Astute Skycarb VT saddle review£350.00

Pricey perch from Italy

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Did you know that £350 / $499 / AU$595 would buy you 175 breakfasts from British bakers Greggs? Other things you could purchase in the UK (at the time of writing) for the same amount include: an entire road bike from Decathlon, 442 litres of semi-skimmed milk or a 16-year-old Renault Laguna 1.8 with nine months’ MOT. This is not to denigrate a fine piece of seating, but to offer perspective on what is, by any reasonable measure, a bloody expensive saddle.

Astute is an Italian manufacturer based in the northern city of Padua, making a range of saddles covering all disciplines of cycling. The Skycarb VT is the top of the range road model, a cutout counterpart to the Skycarb SR and one of the company’s ‘flat’ saddles — referring to the side-to-side profile. Front-to-back, it’s slightly shaped, with a dip in the middle to aid pressure relief.

Saddle choice is a personal thing and I’d always endorse trying before you buy if possible

The Skycarb VT nominally measures 135mm wide and 275mm long, although I'm not sure how Astute comes up with its numbers — I found an extra 5mm or so in both directions.

For this kind of money you’d expect a fairly impressive weight and while it’s light at 135g it’s not Earth-shatteringly so. A 143mm Specialized S-Works Power weighs 25g more and is £150 cheaper.

The Skycarb VT’s construction is elaborate. The saddle is covered with ‘premium Italian microfibre’, which has a pleasing, quality feel. Beneath the surface is a layer of triple-density memory foam that gets progressively softer as you move from the back to the front, with an extra insert adding further give near the nose. Both sit on a full carbon internal shell, which is sandwiched with the external carbon shell that forms the underside of the saddle.

The full carbon rails, measuring 7mm wide and 9mm tall, are joined to one another at the nose, and feature wide flange-like extensions at the rear of the saddle, tipped with rubber pads where they slot into the shell. This is the so-called Shock Pad Absorber System, designed to insulate the rider from road vibration.

Saddle choice is a personal thing and I’d always endorse trying before you buy if possible. The Skycarb VT has an impressive amount of padding for its low weight and if anything, I found the foam a little soft.

The shell is quite flexible too, bending visibly under the weight of even quite light riders. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on your physiology, but I found it reasonably comfortable.

I struggle with the idea of spending this kind of cash on any saddle, but the sophistication of the Skycarb VT’s design does go a little way to justifying the price tag. Can it be worth it? That’s for you and your bank balance to decide.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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