Back in 1990, Selle Italia launched the Flite saddle. It was revolutionary at that time for being the first mass-produced saddle that weighed close to 200g. Its long, slim shape, minimal firm padding and titanium rails made it an instant winner, and such was its popularity that the company brought the design back to the market as part of its Vintage range.
Highs: Supportive shape and comfort, light
Lows: The original curvy shape was more attractive
Fast forward to the present day, and the Flite has undergone its umpteenth restyling. Although the look has changed, the saddle maintains its original character. The relaunched Flite 1990 is 280mm long and 146mm wide, weighing 230g, whereas its modern day equivalent, this Team Edition, is 275mm long, 145mm wide and ours weighed 213g. The 7mm diameter tubular titanium saddle rails reduce weight, give strength and durability, and provide vibration-absorbing comfort.
Related: Selle Italia eyes past, envisions future
The 5mm length change, and 1mm less width isn’t noticeable at all, although the very slightly slimmer nose, with more pronounced curve out to the main seat area can be felt when pedalling. Removing a little structure here aids cleaner spinning, which is also true of the slightly more cutaway sides.
Whereas the original model was gently rounded from side to side, the current Flite is flatter with more angular edge transitions at the nose. The old saddle’s fore-aft curved profile has been shelved for a completely level top, with a subtle central channel, more a line separating each half with a minuscule central dip. The padding that’s somewhere between medium and firm density remains, and still feels ideal.
The riding experience is still excellent, its minimal look belying its supportive comfort. Of course, saddle comfort and suitability is entirely rider- and activity-dependent, and there are far lighter saddles on the market, the Flite’s class-leading status being surpassed long ago. But with modern bikes being generally substantially lighter, we prefer to fit a saddle based on ride comfort rather than gram saving. One of our testing team now boasts three incarnations of Flite within his bike stable, but if the Flite fits, why change?