Selle Italia Monolink - narrower is faster?
The Italian saddle maestros certainly think so, hence their new beam system
We went up to visit Selle Italia last week (in Leighton Buzzard, not Italy, sadly) and they were busy showing off their Monolink saddle and seatpost system. It replaces the twin rails of a conventional saddle with a single beam; not the first time it's been done but the system has some interesting features, so let's take a look.
What are the benefits of such a system? Well, the benefit that Selle Italia are pushing hard is the fact that it allows a different saddle design to a two-railed setup. A twin-rail saddle has to be wide enough to cover the rails along the nose but, say Selle Italia, there's no real need for the nose to be that wide; it helps you control the bike but it shoudn't be bearing any of your weight.
The beam system allows a much narrower profile along the nose, with a sharper transition from wide to narrow. This means that there's less friction between a rider's legs and the nose of the saddle. So all that work you're putting into heating the nose of your perch by rubbing it with your legs goes into the tarmac instead. Obviously this is a tiny gain, but Selle Italia reckon you can increase your power output by up to 2.6%. They even have a graph to back that up. We're yet to be convinced that we'll be cracking along at 39km/h instead of 38 just because we swapped to a narrower seat, but we're willing to give it a try...
The system itself is very neat. The Monolink rail is a twin beam that locates onto a circular fitting within the seatpost. Once you've got your fore-aft position dialled in (Selle Italia tell us that the Monolink saddle design works best if you push your saddle forward a bit from it's usual spot) you can set the angle of the seat, then you tighten a wedge expander at the bottom of the circular section to hold everything in place. It's very neat, and you can also swap the Monolink fitting for a twin rail one if you use different saddle for different types of riding, or you fancy trying another perch.
Currently this is top-end kit; the saddles available are the 130g SLR Team Edition and a flow version of the same, with a hole in it. Similarly, the seatpost is Carbon and available in 27.2 and 31.6mm, in 300mm or 350mm lenghts. But Selle Italia are keen for the technology to trickle down, and as such they've licensed the seatpost design so that any manufacturer can make one, and there's third part alloy 'posts in the pipeline from some well-known component makers. You'll also start to the see the monolink system as original equipment on bikes this year. We'll get one on test as soon as we can to see what all the fuss is about...