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Arte Selle's Dakar Double saddle is a high quality bit of kit that I found really comfortable. It packs a couple of surprises too, the first of which is the price: it costs just £30.
Arte Selle is an Italian brand that has only just got UK distribution for the first time. The Dakar Double is one of their racing saddles and it's pretty lightweight. Arte Selle claim it's 186g; that's the weight they print on the nose. The ever-dependable road.cc scales say it's actually a bit lighter than that: 172g. It's always worthy of comment when a product is lighter than its published weight. It really doesn't happen that often. There's the second surprise.
The saddle is 275mm long and 130mm wide, both of which are about average for a race saddle, while the nose tapers from around 60mm wide (depending on where you count the nose as starting) down to 43mm where the rails mount. Rather than arcing from side to side (like a hump-backed bridge. Or an armadillo), the shell is pretty flat on the nose so you get a level platform up front.
The rails are titanium while the carbon-infused base has just a little bit of flex; there's enough give in there to soften the big hits and provide damping over poorly surfaced roads. You get a middling depth of padding here - enough to provide decent cushioning but not so much that it feels spongy - while the covering is Lorica. It's smooth down the centre - the white stuff - while the side panels - the black sections - have a slightly textured matt finish.
In use the Dakar Double feels great. It's a tried and tested shape similar to that of plenty of other race saddles. If you get on with the Selle Italia SLR, for example, the shape of this saddle isn't a million miles off. And I found the comfort provided by the shell and the cushioning to be spot on. I swapped this onto one of my regular bikes in place of an SLR and did a quick one-hour loop to check it wasn't going to saw me in half, then rode 5hrs on it the following day. It felt good. I forgot I wasn't riding with my usual perch, and that's what you want, really. When you start to notice your saddle, it's invariably bad news.
The Dakar Double has carried on performing well over several weeks and I've no reason to suspect that's going to change. The side panels have begun to polish up a bit from repeated pedalling but that just makes the saddle look worn in rather than worn out.
Lightweight, titanium-railed race saddle at a fantastic price. Bargain!
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Make and model: Arte Selle Dakar Double saddle
Size tested: Black/White
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 a race saddle... although that doesn't mean it's exclusively for racing. It'll do the job for any road bike duties.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
There's not a great deal to tell. That's a real leather upper.
It's good. There's a little bit of wayward glue on the underside of our test model, but who cares?
I got on really well with this saddle... although, it must be said, that doesn't necessarily mean that you will. Saddles are always a matter of personal preference
You can drop a few grams by paying much more but for this price it's a really light weight.
That one is going to come down to personal taste but I found the amount of flex in the shell and the amount of padding spot on.
You won't find too many titanium-railed saddles out there at this price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very impressive in terms of comfort and weight.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, weight, price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Get in there quick.
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
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: time trialling, commuting, 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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.