£350 › Pricey perch from Italy
Astute Skycarb VT saddle, Bontrager Pro handlebar, Rapha Helmet, Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS, winter socks shootout
DID YOU KNOW THAT £350 would buy you 175 breakfasts from Greggs? Other things you could purchase (at the time of writing) for the same amount include: an entire road bike from Decathlon, 442 litres of Duchy Original semiskimmed milk from Waitrose, or a 16-yearold 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.
The Skycarb VT nominally measures 135mm wide and 275mm long, although we’re not sure how Astute comes up with its numbers – we 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 we’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, we 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 we found it reasonably comfortable. We 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.