Recent research from the likes of Specialized has shown that many of us ride saddles that are too narrow. With Specialized now joined by other big brands such as Trek in stocking saddles more than 140mm wide on race bikes, it’s time to rethink the old adage of race saddles having to be narrow.
The Pilarga is a new 145mm width saddle from Astute (sometimes spelt Astvte) – a young authentically Italian saddle brand. We previously tested the Astute Skylite VT, the narrower 135mm width equivalent, and found it to be a highly comfortable perch with innovative and pro-level features.
Available with either titanium (Skyline) or carbon (Skylite) rails and with the choice of an open channel (VT) or closed design (SR), the Pilarga continues with the brand’s multiple options within a single saddle shape. Here, we’re reviewing the Skylite Pilarga VT, an open channel carbon version.
The soft padding at the nose is nothing like the supportive padding at the rear:
The rather traditional shape should be familiar to many
It’s a saddle best suited to riders who prefer flatter models. Out back the shape tapers off with more rounded edges than the 135mm version. Looking along its 275mm length, there’s a subtle dip in the centre between the generous padding.
Perhaps the most immediately notable part of this saddle is the depth and softness of the padding for a seat of this price and weight. Astute uses triple density padding from a form of memory foam, providing greater support at the sit bones, with softer support at delicate areas. Just pressing your thumb into different points of the saddle offers proof of the thought that’s gone into what hides behind the microfibre cover.
Just as we experienced in our previous Astute test, the VT open channel enables greater flex through the centre of the saddle. If you’re sitting slightly in the centre of the saddle (such as on a steep climb), this can place additional pressure at the nose. Our time on the closed SR saddles from Astute has shown greater stiffness through the centre, with the dipping less evident.
Rubber bumpers surround the rear joining section of the oval carbon saddle rails. These provide a small degree of vibration damping, but also prevent the dreaded rail creak against the shell.
Our previous astute test sample had cosmetic issues, this newer model proved free of that issue – with only the logo wearing away after nine months of use:
After nine months of use, this is the only cosmetic wear to be seen
Our previous review of an Astute saddle showed some aesthetic delamination near the nose, something that Astute told us had been corrected since. We’ve now ridden this new saddle far longer (six months longer to be exact) than the previous one, and have experienced no sign of this issue – though the logo on the front is starting to wear away.
The cover itself has proven perfectly durable and is free of problematic outward seams, with stitching only evident within the ‘VT’ cut out. Underneath the saddle nose is a small rubber bumper, something that we found perfect when using beam-style bike racks or just resting our bike on a workstand for a quick bit of chain lube.
Ultimately, as we never tire of repeating, saddles are about as personal as an item gets. But with its competitive weight, stunning aesthetics and high comfort – which in our opinion justifies the high price – this is one we’d highly recommend trying out if you’re in the market.