Selle Italia Flite saddle £91.99
Saddle choice is such a tricky subject that it’s best approached with caution. Where do you start is the problem. There’s just so much choice. For many, they look to one of the most popular and time honoured choices, the iconic Flite.
This design classic has stood the test of time for the past decade – it’s been on the bikes of many top pros and thousands of everyday riders around the world and for many, there is no other choice. It’s such a winning formula in fact that Selle Italia has hardly fiddled with the basics. Oh, there have been multiple derivatives of the original; lighter materials, cut-outs, different colours, but it has essentially remained unchanged.
Recently however, Selle Italia clearly decided it was high time they gave the Flite a fresh new look. The changes were dramatic. The response more so. Now, though, such is the new Flite’s success, that the original is being eased out of production.
Happily, the redesigned Flite remains in essence the same as its forefather. Fortunately they didn’t mess around with the actual part your bum sits on, just the bits around the side to give it a breath of fresh air and a new look. That’s a good thing, because to change the shape of the saddle too much would have risked alienating Flite fans.
The revised shape is certainly bold, bolder than the plain old Flite which, visually anyway, was being left behind by the newest crop of saddles. Strange cut-outs in the dropped nose, revealing a recessed red Flite logo, dramatically curved rear side panels and an interesting, if decidedly pointless, hole at the rear have appeared on the new design. Opinions are divided, but time has been generous to the new design and most now find it pleasing to the eye.
The Genuine Gel tested here features a breathable leather upper over a layer of ‘self-modeling’ padding, applied to a 10% carbon composite base. The upper is neatly glued and stapled to the base. Rails are Ti 316 titanium, and the weight is a not unrespectable 240g. It’s certainly not at the light end of the spectrum, but neither is it in the portly camp, either.
The gel padding is firm but Selle Italia has alternated the thickness in different places. There’s noticeably more around the area the sit bones gravitate towards, and the slightly recessed central channel noticeably relieves pressure around that area of one’s undercarriage. The most appealing aspect of the saddle is the wide upswept rear and slight dip in the middle that makes shifting your butt into the most comfortable position easy.
We thought the stitching around the perforated gel sections of the saddle and the carbon tinsel on the back would cause wearing to lyrca shorts, and even scruff up after prolonged use, but neither has happened. The metal trimmed front holes on the dropped nose also caused no concern on the inner thighs.
My first experience with a Flite saddle, back in the late 90s during my formative years of mountain biking, didn’t go well. I found it too firm. Just too hard. But in the years that have passed it seems my rear has firmed up, and along with the intelligent gel padding the new Flite has been an incredibly comfortable companion on long training rides.
The Flite is available in several guises, with the range starting at £74.99 and rising to £129.99 for the Flite Kit Carbonio, with carbon fibre rails and light at 140g.