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The top 10 best long distance road bike saddles

In this article my main focus is providing you with information concerning the best long distance road bike saddles.

Before I provide you with the list I’d like to address the following. Saddle soreness is a common problem. And to a certain degree it’s what every rider faces when putting in long hours on the road.

That being said, an incorrect position on a bike is almost just as common, as is a bike that’s not suited for your size. Most of the time, a bike is too big for the rider or the forward reach is too long, which leads to all kinds of problems no long distance road bike saddle can fix.

So with that out of the way let’s turn our attention to some of the best long distance road bike saddles worth your money.

Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow

Flite Boost TM Superflow
Flite Boost TM Superflow

Selle has gone all-in with short-nosed saddles and the Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow is a great affordable option.

The Flite name has been around for an extremely long time, but this saddle looks nothing like the first iterations.

The narrow version of this saddle sits at 135 x 248 millimeters. The stubby nose means less sliding around, for those who appreciate that, putting your body more firmly in place and more easily in a forward position. The entire notion is a better power transfer to the pedals.

True to both its racing and endurance nature this is an almost entirely flat saddle with a huge cut out, something a lot of Selle Italia saddles are known for. And it offers a thicker padding to stay comfortable with long hours in the saddle.

The overall build quality of this saddle is superb, with a gorgeous perforated Soft-Tek microfiber upper and subtle brand covering.

Although not cheap per se, you get a lot of tech from one of the biggest brands in the saddle industry.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia Flite Boost TM

Flite Boost TM
Flite Boost TM

The Selle Italia Flite Boost TM is the non-cut out version the one appended with Superflow.

Selle Italia has a penchant for huge cut outs, but this version adds a mere 10 grams to the weight, tipping the scales at about 240 grams.

That’s a respectable weight for a high-quality endurance saddle. I already covered the Superflow version but I have to reiterate that in terms of comfort and value-for-money, this is one of the best all-round saddles for long distance riding in the market today.

So unless you really have something against shorter saddles, because this is one of those, consider this one.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow

Novus Endurance TM Superflow
Novus Endurance TM Superflow

With endurance in its name it should be obvious what the Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow is for.

Its unique-looking design looks similar to those used by ISM, with the nose cut in half and slightly dipping.

This affordable long-distance offering features a lot of extra padding for a weight penalty, tipping the scales over 300 grams. But this is not a saddle for those looking to shave an extra 100 grams of their bike, and people who’ll actually be doing gran fondos will care less about such a thing.

What they will care about is comfort and this saddle excels in that area. You can actually take this saddle on roads that don’t necessarily resemble smooth tarmac, and the plush ride will allow you to enjoy it from start to finish.

Selle Italia offers a number of magnificent showpieces, and this saddle is not among them. It’s purely functional with a core focus on being able to eat mile after mile of road. So if that’s your thing there aren’t many options that offer a greater return on investment, if any.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance

Novus Superflow Endurance
Novus Superflow Endurance

The Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance has endurance in the title, so what exactly is so different about this saddle to earn that moniker.

For starters, the two-pronged split-nosed design sitting on titanium rails is distinctive enough. It means the cut out of the saddle extends all the way to the front of the nose, reminiscent of those produced by time-trial favorite ISM.

Where you can actually sit the two shell halves not only offer extra padded support, but also a layer of gel padding to add to the overall damping qualities of the saddle. A durable Fibra-Tek perforated microfiber cover has the Selle Italia logo on it.

The overall build quality is downright amazing, and the long and narrow shape of the saddle measuring 138 x 282 mm for the regular size and 149 x 282 mm for the large one, means there’s plenty of room to find the correct position for your sit bones.

The reason why you have to pay twice the amount of money vs the TM version is the composition of the shell. Where this one uses carbon fiber, the other one is made from nylon. And that carbon shell sits on top of titanium rails instead of a manganese steel one. That means a more flexible perch and just some more damping effects as well, with the tiniest of weight gains as well.

Granted the split nose design might equally split onlookers into categories of those who hate and those who love it, but there’s no denying that this saddle will save your behind on longer rides.

Expert Experience

Matthew Loveridge | Senior Writer – October 11, 2016

My experience on the road suggests that the design is very effective. Thanks to padding that’s a good compromise — it’s supportive but not unforgiving to your sit bones — you don’t sink into the saddle too much, and the channel in the middle does its job. If you’re a fan of cut-outs and aren’t too bothered about the few extra grams it carries compared to a more weight-focused saddle, the Novus SuperFlow is definitely worth a go.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow

SLR Boost Endurance Superflow
SLR Boost Endurance Superflow

At 202 grams the Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow is a featherweight short-nosed premium performance saddle.

SLR denotes Selle Italia’s foray into short-nosed perches and at 130 x 248 mm for the regular and 145 x 248 mm for the wide version, they are short indeed.

The swooping design is felt even more by the gel padded cover. It’s amazing that Selle Italia has managed to cram so much comfort and padding onto a saddle that weighs so little.

Like most of Selle Italia’s premium endurance saddles, this one features titanium rails and durable Fibra-tek cover onto a carbon composite shell.

Saddles are exceptionally personal product offerings, and when buying such an expensive one as this one you want one that’s right for you.

This saddle is anything but cheap, but for that premium you get one of the lightest endurance saddles in the market for long comfortable hours in the saddle.

Expert Experience

Paul Robson | Editor – January 21, 2021

I can generally get on with just about any saddle over modest distances, but for longer rides I have found pressure relief channels to be a really effective way of increasing comfort. The SLR Boost Endurance’s channel is wide enough to offer genuine relief, so with the rear of the saddle shaped to support the sit bones and encourage hip rotation, it lived up to its billing during my test period.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR Boost Lady TI316 Superflow

SLR Boost Lady TI316 Superflow
SLR Boost Lady TI316 Superflow

The Selle Italia SLR Boost Lady TI316 Superflow is a female-specific short-nosed premium endurance saddle.

It’s so similar to the Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow I really had to look at what makes this a woman’s road bike saddle.

It has the same overall shape with large cut out, titanium rails attached to a carbon composite shell, with gel padding, and a Fibra-Tek cover.

It has the same overall dimensions and it weighs the same… No wait, it doesn’t because it’s even lighter. 3 grams for the regular and a single gram for the wide version to be exact.

I’ve overlayed the Lady onto the unisex version and the width actually seems to be a bit smaller, though the number that Selle Italia gives says it’s 130 mm in both cases.

Well it’s a great saddle, and it’s cheaper. What’s in a name.

Expert Experience

Lara Dunn | Contributor – August 20, 2020

On the bike, it looks very smart, with a sporty look which is backed up by its performance. On my first ride, I had a brief moment of panic at how firm the saddle felt, but the combination of an excellent shape, pressure relief channel and the gel padding made it surprisingly comfortable for four-hour-plus rides.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR Boost TM

SLR Boost TM
SLR Boost TM

If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on an SLR saddle, the more moderately priced Selle Italia SLR Boost TM is a great way to venture into short-nosed saddles from this Italian manufacturer.

Although it’s much more affordable it’s just slightly heavier at 220 grams, and I’m not convinced a person will notice a 20 grams difference to anyone. This one has manganese steel rails versus the titanium one. The 7 millimeter diameter rails ensure they’ll be compatible with standard seatposts.

The rails are attached to a nylon shell. That means it’s less forgiving and more firm than either a full carbon or carbon composite shell, which will cost you way more money. Of course it’s difficult to explain what more firm actually feels like for the individual, and some people actually prefer firm saddles.

Expert Experience

Robin Wilmott | Contributor – June 7, 2020

Its base is essentially a textured cover applied directly to the shell with virtually no cushioning effect, but at each side the dense padding gets thicker towards your sit bones and provides effective comfort.

There’s no doubt this is a firmer perch than some, but its sculpted shape positions you well, and feels very supportive, with no need to move around.

In a tuck, the flat, wide nose isn’t intrusive and that shallow pressure-relief channel does work far better than you’d expect, keeping the SLR Boost true to its uncompromisingly racy roots.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR Superflow

SLR Superflow
SLR Superflow

The Selle Italia SLR Superflow is a classically shaped high performance road racing saddle.

With widths of 131 and 145 millimeters and an average length of 275 millimeters the carbon composite shell features the large cut out that Selle Italia saddles are known for.

Just like many other premium saddles from the brand, the shell is held into place onto the seatpost with titanium rails.

The large cut out, its length, and shell material means there high levels of natural damping combined with a flexy shell that prevents chafing.

Even with this length it doesn’t mean the nose is truly supportive to be sitting on for extended periods of time. If you prefer such a position you’ll need to be looking into the boost (short-nosed) version of the SLR.

Expert Experience

Nick Burklow | Contributor – October 12, 2013

Riding this saddle has been a dream. From the first ride to the last, I have had zero complaints. Chafing and numbness are a thing of the past. For me, this saddle sits at the top of my preferences when it comes options for my road bike. It works with my anatomy extremely well. I am a bigger rider (6’2″ 215lbs), and a cutout has always been a must have. This super wide cutout has made a noticeable difference in comfort for me as compared to the other saddles I have been on. The flat top is supportive over long rides, and yields very little fatigue thanks to the flex of the wings. The ti rails help to add a bit of comfort as well.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow

SLR TM Superflow
SLR TM Superflow

The Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow is pretty similar in specs to the Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow except it offers a more traditional design.

If you’re not into short-nosed saddles, the classic design of the SLR measures 131 x 275 millimeters. As with many other saddles from Selle Italia, it offers a large center cut out for pressure relief.

You get a nylon shell with extra padding for comfortable rides. A manganese rails for a bit of flex to take out road buzz, in a package weighing 205 grams.

It’s a classically shaped road bike saddle from this big brand name, which offers loads of comfort for everyday riding and endurance races.

Pros and Cons

Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow

SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow
SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow

The naming conventions of Selle Italia are very confusing indeed, until you understand that they simply have a fancy way of putting saddle parts into the name. The Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow is a good example.

SP-01 refers to a new innovation where the two halves of the saddle are only held together at the nose. In this case we’re talking about a carbon composite shell dropping the weight to below the magic 200 gram mark at 160. That’s featherweight territory.

Kit Carbonio refers to the carbon rails, which further adds to the premium feel of the saddle. It adds an extra damping factor, but do keep in mind the oval rails need a compatible seatpost. The unique looking rails adds an additional shock absorption factor to the overall high comfort level obtained by the prolific use of carbon throughout the entire saddle

Superflow is Selle Italia’s way of describing their saddle cut outs, which are large and prominent. Even more so with the SP-01 outlandish shape.

And Boost is their way of telling you’re dealing with a short-nosed version of the saddle. With a single size of 130 x 250 mm it’s not only short but also narrow. The taper at the front does lead to a wider nose than on non-boost saddles, which makes a more forward position a comfortable possibility.

It’s the SP-01 saddle that provides the most performance and flexibility in use, with just the more outrageous full carbon Tekno trumping it. The saddle is both a gorgeous and astonishing feat of saddle engineering, that provides the absolute best the Italian company has to offer to the serious road cyclist.

Expert Experience

Mat Brett | Technical editor – March 17, 2019

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.

Pros and Cons

Specifications long distance road bike saddles

Name
Rail
Price
Dimensions
Weight
Shell
Padding
Cover
Selle Italia Flite Boost TM Superflow
manganese tube Ø7 mm
150 euros
S 135 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 230 g – L 233 g
nylon
Soft-Tek
Selle Italia Flite Boost TM
manganese tube Ø7 mm
150 euros
S 135 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 240 g – L 243 g
nylon
Soft-Tek
Selle Italia Novus Endurance TM Superflow
manganese tube Ø7 mm
100 euros
S 138 x 282 mm – L 149 x 282 mm
S 306 g – L 310 g
nylon
extra padding / gel
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia Novus Superflow Endurance
TI 316 Tube Ø7 mm
240 euros
S 138 x 282 mm – L 149 x 282 mm
S 288 g – L 293 g
carbon composite
gel padding
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance Superflow
TI 316 Tube Ø7 mm
320 euros
S 130 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 202 g – L 207 g
carbon composite
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SLR Boost Lady TI316 Superflow
TI 316 Tube Ø7 mm
300 euros
130 x 248 mm
S 198 g – L 206 g
carbon composite
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SLR Boost TM
manganese tube Ø7 mm
170 euros
S 130 x 248 mm – L 145 x 248 mm
S 220 g – L 230 g
nylon
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SLR Superflow
TI 316 Tube Ø7 mm
300 euros
S 131 x 275 mm – L 145 x 275 mm
S 185 g – L 190 g
carbon composite
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SLR TM Superflow
manganese tube Ø7 mm
160 euros
S 131 x 275 mm – L 145 x 275 mm
S 205 g – L 210 g
nylon
Fibra-Tek
Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow
Carbon/Keramic Ø7×9 mm
360 euros
130 x 250 mm
160 g
carbon composite
Fibra-Tek

Sources

Matthew Loveridge, Selle Italia Novus SuperFlow L review, Bikeradar, October 11, 2016
Paul Robson, Selle Italia SLR Boost Endurance TI316, Road.cc, January 21, 2021
Lara Dunn, Selle Italia SLR Boost Lady Superflow, Road.cc, August 20, 2020
Robin Wilmott, Selle Italia SLR Boost TM saddle review, Bikeradar, June 7, 2020
Nick Burklow, Long Term Review: Selle Italia’s SLR Superflow 145 Saddle, Bikerumor, October 12, 2013
Mat Brett, Selle Italia SP-01 Boost Kit Carbonio Superflow, Road.cc, March 17, 2019
bio vanseijen

Johan van Seijen

Founder Restoration.bike

Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His cycling career has seen him at the starting line of classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege. Realizing his racing capacity would fall short of what was needed he obtained a MS from the University of Amsterdam in engineering. His love for cycling changed into riding in an amateur capacity with his local cycling club TFC Weesp as a roadie and supporting MTB Noordwest as a mountain biker. He repairs, restores, and builds bicycles and shares his knowledge on YouTube, Facebook and this website. 

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