The Selle Royal Lookin saddle is a very unique and surprisingly well made perch for the money but one attempting to be all things to most riders, which risks an identity crisis.
In this age of gender specific design, I was surprised to discover it described as Unisex, especially given the long 278mm nose - and although 159mm width might appeal to some ladies, in my book it's one better suited to mountain biking/rough stuff touring males.
Handmade denotes that it's a prestige model and this is very apparent both in the materials/quality of construction, which by the way is a notch or two higher than is normal for the lower-mid range price brackets. Nestling beneath the tough, faux leather hide (reckoned to be 25% cooler than comparable coverings thanks to a mesh panel around the buttocks) lies a slab of royal gel, which they claim doesn't break, harden or age-there's even a clear window, presumably so you can glance down and admire it at work.
Flipping it over reveals laser-etched hollow manganese rails feeding into a composite base. Workmanship here is particularly sharp thanks to the use of screws, rather than staples. For the uninitiated, manganese is of the Cro-moly family found in Reynolds' iconic 531, suitably compliant thus offering some insulation against fatigue, coupled with excellent strength to weight ratio.
With its thirty-degree rise and big, flared drops, the Univega seemed an obvious candidate for testing and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. By the book, my sit bones and 143mm bases are soul mates but this more upright configuration calls for greater support, hence the Lookin's girth wasn't an issue. Hopping aboard it's very supportive, conducive to several hours mixed terrain riding at a decent 90 odd rpm, the cover slick enough to entertain minor adjustments but without irksome surfing in wet weather.
Scuff bumpers protect against premature wear and tear - brilliant when leaning up against rough masonry or shackling to street furniture but the nose is still vulnerable in a dirt road tumble, so I'd stop short of advocating aggressive cross country mountain biking, which is a shame since those rails offer excellent insulation from intrusive, low level vibration.
Quirky but comfortable perch well suited to touring/mountain bike and other more upgright set ups.
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Make and model: Selle Royal Lookin 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?
Selle Royal are pretty coy abut their range, seemingly of the belief that quality speaks for itself. Given the dimensions,its a performance orientated, middleweight saddle aimed at male sports touring/mountain bike audiences
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Integrated Clip System
Royal Gel Inner
Scuff bumpers around the nose would extend its off road potential.
Been too cold to evaluate whether the mesh panelling offers any cooling benefits over and above anyone else's but otherwise suitably impressed.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Selle Royal Lookin has changed my slightly tainted perceptions of the gel genre, offering excellent comfort and support over longer distances/varying terrain. Manganese rails might lack the exotica factor but are well suited to touring/endurance contexts while keping pricing competitive.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great build, surprising levels of comfort and intelligent choice of materials.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Not on paper but very impressed by its real world performance.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Well worth a look.
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)