With a waved profile, short length and wide pressure-releasing cutout, the nylon hull and medium padding are well suited to off-road excursions
- Wide cutout
- Tough woven material used on the edges
- Medium padding takes the sting out of rough roads
Selle San Marco has been making saddles by hand in the foothills of the Dolomites since 1935 and was one of the pioneers of the plastic hulled bike seat.
The AllRoad is one of the brand's newer additions. It's designed for ‘adventures on- and off-road,' and Selle San Marco has designed a saddle to cope with the increased impact and vibrations a rider will experience over the course of a full day of mixed-surface riding.
Design and Aesthetics
While your typical road saddle will work for a gravel ride, you may come away with sore sit bones and lower back from the increased shock and vibration experienced simply from riding over rougher surfaces. Gravel saddles typically see a bit more cushioning and a less plank-like hull to help your derriere cope.
The sage advice surrounding saddles has always been the less padding, the better; as soft foam won’t provide the support needed for extended periods - and when it squishes under your weight it will distribute pressure onto your soft tissue. However, with advancements in technology, we see saddles that utilise new foams or various materials and densities to provide support while also offering comfort and vibration damping.
Italian saddle maker Astute is the leader when it comes to this foam, San Marco’s version is called BioFoam.
According to San Marco, the ‘Biodynamic structure’ of its foam moves with your pelvis as you pedal and is a closed-cell, meaning it won’t take on the water should you tear the cover. The AllRoad is shod in a generous layer of BioFoam, which feels soft when you press your thumb into it but has a firm feel when seated.
The AllRoad is covered in what San Marco calls Micofeel, which the brand uses across many of its saddles. The matte finish prevents you from sliding around, even when it’s wet and San Marco says it's lighter, more abrasion-resistant and subject to ‘less deformation’ than similar saddle coverings.
Given this saddle is designed to be bolted to a bike that is headed on roads less travelled, San Marco has preempted the inevitable rubber-side-up incident that leads to torn microfiber saddle covers, using a Cordura-like woven material on the edges that will hit the ground first.
The saddle's base is carbon-reinforced nylon, which gives it a bit of longitudinal give, while the oval 9.8mmx7mm rails are carbon and may not work with all saddle clamps.
Speaking of the rails, San Marco builds them around what it calls Dynamic Node Action, which sees the rails form an ‘X’ beneath the nose, which is said to prevent twisting while allowing a more extended clamping surface, 90mm in total.
Measuring 146mm at its widest point and 268mm long, it tapers down to 43.19mm across the nose. San Marco classifies the AllRoad as an ‘open saddle’ hence the sizable gap running two-thirds of its length. It also features a waved profile with a kick up at the tail. If you subscribe to San Marco's ID Match fit system, which takes into account the distance between your sit bones, the diameter of your upper thigh and your pelvic rotation measurement, the AllRoad is an L3.
The AllRoad CFX tipped my scales at 160g.
As I previously mentioned, saddles are a personal choice, so what fits my butt might be something akin to a medieval torture device for you.
The San Marco AllRoad has similar proportions to the Fizik Vento Argo R5, which has been my saddle of choice for about two years. It’s not exactly the same, as Vento stays wider for longer and sees a border cut out, but the kick in the tail and the waved shape are not all that far off, and the overall dimensions are almost bang-on.
With that, it should come as no surprise that I got on well with the AllRoad. The wave profile locks your sit bones in place as you cruise along. With this locked-in position, I didn’t experience any discomfort or undue pressure points or pins and needles with elbows bent, chewing stem trying to keep my chest out of the wind. The sizable kick in the tail provides something for you to push against as you fight a steep climb or into a headwind.
It’s a short saddle by comparison to a few others I have lying around in the office - the Specialized Phenom, Bontrager Montrose and Fizik Terra Alpaca X5 to name a few. Still, I wouldn’t call it snub-nose like the Power or the Vento Argo. Given its intended use is mixed-surface and off-road riding, the extended nose section provides room to slide forward when you need a bit of extra leverage over the front wheel on a steep climb. The nose is relatively broad, so when you do move forward, it doesn't become instantly painful.
I find saddles with a longer nose also improve my ability to steer with my hips when things get spicy, something I came to appreciate about the AllRoad on more than one occasion.
With a large portion of this saddle devoted to the centre cutout, there was no undue soft tissue pressure or numbness downstairs. There is a bit of give or shock absorption with the nylon hull, which I appreciated when the road surface became increasingly broken, but it still maintains its rigidity from side to side as you pedal.
Saddles are as unique as the butts that sit on them and the San Marco AllRoad works for me. The wave front-to-back profile, the kick the tail and sizable cutout are all features I look for in a saddle; combined with the shorter overall length and 146mm width.
The longitudinal flex in the hull, padding thickness and density takes the sting out of uneven road surfaces but doesn’t fall into the territory of causing soft-tissue pressure.
San Marco has just updated this saddle with the reinforced Cordura edges, which will vastly improve its longevity. During my test period, which included a few untimely falls, the woven material proved hardy and shrugged everything off with ease.
Tech Specs: Selle San Marco AllRoad Open Fit CFX saddle
- RRP: $215.99 / £179.99 / AU$299.95 / €210
- Weight: 160g (actual)
- Dimensions: 268x146mm
- Rails: Carbon fibre
- Shell: Carbon-reinforced nylon
- Colours: Black
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