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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.


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).


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.


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.)


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.

48 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 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:

        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:


        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


      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?

  • Tim

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


    • 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,

        • 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 –

            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.


        • 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.

  • 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?

    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..

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