The Astute Star Lite is a superbly made saddle that offers a high level of comfort, especially when you're in a low and aggressive riding position.
- Pros: Excellent level of comfort, beautiful build quality
- Cons: You have to pay for that high quality
The build quality here is exceptional. Even when viewed from underneath (granted, you're unlikely to do that often!) the Star Lite looks superb with no ragged edges, staples or stray adhesive to spoil the appearance.
The carbon fibre-reinforced nylon shell has a cutaway centre to reduce pressure on the perineum – as you'll find on many other saddles – and on top of that you get tri-density memory foam padding.
The padding towards the back of the saddle is quite firm to support your sit bones, and more squashy at the front to cosset your soft tissue. It immediately moulds to your body shape to provide a load of comfort without any areas of high pressure. The cover is made from Italian microfibre that's easily wiped clean after a wet ride.
Underneath the shell, in the areas where the carbon fibre rails attach and also across the cutaway centre, is what Astute calls a bottom shell which incorporates Cover Design System technology, a rubber structure that's intended to damp vibration. How much of a role the Cover Design System plays is hard to say, but the Star Lite saddle certainly provides loads of comfort over rough roads. It's by no means deeply padded, but it does protect you well from bumps and judders. I've rarely felt the need to readjust my position on the saddle to stay comfortable, or to stand up on the pedals from time to time just to let the blood flow; I've been perfectly happy to remain seated for long periods and focus on getting the power in.
The Star Lite saddle is 270mm long and 135mm across at its widest point – nothing too unusual there. It's a round shape from side to side with quite a wave along its length – the rear is raised slightly and the nose is dipped. As we all know, saddle preference is a personal thing but the fact that the nose drops will appeal to some people because it's a little further out of the way than usual when you rock forward into a low, aero riding position. If you want a saddle with a flatter profile, Astute offers its Sky series.
Our Star Lite saddle hit the scales at 220g (compared to a claimed weight of 200g +/-8%) which is about the same as the Astute Skylite Pilarga SR saddle that Stu reviewed three years ago. That makes it light but not mega-light; the dual-shell construction and triple-layer memory foam add grams. We're not talking about much, though, and you might argue that taking a small hit in terms of weight in order to add comfort is well worth it.
Although £180 is a lot to spend on a saddle, we've reviewed several that are more expensive than this over the past couple of years. The Selle Italia Novus Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow saddle is £219.99, for example, and the SQLab 612 Ergowave Active Carbon Saddle is £230. The price puts the Astute Star Lite into the same bracket as the Fizik Arione R1 (£174.99). Although quite different designs, I'd say that these two saddles are of a similarly high quality.
The Astute Star Lite is an excellent saddle. It's beautifully made from high-quality materials and delivers plenty of comfort. The price might make you think twice but you can't argue with the performance.
Top-quality race/performance saddle that offers an exceptional level of comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Astute Star Lite VT saddle
Size tested: 270mm x 135mm
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?
Astute says: Innovation. High technology. Italian craftsmanship. Unique design. This saddle is the result of the exclusive Star project developed by Astute Labs for demanding athletes riding in an aggressive position and seeking advanced solutions. Round shape. For on-road racing. Ensures high performance during races or training sessions.
STAR LITE features an open U-shaped shell in 15% carbon-fibre reinforced nylon. Designed to reduce pressure on the perineum and provide greater support under high-strain conditions. The Cover Design System technology, an innovating rubber system designed to cover the shell and minimise vibrations. The saddle features dedicated dimensions (width 135mm, length 270mm).
Full-carbon rail with 3K Carbon Rail 7X9 technology for reduced weight, with a lower construction for a bolder look. This combination has been developed by Astute to provide higher performance during races.
The Asymmetric Rear Design System provides a bold, easily recognisable design even while riding, with a unique asymmetric soft-touch bow available in 6 different colours in the back. The same colours are featured on the top with the Top Design System, a special cover that lines the central cut-out of the saddle.
The VT seat (from "verta", i.e. "open" in Venetian dialect) has been designed with a central cut-out to eliminate pressure peaks in the pelvic area. The 'tension arc' is created with a perfectly balanced weight distribution for smooth, comfortable riding. Ultimate comfort, lightweight and high performance.
Features three-density Progressive Memory Foam padding for 3 different seating areas, firmer in the back to support the sit bones, and softer on the front. Made in Italy and Ecolabel certified, the waterproof microfibre coating features a dedicated print and is easily washable with soap and water.
STAR LITE is exclusively handmade in Italy according to strict local regulations.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
This version has 7x9mm carbon-fibre rails. You can also get a model with round titanium rails for £134.99.
The quality of construction is exceptional. It's a thing of beauty.
It's supportive and comfortable.
The build quality is high and that bodes well for durability, as long as you don't tear the cover in a slam.
There are lighter saddles out there, but the features that add a little weight also add to the comfort.
The comfort is what it's all about when it comes to a saddle, and that's where this one really scores.
The price is towards the higher end of the spectrum but the quality is high throughout.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It offers loads of support and comfort, and that's exactly what you want.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The level of comfort, the lack of vibration.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You'd have to expect to pay this kind of price, if not a little more, for the level of materials used and the quality of the build. We've reviewed several saddles that are more expensive than this over the past couple of years.
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 overall score
The Star Lite saddle puts in a really high performance. Although the price is high, it's not enough to drag the overall score down from a 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.