TESTED: San Marco SKN - Road Cycling UK

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TESTED: San Marco SKN

SKN

The SKN – In patriotic splendor

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a luddite. But regardless of my (occaisional) retro-look bikes there is nothing more personal than saddle choice. For many years I’ve been a Turbomatic user. I’m getting help for it. Before that I had a brief flirtation with a Flite (mountain bike influences) but got fed up with them collapsing and turning into a hammock after 2000kms. Then there’s been the odd try out with several test saddles and test bike perches. I’ve hated most of them so I’ve stuck with the Turbomatic.

Well, horror of all horrors. Selle Italia have ceased production of the classic saddle. OK, so it’s too heavy for most but it’s still a very popular saddle in the pro peloton and although I have a stash of new ones bought over the years to last another decade, it’s RIP Turbomatic. Time for me to find a new saddle then.

Flashback

When I started cycling Joop Zoetemelk and Bernard Hinault duked it out for the Tour and the classics were won by a bunch of Dutch and Belgian fellas with suitably unpronounceable names and huge thighs. In these days there were, basically, half a dozen choices of saddle. The Selle San Marco Rolls and the Selle Italia Turbo were first on the list although if you were really ‘Euro’ then a Selle San Marco Concor might make it onto a really modern looking race bike. Cinelli also made a lighter saddle but on the whole they all weighed a ton, but lasted several seasons and you rarely needed to worry about saddle sores.

The biggest dilema in the mid to late eighties was what colour to choose. White was all but useless in UK weather, but looked great with fresh white Benotto bar tape and white lever hoods. Sorry, I’m beginning to bore myself now…

rail shot

Ti rails, a cro-mo option too

Fast forward to the 21st Century

So, with my rose-tinted Oakley Factory Pilots on, I haven’t paid much attention to the latest and greatest in saddle design. Mine was fine. So when looking around a bit, after the awful news from Selle Italia, I realised there are literally hundreds now to choose from.

Specialized Toupe’s (see test link at bottom of article) seem to be all the rage at the moment. I do like the fit and the various width fittings is a great idea, I tried one, it was OK, but I didn’t find it as comfortable the sofa-like and familiar Turbomatic. However Dave, who tested it, swears by it.

Price and value of the SKN is way off the scale compared to the Specialized Toupe (the SKN is half the price) and the look of the SKN is subtle and stylish (of the black one at any rate). I don’t like the contours and finish of the Toupe much either, I think, looks a bit cheap.

Black SKN

Black, if flags aren’t your thing

Selle San Marco’s range is immense and they introduced this ‘buy and try’ idea, so you can try a saddle and return it and try another one if it doesn’t suit. I’m not sure if they are still doing this but it’s a great idea. Anyway, it got me thinking – perhaps there is another saddle that suits my ageing arse? So I got a few in to try and of all the wonderful ones (they are soooo light these days!) that landed on the RCUK desk this is the one I liked the best.

The split shell allows independent flex of the rear halves of the saddle, moving naturally with your pedalling motion, this also adds a little suspension to ride – it’s not just hype either as this does actually work. The titanium rails are light and absorb vibrations well. I’ve racked up a lot of miles this year and ridden some long races and rides, the SKN hasn’t created any trouble sitting, so it’s a great find for my behind.

Verdict

The design of this saddle is good but the quality of the cover isn’t great, so it will certainly age badly and although it’s avoided crash damage this year, there are a few scuffs around the edges and it’s looking tired already. So perhaps they need to make a SKN with a better quality top covering? Until then my Turbomatic collection is gathering dust for when this one wears out. It’s cheap but doesn’t look it. Now I’ve found it, they’ll probably discontinue it and I’ll have to find another… ho hum.


good Comfortable, light and stylish – good value too

bad Cover could be upgraded to ‘pro level’

value 9
overall 9


Additional Information

  • Limited edition Union Jack design for the more Patriotic rider
  • Also in black and a cheaper cro-mo rail version
  • Weight: 200 grams (Ti rails)
  • Prices: Cro-mo – £19.99, Ti – £29.99 and Ltd edition UK flag Ti – £39.95
  • From: Ultimate Pursuits


    split shell for comfort

    Looks good ‘on’

    Neatly finished underneath
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