Selecting the perfect mountain bike saddle usually involves balancing the trade-off between comfort and weight. Super lightweight saddles often feel worse than metal folding chairs while really comfy seats are generally wide, bulky, and heavy. Fortunately Selle Italia has hit upon a winning design that carefully balances comfort and weight in the SLR XC Gel Flow.
Weight and Durability
Selle Italia claims the SLR line is the best selling high-end saddle in the world and there’s an SLR model for just about every style and budget you can imagine. While all the SLR saddles are rated for road and off road use, only the XC and XC Gel Flow are designed specifically for off road and free riding. At just 170g, the XC Gel Flow is the lightest MTB-specific saddle I know of and 30% lighter than my previous saddle thanks to the Vanox rails, lightweight silicon gel, and carbon composite shell.
The SLR XC Gel Flow is ultra durable and is, in fact, bullet proof, thanks to kevlar reinforcement. The saddle cover is made from something Selle Italia calls “Lorica” which is abrasion resistant and mud tends to slide right off the shiny, slick surface. Despite the slick surface, the saddle feels grippy under standard nylon/poly bike shorts. Unfortunately the middle and edges of the saddle don’t use the same material so mud and dirt stick in these areas (though grip is still excellent).
Just looking at the profile of the SLR XC Gel Flow might make your cheeks sore but looks can often be deceiving. The SLR XC Gel Flow cuts a low profile and is fairly narrow (131mm) which gives it a super aerodynamic shape perfect for racing. The narrow tail also makes it easier to remount the saddle after behind-the-seatpost descents. I chose the white version because white bike components automatically make you 10% faster – or at least that’s what I heard 🙂
Comfort and Performance
The saddle is one of the main contact points between rider and mountain bike which makes comfort a top priority. If you’re looking for a magical saddle that won’t leave you a little sore after a 50-mile epic, I hate to break it to you but there’s no such thing. The SLR XC Gel Flow does incorporate some features to at least make epic XC rides more bearable like a center cut-out to reduce pressure points (and also weight) plus increased gel thickness around the cut-out itself. On 20+ mile rides I’ve had no issues with soreness, though your mileage may vary and will depend on your chamois choice as well.
The nose on the SLR XC Gel Flow is elongated (275mm) which adds to this saddle’s race cred. Transitioning from out-of-the-saddle climbs, the long nose made the saddle easy to find and also makes for a convenient shoulder mount during hike-a-bike sections.
The Vanox tube rails felt super solid throughout my testing and didn’t creak or groan once despite some serious saddle time. Vanox is actually a steel alloy which means these rails flex a little more than aluminum or even some carbon rail set-ups. The upside? A little added protection for your tush on rocky trails.
Overall the Selle Italia SLR XC Gel Flow Saddle is a race-ready, lightweight, and high performance saddle that doesn’t skimp too much on comfort. It’s honestly hard to find fault with a best-selling design like the SLR – give it a try and see for yourself!
Thanks to Selle Italia for proving this saddle for review.