Made in Italy: Super saddles from Selle Italia

By Cyclingnews staff in Rossano Veneto, Italy

"I never knew how much went into making a saddle", former professional rider Andrea Ferrigato told Cyclingnews on our recent visit to Rossano Veneto, home of Selle Italia. Ferrigato, a winner of back to back World Cup races (Leeds International & GP Zurich) in 1996 has put in a lot of kilometers during his 14 year long career as a pro, with 17 wins including a stage victory in the Giro d'Italia. Ferrigato is now Selle Italia's team guy and the cheerful 36 year old native of Schio, Italy took us on a tour of Selle Italia's production facility as we visited the saddle company that prides itself on its slogan "Handmade In Italy Since 1897."

"After riding almost 300,000 km during my career, I knew that my saddle was important since I spent so much time there!" joked Ferrigato, who then explained that "Since I've been working at Selle Italia, I have learned how much development and engineering go in to making a saddle. We spend so much time and do so much testing at Selle Italia to make sure that the shape and materials are perfect and that the saddle cna stand up to long hours in the saddle."

One of Ferrigato's key roles is following the 11 ProTour, 18 Continental Pro & Continental teams, not to mention all the MTB, 'Cross, Tri and Womans teams. "It's a big responsability, but all this input is very valuable for Selle Italia in developing and improving our products", explained Ferrigato.

In fact, Selle Italia has been in the forefront of saddle innovation with Gel, shock absorbtion and now their new patented Signo saddle with it's unique oscilating system that has also been adapted to their new Thoork mountain bike saddle.

But perhaps the most special saddle for Selle Italia is the precious new Preziosa. Selle Italia's Steven Merlini first revealed the Prezioza to Cyclingnews at the Eurobike show last September, where we got our first look at perhaps the most exclusive bicycle saddle ever. Selle Italia has a super-exclusive saddle called Preziosa, destined for only 500 special posteriors in 2006. With a beautiful 18K white gold lamination on the genuine iguana leather cover and a svelte weight of 185 grams, each Preziosa has a silver badge underneath where the name of the owner will be custom laser engraved.

Eddy Merckx is the proud owner of #001 and each and every one of the limited edition Preziosa comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity from Selle Italia. Merlini told Cyclingnews on our visit that "we have made the Preziosa available for sale on our website. We know that this saddle isn't for everybody but it is something really special for cyclists who want the most special saddle ever." And Selle Italia has already sold plenty of the only 500 Preziosa saddles available.

Besides the elegant, exclusive Preziosa, new for 2006 at Selle Italia is the Thoork mountain bike saddle, available in 190g. model and a 210g. gel flow model. Thoork uses the same patented, innovative oscillating system that provides special support and comfort.

Andrea Ferrigato told Cyclingnews that “this season, a lot of top ProTour riders are using our Signo model with it's special oscilating system.” Signo is available in three different versions; Signo Genuine Gel and Gel Flow, both at 225g., and the 180g. Signo Limited Edition with Titanium rails that weighs in at 185g.

Selle Italia's SLR is one of the most popular saddles on the market, and it's available in five different models, including the all-new SLR Kit Carbonio Flow. Cyclingnews recently described Selle Italia's all new saddle, saying “Selle Italia's latest salvo in the featherweight seat wars comes in at 125g on our scale, and like other SLR-series saddles, the Flow has a very minimal, flat top section with a cut-out to relieve pressure on the peritoneal area, but saves weight over other SLR models (some of which are not exactly heavy to start with) by using carbon fiber rails."

Selle Italia claims the rails on new SLR Kit Carbonio Flow are the strongest carbon rails ever produced, thanks to a new moulding process that allows "reinforced long fiber carbon" to be injected into them. According to Selle Italia, these new rails “have sustained crash test loads of 250kg and are even suitable for mountain bike use”. Selle Italia's SLR Kit Carbonio Flow has a Lorica synthetic leather cover over a lightweight EVA closed-cell foam padding and a Rylsan nylon shell reinforced with carbon fiber.

Although Selle Italia has been producing bicycle saddles for over one hundred years, that legacy hasn't kept the Rossano Veneto firm from continuing their tradition of innovation, performance and quality. Their name and slogan say all you need to know: Selle Italia. Handmade in Italy Since 1897.

Further reading

Selle Italia's website

More Italia Bici

Selle Italia's Signo LTD Edition: 180 grams thanks to Ti rails and the patented Signo oscillating system.
Selle Italia's Kit Carbonio Flow: 120 grams with carbon rails; the lightest saddle without a central channel. One of Selle Italia's 11 models in the SLR family.
Selle Italia Prezioza saddle was safely behind glass at the last round of major trade shows.
Here's the Selle Italia test lab with a slew of carbon fibre saddle shells ready to be tested.
More Selle Italia test lab with special saddle test machines ready to ride.