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The Musette: Selle San Marco, Scicon and gravel tyres from Continental

Cyclingnews Musette
(Image credit: Cyclingnews Tech)

The Musette is Cyclingnews’ weekly curation of the world’s best cycling gear. Here, we’ll take a look at pro-level equipment, bikes and components, alongside some of the most desirable clothing and newest accessories in the world of cycling. 

It's been another busy week in terms of product news at Cyclingnews. Things started off with the news of an all-new Continental GP5000 tyre with tan walls followed by the performance-focused Maxxis High Road SL tyre. Guy Kesteven got up close and personal with Le Col's new 'affordable' Sport 2 cycling kit and discovered that it really isn't all that affordable after all. He also shared his thoughts on Red Bull's Spect Flow cycling sunglasses while senior writer, Graham, gave the lowdown on Lazer's venerable Century MIPS helmet and compiled a handy guide on bikepacking gear and everything you need to know about the concept.

In a new monthly series entitled 'Our (Very Own) Bikes', our tech editor, Aaron, kicked things off with an honest write up on his personal Cannondale SuperSix Evo disc and why he treasures it - a bike he built up entirely by himself. Look out for staff writer, Dan Ostanek's Colnago C40 next month.

In his quest to find the most affordable cycling shoes available at the moment, Josh penned a comprehensive deals guide on cheap cycling shoes - there are some stellar options that make up his list. He then also wrote a sceptical view on Superstrata's 3D-printed view that's definitely worth a read. 

The other Josh - Josh Ross, our American correspondent, spent time getting to know Garmin's 'new' Edge 1030 Plus and gave his opinion on where it stands as far as the best cycling computers are concerned.

If you're hoping to kick off the racing season sooner rather than later, you should have a look at Lance Branquinho's piece on time trialling and why it's the best way back into post-down racing. Those that aren't too convinced by the possibility of the government relaxing the rules will probably find our comprehensive Zwift guide handy if eRacing and indoor cycling is more your thing.

As has been the theme these past few weeks, Thursday is big-news day. Last week it was Chris Froome making the headlines. This week it was Trek's new Madone and the new BMC Teammachine that stole the headlines. 

In between all of this, we also published a stack of expertly curated buyer's guides to help you make an informed decision when it comes to your next cycling purchase. If you're in the market for a new cycling GPS, a lightweight road bike or want to improve your visibility with a front bike light, make sure you scroll through the following guides:

Now, let's get into what's new at Cyclingnews:

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Selle San Marco Shortfit Racing Iridescent saddle and Presa Corsa Team bar tape

The iridescent-purple colourway may not be everyone's cup of tea but few can dispute its presence (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Shortfit Racing Iridescent

The central cutout has been dialled into the design to promote better comfort and support (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Shortfit Racing Iridescent

The range comprises six distinct product lines of which this particular saddle is the raciest (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Shortfit Racing Iridescent

Another look at the polarising iridescent-purple aesthetic (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Shortfit Racing Iridescent

The rails are Xsilite - a material that possesses a high percentage of silicon with particles of titanium and carbon (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Presa Corsa Team bar tape

SSM has also designed a special-edition bar tape to compliment the new Shortfit Racing Iridescent Racing saddle (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)
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Selle San Marco Presa Corsa Team bar tape

Weighing just 20g the Presa Corsa Team bar tape, complete with gel padding, offers added compliance (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Selle San Marco ShortFit Racing saddle and Pressa Corsa bar tape

Selle San Marco's Shortfit saddle range has become a popular perch in the Italian company's lineup. The range comprises six distinct product lines: Superleggera, Carbon Fx, Racing, Dynamic, Supercomfort Racing and Supercomfort Dynamic. The limited-edition model you see here, however, forms part of the Racing line - the Shortfit Racing Iridescent saddle.

As the name suggests this saddle was designed with racing as its primary function so ergonomics is one of its strong points. Selle San Marco claims the design is more a result of function over form but the aesthetic qualities are still of a high standard. The iridescent-purple colourway may not be everyone's cup of tea but it's a striking hue which instils it with a lot more presence than the regular black we see on so many saddles.

In terms of specifications, the saddle weighs 172g on our scales, two grams more than claimed but that's much of a muchness really. The shell is composed of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and the rails are Xsilite - a material that possesses a high percentage of silicon with particles of titanium and carbon. All this has helped minimise weight while maximising ride quality and performance.

The central cutout - technology Selle San Marco calls 'Open-Fit' - has been dialled into the design to promote better comfort and support. In fact, like other saddles that use a similar design philosophy, this is proven to promote blood flow, prevent numbness and foster relief from pressure on the perineum. As such it comes highly recommended for female riders or individuals with high pelvic rotation.

Selle San Marco has also designed a special-edition bar tape to compliment the new Shortfit Racing Iridescent Racing saddle. Weighing just 20g the Presa Corsa Team bar tape comes with a non-slip EVA Plus construction complete with gel padding for added compliance. Reviews coming soon. - Aaron Borrill

  • Price: £149.99 / 159,00
  • Rails: Xsilite
  • Shell: Carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic
  • Weight: 172g (actual)
  • Colours: Iridescent purple
  • Dimensions: 250 x 144 mm
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Continental Terra Trail gravel tyre

Continental's Terra Trail in 40mm size in both 700C and 650b (pictured) (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Continental Terra Trail gravel tyre

Well spaced and siped shoulder knobs should provide reliable purchase when leaning into corners (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Continental Terra Trail gravel tyre

The Terra Trails popped onto the rim and inflated with little fight for a straight forward tubeless setup (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Continental Terra Trail gravel tyre

Continental makes some of the best road bike tyres available, combining superb cornering grip and low resistance rolling thanks to its Black Chili compound rubber, Continental also makes a wide range of well-received mountain bike tyres for all disciplines from cross-country to the extremes of downhill.

So it isn’t surprising that Continental has now brought its combined knowledge together to create a range of gravel tyres. Available in two tread patterns, Terra Speed is a fast-rolling tread for hardpack tracks while the Terra Trail’s we have here are designed to offer a little more purchase in soft or muddy conditions.

While they are the knobbiest version, the lower profile centre knobs and Black Chili compound should still roll quickly while the pronounced series of shoulder knobs dig into the trail for aggressive cornering support. The sidewalls use Continental’s tubeless-ready ProTection casing from their mountain bike ranges to help ward off nicks and pinches. 

We haven’t had a chance to ride the tyres yet but setting up tubeless and fitting to the bike was a relatively pain-free experience. Although a little tight, they didn’t need any extra leverage beyond my thumbs when mounting to the Fulcrum Rapid Red 500 gravel wheelset. We used Squirt tubeless sealant and an AirShot to set up and they inflated and popped into place without an issue. Some tyres have quite porous sidewalls and require a top-up of air and sealant after their first fitting, however, the Terra Trails have held their air well without needing to be topped up.

The Continental Terra Trail’s come in black or cream sidewalls in both 700C and 650b wheel sizes although currently they only offer the Terra Trail’s in a 40mm size. Continental is expecting to release a cheaper version using Shieldwall System sidewalls and PureGrip compound that will be available in a 650bx47, 700x35 and 700x40, the release date for the Puregrip version is still to be confirmed. - Graham Cottingham

  • Price: $TBC / £59.95
  • Material: ProTection Tubeless ready Black Chili compound
  • Widths: 700cx40 / 650bx40
  • Weight: 460g (700c), 440g (650b)
  • Colours: Black, cream
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Opening up the box for the X-Over bib shorts, you're greeted with more than you expect (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Scicon claims the bib shorts are compressive, lightweight and quick drying (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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The legs use 75mm grippers to keep everything in place (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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The chamois pad is designed to align with the Elan saddle (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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The saddle itself is short-nosed, well-padded and carbon-railed (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Grippers are added to the nose (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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One of the treats in the box: two espresso mugs designed by Giulio Bortignon (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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Shoes not included, but the Scicon shoes and socks bag, worth €29.00, is (Image credit: Josh Croxton)
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While not a necessity, it's a useful way to keep your shoes separate from your kit when travelling (Image credit: Josh Croxton)

 Scicon Elan saddle and X-Over bib shorts

This week, my addition to the Musette is somewhat of a four-in-one special, courtesy of Scicon. The products we have are the Elan short-nose saddle and the X-Over bib shorts, but with a couple of treats added in. We're not talking a packet of Haribo, either. 

Upon delivery, I was surprised to receive a package that puts Apple's hero packaging to shame. While most of the cycling industry stick to packaging bib shorts in glorified iterations of Ziploc bags, Scicon has taken it's new X-Over bib shorts to the next level. 

With not a piece of plastic packaging in sight, the presentation box for the X-Over bib shorts opens out to reveal Scicon's 'shoes and socks' bag, inside which you'll find the bib shorts, and a duo of espresso mugs, abstractly designed by Giulio Bortignon. 

Weighing 245 grams, the bib shorts are constructed from quick-drying fabrics to be lightweight while offering four-way compression. 75mm grippers are used to keep the legs in place, and the straps, which Scicon call 'Active Tension Monoelastic' are said to be light and comfortable on the skin whilst offering maximum movement. 

Reflective tabs are dotted throughout the pure-black shorts, with an additional breathability panel across the stomach is made from Carvico Spider - cool name - mesh fabric to conform to different body shapes. 

The chamois pad is designed to align with the Elan saddle, although they are separate products, rather than a combined purchase. 

The saddle follows the modern trend of being shorter and wider, measuring 148mm in width and 248mm in length. It is based upon unidirectional 7x9mm carbon rails, and the carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer shell is lightly padded with a central cut-out channel to relieve pressure. 

The saddle is said to be suited to both road cyclists and mountain bikers alike, proven for both men and women, and comfortable no matter the aggressiveness of a rider's position. 

The saddle uses a black-on-black colour scheme, with gloss highlights throughout. The nose is given an additional layer of mesh material to aid grip, and the medium density foam is marked with a small compression control gauge, which is said to allow a rider to check the compression of the foam padding over time.

With the €249.00 X-Over bib shorts and €199.00 saddle, the combined price of this package is a fairly considerable sum of €448.00. Whether they're worthy of the investment is a tale for another time. - Josh Croxton

  • RRP bib shorts: $285.00 / $285.00 / €249.00
  • RRP saddle: $225.00 / £179.00 / €199.00
  • Weight bib shorts: 245g
  • Weight saddle: 199g
  • Colours: One (Black)
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Aaron Borrill

Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect

Height: 176cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

Follow Aaron on Twitter