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Verdict: 
If you like hammering along in the drops you'll like the new Pro Team saddle, but the low weight comes with a premium price
Weight: 
148g
Contact: 
Rapha Pro Team Saddle
7 10

The Rapha Pro Team saddle, part of a new saddle range launched by the British clothing company today, is a lightweight, thinly padded saddle ideal for racing and performance-focused cyclists. You'd probably need to be a Rapha fan to choose it over more established saddle brands, though it is nicely made and very light. A fit calculator makes buying the right saddle easy, but there aren't as many shapes and sizes to choose from compared with most of those established saddle brands.

  • Pros: Good shape, easy fit calculator, lightweight
  • Cons: Firmness won't be for everyone, premium price

Rapha is best known for its extensive range of clothing but it has over the years branched out into other categories, selling helmets, shoes and most recently bikepacking equipment. It's never produced an actual bike component until now, though. To bring the saddle, designed in-house by Rapha, to reality, the British firm worked with Selle Italia, the famous Italian saddle manufacturer, to produce the saddle. This partnership even resulted in a new manufacturing process. 

> Buy this online here

A clothing company producing its own saddle might seem like an odd move, but consider the importance of a comfortable interface between saddle and bib shorts and designing both sort of makes sense. Fizik, best known for saddles, last year launched a range of bib shorts designed to work perfectly with its saddles, so the idea of one brand producing both sides of this important contact point isn't such a crazy idea after all. In fact, it could be the start of a new trend.

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_back.jpg

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_back.jpg

"We wanted to create an unrivalled riding experience by combining the Rapha chamois with a saddle, so we recruited the most experienced saddle manufacturers, developers and engineers in the industry to help us create a system that could provide total comfort," said Alex Valdman, creative director at Rapha. "The team has invested over 40 years mastering saddle design throughout their careers, while the workshop has been making saddles for more than a century."

In this new saddle range, you'll find a Classic (£180) and Pro Team shape, each with a 130 and 145mm width option, and the Pro Team comes with a centre cutout option as well. That's six saddles in all. The Pro Team is flat and designed for racing, the Classic has a scooped hammock shape putting comfort first.

All saddles are made in Italy with lightweight carbon fibre shells, one-piece carbon rails and simple graphics, including a little message when you turn the saddle over. There'll also be special RCC colours for the club members. It has to be said, because someone will only point it out in the comments, that both saddles do bear an uncanny resemblance to certain other saddles already on the market.

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_underside.jpg

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_underside.jpg

To help you pick the right saddle, Rapha has developed a fit calculator where you punch in some vital data (waist measurement, weight and style of riding) and it recommends the saddle. After inputting my data I returned a match for a narrow (130mm) Pro Team saddle, and one duly arrived for testing.

I've been riding this saddle for about two weeks now, so this is perhaps more of a first ride impression than a full review – I'll update this review with some long-term insight a couple of months down the line.

Obviously, it makes sense to test the Pro Team saddle with the shorts they were designed for, so I dug out the pair of Pro Team II shorts I tested a couple of months ago. You can read my review on those shorts here.

Saddle fitted and shorts pulled on, and first impressions are very good. I can be fussy when it comes to saddle shape, but it only took a few miles to get used to this one, and after a few more miles I soon forgot about it, always the sign of a comfortable saddle and good fit.

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_logo_detail.jpg

rapha_pro_team_carbon_saddle_-_logo_detail.jpg

Can you wear other brand bib shorts with a Rapha saddle? Of course you can. I've been wearing a plethora of other brand bib shorts with the saddle during my two weeks of testing and can report no issues at all. Could I detect any comfort difference from other brands of bib shorts to the Pro Team shorts? I'll be honest, as much as I looked for it, I could detect no real difference in comfort.

The shape of the saddle is very flat, there's minimal padding and only a little flex in the carbon rails. As you'd expect from the Pro Team moniker, it's a saddle designed for racing, or at the very least aimed at cyclists who like to adopt an aggressive position in the drops for riding fast even if there's no number pinned to their jersey. It's for racing snakes basically, not a saddle for cruising along in an upright position.

The foam density, what there is of it, has been 'tuned to rider weight and works as a system with our bib shorts' explains Rapha. I didn't find the firmness to be a problem; it was comfortable for short blasts and some longer, three- to four-hour rides. As it's intended for racing I used it in a recent 100km road race and it didn't distract from the pain in my legs.

There is some flex in the carbon rails and shell, but it doesn't cushion with the same level of bump-absorbing flex as some saddles manage to provide, a useful benefit on our rough roads. It might not be my pick for a steady-speed long-distance ride compared to my current fave, the Fabric Scoop, so I would be interested in trying the Classic saddle to see how it compares for those rides that don't involve a bucketload of lactic acid.

> Buyer's Guide: 10 of the best high performance saddles

Coming in at 148g, the Pro Team saddle is right up there with the lightest saddles road.cc has tested over the years; not the lightest but pretty close.

Is it expensive? Compared to the Prime Race Carbon (£77.99) yes it most definitely is, but it's cheaper than the Selle Italia SLR Tekno (£310) and Fizik Arione 00 (£325). For sure it's right at the premium end of the saddle market. You weren't expecting it to be cheap were you?

Price aside, whether you buy the saddle or not probably has more to do with whether you're a Rapha fan. If you are and you've got the shoes, helmet and full kit, then you'll likely want the saddle as well, and there are probably enough options to suit most people while keeping the choice simple.

But if you're not a fan, given that the range is a bit limited, you'll get much more comprehensive offerings from the established saddle makers, which not only offer more shapes and sizes but a broader spread of prices too.

It's a slick looking saddle with low weight and good comfort for racing and fast riding, but expensive (until a Core version comes out?) and probably best for the die-hard Rapha fans.

Verdict

If you like hammering along in the drops you'll like the new Pro Team saddle, but the low weight comes with a premium price

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Saddle

Size tested: 130mm wide

Tell us what the product is for

Rapha says...

Two years ago Rapha set out to make the best saddles possible. The brief was simple - our bib shorts have already set new

standards of comfort, but riding pleasure is ultimately governed by the contact point with the bike. Even the most comfortable bib shorts in the world are at the mercy of the saddle upon which they sit.

Rapha's saddles interact perfectly with our bib shorts to provide an exceptional level of comfort. We have examined physiology and riding styles and created a range of saddles more specific to the unique characteristics of the rider than ever before.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Rapha:

Foam density tuned to rider weight and works as a system with our bib shorts (Pro Team II and Classic II) to achieve the optimal comfort through compression.

* Two different models intended for different styles of riding. Pro Team for aggressive, hard riding, Classic for comfort over long days of riding.

* Lightweight carbon construction, made by hand in Italy.

A balance between comfort, weight and style. One-piece carbon rail runs the entire length of the saddle, provides flex and compliance for a more comfortable platform.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I've only been testing it for a couple of weeks and so far it's been just fine, but I'll update this review after a couple of months riding.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

It's as light as similarly priced saddles.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

If you get on with firmly padded flat saddles, you'll like this one.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

It's a whole heap of cash, but no more expensive than other similar spec high-end saddles.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Provides a comfortable place to sit for cyclists who like to adopt an aggressive riding position – hammering along in the drops basically.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It's comfortable and lightweight.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price is the main thing to dislike.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Not at this price.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they are a Rapha fan, yes.

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a very good saddle, but it's a lot of money and there aren't a lot of models to choose from. But if you are a Rapha fan and want a light and firm saddle with a high-quality premium finish and appearance, then the Pro Team is worth a look.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

16 comments

Avatar
See 59 [24 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

"You'd probably need to be a Rapha fan to choose it over more established saddle brands"

It's a collaboration between Selle Italia and Rapha - a key bit of info missing from your article - and just like the Giro collaborations there's little or no difference in price to the producers own offering. However this won't stop the tyre kicking haters.

Avatar
TheSmallRing [14 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

A bit pricey, isn't it.

 

Avatar
nortonpdj [214 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

It's an overpriced Fizik copy, unless it's made in Bressanvido in which case it's an overpriced rebadged Fizik.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2542 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Quote:

In this new saddle range, you'll find a Classic (£180) and Pro Team shape, each with a 130 and 145mm width option, and the Pro Team comes with a centre cutout option as well. That's six saddles in all.

Not that it's that important but would that be five saddles in all ?

Avatar
don simon [2530 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
nortonpdj wrote:

It's an overpriced Fizik copy, unless it's made in Bressanvido in which case it's an overpriced rebadged Fizik.

My money is on an overpriced rebadged Selle Italia.

Avatar
Benjamin Nickolls [62 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
TheSmallRing wrote:

A bit pricey, isn't it.

'Do a skid!'

Avatar
Tass Whitby [61 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

fukawitribe wrote:

Quote:

In this new saddle range, you'll find a Classic (£180) and Pro Team shape, each with a 130 and 145mm width option, and the Pro Team comes with a centre cutout option as well. That's six saddles in all.

Not that it's that important but would that be five saddles in all ?

Two Classics, two Pro Teams without cutout, two Pro Teams with cutout... equals six...

Avatar
sammutd88 [91 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

Maybe they’ll make a version with titanium rails and call it the “Core Saddle” :p

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [885 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

Ken Alog wrote:

"You'd probably need to be a Rapha fan to choose it over more established saddle brands"

It's a collaboration between Selle Italia and Rapha - a key bit of info missing from your article - and just like the Giro collaborations there's little or no difference in price to the producers own offering. However this won't stop the tyre kicking haters.

 

I bow to your superior knowledge. There was nothing in the communication from Rapha about this being a collaboration, and indeed there's nothing on their website about it. The saddles are made in Italy which obviously means they are being made by an established saddle manufacturer, and there are a few to chose from in Italy

Avatar
fukawitribe [2542 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Tass Whitby wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
Quote:

In this new saddle range, you'll find a Classic (£180) and Pro Team shape, each with a 130 and 145mm width option, and the Pro Team comes with a centre cutout option as well. That's six saddles in all.

Not that it's that important but would that be five saddles in all ?

Two Classics, two Pro Teams without cutout, two Pro Teams with cutout... equals six...

Ack, brain death - cheers Tass.

Avatar
Anthony.C [264 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
David Arthur @davearthur wrote:
Ken Alog wrote:

"You'd probably need to be a Rapha fan to choose it over more established saddle brands"

It's a collaboration between Selle Italia and Rapha - a key bit of info missing from your article - and just like the Giro collaborations there's little or no difference in price to the producers own offering. However this won't stop the tyre kicking haters.

 

I bow to your superior knowledge. There was nothing in the communication from Rapha about this being a collaboration, and indeed there's nothing on their website about it. The saddles are made in Italy which obviously means they are being made by an established saddle manufacturer, and there are a few to chose from in Italy

 

From velonews,

"Rapha partnered with Selle Italia to manufacture the saddles by hand in Italy. Although Rapha relied on the 120-year-old company’s expertise for production, the British company handled all of the R&D and design for this entirely new product."

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [885 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Anthony.C wrote:

David Arthur @davearthur wrote:

Ken Alog wrote:

"You'd probably need to be a Rapha fan to choose it over more established saddle brands"

It's a collaboration between Selle Italia and Rapha - a key bit of info missing from your article - and just like the Giro collaborations there's little or no difference in price to the producers own offering. However this won't stop the tyre kicking haters.

 

I bow to your superior knowledge. There was nothing in the communication from Rapha about this being a collaboration, and indeed there's nothing on their website about it. The saddles are made in Italy which obviously means they are being made by an established saddle manufacturer, and there are a few to chose from in Italy

 

From velonews,

"Rapha partnered with Selle Italia to manufacture the saddles by hand in Italy. Although Rapha relied on the 120-year-old company’s expertise for production, the British company handled all of the R&D and design for this entirely new product."

 

We don't get our news from Velonews, or any other cycling mag. But I have asked Rapha about this and await their response

Avatar
David Arthur @d... [885 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

So I've been speaking to Rapha, and here's an update on the Selle Italia matter:

The design for the saddle was done in-house at Rapha. We worked with Selle Italia on the development of the saddles, and as a result we created a new manufacturing process together.

So it's definitely not an existing product produced in Rapha colours, as we've seen with the Giro helmets before this, but was developed entirely by Rapha staff, and a manufacturer with a strong expertise and experience in producing saddles was partnered with to bring their design to reality.

Hope that clears things up for people

Avatar
don simon [2530 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
David Arthur @davearthur wrote:

So I've been speaking to Rapha, and here's an update on the Selle Italia matter:

The design for the saddle was done in-house at Rapha. We worked with Selle Italia on the development of the saddles, and as a result we created a new manufacturing process together.

So it's definitely not an existing product produced in Rapha colours, as we've seen with the Giro helmets before this, but was developed entirely by Rapha staff, and a manufacturer with a strong expertise and experience in producing saddles was partnered with to bring their design to reality.

Hope that clears things up for people

Marketing teams have families to feed too, love 'em to bits.

Avatar
Freddy56 [325 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

90% of Selle Italia saddles all have cut outs to let the blood flow thru the penile tract.

Whats the theory on this Rapha design whic Selle Italia make?

Is it a homage to the prostate problems cyclists had in the 1980's?

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2277 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Freddy56 wrote:

90% of Selle Italia saddles all have cut outs to let the blood flow thru the penile tract.

Whats the theory on this Rapha design whic Selle Italia make?

Is it a homage to the prostate problems cyclists had in the 1980's?

90% of their range or 90% of saddles sold, either way that's clearly false. And as a big chap who has ridden Selle Italia since '91 on and off including the original flite and now ride a non cut out carbon railed variant with no perineum issues. Oh yeah and it doesn't effect fertility either!