Almost a year and a half ago, at a local endurance sport swap meet, a friend of mine gave me a Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow Carbon Saddle. He was trying to get rid of some of his extensive inventory, something his significant other was pushing for, and he wasn’t going to go back to using the saddle on any of his bikes. Back then they were going for $410 – $460 online (you can find them as low as $320 today, though the MSRP is $436). My saddle at the time was a little on the heavy side, a Specialized Romin weighing in at 274 grams (0.60 of a pound) with a cost of around $100. The Selle Italia weighed in at a nice 110 grams, a savings of a third of a pound at no cost. In the history of cycling, dropping a third of a pound on a bike free is rare and fabulous.
I first put the saddle on my Trek 5200 last summer, and I must have hit the location just right because the saddle felt like butter on that bike. Some time later, I found a Bontrager Montrose Carbon team saddle on Bontrager’s website for the astonishing price of just $120. I jumped on it and the Montrose went on my Trek. I wanted the SLR for the Venge so I could drop some weight on my good bike. I fitted it up and rode it for all of two or three weeks before switching back to the heavier Romin. On my Specialized, the saddle just didn’t live up to the experience I had with it on the Trek. I attributed this to the Venge’s stiffer frame. The $400 saddle went into a box in my bike shed.
A few weeks ago, whilst on COVIDcation and bored out of my mind, I decided to dig that Selle out of the box and give it another try. Why not? I thought.
I learned something dialing in the Bontrager Montrose in for the Trek. First, I set the saddle where it should be (36-3/8″ +or- OR 92.4 cm). Then I dialed in the level of the saddle, first with a level at -2°, then by feel, so the nose supported my position in the drops and on the hoods, but didn’t dig into me. At the same time, the down angle wasn’t pushing me to the front of the saddle. It’s a delicate process. Once that was done, I went and raised the saddle by a millimeter to get the max height. I learned that if I was a little too high on the saddle, it would cause a lot of pain. So I went down that millimeter… and then another half for good measure after a week of riding, and that’s where I found heaven. It was perfect.
I simply applied that same setup technique to the Selle Italia on the Venge. However, and this is actually quite interesting, for the saddle on the Venge, I mistakenly started out too low by something like two millimeters… and that caused quite a bit of pain from the saddle digging into the side of my hip, just forward of the sit bone. I didn’t expect that… After one ride, I checked the height with my handy, dandy tape measure and ended up raising it to exactly 36-3/8″. My next ride on the saddle and I could tell a big difference – especially towards the end of the ride. Now, I don’t know how to put this delicately, but I’m going to give it my best. My nether regions have never felt so good after a ride. The inside of my hip was still healing up, but everything, erm, else… was fantastic.
The ride after that, a 100 k (may as well go big or go home), after the initial pain areas had time to heal up, the Selle Italia SLR actually felt like a $400+ saddle. I’ve got close to a half-dozen rides on the saddle, and I enjoy it thoroughly.
In other words, the reason I didn’t like the saddle on my Venge the first go ’round was because I didn’t quite have the setup right. The problem was installer error, but that’s an over-simplification. It appears to me now, that the teeny, tiny saddle has to be very carefully dialed in. There isn’t much room for error or you feel it in the heinie. This hypothesis would make my experience make sense, at least.
Oh, and this is a road saddle. I wouldn’t use that on gravel or single-track. No chance.
Incidentally, I’ve got a little more than a 4-1/4″ drop from the saddle to the handlebar and I’ve got the nose down at 1°.
UPDATE: Did 104 miles on it yesterday… I was feeling a little rough after, but it was my longest ride if the year… by 41 miles. It was actually awesome.