Selle Italia's Monolink single-rail saddle-seatpost interface was greeted with expected skepticism when it went into production a year ago. For 2012, they've not only persevered with the concept but expanded it to several new saddle models. It's gained impressive acceptance within the industry too, with various partners now offering their own Monolink products.
Cast aside Selle Italia's heady claims about power savings from their flagship SLR Monolink Friction Free saddle and what remains is still appealing: the single rail design affords more fore-aft adjustment, it's claimed to be up to 50 percent stronger than conventional setups, and the narrow interface allows for slimmer saddle designs.
Cost was a huge issue with the initial offerings and even that looks to have been tempered for 2012, with the introduction of a new aluminum seatpost. Selle Italia say it's 35-55g heavier than the original carbon version, depending on size, but roughly a third of the price at US$94.99, with combos set at $324.99.
New for 2012 from Selle Italia is an aluminum version of their Monolink seatpost
2012 will also bring a veritable flood of other Monolink options from well-known partners such as Ritchey, FSA, Deda Elementi, Kalloy, Orbea, Pinarello, Canyon and others. For the OEMs, it's also been key that many of the new head designs are interchangeable between Monolink and standard rails.
New Monolink saddle models include the SLR Monolink Team Edition Friction Free Flow (155g, $287.99) with a central cutout, the SLR Monolink XC (165g, $299.99) with reinforced edges for mountain bike use, and the SLR Monolink XC Flow (165g, $329.99) with a central cutout.
Selle Italia aren't just putting their eggs into that one Monolink basket, though, launching several new conventional dual-rail models for 2012 as well. Highlighting that range are the ultralight SLR Tekno (85g, $479.99) with an unpadded carbon fiber shell and carbon fiber rails and the SLR Tekno Flow (115g, $499.99) with similar construction but a giant cutout and a padded top.
The Selle Italia SLR Tekno Flow saddle is light at 115g but also reasonably well padded
Selle Italia build a similarly giant cutout into the new titanium-railed SLR Superflow – which will also be offered in 130mm and 140mm widths (170g/180g, $284.99) – the more generously sized and padded Max SLR Gel Flow (270g, $164.99) and the women's-specific SLR Lady Gel Flow (200g, $174.99). The Max SLR Gel Flow also gets suspended rail mounts at the rear of the shell plus shock-absorbing inserts underneath the nose to help quell road vibration.
The company have also decided to enter into the world of handlebar tape with the introduction of their new Smootape. Offered in both 2.5mm and 5mm thicknesses in embossed white or black EVA foam, Sella Italia are touting Smootape as "the only tape that can eliminate all ridges due to overlapping" courtesy of its unique tapered edge profile.
Selle San Marco revamp the Concor
Selle San Marco have reshaped their stalwart Concor saddle range for 2012, retaining the distinctively upswept rear and rounded profile but adding a wider and flatter nose for more comfort when on the rivet while also trimming a lot of weight from the old versions. The range will be a healthy size for 2012, comprising six models in all.
Selle San Marco have revamped their long-running Concor saddle for 2012
The top-end Concor Carbon FX weighs just 160g ($244.99) with new cross-linked DNA carbon rails for extra stiffness while the workhorse Concor Racing ($174.99) is identical save for Xsilite rails and an extra 30g. Both are available in cutout Arrowhead versions for an additional $10. Time trialists looking to skirt UCI saddle setback rules get the new 186g Concor Sprint ($184.99), which features the same width and overall shape as the rest of the range but with a nose trimmed by 28mm.
Finally, there's the 191g Concor Protek ($154.99) with reinforced edges for mountain bike abuse – $20 cheaper than the Concor Racing but with just an extra gram of weight, more durability, and the same padding and cover specs. Concor Lite fans can rest assured that that classic will continue on in the range moving forward, so no need to stock up – yet.
Channels, multiple widths and new mountain bike saddles from Prologo
Prologo branch out considerably for 2012, adding not just a few new saddle models but also several shape and width variants on existing ones. The Scratch Pro, Nago Evo and Choice Max all get new 'Plus' versions with central channels to help relieve pressure on soft tissue – an idea that Prologo have long resisted. Those channels are paired with multidensity foam placing, with softer padding along the sides of the channel to minimize hot spots and pressure points.
The new Prologo Scratch Pro Plus features the same overall shape as the standard Scratch Pro but with a central channel and multiple width options
New 'Multisize' options will also be available for the Scratch Pro, Scratch Pro Plus, Nago Evo and Nago Evo Plus, with 134mm, 141mm, and 143mm widths depending on model to more precisely match the rider's anatomy. In addition, most of Prologo's '12 range will be available in a new 'hard black' color scheme with a mix of glossy and matte-finish black graphics.
Also new for 2012 are two women's saddles – the Kappa Dea and Choice Dea – bringing the total range to four, all with slightly shorter lengths and more generous widths relative to the standard versions. In combination with the company's three distinct shell profiles – round, semi-round and flat – Prologo now feel they have a saddle to suit just about anyone.
Champion System to offer custom sublimated saddles for fully co-ordinated team kits
One of the most interesting saddle releases to debut during this year's trade show season wasn't from a saddle company but rather one that makes custom clothing. Champion System announced a new partnership with Selle Italia to offer teams custom printed saddle covers to go along with custom kits for a uniquely co-ordinated package.
Champion System hope that teams placing custom clothing orders will want to spring for matching Selle Italia saddles, too
Champion System principal Ed Beamon told us he was still working out the final details but the concept is that his company would provide the template and Selle Italia would do the actual printing in Italy. Lead time is estimated at around six weeks for any of the four or five models offered, and Beamon estimates that the upcharge for the custom cover would be small relative to MSRP, if there was one at all.