (and in bad posture) so that i don’t make contact with that area. I love the chair otherwise, but I find this particular aspect of the chair rather horrible as there’s no reason to have this curve, or at he very least that section of the back could be far narrower.

  • Clinton

    Hey mate, got a leap and have a case where the backrest lags ALOT. It barely springs back up even though the reclining itself is really nice and smooth. Would you have any idea what to lubricate or adjust to get it working?

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Increasing lower back firmness (big knob) can help a little.
      Other than that, I have no specific experience. Here are some educated guesses:

      1. First, take off the seat (as shown in this video for the Amia).
      2. Spray some lithium-based (teflon-based should also work fine) lubricant on the “rails” on which the seatpan moves. In my experience, this can help a little bit.
      3. If you want real results, I think you’d have to try and spray lubricant into the mechanism itself. I haven’t tried it and honestly, I don’t remember if there are sufficient opening holes to even get in there with a straw attachment. You can’t open the mechanism, it’s riveted shut. Here is the general layout of the mechanism – it could help you aim at the right places.

      I’m quite curious whether this procedure will work and if (or rather when) my chair becomes intolerable, I will definitely try it. I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience!

  • John

    I really enjoy this blog and I’m happy you talk about thermal performance. A lot of reviewers don’t mentioned that and it’s important to me due to the summer heat.

    Have you tried an Aeron? If so, how does that compare to the other chairs you trade. It’s between the Aeron classic and Leap V2 for me, but leaning towards the Aeron due to mesh. Also, if it helps, my height is 6″3 and 240lb. Still deciding on which one 🙂

    • Tiago Borba

      Just pointing a bit above at my comment about the Haworth Zody (Comforto 89). I have these 3 chairs all for about 4 months now, all bought used and sitting on each interchangeably (avg. 15h per week):

      – a Leap v2 (very used, 2007, leather, no headrest, basic height armrests)
      – a Please v2 (used. 2008, no headrest, re-fitted fabric, short 3-d arms no left-right dept)
      – a Zody (used, 2012, no headrest, mesh back and fully loaded otherwise)

      The Zody is the best in the Summer obviously. The Leap is the worse in thermal performance, but most of it is because I have it in Leather. Thing is, my fabric Please is also very hot on my back, and albeit not the original fabric it is definitely “transpiring”. I’d argue that Steelcase chairs are overall hotter chairs on your back, since they have no mesh option that I know off. It’s also likely due to whatever cushioning they use inside. Note the Zody has a leather “cover” option which I’m pretty sure can be removed when needed, which might be good for Winter.

      The Zody is still, like the Steelcases, somewhat hot on the buttocks, but it’s synthetic “meshy” fabric is slightly more “transpiring” than those. Despite that, I used a (different) Zody at work for 4 years, and by year 2 it had sweat marks on the seat, in an AC’d office. They are all very unforgiving on sweaty arses 😛 so maybe only full mesh back+seat chairs like the Aeron can trump these (but these are certainly top-tier elsewhere so I wouldn’t switch – I never tried an Aeron, but I hear customization is poor and sizing matters a lot – it has 3 options of size…).

      In other fields, Zody has the best balance. The Please is the best upright due to PERFECT (IMHO) back support (it’s position “4” back-stop is the most forward-leaning and fully supports my bakc); the Leap is worse than the others upright, because even on the most upright back-stop, it has play on the mechanism AND the thin plastic backrest, especially on the shoulders, yet this also makes it the best laid-back, along with the much wider body angle provided by the floor-parallel, forward-moving seat when leaning. The thing about the Zody is it provides a middle ground and is almost as good as both
      Steelcases in either position. I think the only mishap of the Zody is it doesn’t have “middle” backstops, and doesn’t break as well by itself in middle.

      Overall I slightly prefer the Zody to the Please, and the same comparing Please to the Leap.I wish I could have the Zody, with a headrest, with mesh back but with the Please back support (slightly better), but with as much tilt back as the Zody originally has (larger). I don’t particularly care for the middle-leaning performance or back-stops, as I, like Szynalski, prefer rocking a bit and the Zody has good rocking even being hydraulic.

      And speaking of hydraulic -the Steelcases are more industrial-built and looking IMHO. The Haworth Zody, even though cheaper in advertised “new” prices, seems more Premium on actuations. You even see it uses hydraulic cabling (like bicycles) joining the levers to the center mechanism. The only thing I think is more Premium on the Steelcases is the hydraulic back movement itself, yet I think it is too stiff (and this is non-adjustable in ALL chairs). The Haworth, despite also hydraulic, is more forgiving allowing more rock. All hydraulic chairs lag, and the old Leap lags most likely because of loss of hydraulic pressure. It is a matter of preference in this field. Even my then-brand new Zody from a past job felt a bit laggy.

      I think the Zody is a better purchase, and you might like it due to mesh back. I think any of the 3 chairs is great ergonomically compared to most sub-200, white-label or even “gaming” chairs, and thermal performance is the only thing that is unadjustable to your taste in them so definitely pick the one that’s better to your environment (AC vs no AC in Summer). I will definitely never go back to a cheap chair. Even if I move countries, you can be sure I’ll get one of these wherever I have to sit for long periods.

      • Augusto Monteiro

        Oh well…after long years i finally decided that my back ans arse deserved better than the regular chair you can buy at office centre. And @Tiago Borba you contributed to me getting a refurbished Conforto89 . Had to do it before Brexit…just to be on the cautious side. Paid 256 Euros shipped and if i really don’t like it i will sell it to you with a discount! Cheers!

        • Tiago Borba

          Good choice! I think you may have paid a bit of a steep price, but then again I shopped around A LOT for my (2) Zodies/Comf89 on ebay UK and got very good deals for both (under 100GBP each, shipped for around 40 bucks!).

          Also, for reference, I got a quote from Haworth pt some years ago and these sell new fully loaded for around 500e (50 or so more for headrest, 50 or so more for leather covers). At 300e/GBP I would seriously consider new as I believe they do 10 or 12y warranty, and that’s great price for FREE maintenance for what is essentially half a lifetime of use.

          Anyway what matters is that you got a solid chair, and I hope you’re liking it. Do share your feedback and if you need help foguring something, I have a lot of insight on these and could help you. I already have a lot of saved places to get spares for cheap for instance 😀

          In the (very unlikely case) you aren’t adapting it, I am selling a Leap v2 (also offered another seller on these comments but your name seems from Portugal, we’re on the same country so you might be more interested).

          Feel free to contact my email for anything.

          • Tim

            Hello Tiago,

            I’ve hit the unfortuntate postion of having my Steelcase Please V2 plastic connectors snap! I did purchase it in 2016 refurbished on eBay UK. I contacted steelcase to let them know about the weakness in the design and they replied stating they are aware about this issue happening.

            I’m looking for a new chair as to have this part replaced by Steelcase authorised dealer would be £190 ex VAT. + Would take 3 months…

            I first looked into the Leap V2 but again i’m concerned if I go refurbished I could have a similar issue albeit the leaps design looks to have less small pieces of plastic used for the design.

            I’ve had a look into the Zody executive (Comforto 89) but can’t seem to find any vendors/dealers that sell them?

            Do you know if they sell direct via their website?

            Thanks for your time.

      • Augusto Monteiro

        Btw…the gas cylinder on the Zody seems to be like the Mirra and the Think ones.

  • Maynard

    thanks for the review tom. your page is a tremendous resource. i have a steelcase criterion that is giving me both sciatica and nerve issues in my neck and arms. really strange. i tried both the leap and gesture at the steelcase dealer. the gesture had a better seatpan but i liked the back on the leap more. may be getting one of those soon. only thing that made me hesitate on the leap is the seatpan angle. the gesture seems to tilt forward more which increases hip angle when seated

  • Max

    I have bought the Please v2 also reviews on this blog. Am I happy with it? I don’t know yet…maybe better to have gone with the Leap?

    At the end I like the back support and regulations very much. But I think the seat pan is really uncomfortable! I find the foam pretty hard and maybe the seat needed more padding since I seem to feel the hard surface under the foam with my seat bones. But I think another reason for it to be uncomfortable is that the seat seems to be lightly inclined downward on the forward side of the chair , so I seem to have to contrast a slight tendency to slip forward with my butt. I feel really uncomfortable after only minutes and pain on my butt after some hours. I hope to solve with a memory form office cushion I’ll buy on amazon next. It is a pity since the price is so high and the rest of the chair is pretty solid. Fortunately I bought it second hand for about 400 euros (shipping included, with headrest, leather version).

  • Shiva Vasudevan

    Hey, your reviews are great! You’ve convinced me to purchase the Leap v2. I was really torn between the Gesture, Leap, and Embody, but the Leap seems to be the ultimate jack of all trades. Even if I don’t like it, I’ll have 30 days to return it, haha.

  • Kees

    Thanks for talking about the things I wanted more info on that almost no one else talks about: the fabric options, temperature, and headrest. Are you aware of the 3D Knit material they offer (it’s a separate version of the chair on their website rather than a material choice, and I’m not sure about European availability)? It’s only offered on the seat back and I’m not sure if the heat is a problem for you on the seat pan or the back. Steelcase’s website just says it improves comfort but one of their distributors online says it’s cooler. It looks to be the same material as is on those lumbar supports you can buy on Amazon which would make it pretty rough. I’m coming from an Aeron so overheating is definitely a concern of mine.
    The headrest being bad really bothers me. I added a really nice one to my Aeron because my head would get tired and it’s good for resting for a few seconds every so often. You shouldn’t have to choose between the overall seat comfort and a useable headrest (like on the Gesture, which I found to not offer nearly as much lumbar support as the Leap with depth fully dialed and with a less comfortable seat pan).

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Thanks for writing. The 3D knit thing is actually an EXTRA layer of fabric over the regular one, so it does not make the back cooler. Official info from Steelcase customer support.
      About the headrest — obviously, I agree it’s a shame. Unfortunately, Steelcase seems to be more interested in launching new concepts like the Silq rather than building incrementally on their accumulated knowledge. I’m not even sure how many of the engineers who designed the Leap still work there.

      • Tiago B

        I’ve actually been ebaying around for “universal” headrests since all my chairs were used, and the used market is pretty scarce on headrest models for most chairs (even the gesture!). Since links are stupid I’ll provide some of my findings in the form of ebay item IDs, which I’m sure keen users can easily track down:

        323929797184
        283629529363

        Note some things: I have not yet purchased ANY of these; They are somewhat expensive for what they are but yet again, they’re the only recourse for some; they come from China (HK) and chinese NY is nearby, along with HK pollitical shenanigans which might delay stuff; and last but not least – they seem to come with 2 or 3 options of fitting/size for the clamp and not all may work on your specific chair (maybe even none may work!).

        Also of note, they have like 20 different models of headrest and it may be a lucky draw figuring out which is decent. But I’m confident one or 2 of those are much better than the factory stuff Steelcases, Haworths or Herman Millers have. At least some of them seem to have 3 adjustments!

  • Kees

    Regarding the 3D Knit, I do think the fact that it, in theory, holds you off of the foam and allows airflow in the material could cause it to be cooler. Whether this actually works I don’t know, although I did ask Steelcase customer support and they said it should be cooler, so clearly they’re sending mixed messages. It’s a moot point for me, though, because I decided to just order with Buzz2 after getting samples from Steelcase and hope it’s not too hot come summer.

    I also agree with you about the new concepts. I went to every high end office chair company’s showroom in NYC I could find (Herman Miller, Haworth, and Knoll, as well as going to my local Steelcase dealer and an office furniture store; I couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone at the Steelcase showroom, go figure) and it seems like there’s a trend among them of moving from providing the best ergonomics to focusing on aesthetics that are important to modern office designers (eg, the HM Sayl), giving into the laziness of office workers’ lack of proper posture and wanting to slouch and sit in different ways (eg, the Knoll ReGeneration), and removing adjustability because many office workers don’t take the time to understand the adjustments and lock them into improper settings without knowing how to get them out, for example, forward tilt (eg, the HM Cosm). At each showroom, the newer models tended to be more attractive, simpler, and less ergonomic, built to please designers and office workers that don’t care enough to pay attention. This is great for meeting rooms but bad for home offices. As a side note, I actually did like the Haworth Fern quite a bit, although the lumbar support wasn’t as good as the Leap’s. I’d say it’s on-par with the Gesture for me. It has a material similar to the 3D Knit which was pretty soft (they even gave me some samples) on top of a rubber breathable material on the back without needing a hard frame you can hit like on the Aeron.

    I’ve had the Leap for a couple months now. After about a week I realized that it was hurting my back. The problem was that, at 6ft, the lumbar curve was too low and lacked enough depth, and the plastic sliding piece has hard sharp edges in it. I was leaning the chair back and then forcing myself into the space between the seat pan and back. Someone recommended Allseating and their chairs do seem interesting although the person warned that their chair was loud and the main model doesn’t have a headrest. I looked into it but didn’t get much of a response from local employees. But I had another idea I wanted to try. I opened up the seat back on the Leap (there’s a video on YouTube that explains how, although it requires a lot of force the first time) and put batting in a bag (for testing, I’ll make a fabric pocket to finalize) and put it on the upper part of the lumbar curve in front of the plastic piece. This made the lumbar curve extend higher and further out and added cushioning in front of the plastic sliding piece. I had to reposition and change the amount and spread of the batting but after a few changes I got it to a point that’s fairly comfortable, although my back does still get sore and I need to make use of my standing desk. I’m not sure if my back could be totally comfortable in any chair since I’ve had to do physical therapy from slouching in my Aeron. That said, as far as I can tell the chair does now fit me very well.

    About the “sticky recline”, I didn’t really understand what you meant until I got the Leap, and I like it a lot more than the Aeron’s smooth recline. On the Aeron, I cranked the tension all the way up so that it would stay upright but on the Leap you can keep it pretty low and have it stay upright when you want and then easily recline and stay at any angle. Sticky is much better in my opinion. I do agree about the lumbar gap when reclining, and it makes me pull myself up while holding the seat back reclined to get rid of the gap every time I recline. This is probably my biggest problem with the chair. On the Leap that I tried at my local dealer, the recline was very rough, and on mine a small area of the recline developed some roughness after a few weeks that then went away a few weeks later. A little worrying long-term but smooth right now. It’s also become apparent how sharp the bottom of the base is as I’ve nearly cut myself on the edges with my feet. Overall I think the build quality is substantially inferior to an Aeron, although it only really becomes an issue on the aforementioned, the fact that the armrests jiggle forward and back a bit and that the armrests have some give and creak that’s a bit annoying when pulled in closer to the user (and therefore not being as supported beneath themselves). It’s still a solid, durable chair, of course.

    As for the headrest, at first I did find it to be too far forward although I still liked having it, but now I’ve realized that if I’m sitting with my shoulder blades against the back, as you do when typing upright, my head is forward enough that I’m not hitting the headrest. It’s shift back into the chair back (without reclining) and the upper part of my shoulders go against the back that the headrest starts hitting my head. So if I’m sitting properly tasking it’s fine, and when I recline it supports my head. It is a bit harder than it should be, especially in the middle for some reason, but not so much as to be uncomfortable. So not as good as the perfect Atlas headrest on my old Aeron but it’s a huge plus to have when reclining, at least for someone my height and how I sit.

    So overall, after modifying it a little, I’m happy with the Leap and I’m keeping it. I’ll use it in conjunction with my motorized sit-stand desk (Uplift V2 frame with an IKEA Gerton tabletop) and I’ll just have to see how my comfort is long-term, considering that slouching on the Aeron took three years to cause tailbone injury, sciatica, and numbness in my toes all at once pretty suddenly. But I can’t imagine this will cause any issues since it doesn’t the Aeron’s issues and I’m standing and exercising as well. I actually got worse on the Aeron Remastered I ordered before returning, and since I’ve had this my symptoms have become less frequent.

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Kees,

      Thank you for your mini-review. I’m sure it will be useful to many people who are considering the Leap.

      Your comments about modern chair concepts are very well put.

      The plastic lumbar is an option which, as I’ve written in my review, is not really necessary for proper ergonomics and is somewhat detrimental to comfort. I don’t use it myself. Since you already know how to take off the backrest padding, I would recommend removing it, but I’m glad you’ve found another solution with the extra padding.

      The statement “at 6ft, the lumbar curve is too low” is a bit misleading, because the position of the lumbar curve relative to your spine does not depend on your height, but on the height of your torso (which is not the same thing! you can have a long torso like Michael Phelps or long legs like a track athlete). I am about 6 ft 1 inch (which is called “185 cm” outside of the US) and the chair’s backrest tracks my spine very well. Depth is also not an issue, despite my excessively curved lumbar region.

      Steelcase uses a lot of different bases (I think they also change them over time). My European-bought aluminum base is definitely not sharp (on the underside of the five “spokes”). Since yours has this issue, potential buyers should probably check before buying.

      I agree on the build quality. It’s not exactly on par with Herman Miller or Sedus (expensive German/Swiss brand). I’ve always thought the armrests were the *least* problematic part, however. For example, I’ve noticed the padding on top doesn’t show any wear after 2 years of heavy usage. Yeah, there is a little give, but for me it’s not a problem, as long as there’s no annoying noise to accompany it. I, too, am a little worried about the roughness of the recline mechanism. Older Leaps become annoyingly sticky and I’m not sure how fixable it is.

      • Tiago B

        Just want to agree on lumbar curves being very specific even despite overall person height. I am very short (166cm) and I could always fit my (now sold) Leap v2 and my current Please v2 and Haworth Zodys. It takes patience for the later 2 as they have a lot of lumbar adjustment (the please has backrest height, depth and even seat depth has an effect, while the zody has seat depth too, individual left/right tension and even lumbar support height – not full backrest, just the lumbar piece, but it doesn’t need it anyway being mesh. Also, the lower “special” coxis support on the Zody is not adjustable, but if it “protrudes” to some people’s tail bone you can just seat or seat depth slightly forward).

        For recline mechanisms wear/stickiness/noises and cranking, I’ve noted it in all my used chairs: Leap/Please/Zody. I think this is a common mechanical problem just like cars and bycicles – it eventually needs maintenance with grease, lubricant or even new gas/fluid on actuators, and any of these options may require disassembling. My two cents are: if your chair is in warranty (just like when a car was bought new) it’s better to take it to the official repair shop, but if it’s used and was cheap, it’s worth the time investment, tools and internet data and manual-scourging to get yourself acquainted with maintaining the chair yourself. Or get your tinker friend or local do-it-all professional to sort it for you.

  • Radek

    Hi Tomasz, many thanks for this entire site, it’s very helpful! Looking into patent applications is a pretty thorough research; Steelcase should pay you for beta testing 😉

    For my home office, I plan to try Please first, then Leap, each for a weak if possible, but suspect I will continue to be on the fence. Leap seems a safer bet, but due to lower back problems lumbar support is very important for me.

    Anyway, a few questions:

    If you remember, can you type while reclined in Please? I suspect its arm rests may prevent this…

    Ultimately, what made you choose Leap over Please?

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Thanks, Radek. Yes, you can type in a half-reclined position on the Please. The armrests go below desk level, but it’s not much of a problem unless you recline really far. In general, the more reclined you are, the harder it is to type — this is true for any chair. Leap vs Please was a very hard choice and you can think of it as a coin toss in my head. You will probably have a better idea of what works better for you when you’re done with your testing.

  • Roman

    Thank You, Tom! And greetings from Russia. What do you think about Profim chairs – Veirs net, Xenon and Violle?

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      I considered a Profim Xenon and Veris Net, but after sitting on them, I decided that they’re much less ergonomic than the best chairs on the market.

      • Marcin

        Hi Tomasz.
        Is the difference between Xenon/Veris and Leap very large? I ask about ergonomics, comfort and quality.
        These chairs cost 50% of the Leap price. Is it worth paying more for Leap?

        Thanks
        Marcin

          • Marcin

            You convinced me, but unfortunately the dealer effectively discouraged me from steelcase.
            Indeed, WES agrees to test the chairs for several days, but I am far from Wrocław. ARC Interiors offered me better prices, but testing can only be done in their showroom. Such a test after 2.5 hours by car to Warsaw makes no sense. I was decided to buy steelcase (leap / please), but if I am to experiment it on cheaper chairs 🙂

        • Tomasz P. Szynalski

          Thanks for the report. Really sorry to hear about ARC Interiors refusing to allow a home test. It’s weird that the largest dealership in Poland has such an unfriendly policy. I don’t think it makes business sense. If they’re scared the customer will damage the chair, they can ask for a deposit. I’ve borrowed chairs worth $2000, never had any problems.
          (It could be related to the lower price. If they make only a little money on 1 chair, it may not be worth the hassle to deal with individual customers.)

          • Marcin

            Review of the second attempt to buy Steelcase Leap 🙂

            You convinced me that after bad experiences with Aeron I should think about steelcase leap again.
            I went to Warsaw to return Aeron and by the way visit Arc Interiors.
            At first I was impressed with the Gesture. This chair was much more comfortable for me than Leap. It was perfect.
            I convinced the seller (it wasn’t easy) to give me a Gesture for testing. Unfortunately, I could only take a model without a headrest (the seller only has one Gesture with a headrest). In Gesture my back loses contact with the backrest lower than in Leap and my head “looks” for the headrest.
            After about 1.5 hours sitting on the Gesture, when I was wondering if it makes sense to test the model without the headrest, I sat on Leap.
            A feeling comparable to how you remove your ski boots after a few hours :).
            Something that was an advantage at first, after 1.5 hours I began to tire of me.
            I decided that the best choice is Leap, but … Arc Interiors again don’t want to give Leap to test (they only have two Leap).
            I was offered to come to them with my laptop for the whole day to test the chair.
            My work day is 8-10 hours. I have 2 hours to Warsaw…
            Despite the nice service, I felt like I was mocked. In addition, I heard a joke that I don’t know if it was a joke or a suggestion that I was testing chairs for too long. It is not comfortable to test a chair, as the dealer’s employees are always looking at you.

            Summary:

            1. Gesture has super armrests – slim people will appreciate it. Gesture without a headrest is not comfortable for me. This chair, however, is too stiff and after a while begins to tire of lumbar support.

            2. I sat in the Leap chair for a short time. During this time, the headrest did not bother me as you write in the review – I think it was ok. The headrest was not needed as much as in Gesture.In two Leap models, when tilting, I felt some strange friction in the backrest and seat – as if something was jumping in the mechanism. For this reason, I will not buy a used Leap.
            I won’t buy a new one without testing.
            If I am to buy “with my eyes closed”, I prefer to buy Markus from Ikea 🙂 – the same quality of sales, however, there is a big difference in price.
            It’s a shame because Leap is probably the most comfortable of the chairs I was sitting on.

            3. I got a really favorable price offer from Arc Interiors, but I still don’t recommend it.
            Maybe someday I’ll make a third attempt this time with WES Wrocław.
            Sometimes it’s better to pay more but at least be treated more seriously. Because is it serious how the seller first tells you how important it is to choose the right chair and then wants you to choose this chair for 1-2 hours? The fact that Aeron is not a chair for me, I understood after 2 days of use.

            • Tomasz P. Szynalski

              This thread is becoming too nested for WordPress, so please post further comments in a new one, mmkay?

              Ikea Markus? Been there, done that. Took it back to the store after 1 day. (They didn’t want to refund me — apparently Ikea’s well-advertised return policy doesn’t hold if you unpack the goods.)

              Your experience with the Gesture is similar to mine. Feels great at first, then increasingly uncomfortable.

              ARC Interiors only had two Leaps? Big surprise. WES always had several when I was in their showroom. I honestly expected more of a Steelcase Platinum Partner.

              I don’t know what the prices are now, but 2 years ago WES had good prices (I know they weren’t making tons of money on Steelcase chairs). If you don’t believe it, just ask someone from Western Europe about prices over there 🙂

  • Tim

    Tom, do you have any thoughts on the Hag Capisco?

    Thanks,
    Tim

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      I briefly considered it, but never had the opportunity to try it. It’s quite expensive for what it is, and I’m not sure I would actually use any of the “unconventional” sitting positions that are its main selling point. I don’t have a strong opinion, however.

      • Tim

        Thanks for the reply! I think the sitting postions are a bit too uncoonventional for myself but an interesting concept outside the normal ergnomic charis. I’m quite pressed to get a chair soon, I’ve found a refurbished Steelcase Leap V2 from corportespec on eBay – they seem to have the 4D arms but I’m concerned £299 is quite expensive for a refurbished Leap V2. Is there any other features that are not standard apart from the arms? (I know the headrest seems to be a rarity.)

        Thanks again,
        Tim

        • Tiago B

          I can’t reply to your other comment for your reason.

          About the plastics of the Please, yeah I also had issues with my first one and got it exchanged by the seller. You can’t really find anything for cheap from reps I guess as the chair has 900eur RRP or so. Best bet is looking at ebay every other week for a cheap spare or full chair really.

          My 2 Haworths were purchased from different ebay sellers in UK. I arranged collection by UPS and got them mega-cheap (75GBP and 20GBP for one with DYI’d arm covers by the original owner, and they’re actually soft and great!!!). I was just arranging to purchase 2 more for friends from an ebay seller with a good 10+ stock on them, he was auctioning them around 50-70GBP but then COVID-19 hit and he stopped selling. Once again, this is a matter of keeping your ebay heads up. But this chair is actually “cheap” new at around 500eur and you get 10+ year warranty and headrest options for about 50eur (headrest models are ELUSIVE in the used market, and this goes for ALL chairs, steelcase, haworth, Herman-Miller..).

          My suggestion, even if buying new eventually, is buy used first. I would prefer to get a SOLID test drive with at least months of heavy use before committing to these. It’s like a car – it’s better to know how it “drives” after a long “mileage”. And at 50eur used and maybe 50 more for shipping, I think it’s better than buying for 500eur new even with all the benefits

          • Tim

            Thank you Tiago for the suggestion, I think with the current chair situation it’s been difficult to get in contact with dealers for a lot of these chairs.

            I’m trying to get in contact with Haworth to find out about pricing for a Zody but they are non-responsive!

            Would you be able to share which Haworth models you would recommend?

            I’m currently debating whether for a short term soloution to purchase the Haworth Very chair for £150 delivered (The seller states they are around 6 years old and good condition) (link to the comparison of the Haworth chairs – https://imgur.com/a/ry7qC)

            I’m not sure I want to take the risk of an older Steelcase Leap V2 for £300 with 12 months warranty with a refurbish company such as corportespec.

            Thanks,
            Tim

        • Tomasz P. Szynalski

          There are options, such as base (polished aluminum/painted steel/plastic), casters (carpet/wood), and oodles of fabric options. The height-adjustable lumbar is also optional.

          • Tim

            Thanks Tom, in the end I spent alot of time researching for the right chair for me that had good warranty. I ended up with the HAG SoFi which has a really nice live movement feature.

  • Jay

    Hey Tom. I had no idea one could write such a long review on a chair!

    Did you ever come across a Leap that had uneven back like this?

    https://www.reddit.com/r/BuyItForLife/comments/e6oh1d/request_to_anyone_one_with_a_used_steelcase_leap/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

    It doesnt seem to be a one time defect.

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      I’d had no idea it would be this long, either! 🙂

      But OMG, you are right about the uneven back. My 2-year-old chair is exactly the same, and I am now certain that every single Leap (new or used) is like that. Why? Because there is a structural reason for it. Basically, the tensioner that supports the backrest and makes it S-shaped is located only on the right side of the chair (where the large adjustment knob is). So the right side of the backrest has a slightly larger lumbar “bulge” and, as a consequence, the thoracic part of the backrest pushes your shoulders less strongly. It’s the opposite on the left side. The effect is quite obvious if you know where to look and you can even feel it while sitting on the chair. For example, it’s easier to push your lower back into the chair on the left side than on the right side, and with your upper back it’s the other way around. I’m not sure whether it can have a negative effect on your posture, but it’s definitely a design flaw.

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I think I might have been vaguely aware of some asymmetry, but never examined it thoroughly, perhaps because I’ve never experienced any discomfort on this chair. I will have to update my review…

      • Jay

        I just read through the entire long review, and damn! You’re one particular mo***!! LOL.. You’re a warrior, man. I really appreciate the review.

        So sad how the “perfect chair” doesn’t exist as you said.

  • Jay

    this is the response I got from my Q

    The chairs are supposed to arrive straight and leveled up. They might be slightly asymmetric because of the shipping process but that should fix itself in a couple of days or less. You must also make sure that the floor is the one that is not uneven.

    Ahh.. god damn it. And I just ordered this chair.. I hope it is not a deal breaker. I have used this chair at work and I didnt care to examine. But when I spend a grand for my personal use.. oh man. It is still comfortable though right? 🙁

    • Jay

      (This response was from Steelcase’s product support department, Line One.

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      “Straight and leveled up?” Yeah, right…

      Don’t worry, it’s not a dealbreaker. It’s still a great chair and if the asymmetry didn’t bother you at work, you’ll be happy with it. Please share your experiences when you’ve had the chance to sit on the Leap for some time.

      • Jay

        I will definitely write a review here after some time of using it at home. As for my coworkers who use this chair at work, they have no idea how expensive the chair is, and just sit on them without adjusting anything lol..

        • Yang

          Hi Jay,

          How is your leap chair so far?
          Are you receiving the chair with uneven back rest also?

          • Jay

            Hi Yang

            Sorry for the late reply. I didn’t even get a notification on this.
            To be honest, I don’t even notice unevenness.

            It is not a problem 😀

  • Kinson

    Hi Tom, I am from Hong Kong and came across to your website and I am very appreciated with all your reviews.

    I am currently looking for a ergonomic chair and there is one thing I concerned the most – the quality of the seat pan foam.

    I have been sitting on serveral diffenert chairs at my office (like the Humanscale Freedom) and most of their seat pan foam sagged / flattened / thinning over time (they are about 3years old). To an extend that when I sit on it, my butt could feel the metal frame under the foam. Leading soreness and pain to my butt and sometime block my circulation. I also own a office chair and gaming chair but all ending up a sagged foam (may be my buttock is too “sharp”..)

    I hope you can advise whether your Steelcase Leap V2 seat pan foam holding up well? Any sign of sagging / thinning? As I know, the Leap and Gesture both have a relatively thin foam (not thicker than 2 inches. Well, although you called them Thick in the reviews), I am afraid over time (perhaps a year or two) I will start feeling the bottom frame under the foam and hurting my buttock.

    I am considering the Steelcase Leap / Gesture , or the Zody from Haworth.

    Please give me some advise!! I don’t want to waste the fortune.

    Many thanks in advance.

    (Sorry if I double posted this, not sure whether the last one correctly posted or not)

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Hi Kinson,

      I’ve tested some Steelcase chairs that were 4-6 years old at my local dealer and never came across any problems with foam. I would expect it to hold up pretty well. Can’t comment on the Zody.

  • Jay

    Oh my god… I got my chair and I noticed the backrest is very “sticky” like the first seconds of your video:
    https://gfycat.com/amazingopulentarachnid
    ( I don’t know where that video is from, but I stumbled into it by searching on Google)

    There is no smooth motion when the chair goes back up after reclining to the max. It’s like the chair goes up in steps.. Is this a defect? It’s driving me nuts.

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Sorry to hear that. I wouldn’t have expected it in a new Leap chair. I’ve seen at least three brand-new Leaps and none of them were as sticky as in that video. I always thought it’s an issue that develops over years of use, as the lubrication wears out.

      Does your back lose contact with the backrest as you go from a reclined to an upright position? Does adjusting the backrest tension help?

      • Jay

        Oh, turning up the backrest tension helps a lot! It is not that sticky / backrest doesn’t lag now. I think it’s okay if the upper tension is medium to high. When the tension is too low, the lack of resistance makes the upward movement to be very clunky. Is yours like that too? Is yours still holding up well after years of use?

        Also, what fabric did you get? I got Buzz2 and find that it’s a bit rough to sit bare-skinned. I heard Cogent-connect was softer. The ones in my company are called Omni-R (only available in Asia) and they’re much softer. No roughness/itchiness. 🙁 Why am I so particular like you, bro.

        • Tomasz P. Szynalski

          When I set the backrest tension to minimum on my current chair, the backrest lags, but works perfectly smoothly (no jerky movement, no noise). If I remember correctly, my previous unit (which I had replaced after a lot of trouble) was less smooth.
          However, even my current unit has a clanking noise when I change positions (especially when the position is close to upright). I don’t like it, but I’ve learned to accept it. Maybe if it gets really bad, I’ll try to lubricate the mechanism (not easy, because it’s basically sealed)…
          My fabric is Fame (wool), it’s rougher than Buzz2, but I like natural fabrics. I don’t mind the roughness.

  • Yang

    Hi Tom,

    I have to say that your review is the most comprehensive in detail for the Leap v2 chair.
    I did a lot of reading/watching from the Leap reviewer out there and none give as detail as yours.
    Well done Tom!

    To be honest, I have made a purchase on my Leap v2 with 85% decision is based on your review.
    I agreed that we should try the chair before we buy it. But, in my place, I don’t have such a fortune to able to borrow the chair and test it for few days like yours. I have come to the showroom and just test it for around 30 minutes which I believe it is insufficient to know the “real comfort” of the chair.

    So my purchase is mostly made by the opinion and a very detailed review like yours.

    I have few questions that I hope you can answer.
    What is the most proper location for our head place on top of the headrest?
    Is it should behind our neck or it is behind the tip back of our head?
    And about those uneven backrest on the Leap, is it give an obvious “uneven” feelings when you recline/slightly recline?

    I have purchased Leap with the headrest. Which is not suggested by your review.
    I hope if I don’t like the headrest, I will just remove it. But if the headrest is not that bad, then I don’t regret it anyway.

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      In car headrests, I think they advise having the headrest at the midpoint of your head, i.e. around eye level. But I’m not sure it makes a big difference as long as you don’t plan to crash your chair into a wall at 100 km/h 🙂
      No, the backrest asymmetry is not obvious. I didn’t notice it sitting on the chair for 2 years.

      • Yang

        Hahaha… then I should look for a gaming chair if I had a plan to crash the wall at 100km/h .

        Anyway, it’s relieving to hear the uneven backrest did not give any uncomfortable feeling in the back.

        Because I really missed this check when I was testing the chair in the showroom.

  • Richard

    I just bought a second hand leap v2 made in 2003 in France, it’s super comfortable when reclined but it feels like the seat pan is slightly tilted forward when it’s upright…. Is this normal??
    I’d really appreciate any advice

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      Hmmm… I can’t say mine looks tilted in any significant way. I would have to check it with a level. In any case, a slight forward tilt is considered beneficial by some ergonomists (more open hip angle).

  • Weronika

    Hi, first and foremost – thank you very much for such detailed reviews of these chairs. I’ve read a lot of stuff on the internet and yours seem to be the most informative.

    I’m actually very torn between the Leap and Gesture. I will try to visit WES’ this month if they’re open (thanks, Covid…), but I still don’t know what to think of these chairs. I also won’t be able to test them at home, since I have no elevator at my block of flats – I won’t be able to get help for more than one trip up the stairs.

    I’m 164cm/50kg, female and very slim, I use armrests a lot (and are very very picky about their placement, but not so much about their “stickyness” or softness) and have no idea how my back is curved (but I apparently do have a very very mild scoliosis that was never corrected and tbh I feel no side effects of that just yet). Thermals is a non-issue for me, I feel the best at +25C. I feel like the Gesture has superior armrests, especially since I will probably pull them very closely to me and won’t stand any wobbliness when putting a lot of my weight on them (I do fidget and lean a lot in the chair, can’t help it), but I’m afraid of that unadjustable lumbar support. On the other hand, Leap’s armrests don’t seem as good and while the backrest adjustements seem superior, the lag and creaking worry me a lot. Not only in terms of comfort, but also I’m afraid of the machanism’s failure in the future – I intend to utilise this chair for at least 10 years and then keep to maintain it and replace the parts as needed, I like the “Buy It For Life” philosophy, especially at that price range. I also spend the majority of my life in front of a computer, either programming for work or playing/drawing/reading as a hobby. I basically sit on a chair as soon as I wake up and leave it only when going out, to the kitchen/bathroom or to bed, so I need it to be as perfect as possible. Also, I tend to put one leg on the seat pan a lot and there is no way I’m gonna give that up, lol.

    I’m rambling a bit, but I’m very undecided, since these chairs both have their advantages and disadvantages and neither of them can be fully tested in 2 hours at a showroom. The asymmetry, armrests and backseat lag of the Leap (as well as creaking, it sounds like it’s breaking apart, ngl) worry me a lot, but so does Gesture’s lack of lumbar adjustements.

    If not for these backrest issues, I’d lean towards Leap and suffer the possible armrest issues (IF there are any, I haven’t tested anything yet). But they seem excessively severe for a chair of that price…

    Any advice, please? :S

    • Weronika

      You know what, nevermind. I visited WES’ today and, oh my God, the Leap was SOOO comfy! Gesture had superior armrests, as I predicted, they were more rigid and solid and could be pulled closer together than Leap’s. I wasn’t afraid of putting my bodyweight on them, as opposed to much more flimsy and jiggly arms on Leap. But the backrest on the Leap won my heart, Gesture was very stiff and I had trouble with keeping it in a reclined position – too much tension, I was fighting it to stay reclined (like regular chairs do), too little and it went just smoothly down without that sticky “locking”, almost as if the “sticky” mechanism wasn’t used there. Very weird and very hard to stay at a position without touching the knobs. The Leap, on the other hand, was perfect in that regard, I could stop it on whichever recline I wanted and it stayed there without pushing me nor dropping too low. I don’t know if that was an issue of that particular Gesture I tested or a normal thing for such a stiff and heavy backrest, but I just couldn’t use it at all like this – it was too smooth and too stiff, I felt like I was fighting to stay reclined or just dropping back. I’m very light with little strength so maybe that’s why. But Leap had none of these issues, it was smooth, didn’t lag and I didn’t notice the backrest being crooked (it was a 5yo unit). The Gesture was perfect when locked in the upright position, tho, it was a perfect working chair then. I’d totally buy it for an office. Leap wasn’t as “stiff and correcting my posture” when upright, but it was very comfy and didn’t need the lock to use the recline 😉 . This stiff backrest of the Gesture is what makes me go with the Leap and risk those lag/sound issues. Gesture’s stiffiness when trying to recline makes it unusable to me, I just couldn’t make it stick without touching the knobs like I could on Leap.

      Also, the prices are still very nice, apparently. 50% discount over the +-1400EUR catalogue price (I’m gonna buy the 4D arms, painted aluminium base and additional lumbar support + both caster types, so that mkes the price higher).

      • Marcin

        Does this catalogue price apply to a chair with a headrest?

        • Weronika

          No, I’m going for a chair without a headrest. I’m too small to use them comfortably.

        • Weronika

          Ah, keep in mind those are prices excluding VAT. You still need to add those 23% to what I wrote.

          • Marcin

            My offer is 140EUR bigger, but I have a black base and one set of wheels.
            Is the cost of the headrest almost 200EUR?

            How is this compared to 90GBP (90GBP = ~100EUR)?
            https://www.huntsoffice.co.uk/office-furniture/steelcase-leap-v2-upholstered-office-chair

            In my opinion, these are inflated prices so that the customer would think that he is getting a big discount. That’s why I won’t buy this chair.

            I expressed my opinion on Steelcase in Poland in several entries. If you insist on Steelcase, check the price at Arc Interiors. Although they do not rent chairs for testing, I recommend it because of the prices.

            • Weronika

              Truth be told, I have no idea. I’m still waiting on the final offer, as I haven’t yet decided which fabric I should go for (Atlantic or King). That might change the price, I dunno.

              I am kind of desperate for a good chair that doesn’t recline like a rocking chair (which is the main reason why I didn’t even check the Herman Miller Aeron in person), so I’m kind of stuck with Steelcase and their lovely backrests. I liked what I saw at the showroom. The prices might be inflated, they might not be, I don’t know. I saw prices on the american Steelcase website and was ready to pay up to 5000PLN in Poland, since EU usually gets higher prices for luxury items (let’s be honest, a chair this expensive is a luxury, especially in this country). So I am content with the offers I got, I’m not gonna lie.

              I’ve seen your opinions, I’ve read all the comments under this review. The way you were treated at Arc Interiors wasn’t very nice. I had a very nice time at WES.
              As for the prices, I live in Wrocław, so I prefer to get a chair close to my flat. They deliver for free inside the city borders and take it right to your door (3rd floor without an elevator, so it’s important to me, heh). I’ve seen some other Polish review of these chairs where Arc Interior was the seller and I didn’t like their delivery process at all.

      • Tomasz P. Szynalski

        Weronika, thank you for the report on your decision-making process, I enjoyed reading it!
        Some random thoughts:
        I wouldn’t say the armrests on the Leap are flimsy. I can rest my entire weight on one of them with no issues. They’re not completely rigid, but I’m not sure I want them to be rigid.
        Consider also the polished aluminum base. It’s actually much more affordable on the Leap than it is on other Steelcase chairs (don’t ask me why). Paint can chip, and then it looks bad. Sure, polished aluminum scratches easily (mine hasn’t scratched very much, depends on usage), but the scratches can always be fixed if you re-polish it. It also looks better and is more visible in the dark (not kidding – have you ever stubbed your toe on a chair at night? ouch).
        I’m curious why you need two sets of casters. Are you going to switch between them?

        • Weronika

          So you’re saying that I shouldn’t worry about them wiggling when I put my weight on them? Because I’m still worried I might break them. They were very soft, which was really nice, but I was still worried. Maybe because I compared them to Gesture’s, which were really firm and stiff.

          Ah, I actually did consider the polished look, but I’m not a fan of it, tbh. I also never had any problems with chipped paint on my chairs so I didn’t even think it might happen. Truth be told, I’d much rather repaint some spots myself than have the polished aluminium on a completly black chair.
          And dw about the dark, I’m a lover of RGB everything, so my room looks like a psytrance club at night, hahah! WS2812B LEDs, ESP8266/Arduino and some soldering is my favourite way of decorating stuff.

          As for the casters, I need two sets because I’m forced to use one for the next 2 years or so and then switch it up. I’m currently renting a room with a really weird carpet-like floor covering. If not for Covid, I’d now be in the middle of looking for a flat to buy, with hard floors. Hence my choice of two sets, I’m stuck at the current place for longer than I thought.
          Also I just prefer to be prepared for the next 10 years, I don’t know how my room is gonna look like in the future, heh.

          By the way, what do you think of that Gesture stiffness? Did you notice how hard it was to “stick” the backrest with the movement alone? I’m wondering whether it’s a normal thing for this chair or maybe the unit I tested was just weird. Although I don’t think I’d like to risk the new one having the same stiffness as that demo unit…

          I’m thinking about it too much… I’m probably gonna regret chosing Leap for the next few weeks. That choice was hard, I really wanted to like Gesture, but that backrest movement… Ugh. I’m gonna need to keep convincing myself I picked the right model until it arrives. Sitting on the new chair at home will probably fix all my worries, though. I don’t like making close decisions at that price range, lol.

          • Yang

            Hi Weronika,

            I think you would not regret after purchasing a Leap (except there is a defect which we all don’t wish for).

            I just get my Leap. I must say the back rest and it’s stickiness are amazing.

            I was come from 3 years old Flintan Ikea chair and straight away can feel the difference after I am using the Leap since day 1.

            Last time, just sitting 2-3 hours on my old chair already kills my back. Now, I can sit > 5 hours in total without feels any hurt on my back after sitting for that long hours.

            About the arm rest, I can assure you, it is built very sturdy. The armrest base is made from metal. The only worry that we should think of is the pivot and side movement will be loosen over time.

            The key is as long as you can find a perfect adjustment to your body, you will love this Leap chair.

            And one more thing, please choose the upholstery carefully. You need to think about the material of the upholstery. Whether it can cause skin alergic, or excessive heat to your body.

            If you are not living on tropical country like myself or living in a fully Aircon environment, perhaps upholstery heat does not bother you.
            Because like mine, I choose Connect Cogent, which made of 100% Polyester and its causing me sweat a lot in the back which could cause an uncomfortable feeling.

            Anyway, good luck with your purchase.

            Side notes:
            When I received my leap chair with headrest, I did not found any uneven backrest, and so far (thankfully) no lagging backrest.
            But who knows later on. So far I did not set my leap chair to fully recline mode (only set to 2 out of 5 clicks).

            • Weronika

              Hi, thanks for your detailed report!

              Personally, I’m currently sitting on a 60EUR Ikea chair that’s really starting to hurt my back after 2 years of usage. Sitting on the Leap in a showroom was really like taking off your heavy boots after a full day of walking, amazing comfort. And I really felt like this is going to be the first chair where I can recline at all – I usually set everything to maximum tension and lock in the upright position, because I hate the smooth rocking motion so much. I need it to lock when I want, but I don’t want to fiddle with the knobs all the time I decide to change my position. But Leap’s stickiness is incredible, I loved it. It just… listened to all my movements. That was insane.

              Thanks for the armrest assurance. I will probably set it to be as close to me as possible and hardly ever move it around, so I hope that will keep the mechanism tight for longer.

              Ah, I’m actually never bothered by the heat and I always wear long sweatpants at home. I never sit with bare legs, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m mostly concerned with the fabric’s resistance to tearing and such. I’ve picked two more sturdy-looking fabrics (Atlantic and King) and will decide between them. I hope it will keep the chair intact for longer.

              I’ve read in other comments that the higher the tension setting, the less lag there is (if there is any, that is). I hope this will be enough to prevent the issue from bothering us in the future, if the lag develops (I hope not…).

          • Tomasz P. Szynalski

            You’re thinking about this wrong. Think about how nicely the glow of those WS2812Bs would bounce off the polished aluminum base. Pure visual delight 🙂
            I don’t worry about the armrests at all. The structure is made of steel and the most likely issue is damage to the soft caps (e.g. if they come under your desk while you’re seated, and then you get up, your chair will rise a bit, which could result in the armrests getting jammed under the desk and perhaps scraped off — happened to me a few times, but the caps were undamaged).
            To answer your question about the Gesture chair: no, I don’t remember having difficulty positioning the backrest at any angle I wanted. Logically speaking, there should be a tension setting at which the spring exactly counteracts your weight, shouldn’t there? But yes, the Leap has more static friction due to the (over)complicated seatpan-backrest coupling. I don’t consider it an advantage.
            I don’t think you’ll regret your purchase; psychology teaches us that people become happier with their decisions once they are final. Your brain will come up with lots of reasons why it was the best decision – why, the ONLY rational decision, really. You just need to take the plunge. It’s only the most important seating decision of your life!

            • Weronika

              Heh, thanks for the encouragement.

              Maybe my issue with the Gesture was simply that I am too weak and lightweight to move the backrest in the same way that I can move Leap’s. The tension setting didn’t really help me, as it was either making the chair try to push me upright (I actually had to use a lot of force to stay in reclined position) or make the backrest fall to the lowest recline position by just resting my back on it. I couldn’t find that one perfect setting to allow me to use the chair at all, lol. I really felt like the Leap had those “points”, like a tactile bump on mechanical keyboard switches, where overcoming it gives you this small space between this point and the next one where you can move slightly. Overcoming either of those points would move you to the next space but since you already have the momentum and put some initial strength into it, you can smoothly move through the next points and simply stop when you reach your desired recline position and bam, the points require enough force to overcome that you can again rest in that space in between them without worrying about falling either way.
              Or something like that.
              That’s how Leap felt to me. Gesture, on the other hand, was unbelievably smooth, to the point where I couldn’t feel those points, or maybe it felt like every position was a “point” where I had to actively try to stay in it without overcoming it nor letting it overcome my weight/strength. It was either falling back or fighting me to sit upright, I couldn’t stop it at a certain point and just rest my back on it without the backrest moving in either side (depending on tension setting). Maybe it’s just too stiff of a mechanism for me, I dunno. It actually felt just like those normal rocking-chair-like mechanisms, where I can either fall all the way back or stay completely upright, I just couldn’t make it stop at a certain position (like I could on Leap) – stopping it would just mean that I was the one supporting the backrest in its position, not the other way around.
              So Leap’s static friction is actually a big advantage to me, to the point of being the first chair I will actually recline on. Best feeling I had in a while, it really felt spot-on and like it was made just for my back, lol.

              Gosh, I hope so, because I tend to be overly happy right before and right after paying for the product and tend to overthink every small detail once I get the product in my hands. Actually takes me a few days to stop being bothered by any imperfection I find and I tend to find a lot of them everywhere (hence why I tend to find the most bugs in the code at work, lol).
              I actually worry how picking a new bed is gonna look like, heh!

  • Marcin

    Tomasz, the third attempt to buy a Leap chair (this time with WES) also failed :).

    You did a good job for Steelcase – you convinced me (and many others) that it’s worth spending so much money on a Leap chair.
    Unfortunately, Polish Steelcase sellers effectively discouraged me from this brand.
    I wrote about Arc Interiors earlier.
    From WES I got an offer in which transport was for 57 euros net (maybe air?). I counted that if the same amount would be counted for transporting the test chair, then the chair test would cost me 114 euros. After my indignation, they said that it was a mistake, that this amount includes two-way transportation but I don’t believe it – it was on offer for a new chair that is transported one way.
    You wrote that in Western Europe prices are higher. Maybe it used to be this way.
    Here:
    https://www.huntsoffice.co.uk/office-furniture/steelcase-leap-v2-upholstered-office-chair
    the starting price of the same configuration is 60% of the “catalog” price from my offer. My feelings are that the “catalog” price is high, so that the discount was large.

    Steelcase in Poland is not friendly to individual customers.
    If ever it will be the only chair manufacturer, I will be sitting on the floor 🙂

    I wanted to buy this chair so much that I didn’t think about the fact that two chairs in Arc Interiors have problems with the mechanism, that you had problems with the complaint of the chair (in WES I was told that no customer had ever had problems with the complaint ;)) that the headrest is not adjustable. But the sellers managed to discourage me anyway 🙂

    In Poland, I recommend K&R Design Warsaw (Herman Miller). Customer service is several levels above.

    Thanks again for your chairs reviews – good job 🙂

    • Tomasz P. Szynalski

      For my chair specification, the store you linked to would charge about €880 (ex VAT). That’s significantly more than what I paid (closer to €650). Perhaps you missed the fact that the basic config does not include the 4-D armrests.
      I absolutely agree: Steelcase is not targeted at individual customers. Their main source of income is corporate offices. They should open a retail store in Europe, like the one they’ve got in the US.
      Sorry to hear about the shipping cost. Shipping a heavy chair tends to be expensive in general, and as far I as I remember, WES do their own delivery (two guys in a van), which could explain the high price. Remember they usually deliver whole sets of furniture to companies. Steelcase chairs ship fully assembled. It’s a big, heavy box. Not like Ikea.
      Just in case you decide to give WES another chance one day, you should know there’s one more annoyance: their prices are quoted in EUR, but you normally pay in PLN, converted using their bank’s exchange rate (effectively adds 3.5% to the price).

      • Marcin

        I did not miss the fact that the basic configuration does not include 4D armrests.

        I mean the identical configuration (headrest + 4D armrests + lumbar support):
        in this store the catalog price is 814GBP (~895EUR) and in my offer the catalog price is over 1500EUR.
        I, like you, also got a discount and the final price is lower than 895EUR, but remember that discounts are also available in this store:
        “Need a trade price? Discount? Call 01494 474621 to access trade prices. ”

        Also remember how big the differences between the starting prices are.

        Indeed, the offer includes information that the exchange rate is calculated according to their bank, but I did not know that it was such a difference from the NBP. It only confirms my belief.

        If you see my email, send me a message – I will explain to you what are the differences in the offers from WES and Arc Interiors and why I am so critical about prices in Poland.

        As for shipping…
        57EUR (ex VAT) = ~300PLN (incl. VAT). In K&R Design shipping of the first chair is free. Next shipments are 50 or 100PLN (I don’t remember) one way.
        The cost of the pallet on which only the chair is transported is ~150PLN .

        • Weronika

          By the way, I want to correct myself – I’ve overlooked the price of the casters when writing one of my comments, my bad. The overall catalogue price is closer to 1460EUR.

      • Weronika

        Ah, about those EUR prices. I was actually asked if I prefer to pay in EUR or PLN using their bank’s exchange rate.

    • Yang

      I also wonder why the Steelcase seems like “ignoring” the individual customer.
      Because on my place, I also not purchase the Leap from direct Steelcase. Instead, we are directed to go to their Authorized Dealers for personal purchase.

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