The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow is the ultimate statement saddle. Engineered in partnership with an F1 constructor, it is a carbon fibre chassis for your sit bones that's jaw-droppingly expensive, breathtakingly light, beautifully finished and actually surprisingly comfortable.
It looks a million dollars and certainly the SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow could be the most expensive saddle we've ever seen. Costing £439.99, its weight of 119g makes it £3.70 a gram. Not only is it gloriously expensive but Selle Italia also claims it is "the most futuristic full carbon saddle of all time." Teaming up with Dallara, an Italian company that makes composite products for F1 cars, the saddle features Suspension Link Movement technology for a more comfortable ride and a ridiculously low weight.
I fitted it to my made-to-measure Racer Rosa and gazed at it, smitten. Then I climbed on and to my huge disappointment its gorgeously swoopy shape didn't quite fit my sit bones. With no padding at all, there's no margin for error and at lower speeds where there's more pressure on the saddle than on the pedals I could feel the carbon contours in slightly the wrong place, even through my favourite Assos S7 pad.
The hammocked shape with a pronounced kick upwards at the rear tends to decide the position of your sit bones for you and it wasn't quite where bike fitter Giuseppe Giannecchini at Racer Rosa had decreed mine should be. I felt like the Princess and the Pea crossed with one of the ugly sisters trying to force her foot into Cinderella's slipper.
However, I was overjoyed to discover that when pedalling harder, particularly at higher speeds in the drops in a big gear, which pushes you further backwards and rotates your pelvis forwards, my sit bones felt correctly placed and the innovative carbon spring suspension system took over, absorbing bigger bumps much better than it does smaller vibrations. There might be a fairytale ending after all. I am also confident that a new bike fit could place me in a position where the SP-01 felt perfect for a higher percentage of the ride time.
When I reviewed the Selle Italia SLR Boost Superflow I said the shorter 'Boost' length made it less compliant than the full-length SLR. The SP-01 system gets around this issue perfectly. Because the carbon rear is designed to flex independently, it has a measurable amount of travel built in and is much easier on the rear end, particularly at speed.
The SP-01 design consists of two rear sections which are separate from each other. What Selle Italia says is the "extraordinary level of comfort" offered by the saddle comes from the movement of the two sections, which are designed to operate like independent suspension with the movement of the hips, allowing greater freedom of pedalling, lateral flexion and shock absorption.
As Mat noted when he reviewed the Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow, you don't actually feel the two halves moving independently – it's more subtle than that. Possibly the only thing about the SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow that can be described as subtle.
'Superflow' describes the dramatic cutout designed to reduce perineal numbness. This, along with the Boost shorter length, makes riding in the drops much more comfortable for a high pelvic rotator with an inflexible back like me.
The split shell design definitely divided opinion when I posted a photo of it on Strava. It was loved and hated in equal measure (though you have to wonder if the haters were just jealous). There's no question that the radical shape with the carbon weave looks incredibly bling but, as was also pointed out, you don't get much saddle for your money – which is, of course, the whole point.
Selle Italia gives the SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow five stars for 'medio fondo', two for 'granfondo' and none for endurance or cycle touring, by its own admission suggesting it's not a saddle for huge mileage, and I'd go along with that. It's a racing saddle designed for short, sharp efforts and works best when you're going fast and pedalling hard for up to three hours.
Obviously, for someone building an ultimate, no-expense-spared hill-climb bike it would be perfect whether it fitted your sit bones or not, since you wouldn't actually be sitting on it!
There's really nothing to compare it to in terms of value and we've never reviewed a saddle at road.cc that has broken the £400 barrier. Fizik's Arione 00 Versus Evo is £325 and 167g; the SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow Mat tested is £250 and 170g.
The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow is a money-no-object dream saddle that was possibly designed more as a showpiece than for slogging round the lanes. If you are one of the world's best known racing saddle manufacturers you've got to have something pretty special at the top of your range that showcases your expertise in materials science and engineering – regardless of how many you sell – and this extraordinary saddle most definitely does that.
The ultimate concept saddle showcasing all of Selle Italia's expertise, with a price that's off the scale – sex on rails
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Tekno Superflow saddle
Size tested: S3 130x245mm
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: "Designed in collaboration with Dallara, the SP-01 Boost Tekno is designed to surpass futuristic paradigms, developing – in the world of bike accessories – the most innovative and exclusive materials already used in the top of the range automotive sector. The result of continuous studies by Selle Italia in technology and materials, the SP-01 Boost Tekno is the most futuristic full carbon saddle ever created by the Asolo-based company; the result of a genuine engineering project that combines the critical aspects of processing carbon fibre with innovative and special technology such as 'Suspension Link Movement'."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Selle Italia's data sheet:
Weight: S 117 g, L 120 g
Rail: Hi-Tech Carbon Ø7x9 mm
S 130x245 mm
L 140x245 mm
Category: Hi Performance
It's a work of art.
F1-level performance, as you'd expect.
Carbon is strong stuff but it would easily scratch if leaned against a wall and that would be heartbreaking.
More superlatives here.
OK, it didn't fit my anatomy perfectly but it can't be blamed for that.
It's spectacularly expensive but you're paying for probably the world's most high-tech and blingest saddle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Selle Italia doesn't pretend this is a saddle for all-day adventures or anything like that. It's for riding very fast over shorter distances and that's exactly what it's good at.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
That it didn't exactly fit my sit bones 100% of the time in my current bike-fitted position, but I can't blame the saddle for that.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is off the scale. If you wanted the SP-01 carbon suspension system in a lower-priced saddle, Mat reviewed the Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow (£250) last year. The Kit Carbonio has a cover and padding so might be more forgiving.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes yes yes!
Would you consider buying the product? If I won the lottery.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I don't have any friends rich enough.
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you are a millionaire with a matching rear end there's nothing better; for you, there's no question of this saddle not getting a perfect score. Just look at it! Being a bit more practical, it won't be for everyone because it's extremely expensive, and if it doesn't fit your sit bones it can be unforgiving, but it is exceptional.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
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, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem
Simon finished his MA in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his eight-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).