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The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow is an innovative saddle that's lightweight and very comfortable, although the price tag is going to put off many people.
The SP-01 design is clever, and it works. The standout feature is what Selle Italia calls the 'suspension link movement'. The two sides of the saddle are connected only at the nose and indirectly via the clamp at the top of your seatpost. The sides are entirely separate from one another elsewhere. Plus, the shell is divided into upper and lower sections at the back, the rails connecting to the lower section.
What's the point of all this? Well, first you get a big gap in the centre to relieve pressure on sensitive areas, a bit like you get with many saddles with a hole running through the centre.
More than that, though, the upper sections of the shell, not connected to the rails, are free to flex more than usual. The two sides can also flex independently of one another.
Don't get the wrong idea, it's not like there's a load of downward movement with every pedal stroke because the CarboKeramic (carbon fibre with a ceramic coating) rails hold things in check and the majority of your weight is positioned towards the front of the saddle most of the time. It's much more subtle than that, resulting in a very comfortable ride. I've never been particularly attracted by saddles with massive chasms down the middle before, but I've got on really well with this one. You get a middling amount of padding here, but it feels deeper because of the 'give' offered by the SP-01 design.
The nose is short and that's another plus point as far as I'm concerned. Like many other people, I've got into shorter saddles lately. They make a lot of sense if you spend a lot of time in an aggressive riding position, offering increased clearance at the front. I find that it works for me.
Saddles are notoriously hit and miss; what's perfect for one person is agony for another. If you're spending £250 you're going to want to get it right. I had an idmatch saddle fitting and was given a few different saddles to choose from. I opted for this one and it has proven to be a winner, so I'd suggest you have a saddle fitting too before splashing the cash (idmatch offers a saddle test).
The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow is an expensive saddle, although Fizik's Arione 00 Versus Evo that we reviewed recently is £324. You certainly don't need to spend this kind of money to get carbon rails, the Bontrager Montrose Pro Saddle being £100 cheaper at £149.99.
If the SP-01 Boost design appeals to you but the price doesn't, the version with titanium rails is £174.99 and the model with manganese rails is £124.99.
Sometimes a new saddle design comes along that's just change for the sake of change, but the SP-01 system works to provide a comfortable ride while keeping the weight low. The Kit Carbonio model is expensive, so look to the manganese-railed version if you're after better value.
Lightweight saddle with enough flex in the shell for an exceptional level of comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow
Size tested: L3
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?
Selle Italia says, "The SP-01 comes in four different versions made up from various materials ranging from carbon to titanium. The new SP-01 is the result of a cutting-edge combination of carbon properties and introduces a revolutionary new concept; skilfully combining comfort, performance and aesthetics. This product stands out for its innovative and adaptive rear frame, divided into two independent parts creating the special 'suspension link movement'. Its shape is designed to effectively support the movement of your pelvis without compromising your stability while pedalling. The Super Flow technology completes this product, by allowing an optimal and comfortable riding position. Futuristic design, superb comfort and outstanding performance: SP01 is ready to represent the new benchmark for a saddle design."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The saddle is 250mm long and is available in two widths, 130mm and 146mm. You can find which size you need by going to a dealer that's set up to measure you using the idmatch system. https://www.selleitalia.com/en/idmatch/
Rail: CarboKeramic Ø7–9 mm
The construction is very good.
There was an issue with durability on previous versions of this type of saddle. The base is designed to flex but it could crack towards the rear in some circumstances. Selle Italia has revised the design in this area, adding some extra material. I've used this saddle extensively over the winter and all is good here, the only real sign of use being a polishing to the cover where my legs have brushed it while pedalling.
Selle Italia claims 165g for the L size that I've been using and 160g for the S. Ours hit the scales at 170g, so pretty close.
I've found it really comfortable.
£250 is a lot to spend on a saddle, clearly, but the design is more complicated than that of a standard saddle, and it's very comfortable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The level of comfort on offer, particularly for something this light.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is beyond what most people will want to pay.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This is certainly among the most expensive saddles we've reviewed, although the Fizik Arione 00 Versus Evo saddle that Stu tested recently is £324.
Saddles with carbon rails are generally more expensive than those that have chromoly, aluminium or titanium rails, although the carbon-railed Bontrager Montrose Pro Saddle, for example, is £149.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yeah, although the price would put me off.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a high-end saddle that puts in a high-end performance, with the price the only real hurdle. It's a solid 8.
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 been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.