The Silca Seat Roll Grande Americano is an evolution of an instant design classic, with more space and less bling. If you need to carry lots of stuff, silently and securely, easily swapped between bikes, it's a great choice.
- Pros: Solid, silent connection, to any saddle
- Cons: Pricey, not as roomy as you might think from spec, could come loose if packed/fitted wrongly
Last year Jo liked the Silca Seat Roll Premio. A lot. The Grande Americano is the Premio's hulking Stateside cousin. Think 6'6" Billy-Bob in dirty overalls on a dusty fat-tyred gravel-basher, compared to the effete Roberto in a quilted gilet, wafting up cols on a sub-6kg 23mm whippet. Or, given the naming convention Silca seems to be following here, a jumbo frothy coffee served in a 40oz bucket, compared to an artisanal macchiato in a warmed espresso cup replete with Eddy Merckx quip.
OK, maybe stretching analogies to breaking point, but fundamentally that's what you get: the same well-executed design, the same high-end yet totally functional tech – just optimised for more/fatter tubes, with less flash. Silca's guinea-pigs were 'gravel and mountain riders who require more space for larger tubes, and a few road riders who wanted the ability to carry multiple inner tubes'. They went through 10 months and many iterations to get to the final design, and it shows: I can't think of how to improve on it, beyond 'larger', and that's a debatable improvement.
As Jo covered in his review, the standout feature of the Grande Americano is the Boa closure mechanism. It's a cracking way to lock down things beyond what any other system could achieve. I don't care how much Velcro you throw at a seatpack, it will never match the tension you can crank into things using the Boa dial. And sure as beans it won't be able to be tightened on the fly, in the incredibly unlikely event that things rattle loose inside.
As with the Premio, the Grande Americano has three pockets and a flap that folds over all three, before they are folded in on each other and secured with an elastic strap. The Premio is a waxed cotton with reflective quilted stitching, whereas the Grande Americano is ballistic D1000 nylon treated with a waterproof finish. Silca has further tweaked the design, shifting the Boa's location further down, so more of the pack sticks out rearwards – thus keeping the lower corners away from your inner thighs when loaded. Finally, and what enables the capacity to fit up to 62mm/2.5in tubes, is an expanding pleat in the centre pocket. For comparison, the Premio takes up to a 45mm tube.
It's this increase in tube-size capacity that is the main reason to consider the Grande Americano over the £14-cheaper Premio. On Silca's US website the price difference is only $10, so I'm not quite sure how in crossing the Atlantic we Brits pay a 40% premium to step up to the larger size. Still, if you're in the market for a £50+ seat roll, an extra £4 isn't going to hold you back.
Let's get that out of the way: £62 is a stupefying amount of cash for a seat roll. Yes, it's artisanal, literally 'hand sewn in the USA'. It's just as well the overall package is flawlessly executed, if lacking the Gucci feel of the quilt-stitched waxed cotton of its smaller sibling. This is hardware that needs to do a load-carrying job, under all circumstances, staying put and not rattling. This is what you're getting for your money here, likely to match a new-ish adventure-gravel bike which, if hitting even a few of the practical trends for 650b wheels, disc brakes or tubeless tyres, has probably set you back a few grand. The Grande Americano will not only carry your stuff, it will be silent and strong doing so.
Silca claims that the Grande Americano is good for 'three internal pockets-holds tubes up to 29x2.5" (700x62mm)'. You could read that as 'will hold three 62mm tubes', but the reality is you are limited to two, plus tool/levers. Because the two outer pockets fold over the centre, by the time the second is folded over the centre there's simply too much fat in the sandwich to make the third one sit properly with a tube inside. You could do it, but without the overlapping fold it's a very large package. Still held securely, mind, and away from your legs – just not pretty.
Certainly the Grande Americano eats one very large tube, a decent multi-tool, some nitrile gloves, a tubeless repair kit, two tyre levers and a small 5g tube of chain lube without batting an eyelid. I also got my beloved Silca Torque Tool in there with a selection of bits no problem.
As Jo found, there's a knack to feeding through the strap, and Silca has evolved the strap end to include a 1.5in rubber 'spoon' that feeds through easily and pivots out of the way once attached back onto the other side. This differs from the cloth-and-push-button on the Premio, and is perfectly functional. Jo found that when cranked down, the Premio didn't move at all, and is as silent as your partner on discovering the credit card bill after purchase.
My initial on-road/gravel experience with the Grande Americano was similar – rock-solid. Then I fitted it to a new bike with a flatter saddle rail design, and went seriously off-piste, an 80km 4X4 track-gravel-fest with 1,600m of climbing and, most importantly, descending at speed.
This torture-test revealed one user-initiated shortcoming of the Grande Americano, inherent in its design: the Boa closure location. In the Premio the Boa dial and its matching strap attachment point are midway along the roll, so there's absolutely zero chance of the internals slipping either way. However, with a loaded Grande Americano, some two-thirds is protruding upwards and outwards. What I experienced was that after some 30km of tough, bouncy, fast going on the tracks, the contents had shifted to the point that they had effectively squeezed out the back of the wrap area, loosening the tension, and the package was dangling loose.
The idea of losing all that kit – tube, tools, roll, bits 'n' pieces – is not good. In Silca's defence I had 'shaped' the roll arrangement so as to remove the lower corners, which with this very flat-railed saddle were hitting the backs of my legs. I'll 'fess up that this one is probably on me – but if you want to get one and load it up, be aware not to unduly shift things too far rearward, and regularly check the Boa tension on rough tracks.
I'm a fan of the Ass-Saver for rides where you may come across damp roads, and with a bit of bodging found I was able to securely position the Ass-Saver clamped by the Grande Americano – your mileage may vary depending on your saddle's design of course, but it worked for me.
Overall, it's a great bit of kit, and would make the perfect Significant Gift for the cyclist in your life who needs to carry more stuff than, say, the Premio could manage. Being easily swapped between bikes is a major bonus, up out of the way of dropper post mechanisms and immediately rock-solid and silent. If you can find the cash, you won't be disappointed.
Get past the price and it's very good under-saddle storage for larger or multiple tubes, with faultless security and silence
road.cc test report
Make and model: Silca Seat Roll Grande Americano
Size tested: 29x2.5
Tell us what the product is for
It's for carrying lots of stuff out of your pocket but easily accessable/swappable between bikes.
Powered by BOA®, Grande Americano is the seat roll for the rider who demands a solid, silent, secure under-saddle storage solution with larger carrying capacity than our award winning Seat Roll Premio. The security that the BOA Closure System provides on our Seat Roll Premio has been wildly popular among road cyclists all over the world so it only made sense to develop an option for gravel, touring and Mtn. cyclists to experience the benefits of this technology and design.
While the increase in the size of the seat roll might have been an obvious solution, we couldn't just stop at the obvious. We started this project with a test group of riders from various cycling disciplines and had them ride more than a dozen Grande Americano prototypes for more than 10 months. The primary focus of this group was to identify potential areas for improvement and opportunities to innovate. Our focus group consisted of gravel and mountain riders who require more space for larger tubes, and a few road riders who wanted the ability to carry multiple inner tubes.
The result of this test led to a few unique updates to the original design. For starters, we moved the BOA System down to the lower third of the roll which helps keep the roll secure over the roughest surfaces while also keeping the bag 'high and tight' under the saddle so it doesn't rub your shorts. Next our designer created a unique Lower Pleat in the bottom of the roll which gives it the unique ability to expand when loaded while laying flat when unloaded. Lastly, we increased the strength and tension of the vertical axis strap to better support the load and ensure total silence and solidity over even the roughest surfaces. These refinements, along with the overall increase in size make Grande Americano an extremely capable seat roll; and one that you can use with virtually any bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Uni-body pattern constructed of 1000D Ballistic Nylon with water-repellent finish
Boa® Closure System with Guide
Rail guard protects and grips saddle rails
Three internal pockets-holds tubes up to 29x2.5" (700x62mm)
Heavy-duty elastic center compression strap for added security
It's artisanal. Flawless.
Dead quiet and secure. Can't fault it on the flat; on the rough stuff it can shake a bit loose depending on how you've packed it.
Made from tough nylon, it'll probably last longer than you.
Durability means a bit of weight, but it's not fat.
This is the major, questionable ask: is £62 taking the proverbial? That will depend on your disposable income and your use case.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it, for two tubes and bits. On rougher tracks you need to be aware of shifting contents, and check security.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Boa. It's all about the Boa. Soooo nice to use, and fast to release.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's hellishly expensive, but you get what you pay for: loads of room, and fast, silent, secure attachment to pretty much any saddle. Just don't be a numpty and push everything outwards to fit your saddle.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.