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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?
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.
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.
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.
A saddle for the climbing weight weenies, and they will certainly be impressed by it
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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
Weight : 117 g
Level : Superlight
You will find few better made carbon saddles that have no noticeable flex.
Excellent power transfer.
Cover seems hardwearing and likely to last.
When a saddle weighs less than the phone in your pocket, you have to be impressed.
NOTE THAT SADDLE COMFORT IS ALWAYS SUBJECTIVE: I found it a bit unforgiving on rougher roads, but fine on smooth surfaces for longer periods.
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.
About the tester
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 helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
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.