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Verdict: 
A saddle for the climbing weight weenies, and they will certainly be impressed by it
Weight: 
112g
Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Saddle
8 10

The Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Saddle is an incredibly light and very stiff design that allows for a really strong transfer of power. I wouldn't expect to see anybody using it during Roubaix this year, though.

The Mantra Superleggera is one of the most expensive saddles that has graced my bike over the years. It is also by far the lightest, but these two things alone don't necessarily make a great saddle – so how does the rest match up?

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Weight is the biggest selling point of this saddle, and Selle San Marco has really pulled out all the stops in cutting down excess, with my review model coming in at 112.1g. To put that into perspective, if you have an iPhone sat in your jersey pocket it weighs more than this saddle. It also doesn't have a weight limit, which is rare for a saddle that's coming in this close to the magical 100g mark.

This low weight comes from a number of factors, the first being the use of the moulded 40T high modulus carbon shell. This not only keeps the grams to a minimum but also keeps it incredibly stiff. When I have seen saddles this thin in the past, they have always had a certain amount of flex, making them slightly more comfortable but also reducing power transfer. This isn't the case here, on both counts. On some saddles you can detect a bit of a difference in power transfer, especially when climbing while seated, but on the Mantra Superleggera you can really feel the difference on the climbs.

San Marco Mantra Superleggera Saddle - underside.jpg

San Marco Mantra Superleggera Saddle - underside.jpg

It is always worth noting that, when talking about comfort, saddles are a very personal matter and different designs will suit different people. My views here are in relation to my observations, but they may be totally different for you.

I have to say, this saddle is not the most comfortable I have used. On perfectly smooth roads it wasn't an issue at all, but its lack of flex meant on rougher roads I found the bumps were that much more forceful, and after a few hours out on the north Kent roads I was feeling more delicate than I normally would.

> Buyer's Guide: The best saddle for you – how to find the right one for your bottom

It's partly down to the stiff carbon construction and partly the Pebax foam used. Selle San Marco has deliberately used a very lightweight foam given that this is a saddle with weight at the very top of the agenda. According to Selle San Marco it adds only 9.5g of weight, but means that, going back to the iPhone analogy, the entire construction of the saddle is thinner than an iPhone 6. Naturally, less padding means less shock absorption, so that it doesn't deal too well with bumps should not come as a surprise.

In terms of looks, the saddle is – to my mind – genuinely beautiful, with a low profile, tastefully low-key branding, and a natural looking curve towards the rear. It is helped by the Microfeel covering which is also pretty hardwearing – there were a couple of times when I leant it against a wall and there was no scuffing or scratches, always a good sign. It also has very long rails, which helps with adjustment and gives it a low-slung look.

As regards price, yes it is very expensive, but it is very much a saddle for the weight weenies of the world, those who are willing to break the £1/gram rule. If you can afford it and low weight is your objective, then you could argue that it's reasonable.

It's an impressive saddle, as much for its mechanics as its performance. Selle San Marco has really pulled out all the stops to design a saddle for climbers, and has achieved that with this combination of incredibly low weight and superb power transfer. I prefer a little more padding under my sit bones, but if you are looking for a super-lightweight climbing saddle and don't mind dropping nearly £300 on it, you will find few better.

Verdict

A saddle for the climbing weight weenies, and they will certainly be impressed by it

road.cc test report

Make and model: Selle San Marco Mantra Superleggera Open Saddle

Size tested: 278 x 136 mm

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

A super lightweight climbers' saddle.

Selle San Marco says: 'The light and comfortable saddle. 117 gr or less guaranteed, thanks to the use of new materials such as the PEBAX® a new generation of featherweight foam and the 40T high modul carbon shell.'

I would agree with some of that, the featherlight part certainly, although for me personally it was not the most comfortable saddle I've used.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Rail: Dna-carbon - Ø 9,8x7mm

Shell: Carbon Fiber

Padding: Pebax

Cover: Microfeel

Weight : 117 g

Level : Superlight

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

You will find few better made carbon saddles that have no noticeable flex.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Excellent power transfer.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Cover seems hardwearing and likely to last.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

When a saddle weighs less than the phone in your pocket, you have to be impressed.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
6/10

NOTE THAT SADDLE COMFORT IS ALWAYS SUBJECTIVE: I found it a bit unforgiving on rougher roads, but fine on smooth surfaces for longer periods.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

This is expensive, there is no getting around it.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, light weight, excellent power transfer and also looks great.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The weight combined with stiffness is really impressive.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The lack of give means those bumps can be pretty unforgiving.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes – if I was doing a lot of climbing.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes – if they were doing a lot of climbing.

Use this box to explain your score

This is more likely to be a saddle of choice in the Alps than Paris-Roubaix and should be judged as such. It may not be the most comfortable for me, but as with every saddle that is very much a subjective call. In terms of stiffness and weight it really is impressive and Selle San Marco should be commended for it.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.  

8 comments

Avatar
WolfieSmith [1380 posts] 5 months ago
3 likes

£300 for a saddle! And one that the reviewer says isn't very comfortable.

I can send you the new  San Marco Emperor Saddle to review if you like?  It may look like an empty box when your receive it - but  it's actually so light it's invisible......yes

Avatar
Sniffer [385 posts] 5 months ago
6 likes
WolfieSmith wrote:

£300 for a saddle! And one that the reviewer says isn't very comfortable.

I can send you the new  San Marco Emperor Saddle to review if you like?  It may look like an empty box when your receive it - but  it's actually so light it's invisible......yes

Did you buy it from here?

http://road.cc/content/forum/176025-anyone-ordered-raceview-cycles-co-an...

allegedly they do a nice line in empty boxes.

Avatar
DoctorFish [54 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Does it come with a free bike?

Avatar
barbarus [446 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
WolfieSmith wrote:

£300 for a saddle! And one that the reviewer says isn't very comfortable.

I can send you the new  San Marco Emperor Saddle to review if you like?  It may look like an empty box when your receive it - but  it's actually so light it's invisible......yes

Perhaps it was tested using "emperor" bib shorts. I've heard the pad on those is so thin it's practically non existent

Avatar
George Hill [24 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

Hi guys, as I mentioned in the review, saddle comfort is probably the most subjective element of any bike component. Others are likely to find it more comfortable than I did, so I wouldn't ever refer to it as a straight up 'uncomfortable' saddle. 

Avatar
mouthonastick [3 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Shame on you. £300 for a saddle that you don't even rate as comfortable and you gave it 4 stars.. get real!!

 

Avatar
beezus fufoon [670 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

not all arses are made equal!

Avatar
George Hill [24 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

beezus fufoon wrote:

not all arses are made equal!

Bingo - how many people are going to be comfortable on Tony Martin's sand paper saddles? But he clearly finds them comfortable enough to use regularly. 

http://jacquespistard.tumblr.com/post/129786211297/tony-martin-and-the-t...

​Advice with every saddle I've ever tested is to try before you buy or buy from somewhere you know will offer a full refund.