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The Kinesis Elite saddle is an all-out speed machine, designed for racing and riding fast in harsh conditions. The minimal cushioning won't be to everyone's taste, but if it fits, you'll go faster.
Saddles have to be the most personal of cycle contact points, and not simply because of their region of anatomical interface. The variability in pelvic measurement even across people of similar stature / build, their relative flexibility and ability to rotate the hip and lower back, means that a saddle that is perfect for one may be penury for another. Many brands and bike fitters now offer try-before-you-buy programs for this most tricky of cycling components to get right.
My 10,000-mile tried and trusted saddle is a 140mm-wide Charge Spoon. The Kinesis Elite is the same width, so the fit was bang on for me. But the Elite is a very different beastie to the audax-friendly all-day Charge classic. The Spoon is at its best stopping off for cake and a chat in the sun, whilst the Elite blazes past in a tuck, looking for some rain or mud to rejoice in.
Kinesis have done a pretty good job of trimming the fat here. At 252g the chromoly-railed Elite is only a smidge off the weight of recent titanium-railed offerings hat cost twice as much. But I can't find a compromise – the construction feels top-notch. The seamless lines and lack of stitching on show make for a super-aero look. Side-on it's borderline Concord-like. There's not a straight line in the thing (apart from the rails) and the finish is exemplary. The shiny surface cleans up with a wipe. For a saddle recommended for offroad riding and racing, easily cleaning off mud before it permanently stains your shorts is a plus.
The obvious visible reference point is the full cutout, helping keep the weight down. I found it to be ideally-suited for my posture and posterior, spending extended periods in the drops without a regular need to stand or move around to find relief. The shiny finish afforded a good balance between friction to stay put while putting down power seated, and ability to fine-tune position with minor weight shifts.
The lack of padding is definitely noticeable at the start of a ride, as is a firm car seat, or pretty much anything else not resembling a couch. It's only after a period of time on a soft saddle or seat that you begin to notice numbness as excess padding rises around your sit bones, compressing the neighbouring flesh and cutting off blood flow. There's no chance of that happening here. Initially I'd find the Elite to be 'hard', but after maybe twenty minutes of pushing on I had to remind myself to think about it.
If like me you are suited to a 140mm saddle, are able to flex forward and appreciate staying aero for extended periods, and need a saddle that cleans up easily whilst looking fast standing still, at £40 the Kinesis Elite is a good option to consider.
Very firm, fast saddle for racing or riding hard, on or off-road.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kinesis Elite Saddle
Size tested: n/a
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?
It's for people wanting to go fast, on or off-road.
The perfect and most versatile saddle for the Kinesis UK range.
Team it up with our road, cyclocross or mtb frames.
The Elite saddle excels on high intensity road rides and is 100% waterproof providing the best convenience for cleaning and maintenance after use, great for cyclocross.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* FILL: Light Foam - Minimal cushioning and a slimline profile.
* BASE: Nylon Fibre Injection - This saddle has a sleek finish without a visible seam between the cover and the base (no stitching).
* COMFORT: Zone Cut - The opening in the base of the saddle relieves pressure on the pubic rami bones for increased performance.
* RAIL: CR-MO - Lightweight Chromoly.
SIZE: (L) 280mm x 140mm (W)
Can't fault it.
It's fast, with no compromise on speed.
The hard, shiny water- and dirt-repellent finish cleans up easily and looks like it will last.
For the money, 252g is a great weight.
It won't be for everyone, that's for sure. But it worked for me. Maybe I'd like a bit more give. Maybe.
For £40 it's a great buy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was happy to get out on it for a few hours. I'm not so sure it would work for an all-day outing, for me.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The styling - it just looks fast.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
If anything I'd prefer it a smidge softer around the edges. But without riding such a variant I can't say it would be 'better'.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The hardness and shape won't be for everyone, but if it fits, it's a great option for shorter, fast efforts. I'm not 100% sure it would be my go-to all-day saddle though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.