New Italian saddle brand Astute were formed out of the desire to keep Italian manufacturing and design alive after many heritage brands moved to cheaper places of manufacture. The outcome is a gorgeous product that we feel has plenty to offer, even in an crowded market.
Currently, Astute’s range is made up of the Skyline, Skylite and Skycarb. They're all the same shape, but are made from different materials. The Skylite sits in the middle of the range between the metal-railed Skyline and the flagship SkyCarb. We tested the Skylite VT model, which has a centre cut-out that differs from the solid SR version.
There isn’t anything unique about the 275mm length and 135mm width; what sets the Skylite apart is its build quality, materials and overall design.
The saddle shape is concave, with the rear tail and nose flaring up higher than the cutout centre, designed to create a pressure-relieving channel in the center. A flat rear section gives plenty of sitting purchase; something that Astute claims takes the pressure off soft tissue.
The most impressive aspect of this saddle is the versatility. It has the looks, features, style, weight and price of a top-level race saddle, but also offers all-day comfort.
The saddle uses three densities of memory foam. Softer foam is used in the nose of the saddle and firmer foam is used at the rear, to support the rider's weight. The memory foam system means the padding returns to its original shape after use.
The use of such soft padding was a surprise at first - firmer and lesser padding is the norm in such a high-end saddle. We quickly grew accustomed to it, and appreciated the softer perch on longer rides.
Thanks to the softer padding at the nose, this saddle would be equally as suitable on the trails as it would on the road. Although the microfibre cover seems extremely resilient, be aware that there are no off-road specific scuff guards for serious impacts.
Astute’s Shock Pad Absorber System (SPAS) places shock absorbing rubber pads between the rails and saddle shell at the rear. This helps to absorb some of the fatiguing vibration of the road and is greatly appreciated. A side benefit of this rubber is that it fills the gap where many saddles will commonly start to creak with age.
In addition to the generous padding and shock absorbing pads, there is a noticeable amount of shell flex through the centre. While it added comfort for most, one test rider noted that the saddle flexed too much in the centre, placing undue pressure at the frontal area of the perineum. This can be a common issue with cut-out saddles.
Cosmetic durability hasn’t been great; with our sample losing its matt black rubberised texture from the lower portion of the saddle, leaving behind a smooth and shiny gloss black finish. This doesn’t affect the function of the saddle, and Astute assures us that this isn't the norm and that the issue is in fact covered by its two-year warranty.
The Skylite keeps weight low with a full-carbon rail. The rails flare at the rear to provide greater support and appear extremely strong. The oval 7x9mm rail sizing is a now common standard for carbon rails, but not all seatposts are compatible.
At just 164g (160g claimed), there’s an impressive level of comfort and padding on offer. With any saddle, shape is personal and a test ride is the best way to find out if this saddle suits you, but Astute has launched the company with a stunning product.